Maritime CEO

Idwal Marine: Google Street View of shipping coming soon

There’s been a noticeable drop in maintenance of dry bulk ships and container vessels over the past two years, according to new analysis from Cardiff-based Idwal Marine, a maritime consultancy and data service provider.

Nick Owens, CEO of Idwal Marine, tells Maritime CEO today investors must pay greater attention to the management and maintenance regime of their assets.

“It’s easy to treat a ship as a commodity, but the vessel’s maintenance and management regime has a significant impact on both the vessel’s value and ongoing maintenance costs,” Owens says.

Idwal Marine’s data analysis shows that there’s been a marked decline since 2017 in the condition of dry bulkers, particularly in the handy and supramax sectors, and containerships, during a weak market where sometimes essential maintenance has been postponed or avoided.

Idwal has noted a wide range of condition and management grades between technical managers via analysing data from its ship insepction platform, Inspectmyship. The collated data also shows that technical managers don’t always manage vessels to the same standard consistently within their own managed fleet, underlining the need for shipowners, investors and banks to keep a keen eye on the management of their assets.

“This applies equally to investors who have an increasing commitment to environmental and social governance, and with banks who are also operating in an increasingly regulated landscape,” Owens says, adding that conventions such as Basel 4 require all banks to revise their capital adequacy tests and understand the condition and value of their collateral more accurately than ever before.

Owens reckons the challenges owners face are getting vessel inspections carried out accurately, quickly, consistently and cost effectively to help make their investment decisions.

“In our experience, owners want accurate and quality reporting from qualified surveyors, fast response, and upfront transparent pricing that’s easy to understand.  They also want reports that written in plain English and, most importantly, the ability to compare their vessel’s condition to other ships in their peer group,” Owens says.

In 2017, Idwal launched Inspectmyship, the industry’s first online vessel inspection platform. Idwal uses smart data analytics to help clients identify and understand their assets’ condition compared to peers, giving the critical analysis needed for maritime investments.

Owens, formerly with British shipowner Graig, claims that the Idwal Grade is the industry’s only consistent source of standardised ship condition data  and is becoming the industry benchmark for banks, financial institutions, private equity groups, shipowners, brokers, insurers and charterers.

The Idwal Grade is a culmination of a weighted grading system and an underlying set of algorithms which automatically determine a vessel grade, based on the input inspection data.  Each vessel is inspected to the same standard.

Owens says the company’s focus now is on growing its data set of relevant condition and management grades across as many vessels as possible, and expanding its surveyor network.

Idwal currently has a network of over 200 surveyors performing inspections in over 446 ports in 90 countries, and its data set of relevant vessel condition and management data now exceeds 2,000 ships.

The platform also gives the opportunity for surveyors to choose when and where they work, much like the Uber model.

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in virtual reality tours of vessels and we expect the Google Street View style walk around of ships to become the norm for shipping over time, as we’ve seen in the real estate market and the hotel industry.  It gives an absolute reflection of what the ship looks like at the time of the inspection,” Owens says.

Going forward, Idwal expects to launch additional services such as more diverse inspection types, live inspections, and remote / drone inspections.

“Ultimately, we see the Idwal inspection model working across a number of sectors such as oil & gas, pipelines, aviation and critical infrastructure,” Owens anticipates.

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