Whilst the rest of the world seems to have gone technology mad, the majority of marine cargo surveyors seem to have remained almost reassuringly reserved about the new technology.
Certainly, having spoken with a few surveyors, there is a reluctance to embrace the new technology. Without doubt there is no on line system that can incorporate the experience or opinion and judgement of the Master who was at sea overseeing cargo operations for 40 years. Marine cargo surveying is about experience, knowledge and the ability to opine that, given a set of discovered facts, the cause of damage was, ALMOST certainly, thus…! It is not an exact science and, in some ways, does not lend itself to the online treatment !
However, there are certain aspects of the marine cargo surveyors task that are repetitive, time consuming and tedious.
The process of recording the cargo details and reporting on loss or damage at survey could surely benefit from some electronic assistance.
Some aspects of a cargo claim are unlimited and boundless but some are not……..there are a limited number of types of container, there are limited shipping practices ( FCL/FCL LCL/LCL etc. ), the incoterms are limited, there are a limited number of MAJOR carriers, there are limited major loss types……to a certain extent there are a limited number of major causes.
Not everything will fit in to a drop down menu, sometimes we need to write something tasty on the specials board but, in the main, losses fall into limited categories.
The process of transferring the findings at survey and the conclusions into the office to be properly formatted, printed or emailed to the client is time consuming. It often takes the surveyor too long to write and format the report. Clients are pressing for the findings and conclusions. Ringing daily for the report, eating into valuable survey time.
Is it not the case that the process of collecting certain information could not be made easier by electronic report on a tablet or mobile ? Drop downs and tick boxes strike fear in the heart of the old sea dog but should not, surely, if he controls their use. Simplifying the options and avoiding repetition brings huge cost savings.
If the findings at survey simply travel from mobile/tablet to server in a format already designed by the surveyor, possibly to be added to later, edited and, eventually declared online, surely, there are cost savings to be seen. The client gets the information more quickly. If desired the client can watch the report develop online. ( no more tiresome chasers ). The unfinished report, on line, serves, surely as our old ‘preliminary report’.
It is possible to take excellent photographs on mobile and tablet these days. Those images, with a typed explanation can be uploaded seconds after they have been taken.
Whilst we must not lose the experience, judgement and downright cynicism of the salty sea dogs that comment on our cargoes Worldwide, they may be losing certain benefits that the new technologies bring. Their clients certainly seem to be calling for more streamlined, app based, paperless, electronic reporting.
Not everything fits into a dropdown report, not everyone can always be ‘appy but it would seem that, under their control, the new technology may bring time and cost savings to our harassed experts…..
Not ‘out with the old’ but maybe ‘in with the new’ ?