How we built a novel system for inventory management, with the engineers’ needs in mind

As an advocate for digital transformation in the maritime industry, SCNX aims to solve some of shipping’s biggest challenges: slow digital adoption, scarcity of reliable data, and lack of standardization across operations.

We spent hundreds of hours onboard several vessels (pre-covid) to interview and shadow both deck and engineering teams, and learn about their pain points across their daily workflow. With the permission of the Chief Engineer, we followed the teams to experience their challenges first-hand, from receiving new spares on board, to searching and consuming spares for a maintenance job. Analyzing data from the research allowed us to design a solution that boosts productivity and improves the working conditions onboard.

The immediate pain points we uncovered

A tremendous amount of time is spent looking for misplaced spare parts, delaying the execution of work orders, and potentially leading to unnecessary purchases and overstocking.

Hauling around heavy hardcopies of equipment manuals, often illegible due to wear and tear

Insufficient training and unintuitive UX/UI leads to poor post-implementation adoption of many solutions

In the following paragraphs, we will touch on how PROPELLER solves these challenges and makes end-to-end spare parts management a seamless experience.

Find Missing Spare Parts Within Seconds

In our interviews, engineers reported spending hours, if not days, looking for misplaced spare parts that they thought they had onboard, but were nowhere to be found. The problem is magnified during the scheduled stocktakes, which traditionally take a couple of work engineers working for 1-2 months, depending on vessel size.

With PROPELLER, spare parts are RFID tagged upon arrival of the purchased order (PO) and stored properly in their assigned locations. Engineers can utilize the radar “Find” function on the tablet to locate spare parts quickly by RFID signal coming from the tags attached to the parts. Radar strength can be adjusted, giving the engineer an option to extend their search in a large inventory room, and then pin-point the spare to precise location on a shelf or a box.

Usage data show that with PROPELLER, engineers were able to locate misplaced parts in less than 5 minutes, accelerating the work order execution. Similarly, during the stocktake period, with a press of a button, the radar function is enabled, picks up RFID tag signals, and digitally accounts for all the parts that are physically present.

Engineers can use the tablet as a radar to locate misplaced spare parts. The scanner’s power can be adjusted according to the range of search and the environment.

With PROPELLER, crew members can access equipment manuals straight from the tablet.

Access Digital Manuals on the Tablet

The engineer’s next challenge was hauling around the heavy hardcopies of equipment manuals when performing their work orders. As there are thousands of spare parts logged into the system, the engineers often need to refer to documentation to ensure proper installation of the spare parts as they perform maintenance work, or place requisition orders.

In PROPELLER, we have digitized these physical manuals and made them accessible on the go, right from the tablet. Engineers can search for keywords, zoom in to the drawings, and no longer have to worry about the wear and tear or storage of paper manuals.

Intuitive design and in-depth training

Teams often mention their worries about coping with change management after a new system like PROPELLER is implemented.

We understand that unless a solution is embraced by the end-user, it is set for failure in the long run. This is why we focused on building our system with the engineer in mind, providing an intuitive experience and ample support through multiple channels during and after installation.

After the implementation of PROPELLER, SCNX’s service engineer teams will conduct hands-on training, answering all the questions the engineers onboard may have. For every new engineer signing on a transformed vessel, an in-depth computer-based training (CBT) programme will be taken before boarding. On top of that, comprehensive self-help, tutorials and customer feedback channels ensure that engineers can get all the support they need.

Schedule a demo today and learn more about PROPELLER and how your operations can benefit from the time and cost savings that we bring.