News & Media

08 December, 2020

Inchcape marine survey and inspection - everything under control

Turbulent times are presenting shipowners and operators with a steady stream of new challenges. Inchcape offers cost-effective and efficient surveys to help keep things under control.

Inchcape surveys cover a wide range of shipowner needs, from above deck to below the waterline, with fuel concerns currently foremost among them. “Bunker optimisation was already a hot topic, with the IMO 2020 sulphur cap regulations creating a new fuel reality,” says David Pratt, Inchcape VP Marine Services, Asia Pacific. “Now the situation has been complicated further by restrictions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.”

New fuel requirements have dictated changes in fuel specifications, he says, and owners need to be sure they are getting the quality of fuel that they are paying for in order to ensure regulatory compliance. “Owners need reliable third party assurance, and our bunker optimisation package provides this. It’s a new fuel landscape out there, but you can still be confident of what you have in the tank,” Pratt assures.

Not just bunker quality, but quantity issues are common. “Incorrect quantities have been documented in some ports. We have seen five-ton variances and we know that up to 100 ton deviance is possible,” says Pratt. To combat the problem, Inchcape offers reliable bunker quantity surveys in key locations around the world.

Leveraging a global network

Inchcape’s offering is designed to provide assistance and support wherever client needs arise: “We have an experienced agency team partnering with surveyors around the world. Using our global network, we can provide a single point of contact for a wide variety of bunkering services, using on-site representatives with maritime expertise who are familiar with local regulations and restrictions,” Pratt assures.

Allying with a respected global bunker expert, Inchcape also offers bundled bunker optimization services: “Bundling services saves costs, simplifies the transaction and ensures quality results for customers,” Pratt tells.

Countering Covid disruptions

Inchcape can provide owners peace of mind in areas where bunkering problems are known to have existed, in addition to new locations that are opening up as the Covid crunch forces owners to look for alternate bunkering locations. “Owners need to have confidence that these locations are safe and reliable,” Pratt says.

Using new and more remote locations can influence cost as well, Pratt says. “The cost of laboratory testing is generally reasonable, but testing from remote locations can be 2-3 times more expensive.” Both cost and confidence issues are addressed through Inchcape’s trusted global network, he informs, and the results can be shared digitally through Email, online, or via a dedicated app.

“We are also looking at new technology to make rapid testing available worldwide,” Pratt adds. “Normally it takes 24 hours for test results to come back. When an immediate response is required, rapid testing can provide an option.”

Underwater drones – a simpler way to get below the surface

Inchcape recently equipped 10 stations around the world with BlueEye underwater drones, Pratt says: “This is a new technology that we can offer as a cost effective and safer alternative to divers. It gives owners a true picture of vessel condition below the waterline, including detailed views of the propeller and rudder.”

In addition to being more affordable than using divers, availability is generally higher. Pratt notes that the drone can be set up and running in 15 minutes, and is fully portable: “Countries are implementing new bio-fouling regulations, and ships are being turned away from harbours for not meeting standards. This can have great economic and logistical consequences.” Should undue fouling be detected, he adds that Inchcape has partnered with a vendor to carry out cleaning at multiple locations around the world.

Control across the board

Inchcape offers a wide range of surveys that cover all the key elements of marine operations. “We have surveys designed to mitigate risk to cargo or the vessel itself, including crane and wire inspections, cargo handling, and load master operations,” says Pratt.

“We cover commercial aspects as well, helping owners to optimise vessel loads in order to maximise profit. We can perform load surveys to avoid overloading the vessel, as well as trimming and draft surveys to enhance vessel performance, ensuring that the ultimate commercial value can be gained on every voyage.”

He notes that compliancy is key to ensuring that marine warranty surveys are met. “If a vessel is compliant with IMO regulations, the charterer taking on that vessel knows what they are getting, including underwater inspection.” By documenting ship status upon takeover, surveys can also help prevent passing on physical damage from one charterer to the next.

Trusted partners, provided by Inchcape

Inchcape has laid a solid foundation for their survey offering, carrying out internal reviews and benchmarking their services against globally accepted standards and processes. “Surveyors tend to work in independent ways. Our goal was to identify best practice and design the process from the ground up, including reporting and training, in order to ensure that all surveys align with group quality standards. This means the customer does not have to relate to multiple regimes. We do that for them,” Pratt tells.

“Large shipowning companies have their own surveyors who travel around the world, but they cannot do that now with Covid. Inchcape has people on site already, and we can manage local risks as well,” Pratt concludes. “Our global network is built on proven expertise. This gives us the ability to adjust to any situation, to fill the gap wherever needed.”