Pressure to perform
In recent times, increased pressure on global supply chains has seen a steady increase in the size of vessels handled by ports and intensity of operations. These increases have led to tighter operational margins and heightened demands for navigational precision. Additionally, regulatory oversight and stakeholder expectations regarding safety and environmental protection are demanding high levels of assurance and leaving little room for error.
The increasing pressure on port companies and shipping lines to meet these heightened expectations demands demonstrable use of best practice methods for safety management and to drive continuous improvement. In practice, the ongoing risk during the passage of vessels in ports and harbours is delivered by the performance of the port’s maritime pilots.
Advances in navigational methods and tools has led to the development and routine use of Portable Pilotage Unit (PPU) technology. This has enabled very precise and repeatable navigation of vessels within pilotage waters.
However, while individual passages may be successfully completed; the overall performance of a pilotage team, the effect of environmental and vessel factors on margins, and in particular, trends in performance may not be evident. Overall, navigational performance of the port’s pilotage team, systems and procedures can only be understood over time if measured and with the use of statistical methods.
For a number of years, the maritime industry, and in particular marine pilots, have looked to aviation for ways to improve performance and safety. By creating a product that is able to capture, analyse, display and report on the data gathered during pilotage, MPOSA has opened the door for the maritime industry to make similar advances in navigational safety and operational performance to those made by similar products for aviators.
Built upon proven aviation navigational philosophies
Civil aviation has long understood the power of capturing performance data and using that to drive continuous improvement. This, together with a just and open culture can be credited as the basis of the exceptional levels of safety, efficiency and delivery that civil aviation is now recognised for.
While there are many reasons for this including regulatory oversight, accepted processes and industry culture, the development of new safety initiatives and systems continues. Among the more recent initiatives that have proved valuable is flight data monitoring (FDM) or flight data analysis, which is a method of capturing, analysing and displaying the data. This is also sometimes referred to as Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA). Applying the information learned from this analysis helps to find new ways to improve flight safety and increase overall operational efficiency.
In addition to the development of FDM, precise satellite based navigational technology enabled Performance Based Navigation (PBN). That, in turn, led to the ability to define and apply navigational criteria – this is known as Required Navigation Performance (RNP). The ability to store, analyse and carry out statistical pattern recognition has resulted in accurate and measurable Actual Navigation Performance (ANP) monitoring. RNP type approaches to navigation have enhanced safety assurance while also improving reliability of access to airports.
Applying aviation navigational philosophies to the maritime sector
Given PPU generate navigational data sets equivalent to that of a modern civil aircraft and that passage plans are now formalised, a maritime version of RNP is now possible. Navigatus has taken the PBN methodology together with an FDM approach and applied it to the maritime sector. We call this; Maritime Pilot Operational Safety Assurance (MPOSA).
For port channel operations, timely inputs are central to safe navigation. It can be argued that port channel operations are akin to the RNP operations now used in aviation, hence similar principles, and given the data now available from a maritime pilot’s PPU, similar analysis methodologies can be applied in the maritime sector to achieve safety and performance improvements.
MPOSA is built upon the lessons and knowledge built up in the aviation sector.
MPOSA uses advanced proprietary software to deliver a systematic and comprehensive analysis methodology that generates deep insights into navigational performance against clearly defined performance criteria. The insights inform all aspects of a port company or harbour authority’s operational safety program.
Maritime Pilotage Operational Safety Assurance
With the increase in size of vessels as well as an expectation to drive down risk and reduce the chance of maritime incidents, consistently accurate navigation and ship handling is becoming essential.
MPOSA is designed to enable ports to understand navigational performance for each specific set of operating conditions (wind, tide etc) and the impact of vessel characteristics and environmental conditions on actual navigation performance. It allows ports to accurately assess operational margins, and provide opportunities to uses empirical data to extend operational windows and, where necessary, implement mitigations to meet the safety criteria whilst enabling optimum use of the port facilities.
While performance will initially be assessed against the port’s standard passage plans, the insights gained may be used to further refine and develop overall passage planning.
MPOSA now enables navigational performance to be analysed to enable or inform:
- Passage planning for all vessel classes under all environmental conditions
- Training and currency programs
- Trends and safety outcomes analysis
- Team performance management
- Individual performance monitoring (subject to a Just Culture environment)
- Compliance monitoring
- Safety assurance
- Channel design and dredging programme optimisation
- Consideration of operational limits and criteria.
In summary, MPOSA forms an evidence-based navigational performance tool.
MPOSA supports safety management and port utilisation
The MPOSA platform forms the core of an action-orientated programme that optimises port utilisation and safety assurance. Advanced analysis generates the information that builds the knowledge necessary to take informed action to understand operational margins and drive continuous improvement in the port’s navigational performance. The diagram here illustrates the information used by MPOSA and how the output supports informed assessments of actual navigational performance.
Understanding actual navigational performance enables insights that can be used in the design of the port’s infrastructure, to refine operational limits, guide training design and focus currency programmes. Monitoring can be at a team level, and if required, at an individual level. By recording all passages, MPOSA enables self-monitoring of performance thereby supporting professional development. Logging of pilotages that have been undertaken may also act as a record and so serve to meet maritime rules.
Team or cohort performance monitoring also enables the effect of changes and training to be monitored and refined. Such efforts give confidence and enable assurance at all levels.
MPOSA - A key element of a port's Safety Management System (SMS)
Aside from enabling fuller utilisation of a port, MPOSA is intended to also form a key element of a port’s Safety Management System (SMS). MPOSA enables ports to understand current performance and manage the factors that contribute to risk.
The assessment of performance under an SMS should give proper attention the inter-dependence of the elements of passage design, vessel characteristics (e.g. windage), channel design and operating margins, pilotage procedures, human factors, infrastructure and the operating environment.