28 January 2022

“The maritime industry is undergoing a rapid digital transformation. In this challenging process the competitive shipping sector is confronted with constantly changing environmental regulatory requirements that demand innovative solutions,” says Nicholas Rich, Group Technical Manager Systems at BSM. “To meet this demand, we started in 2019 to develop eRBooks, a digital environmental record book solution. With this software solution ship owners can comply with environmental regulations in a more efficient and transparent way and thus prevent detentions proactively”.

eRBooks stands for Electronic Record Books and is a new module of the integrated ship management software smartPAL developed by MariApps, the wholly owned IT subsidiary of the Schulte Group. It is part of a unique digital portfolio the Schulte Group is providing to the maritime industry. eRBooks is the latest addition and is being rolled out to all existing BSM customers.

The module contains electronic equivalents of all the paper environmental record books required to be used under the MARPOL Convention, Ballast Water Convention and IMO Guidelines for the control and management of ships’ biofouling. With eRBooks the following record books can be stored fully digital:

  • Oil Record Book Part 1 (ORB Part 1)
  • Oil Record Book Part 2 (ORB Part 2)
  • Emission Record Book (Annex VI)
  • Cargo Record Book 1 (Noxious liquid substances in bulk)
  • Ballast Water Record Book
  • Biofouling Record Book
  • MARPOL Seal Logs
  • Garbage Record Book Part 1 (GRB Part 1)
  • Garbage Record Book Part 2 (GRB Part 2)

Approval of these tools is given by flag states and class societies, with most flag states delegating approval to use electronic record books to the class societies. eRBooks has been approved by Bureau Veritas and Class NK. With regards to flag states, the module is already approved by the Marshall Islands, Liberia and Finland, with Panama and Japan in progress.

The pilot phase of eRBooks at BSM has already been running since July 2020. The module was rolled out to 100 ships in full management end of 2021 and by the end of the second quarter 2022 BSM will have rolled out eRBooks to all ships in full management. This marks a huge digitalisation effort in the maritime industry.

Data Availability – Secure, Anywhere at Anytime

2. eRBooks The Digital Revolution in Environmental Record Keeping 3b.png

eRBooks is designed to replace traditional paper-based record books.

eRBooks allows owners and managers to maintain an effective, real-time oversight of shipboard environmental records while being compliant with the given guidelines. The module ensures data exchange between sea and shore through regular updates. This makes environmental record book data digitally available anywhere at anytime.

Data security is guaranteed through secured accesses (multi-layer security), data encryption with AES-256 standard, and recordkeeping only by authorized personnel. eRBooks is web-based on the vessel’s intranet, but also available on iOS and Android. The digitalised version of the record books reduces administrative workload for the crew and minimises the error rate through various automatic control and plausibility mechanisms. Therefore, deviations from vessel specific limitations can be quickly identified and appropriate countermeasures can be initiated to prevent violations. This makes the environmental record process easy and transparent, resulting in less incidents and ultimately cost. eRBooks is a great relief and support for crews and reduces the likelihood of errors to the minimum possible.

The data is backed up hourly as a PDF file and stored on external hard drives. This ensures the availability of the data even in the event of a server failure. In addition, the newly developed smartPAL Backup Utility creates backups of the smartPAL database and its applications. With the restore function, the loss of eRBooks data is reduced to a minimum of 15 minutes.

“The module clearly challenges the status quo of having environmental paper record books on board. It simplifies work processes, makes data available and minimizes errors while enabling ship owners to be compliant with different regulations wherever their vessel is. With eRBooks we are revolutionising the industry and driving digitalisation in shipping while protecting the marine environment which is unique,” Rich concludes.