Maritime sector requires specialised IT partners

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Written by
Roland de Haas

Co-founder Dutch IT Supplier BV

Maritime sector requires specialised IT partners

The maritime world is specific and timing is crucial. It is often difficult to indicate when exactly a ship arrives in port and once the ship is at the quay, it wants to leave as soon as possible. Flexibility, care and speed are crucial. Literally missing the boat can cause major problems on board, especially if the next port is only reached in a few weeks."

It is difficult to plan exactly when a ship arrives in port. This has to do with several factors including weather conditions, certain legislation and/or administrative matters that must be supplied before a ship is allowed to enter a port. "This requires a lot of flexibility and knowledge from a supplier," says Roland de Haas of Dutch IT Supplier, an organization that specializes in advice and IT solutions for customers active in the maritime sector.

The IT industry and its solutions follow each other in rapid succession. Keeping up with these developments takes time and specialism, as IT touches more and more facets of the maritime sector. From IOT data from the sensors to crew welfare solutions on board.

Everything is connected on the IT network!

Our strength is to make the right combination between standard office automation and maritime certified hardware. As a result, we create economically interesting solutions for the market with global support. On board a ship, the navigation and communication equipment must comply with different certifications. This equipment is supplied by partners of ours and we support these partners with the infrastructure on board the ships.

Roland de Haas cites a number of reasons why a specialist IT partner for the maritime sector is necessary.

Long service life

"Many ships are built to be operational for decades. This has consequences for the IT infrastructure. Older ships are equipped with specific sensors and connectors (such as RS-232 / Com ports) that also need to be read out. Specific configurations are therefore necessary for the new hardware to seamlessly connect to this. In order to have a good understanding of the customer's needs, it is very important to know these specific conditions before being able to give good advice," says De Haas


Connectivity and bandwidth

"One of the biggest challenges in shipping is connectivity. This is the biggest difference between office automation and IT on board of ships.

The moment a ship sails out of port, the connection with the mobile signals (Wi-Fi/4G/5G) with standard equipment disappears very quickly.  Further at sea, there is a switch to satellite communication. This is a good and stable network but with minimal bandwidth and extremely expensive to use. This means that for communication solutions on board, a limited bandwidth and the costs thereof must always be taken into account. In order to have this available as cost effective as possible, we recommend specific solutions. Think of High-Gain antennas but also data compression techniques." continues De Haas.

Connectivity on board the ship is becoming increasingly important. More and more equipment is equipped with sensors, all those sensors provide data and with the help of smart techniques such as business intelligence, you can translate this data into valuable information.

Fight against the elements

"On deck and in the loading and engine rooms of ships, the equipment must be resistant to: water, vibration, heat, wind, dust and salt.  In addition to the elements, the crew is generally a bit rougher and often have dirty hands," de Haas continues.

"Panasonic's Toughbook laptops and tablets live up to their name: they are robust, insensitive to dirt and resistant to all weather conditions. In addition, options such as scanners or serial ports can be added very easily," concludes De Haas. "The initial purchase price of a Toughbook is higher than a standard notebook, but this investment quickly pays for itself in daily use. Panasonic has the right accessories and expansion options that are precisely tailored to the effective use of the devices. Looking at longevity, ease of use and quality, a Toughbook is a sustainable investment.

Global coverage

Due to the international nature of the maritime sector, it is important that a manufacturer can offer service and support worldwide. Panasonic has such a global footprint combined with its knowledge and experience in the field of rugged devices "This is very important for shipping because a ship cannot sail back to its home port if there is a problem. With Panasonic, we know that repairs can be carried out in every country or a replacement device can be delivered," concludes De Haas.

Header image source: Lukassek/

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