An industry view: Why the DBMS is good for business
The introduction of the Dry Bulk Management Standard will play an important part in improving maritime safety standards. But it’s also an essential step forward in benchmarking and vessel marketing. In this post, George Vakirtzis, Managing Director of Polembros Shipping highlights the many benefits.
I, along with my team at Polembros, welcome DBMS because owners who have only managed dry cargo have not had access to tools such as the Tanker Management Self-Assessment programme. Therefore, the DBMS will provide a new way to benchmark companies and vessels. Until now, there has been nothing in the dry sector to distinguish oneself from the others.
We understand that this will be a significant transition for the dry bulk industry, but it is a move in the right direction. DBMS will help the industry go above the compliance baseline: ISM, SOLAS and MARPOL.
Closing the gap
As a dynamic organization, we do believe in the aspects of safety and quality in our operations. We provide comprehensive and constant training to our people and invest heavily in our human resources. Currently, there is a gap in the system in terms of highlighting companies that go above and beyond the minimum standard. Having a standard to measure ourselves against, helps us to further improve and also to strengthen our competitive advantage.
We have completed a gap analysis between the draft DBMS guidelines and standards; and our Integrated Management System which includes the policies and procedures under which we operate.
For decades a minority of ship managers have invested a wide variety of resources in order to excel in their field simply because that is the way they wanted to conduct their business, rarely being rewarded for their efforts as ultimately Charterers mostly care about the freight rate, which is their bottom line. The emergence of DBMS gives me confidence that Polembros’ continued investments in the fleet and in its people will be rewarded. This has to be appraised somehow and the DBMS could become a tool to help us achieve this. If it evolves the way we envision it, it could develop into a financial incentive providing a reason to go beyond the safety standard “baseline” by encouraging ship owners and operators to not only improve safety standards, but also to become a preferred partner of choice for their Charterers.
Working towards a culture of transparency
The clarity of the DBMS system as we envision it developing, is an advantage. The TSMA requirements are interpreted quite differently by each oil major/trader. A vessel that has undergone a SIRE inspection with no high-risk observation might be deemed satisfactory for most OCIMF members but inacceptable for a single one (member). The widely varying expectations of OCIMF members creates a confusing landscape which is difficult for operators to navigate. It is not only that some Oil Majors become more demanding; but also, each members’ expectations change very often to respond to new trends in safety lapses. We hope and expect the DBMS to be easier and fairer for all parties to utilise.
I would like to emphasise that in any risk management system the notion of self-assessment is critical. In the current dry sector regime, it is all too easy for operators to hide their inadequacies. If you are a proactive company, and share information on incidents, near-misses and lessons learned, you expose yourself without reaping any serious benefits for yourself. Instead, we need to build a culture of sharing and transparency for the advancement of the industry and the DBMS in principle encourages this.
Through self-assessment and evaluation, we will improve safety standards. We need solid foundations to build a robust industry-wide safety culture, and the DBMS could be a key component in strengthening these foundations.
Learn more and download the DBMS here