An industry view: why dry bulk standards must align with technological advances  

Capt Zhao Dasin Shipping

The development of the Dry Bulk Management Standard will not only help to improve safety practices, but also allow us to consider the ways technology can help us do things better. In this post, Captain Zhao of Dasin Shipping explains why we must evolve to keep up with digital innovation.   

When it comes to shipping standards, we all know the ISM code, which has been in operation for more than 20 years. It has played an important role in ensuring the safety of ships and crew. But despite the ISM regulations, in the past ten years there have been around 2,000 incidents on dry bulk vessels, and 200 seafarers have lost their lives.  

With the advancement in technology, the working environment is not the same as it was when the code was introduced, therefore we must evolve to provide more guidance for those seeking to improve their digital processes.  


How technology is changing the way we operate   

Technology has changed our lives, and it is also changing the way we manage ships. I have been fortunate to participate in the digitalisation process of our fleet at Dasin Shipping.  

Our company has always been a leader in the digitisation of ship publications and onboard communication systems. I joined the company in 2013 and back then ECDIS was not compulsory. Despite this, we installed ECDIS in our fleet ships from delivery at the shipyard.  

We were also the first to use electronic versions of various publications from UKHO and IMO, while many companies are still busy mailing updated CDs and paper charts or publications to ports. Our ship operators can also get updates from the internet easily. As for crew welfare, we are gradually releasing free internet access and unlimited data to our crews so they can stay connected.  

Cyber security has become increasingly important in the maritime industry. Thus, the safety management system (SMS) must include the cyber security procedure no later than the first annual verification of the company’s Document of Compliance after 1 January 2021. I am currently preparing the shipboard cyber security solution for our fleet. I know one of the standards for the process area is cyber security, and we will try our best to meet relevant standard within this year. 


Using the DBMS to guide digital standards 

With the spread of Covid-19, the shipping industry is accelerating the process of digitisation and this is something that we must factor into the DBMS.  

Technological advances are essential for our industry; high-quality digital tools help people at all levels of the supply chain do their jobs. But no matter how good the systems and procedures are, we cannot guarantee the safety of the ship, crew and environment. Technology can’t solve all of the problems, but it can help in many cases. That’s why it’s an important part of the overall approach to safety.  

Many international agencies and organisations are calling for the crew to be treated as key workers. In the DBMS there is one special standard called crew welfare, which means we are working to go beyond ISM code. 

We must stop focusing only on how to stop things from going wrong and emphasis why things go right instead. 

Learn more and download the DBMS here