Raising the SOS distress call
Marine vessels like boats, ships, or fleets of vessels much like their land counter-parts need to undergo regular scheduled maintenance. Larger maritime firms with fleets of vessels typically use Marine Maintenance Systems (MMS) to record vessel maintenance and parts inventory. However, vessels could be out at sea for months at a time, with limited to no access to an MMS. While at sea, crew members in charge of a vessel’s maintenance, perform maintenance and resort to keeping track of maintenance tasks, by writing them down in a notebook and re-entering the tasks into the MMS once they are back at port. Sometimes these manual entries may inadvertently never be entered into the MMS. As a result, the MMS might carry incomplete information, making it difficult to administrate vessel & fleet health.
The SMAC Stack Insights
Time-to-market is a critical factor for most business and consumer Apps. Quick iterative design cycles, rapid prototyping, and usability testing are key to ensuring the success of gesture and touch friendly Apps.
All aboard and anchor up!
Wheelhouse Technologies – the world leader in Marine Maintenance Solutions for single vessels and fleets – saw an opportunity to solve the problem. Together with Ayantek, Wheelhouse Technologies conceptualized Underway, a unique Tablet App for fleet maintenance that would work with their MMS called Wheelhouse in both online and offline modes. Such an App would allow crew members to record their vessel’s maintenance schedules and inventory at all times – even when underway at sea for months on end.
Rescuing the lost at sea
Ayantek recognized the need to design a user experience that was easy and simple for sailors. The App would be used at sea and needed to allow for the natural roll of the ship. Tap sizes and font needed to be large and icons sized accordingly. Underway also needed to provide easy access to maintenance management tasks such as updating run times, offer maintenance alerts, record corrective maintenance tasks, create and/or print maintenance forecast, and create onetime maintenance tasks. In addition, the App needed to provide easy access to vessel documentation, including drawings, equipment manuals, operating manuals, and documentation/registry.
Arriving at port, safe and sound
Architecturally, Ayantek utilized a number of cutting-edge technologies such as Ionic and Apache Cordova communicating to Wheelhouse through a web services API. The final Underway App launched for both iOS and Android devices included a number of features such as:
- Offline and Online modes: — The App allowed customers to initialize vessel history from Wheelhouse before leaving port. After synchronization, the App would be used to record vessel maintenance during the journey at sea. When the ship docks back at port and internet connectivity became established, maintenance updates recorded while at sea using the app, would then sync back to Wheelhouse
- Advanced Role based Access: — To use the App, users logged in with their pre-assigned WheelHouse credentials. Administrators could grant users recording privileges to the entire fleet or specific vessels in their fleet.
- Bi-direction synchronization: – If the data in the master database changed since the last time the mobile app was sync’d, the app retrieves the updated data from the system as well as update the system data with any modifications made on the local device.
- Multiple vessel modality: — Customers with multiple vessels could add each vessel to the app and manage each vessel independently. In multiple vessel mode, customers could to ‘switch’ vessels from any point within the app and view/maintain records for each one.
- Comprehensive reporting: — The App offered a whole slew of reports including As Build Reports, Fluids Schedule, Kit Inventory, Maintenance History, Maintenance Tasks, My Manufacturers, Spare Parts Inventory, and Warranty.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to work with the Ayantek team. They are masters of digital technologies and user experience, bringing creative solutions for solving problems. They have done a great job in successfully rolling out WheelHouse – our App – on multiple platforms and delivering ongoing enhancement upgrades.”
The Wheelhouse Underway mobile application was given the 2015 “Silver” Horizon Interactive Award in the “Mobile Apps – Business” category for excellence in interactive media production.