The perils of the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude
By implementing digital solutions, the industry can become safer and more cost-effective…
Riccardo Fregara, the owner of F3Studio - a service company which focuses on the editing and management of technical product documentation, has revealed the true benefits of digitising the many crucial plans and manuals needed for the proper operation of superyachts. They have been handling technical documentation in the yachting industry for over 20 years, working for clients such as Baglietto, Sanlorenzo, Tankoa, and Azimut-Benetti, but the niché business still faces some challenges in its quest to drag traditional methods into the digital age.
As it stands, maintenance management is heavily reliant on the captain's decisions and whether or not they have a strong stance on routine preventative measures. Moreover, there is no legislation in place that requires a shipyard to provide a comprehensive maintenance plan for a vessel. The manuals that the shipyards do provide to superyacht owners, captains, and crew are of vital importance as they usually also include procedures for safety, environmental protection, and maintenance.
Riccardo Fregara explains why these issues are becoming even more prevalent, “As go-anywhere explorer yachts become more popular, it is becoming increasingly important to instruct the crew on the proper procedure when in stormy weather or if an electrical failure occurs in a remote location. Superyachts are extremely safe, with redundant systems built into the most critical components. Consider the hatches and tender hauling devices: thanks to manual pumps and manual systems, they can be operated even if the electrical system is damaged, power is interrupted, or the hydraulic power unit is damaged.”
Fregara adds, “Onboard systems are becoming more sophisticated, and at the same time easier to operate, thanks to the widespread use of touch screens and advanced interfaces. The challenge is to operate them in extreme conditions, such as an electrical failure...
"We must understand how to operate, and the crew must understand the proper procedures, and this is where the manual comes in handy.”
If a superyacht is well maintained then its environmental impact can be significantly reduced - the yacht is less likely to need an imminent refit or repair, and it should in theory last longer. When it comes to the environment, regulations are updated on an almost regular basis, with these new regulations coming in so quickly, it's not uncommon for seafarers to be out of the loop. For this reason, it can be a great advantage to consume this information through the use of video instructions, QR codes, apps, and cloud systems.
Fregara also shared a comical anecdote which also proves the value of proper maintenance management, “A captain recently told us about a case of water infiltration in a cabin. Following an initial investigation, it was discovered that the water was coming from the ceiling. From there, a search for the faulty component began, leading the captain and his crew to dismantle a very large number of panels, in a blind trial and error search for the guilty component, which turned out to be a FanCoil air exchanger.”
Situations such as these can be avoided if the crew have ready access to proper manuals and guides, “ If there was a good manual that showed how and which fittings to disassemble in order to easily locate components such as pipes and air conditioning systems and access hidden items on board, this could be avoided.” Fregara continues, “Trust me, there are many components on a superyacht. It is also up to the captain to decide whether to use paper documentation or a digital version...
"Clearly, the trend is to transition from paper to digital. For maintenance management, there is a definite shift toward software tools.”
It is well known how preventive maintenance can reduce costs while increasing boat reliability. For these reasons highlighted above, F3Studiohave decided to introduce the ‘YachtServ App’, which allows crew members to manage the scheduled maintenance plan, access onboard documentation, and watch training videos via tablet. It is currently used on the most recent Tankoa superyachts and will soon be used on superyachts built by the Baglietto shipyard. We are entering an era where questions are constantly raised regarding industry standards and the indolence of the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude, but by showcasing and implementing digital solutions, the industry can become safer and more cost-effective.
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