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Strategic steps to streamline the ship-shore collaboration

This article is part of the Linkedin Newsletter, Streamlining the Ship--Shore

Table of contents

  1. Overview

  2. Strategic Steps

  3. Bonus Step

  4. The Solution

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One of the critical aspects of the tank storage sector is the collaboration between terminals and vessels, which involves the loading and unloading of cargo from ships to tanks and vice versa. In this article, we zoom into five strategic steps that tank storage companies can follow to streamline the ship-shore collaboration between terminals and vessels. 


When we first started our development work on the Digital ISGOTT solution, we quickly picked up the pace and learned that each terminal comes with their own needs and requirements. Despite the complexity of developing a solution like the digital ISGOTT, there are a couple of strategic steps that, if implemented effectively, can not only speed up the adoption of technology but can also pave the way for more opportunities.

Here are five strategic steps to streamline the ship-shore collaboration in 2023

Step 1: Develop a comprehensive communication plan

It is already implied in the keyword of this article: collaboration. Effective communication is the foundation of successful ship-shore collaboration. 

Here’s what you can start with:

  1. Develop a comprehensive communication plan to outline the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved. Include terminal operators, ship crew, agents, and cargo surveyors.
  2. Specify the communication channels, such as radio, email, phone, and the protocols for sharing information, such as cargo quantity and quality, loading and discharge procedures, and safety instructions.
  3. Outline the communication plan to prevent delays, errors, or accidents and ensure that the cargo is handled efficiently and safely

Step 2: Implement advanced cargo tracking systems

With so much technology available, tank storage companies can easily leverage advanced cargo tracking systems to monitor the movement of cargo from ship to shore and vice versa. 

These systems use sensors, scanners, and RFID technology to capture data in real time and provide accurate and timely information about the cargo's location, quantity, and quality. 

Such systems improve operational efficiency, reduce the risk of errors and discrepancies, and enhance customer service levels.

Step 3: Establish a clear loading and unloading procedure

Efficiency and safety have been the most important goals customers we work with have mentioned throughout the years. 

The loading and unloading of cargo from ships to tanks and vice versa is a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful planning and coordination.

A clear loading and unloading procedure outlines:

  • The steps to be followed 
  • The equipment to be used
  • The personnel involved 
  • The safety measures in place

Regularly reviewing and updating the procedure to meet the latest regulations and incorporating stakeholders’ feedback is fundamental.

Step 4. Introduce automation and digitization

Digital technologies, data analytics, telecommunications, robotics, wearable technology, and smart data capture are growing exponentially, and the largest tank storage companies in the world have already started their digital transition. 

Automated equipment, such as robotic arms and conveyors, to load and unload cargo from ships and tanks, and digital tools, such as cloud-based software and mobile apps, to manage operations, track inventory, and communicate with stakeholders. 

Look out for technologies purposely developed to reduce manual labor, minimize errors, and improve the speed and accuracy of data processing, focusing on making the life of field workers easier and more comfortable.

Step 5: Invest in employee training and development

Effective ship-shore collaboration requires skilled and knowledgeable personnel who understand the technical and operational aspects of the tank storage industry.

Investing in employee training and development will equip staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their roles at high standards 

Think of classroom training, on-the-job training, and certification programs covering cargo handling, safety procedures, data-sharing methods, and regulatory compliance.

Get all your terminal & tanker operators onboarded in just three weeks. The Smartflow Digital ISGOTT solution comes with effortless functionality and intuitive usability without the need for additional training or qualifications.

Among the reasons why safety accidents occur in the tank storage sector, the research Analysis on Dangerous Sources of Large Safety Accidents in Storage Tank Areas, mentions:

‘Management reasons mainly include staff skills training, staff Life Management, detection of storage devices, development of process operating standards and other rules and regulations, Installation of control equipment, development and periodic inspection of emergency response system.’

Maintenance and operational errors are mentioned in the scientific report, A Study of storage tank accidents, by James I. Changa, Cheng-Chung Linb

‘Four out of five accidents occurred during LPG and propane loading was caused by operational error. In a 1964 accident in Japan and a 1998 accident in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, the drivers moved the tankers inadvertently resulting in hose disconnecting, vapor release, fire and explosion. In a 1979 accident in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA, the hose failed during tank loading (Lenoir and Davenport, 1993). In 1972, a drain valve at the bottom of a LPG sphere in a Brazil refinery was left open by an operator resulting in the destruction of 21 storage tanks and an office building (March & Mclennan, 1990). In 1990, the outlet valve on a butane sphere in Korea was inadvertently opened resulting in a tank explosion (CPC, 2002).'

Bonus! Step 6Foster a culture of continuous improvement

Fostering a culture of continuous improvement that encourages innovation, collaboration, and learning will inevitably lead to increased efficiency, competitiveness, and growth opportunities.

This involves establishing a feedback mechanism that allows stakeholders to provide suggestions and ideas for improving the ship-shore collaboration process. 

Join the Smartflow Digital ISGOTT Community to learn about the latest developments other tank storage companies have implemented. 

Conducting regular performance assessments, benchmarking studies, and audits will help identify areas for improvement and implement corrective actions.

Smartflow Digital ISGOTT Solution

Solution > > >

Take advantage of a fully digitized ISGOTT process from start to finish, intuitive and user-friendly. With a mobile and a desktop version, terminal personnel, and vessel captains can use it anytime, anywhere.

Benefit > > >

A one-stop shop for all your ship-shore checklists. Easily add any other ship-shore checklist to your Digital ISGOTT environment and customize it how you want. Add all your pre-berthing forms, operational agreements, loading-discharging plans, hourly logs, and many more into your Smartflow environment.

Try it out > > >

Get your free trial account set up today. 

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