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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Frank Coles

CEO, Tansas

Posted 4/8/2016 10:50:43 AM

Frank Coles

By Joseph Keefe

In Singapore this past January, Transas launched its newly established Transas Academy, part of the company’s THESIS, the Transas Harmonized Eco System of Integrated Solutions, during the Simulation User Conference (SimUC).

According to Transas, the main purpose of the Transas Academy is to connect maritime stakeholders and provide them with integrated solutions and high quality content, helping them to bridge the gap between STCW and the required competency level. In February, MarPro sat down with new Transas CEO Frank Coles to ask: what does all this really mean? As usual, the always candid Coles did not disappoint. Tune in for ‘five minutes with Frank.’ 

The recent Transas Simulation User Conference in Singapore introduced THESIS, the Transas Harmonized Eco System of Integrated Solutions. But, what is THESIS?
It is the connected community of the ship, shore office, the ship traffic authorities and academy working together on a cloud based shared data platform to enable smarter operations, safety and navigation.

Arguably, harmonized integrated marine solutions for ship ops are already here. Give us a garden variety example of what you will do differently.
I don’t know of any harmonized marine solutions for ship operations. Ship operations between the ship and shore remain disconnected and decision tools do not exist in a connected world. We are talking about an environment where the ship data collection is connected to the shore decision based analysis environment, where decisions are taken jointly and responsibility is shared. This involves significant connectivity requirements, increased harmonization and an integration of the bridge, engine data on board, with the shore based operations team to enable navigational, operational and administrative decisions to happen seamlessly.

Give us your vision for the future of the global maritime technology. You say Transas will ‘shake up the market.’ How so?
Transas wants to create a platform that provides a community for several key stakeholders to enable a change in attitude to ship operations, navigation and thereby improve safety and safe operations. The vision is for all sectors to share data, and enable one another to make better decisions, better operations and better training. Ship operations would be a coordinated evolution, with ship and shore based operations centers working together, on shared information platforms, the ship and office would also work in a community where the ship traffic control would enable better coordination of traffic movements, with decision based tools to enable direction of traffic. The fourth element would be training, or what we call the academy. Simulators and content would be connected to each other for sharing data and enabling decisions to be tested, but also connected to enable schools to share content and ship models so that the community can learn. All of this training capability can also be shared with the ship. Scenarios can be run on the simulators using ship traffic control, ships and operations centers. We do not intend to force a standard but to enable the community to decide its level of involvement and connectivity.

Transas will collaborate with industry on this new effort. How will you do that? On board, in the classroom, in the simulator or all three?
This is very much all three. The simulator is in effect an empty computer without the models and scenarios built by the schools or manufacturers. To enable and build a comprehensive community we will facilitate the sharing and learning of more complex scenarios and models. This will provide for more advanced training over and above the standard STCW training, and for it to be shared. Alongside this, we will also enable collaboration of the data onboard for running a ship operations center so that the operator has all the data. 

How will the Fleet Management ecosystem reduce the administrative load on the ship? Give us a couple of examples.
There is absolutely no reason why the ship types up 6 copies of a crew list, 4 copies of inventory and bond, etc. All of this should and could be done ashore and connected to the ship and the port and the agent, without the master being the secretary or being involved. There are endless examples of paperwork that should be done from ashore, or where the automation of log books, data and engine performance could be done without making this a manual task. A connected ship would enable the menial tasks to be done by a team ashore.

Connecting the ship connected to the ecosystem – the cloud – IS ambitious. It also entails risk – proprietary information exposed to hacking, navigation systems potentially hijacked, for example. Assuming that you can get widespread buy-in for maritime stakeholders, what protections can you build in to protect the integrity of it all?
All technology carries risk. Aircraft communications, drone operations, and any internet based communications. Proper IT procedures will greatly reduce the risks. I am not saying we operate the ship from the shore, but they share data and decision tools, alongside a shared management, the ship continues to be operated from the ship.

Connecting the office, the training facility and a properly created ship traffic control environment is a new way of thinking. It’s exciting. But why would the ship need to talk to the training center? Or, is it that the training center will learn from the movements of the ship? What will they accomplish by doing so?
This works in two ways. First the training centers can upload and do on line training to the officers on board. Second, the data from actual events can be used by simulators to greatly improve realism, correct and train both the intelligence of the simulator and also the courses that can be run. Maybe to some, the immediate question or statement is that nobody will share or cooperate. I am sure there will be some resistance from some. Not all stakeholders have to be open from the start and we have to remember that an airplane takes off up wind. We are providing an ecosystem to remove the insanity, which is in effect making changes so we do not have the same attitude and environment.

You propose addressing the traditional hierarchy on board and between ship and shore. Arguably, the Master and his authority have both been undercut, and yet, you correctly say that criminalizing the seafarer continues unabated despite the loss of on board autonomy. And, you submit that the issue is central to what THESIS and the ‘ecosystem’ can solve. But, how?
The master is responsible, whether the shore puts pressure on or not. In fact, the shore pressure is there, the added work load is there, the criminalization is there, the single point of failure is under greater pressure, so why not relieve the pressure. Allow the decision to be shared, or at least the tools to be in place to share the discussion and share the thought process, without just underhand pressure from ashore. Share the same decision tools, and then allow it to be a fleet resource decision.

Define Fleet Resource Management for our readers?
The ship and operations room of the owner share the same operations data, weather, charts, etc. They share the routing, and monitoring. With decision tools shared, they can discuss critical issues. Technology removes menial administration tasks into the office and navigation and engine operations become a team approach across the fleet.

As training is set up in an environment with a simulator, the use of real world data to continuously fine tune the models would be a welcome variable. Do you someday envision industry players cooperating with one another, or will data streams remain proprietary?
I see a day when schools work together and with our community because it is happening today. Our data fine tunes our models and live data validates and upgrades the scenarios and models. Whether two simulator companies would cooperate is another story, but I see ship traffic working with ship operations and simulation to develop better realistic models, better training, and to analyze and support a true to life 3D picture of the operations decisions taking all aspects into consideration.

(As published in the Q1 2016 edition of Maritime Professional)