Wallem Pulse Issue 4

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Drawing by: Angel May E. Trinidad. See more on page 21














Contributors: Denzyl Allwright; Andy Chan; KC Abigail L. Chin; Dickson Chin; Alex Crooks (Sedna); Abhijit Ghosh; Kennis Lee; Krutika Manjrekar; Praveen Shukla; Ben Shao; Lidia Selivanova; Kevin Tester (JLA Media) Design: Jodie Graves Subscription: marketing@wallem.com





he publication of our fourth edition of Pulse sees Wallem in the middle of the COVID uncertainty. More now than ever the need to communicate with each other and recognise the team across the organisation is important. The team is not only those at sea but the associated groups and others who support the seafarers. Our seafarers have unwittingly found themselves in the middle of the stress of having to maintain the operation of the global supply chain. They are faced with the stresses of worry about their loved ones and with wondering when they can go home to see them. We expect them to continue to do their jobs, working on board. Much has been made of this challenge, but we must also remember the families of these sailors, who continue ashore, with their worries but also supporting those who remain at sea. Then there are the thousands who want to go back to sea, because they have exhausted their shore leave funds. We salute them all. I do however want to have a special word for the teams ashore in the Wallem offices. The team across the marine human resources function have done an outstanding job in very difficult times. The hours they have worked in trying to find solutions is beyond the call of duty and I thank them for this. I hope the seafarers recognise hard work this team has done in the face of the complexity of the task we have been dealing with, and continue to be faced with. Also, I want to thank the procurement team for their hard work sourcing stores, equipment and PPE. The supply chain challenges have been difficult and they have done a great job. The ship management team has also been faced with many challenges, trying to keep the ships operating at tip top levels without being able to visit the ships. This has provided everyone with a lot of challenges. Training, operations, technical have all had to adapt to a new normal, and we have done well because of the dedication. Each country has faced its own set of challenges in lockdowns and restrictions on daily life. The work from home routine has generally worked for our company, but the relief

in getting back to the office was also palpable. Through all of this we also had to adapt in operating our agency business, in continuing to maintain the lifeboats, inspect ships and the many other daily tasks the Wallem team does. The organisation from the deckhand to our senior teams ashore have all played their part. Thank you, let’s keep working towards a more normal operation, and relieving our sailors. Communication and support of each other is key, remember to say thank you.

Frank J Coles Chief Executive Officer Wallem Group




Sunil Srivastava

Sunil Srivastava joins Wallem as MD, India

A navigation specialist with more than 25 years’ experience in the Indian Navy has joined the Wallem Team. Sunil Srivastava took up his new post as managing director, Wallem India in March and is looking forward to the future: “We find ourselves in challenging times, but in adjusting to cope with the pandemic, we are presented with opportunities to explore the potential of technology and find new solutions.” Sunil has served 16 years onboard vessels in the Indian Navy with a further seven in a command role. In 2004, he completed a Masters in defense and strategic studies from the Defense Services Staff College Wellington/Madras University and expanded his knowledge further through a senior strategic management course with Japanese Defense Forces in 2009-10. After taking premature release from the Indian Navy as Commodore in 2015, he moved to Dubai and joined Transas (now part of Wartsila) handling the sales of training & simulation systems and other technology solutions for the Middle East and Africa. Sunil adds: “I am excited to come onboard with the Wallem team and eager to get up to speed in this new position.”

Vibhas Garg joins Wallem as Head of Shipmanagement, Singapore Wallem has appointed Vibhas Garg as its



Vibhas Garg

Quantum of the Seas

new head of Ship Management, Singapore. With a maritime career spanning some 38 years, he is an experienced professional having held leadership positions with reputed ship owners and ship managers. Vibhas isn’t a complete newcomer to Wallem. In fact, he spent the formative part of his career sailing for the company, enlisting as a second officer in 1989 and rising in rank three years later to Master. In 2001, Vibhas departed Wallem for a shore-based role as a QA superintendent for Worldwide Shipping Singapore (since renamed BW Group). He was subsequently promoted to head of fleet in 2012 with overall responsibility for 37 product tankers and 11 VLCCs, and later vice president. He eventually left BW Group in 2018, lured by a directorship at a new joint venture between Anglo-Eastern Ship Management and Diamond Shipping.

With decades of first-hand experience backed up with an MBA from the National University of Singapore, Vibhas has a deep understanding of the challenges faced in ship management, occupational and behavioural safety, and maritime operations. He told Pulse: “After a dozen good years in Wallem between 1989 and 2001, I am pleased to be back. I have grown in my 19 years away, and I am now keen to take Wallem forward into the 2020s.”

Wallem assists crew stranded on Quantum of the Seas

Wallem has delivered emergency supplies to crew stranded aboard Royal Caribbean’s (RCCL’s) flagship Quantum of the Seas after it was laid up in Singapore at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown. We were

also heavily involved in the logistical effort behind repatriating crew to Hong Kong. The ship and its 1,413 crew became trapped at sea after her final passengers disembarked at a port call in Manila, Philippines on 13 March, as countries began locking down their borders to halt the spread of Covid-19. RCCL appealed to the MPA in the ship’s homeport of Singapore for permission to bunker, to take emergency provisions onboard and to repatriate crew. However, while the vessel was allowed into Singapore waters, it was unable to berth as the port was closed to passenger ships. As RCCL’s appointed port agents, Wallem worked with local authorities in Singapore and Hong Kong to hammer out a plan to assist the vessel amid a rapidly evolving and highly dynamic situation as both countries imposed tighter and tighter pandemic regulations. There were two clear priorities: making sure emergency provisions reached the ship and its 1,400 crew, and then repatriating as many personnel as possible to Hong Kong. The resupply operation began by arranging a barge to come alongside Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise. This was loaded with general and climate-controlled provisions, spares and technical supplies, and generators to power the reefer containers, together with forklift trucks to transfer the cargo on to the ship.

BASSnet team gets ready for ship trials

Sea trials of BASSnet, Wallem’s new enterprise resource planning (ERP) software platform, on three vessels are due to get underway in the third quarter, so the project team are firing on all cylinders to make sure everything is set up exactly as it should be for smooth deployment. Final tests are being carried out, registers are being reviewed and system integrations being checked.

The main focus, however, has been training. Originally, the intention was to summon seafarers and office staff together for classroom-based seminars and workshops. Of course, lockdowns and disruption triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic blew a hole in that plan, so another approach was needed. The project team set to work compiling four hours of training material covering everything from mastering system basics to introducing some of the more advanced functionalities. This was then delivered to senior officers on the pilot vessels as well as faculty trainers via Microsoft Teams. Additionally, faculty trainers underwent a two-week intensive ‘train-the-trainer’ course delivered over WebEx by experts from BASSnet to really consolidate and deepen their understanding of the product. With assistance from colleagues in human resources, the project team also managed to arrange hands-on training for senior officers on the three pilot vessels. This will be supplemented by remote access sessions to lead them through some group-based end to-end scenarios and to answer any remaining queries.

Deepsea breakbulk specialist G2Ocean’s MV Star Luguna is pictured here loading part of a wind turbine tower for export. In the midst of a pandemic, Wallem Malaysia’s close support and liaison with authorities, shipper and port has been crucial to minimizing disruption to a major export project that commenced in December last year. So far Wallem has attended eight ships with another seven to go.







n a few short months, the mayhem wrought by coronavirus has changed the world. Our response to the epidemic [more than the virus itself] has the potential to permanently alter the balance of the global economy. But it might be the kind of Black Swan event that we need to trigger real change in the shipping industry – and in particular its approach to digitalization of vessel operation. Like the worldview bubbles created by social media algorithms and fake news, the maritime industry is living in its own digitalization fantasyland - one fueled by vendor delusion and media misinformation. Change is happening, but way more slowly and unevenly than is claimed. The technology currently found onboard ships, in the operation centers run by shipmanagers and in owners’ head-offices is improvised, disconnected, and fragmented. It is a far cry from the vision described by technology leaders and faithfully repeated by the shipping press, who really do seem to reside in a virtual bubble divorced from physical reality. There may be isolated examples where this isn’t true, but pockets of progress hardly add up to a revolution. The event, set of conditions, or imaginative genius needed to trigger groundbreaking change and bring about a real digital transformation still hasn’t arrived. Do you think Henry Ford or Steve Jobs cared a fig what governments of their day wanted? Do you believe Bill Gates or Elon Musk worry about the groupthink that paralyses regulatory bodies? Their ideas and single-minded ambition gave birth to inventions that went on to change the world. But this change came about in spite of these institutions, not thanks to them.

Regulation has always lagged technology and as technology races ahead, that gap is widening.

This is the very essence of disruption. By definition it cannot be planned – especially not by the sort of committees that reside within the corridors of IMO and similar organizations, whose exact purpose is to control and regulate. Regulation has always lagged technology and as technology races ahead, that gap is widening.

SUSTAINABILITY AND GREEN SHIPPING Have you been on board a ship and seen a scrubber up close? You would be astounded by the enormous fiberglass pipes used on the outflow side and other major modifications needed to protect the hull from the system’s corrosive waste products. From our experience so far, this stands out as one of the least rational changes to hit the industry in recent history. Without going into various economic arguments, the maintenance burden, or the flawed implementation of the regulations, it seems clear the move was neither green nor well-thought out. There’s also the absurdity of ships carrying millions of tons of coal, oil or products extracted from the ground using large amounts of fossil fuels, running on low sulphur fuel and pumping corrosive effluents into the ocean in the name of, checks notes, ‘protecting our environment’. Questions are now being raised about the quality of fuels available and their impact on engine performance. Yet instead of looking into and addressing these concerns, the conversation has moved on to what fuels the ships of tomorrow will use. With little pragmatic leadership coming from the charterers, oil majors, and other socalled experts, owners will be left to stumble on and pick up the pieces as best they can. The EU is increasingly stepping up to challenge the IMO. I’m not a fan of either institution, but I welcome the fact it is taking a tougher stance in questioning the wisdom of IMO and its followers, because shipping will struggle to cope with any more regulatory farces like the ballast water management convention or global sulphur cap. If shipping really wants to control its own agenda it needs to act differently. Oil majors and charterers could support a green agenda by incentivizing owners to invest in green newbuilds or to modify their operating practices to reduce pollutants. Their inaction ahead of the global sulphur cap was a key factor in today’s uncertainty. Owners would then have the reassurance of a baseline level of support, instead of the insecurity and uncertainty that besets current business relationships.




It is a wonder that naval architects can design a ship today for delivery in three years with an expected service life of 20 years, amid the uncertainty relating to engine and fuel requirements and crew qualifications. It is questionable even whether there will still be a need for a ship to carry coal or oil given the mounting calls for action on fossil fuels.

“Oil majors and charterers

could support a green agenda by incentivizing owners to invest in green newbuilds...

HUMAN FACTORS As an ex-seafarer I have been saddened by the deterioration in the attitude towards, working conditions and treatment of seafarers. I honestly believe the situation has only worsened since I left the sea. Studies suggest one-in-five seafarers have considered self-harm. About 85 seafarers die on the job every month. Of these, around five take their own lives. These are staggering statistics and ones we should be utterly ashamed of. Our industry talks incessantly about safety, yet the figures suggest we are failing to deliver because a major part of achieving a safe ship is a crew who are happy, respected and feel supported. Prior to taking the helm at Wallem, when I was running a technology company, I heard again and again fanatical product engineers rhapsodizing about how technology was on the verge of making crew redundant. The implication that crew no longer warrant consideration disturbed me on multiple levels. As anyone who has glimpsed into a ship engine-room or airplane flight-deck



can tell you, there is a trend towards greater automation. But it’s also worth pointing out that these systems are overseen by teams of highly trained, competent operators. The notion that unmanned vessels are just around corner seems is becoming more dubious by the day when you consider the demands on shipping for new engines, fuels and environment monitoring on the one hand, and the challenges surrounding complexity that were brought into sharp relief by the troubles with the automated flight control systems on the Boeing 737 Max on the other. From my perspective, automated operation is a goal we could and should strive for but supported by skilled teams on board and ashore – and backed up by a clear business case. Yet with the quality and reliability of equipment on today’s ships, I am not holding my breath for this to happen anytime soon. Multiple levels of redundancy for propulsion and safety systems will be required before we can begin to contemplate removing any crew. Until that day arrives, the industry must step up efforts to ensure that seafarers are treated with the respect they deserve. The past 12 months have seen crew imprisoned on spurious charges, cases of double pay agreements to avoid paying CBA wage levels, and owners refusing to pay for security escorts in high piracy areas. Without getting drawn into the numerous ethical questions and moral debates this raises, this is a major safety concern given the value of ships and their cargoes that are entrusted to crew.

TECHNOLOGY We have so much technology at our disposal, yet its implementation is being botched at almost every stage. Firstly, there is a disconnect between where shipowners and shipmanagers are in their modernization story and the solutions being offered by technology vendors. Many operators still run unsophisticated platforms and are yet to fully embrace technology as a means of raising operational efficiency.


operation is a goal we could and should strive for but supported by skilled teams on board and ashore...

any owner or operator to tread.

Furthermore, products on the market today only provide partial solutions. Integrating them with the rest of the ship and shore operations is, at best, a complex and arduous process. Often it is close to impossible.

Loss prevention in its truest sense comes from human factor training, crew wellness and use of technology to reduce risk. We’ve all heard about owners not paying for these things or doing the bare minimum to scrape by. The fact is reduced premiums for ship operators that can demonstrate a certain level of training or adoption of technology would be a win for the industry, by acting as an incentive to owners to raise their game.

Proper optimization requires up-to-the-minute accurate data from an array of machinery and navigation systems, which can be interpolated against a vessel’s past voyages in order to improve future ones. Good luck to anyone searching for such a solution, for the right price, with buy-in from the owner. The multiple companies involved, various protocols and quantities of manual data-entry needed in the early stages make this a minefield for

Will the current crisis drive ships out of the market? Will the economic picture change enough for a new model to evolve? Maybe a charterer will have a lightbulb moment and decide it makes sense to pay for the green ship with a qualified crew and the latest technology. I believe data – specifically vessel operational data – is going to become the differentiator, and the first to pick up and run with this will take the lead.

I quite understand that vendors want to sell their wares, but the lack of transparency does no-one any favors. Misinformation won’t speed up the sale and risks poisoning the well as far as attracting future customers is concerned. Digitalization today is a toxic combination of overhyped capabilities, confused customers and fragmented implementation.

LOSS PREVENTION The simplest way to prevent losses is not to let ships sail. Of course, that’s not a helpful answer. Ship insurers are in the same position as pharmaceutical companies and private doctors: their role is to cure the sick, not prevent sickness.

But it goes further than leveraging tech to improve fuel efficiency, or for smart routing or just-in-time arrival. It is more than a faster satellite connection or wider data sharing. This is about reinventing ships as an economical, green node on the value chain. Tomorrow’s shipmanagers will have a full picture of the daily performance of the ships, as well as a budget and maintenance plan driven by live analytics. Vessels will be operated by smart people onboard and ashore who are empowered to make sensible decisions with the help of advanced analytical tools that untangle data from a multitude of sources. This lies in stark contrast to the situation now, which sees superintendents managing a vessel to an annual budget agreed months previous and which blindly carried across the preceding year’s figures.


shipmanagers will have a full picture of the daily performance of the ships... driven by live analytics.

In short, attitudes have to change, from the top of the organization to the bottom. We have to a take fresh views of change, of management, of technology, of the human factor. We must learn to accept that shipping is not special. It is not immune from the revolution and the longer it resists the greater the pain is going to be. If it wants to be special, it must let go of the past and reinvent itself.




Tips for Covid-19 has heightened concerns about the impacts that living and working at sea for months at a time has on mental health. As countries lock down their borders and ground airlines in reaction to the pandemic, thousands of crew have found themselves indefinitely stranded onboard unable to return home. Pulse asked Wallem seafarers on the frontline about their coping strategies.

KC ABIGAIL L. CHIN, third officer MT Breiviken How do you maintain good mental health while at sea? Maintaining good mental health takes a lot of discipline – especially as a seafarer. I keep in touch with my loved ones at home as much as I can. It helps me stay grounded and remember what I’m here for and why I work so hard. Watching the sunrise and sunsets helps me meditate too. I consider myself very fortunate that my watch is from 4 to 8am so I get to experience this every day. Moreover, I am a firm believer of the Law of Attraction, so I try to attract positive energy by feeding my soul and thinking positive thoughts. I counteract negative thoughts by reminding myself of the things that make me happy. I also try to avoid things or even from people that I know have a negative impact on my mental health. Staying physically fit is important too. Getting a good amount of sleep helps me to stay focused during the day. I keep track of my diet and eating nutritious foods and lots of fruits and vegetables to boost my immune system. I am not a gym freak but when onboard I exercise whenever I can just to stay fit.



staying sane in an insane world Is there anything you’re careful to avoid when feeling down? Life is not perfect and there are times when we tend to overthink or get upset over small things. Whenever I notice these negative thoughts creeping in, I tell myself to look for the brighter side and find happier thoughts that can lift my mood. The idea is to convert negativity into a positivity. Also, I avoid locking and isolating myself in my cabin. I talk to the people I get on with well and who can give me a peace of mind. I believe there’s not enough room in this world for negativity and we should make space for happiness. What do you do when you notice a colleague seems unhappy? I may not be the best person for others to find comfort in, but if I notice a colleague is unhappy, I try to lift their mood by cracking silly jokes and making fun of whatever I see to make them laugh or, at least, smile. However, it’s important to understand different people have different personalities. Some crewmates are sensitive about sharing their problems. Others find it hard to express themselves. In these cases, I try to approach them diplomatically and build a healthy conversation, which hopefully provides an outlet for them to express their emotions or vent their problems. How do you keep up morale on the vessel? First things first, maintain a clear distinction between a personal and a professional relationship onboard. This will help you know which rope to hold on to keep on thriving. Building trust between your colleagues strengthens the foundation of the relationships you create in the workplace. I do this by performing my job well without compromising my crewmates. I also try to value and appreciate the contributions made by different people in the team as this too helps keep morale high. I support them way in the same way senior management onboard support me.

When do you feel brightest? As a third officer, I do my best to put my heart into whatever task I’m asked to do and receiving positive feedback from my colleagues and senior management definitely gives me a sense of satisfaction. Of course, there are jobs that you cannot do alone and require strong team work to carry out. Every job that is safely and successfully carried out makes me feel proud because I know I’m part of a team on a top performing vessel who strives hard to meet the standards of the fleet and the maritime industry. Recognition for these efforts gives me fulfilment. What’s been your experience during coronavirus outbreak? What has helped you to cope with the situation? The worldwide impact of COVID-19 is undeniably terrifying. It has shaken people everywhere. The fear of losing your sanity while sailing the high seas because you don’t know until when you will be stuck onboard is taunting. The uncertainty of not knowing when this pandemic will end creates a lot of anxiety. On the other hand, it is a chance to discover more fully who we are as a person. It has made me more self-aware and let me see things from a different perspective. It has made me reflect on how my decisions will affect my action. I chose to make peace with the fact that I have to stay onboard for 10 months (and counting) and I have to live with that choice. And the only real way I’m coping with it is through prayers. With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, people in my home country are dealing with shortages in food, medicines and other resources. It is traumatic for them as they were unable to prepare for this sudden crisis. Back at home, I have extended something to help the volunteers in my community and it makes my heart full knowing I can help them in this trying time. Indeed, I am still one of the lucky ones, because despite the fact I am miles away from my loved-ones, I can still provide for them and others in need during this unprecedented time. I hope that people will never cease to remember the front-liners who continue to work in midst of this pandemic era and for the betterment of the world that we live in.

Krutika Manjrekar, second mate (Last vessel: Sonagol Cabinda) How do you maintain good mental health at sea? The most important thing is to communicate with those you feel connected with, whether onboard or at home. Sometimes I pen down my thoughts or feelings in a poem. Above all, take a nap or get some sleep whenever you have a break. It cheers up the mood. Is there anything you’re careful to avoid when feeling down? Try to block the negative thoughts as much as possible. Call your loved ones or best friend – basically someone who listens. Recognise when you feel down or aggressive and quietly count down from 100 to 0 as this will help you stay calm. I was taught this at school, but I find it still helps. Pray silently. And if you’re feeling really low, don’t be afraid to cry to let it out. Eventually the pain goes away. When do you feel brightest and why? I feel brightest when I get my work accomplished and when I know ice cream is going to be served at dinner. Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference. ∎




EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED Procurement may not sound glamorous, but it is vital to keeping the Wallem fleet operational. Pulse caught up with Kennis Lee, head of procurement, to find out what magic happens behind the scenes and how preparedness and quick-thinking often saves the day.


ow is procurement organised at Wallem? Procurement for all Wallem vessels is handled by SeaSafe, a separate business entity which is a part of the Wallem Group. In fact, we also provide services to non-Wallem shipowners. Operations are managed from our headquarters in Hong Kong, but we depend on the support of our teams of experienced local purchasers in key global locations dotted around the globe including Singapore, the Philippines and Cyprus. They work closely with customers and each other to ensure that supplies reach ships in the Wallem fleet and other shipping companies whenever and wherever they are needed. We take full advantage of the latest systems to provide an end-to-end and wholly transparent service and, because of our size, we can leverage of significant economies of scale. Who decides what supplies are required? Wallem has a well-defined process for generating and acting on requests for spares, stores and other consumables. First seafarers must verify locally held inventory before raising any request. Requisitions are then approved by a technical superintendent for the purposes of cost control and monitoring efficiency. For machinery spare parts, request for quotes are sent to the original manufacturer, a licensee, or other authorized dealers registered in the procurement database. Mindful of long-term reliability/to minimize downtime further down the line, the default selection criteria is for ‘genuine’ items, and vendors must make a mandatory declaration stating country of origin when submitting quotes. In certain circumstances, for example, if the vessel in question is due to be scrapped in the near future, this requirement may be waived in agreement with the vessel owner. What processes kick into action once an order comes? After a purchase order (PO) has been issued, the vessel’s designated purchaser will work with the technical superintendent in drawing



up an initial plan covering all the likely logistics. The purchaser will investigate further and prepare a detailed breakdown of the transport and delivery arrangements for approval and the vessel will be issued with a full schedule itemizing supplies and services it is expecting to receive. The purchaser will then stay in close touch with the supplier to monitor order readiness but also keeping track of the vessel’s itinerary and liaising with logistic companies and port agents in order to navigate any terminal restriction that could affect the delivery timeline. We have various internal procedures and tools at our disposal to track orders and raise alerts if a delay occurs or is probable. The vessel’s superintendent and original purchaser are kept up to date every step of the way. The “Procure to Pay” process relies on tight collaboration between ship and shore staff at every stage. We both have an important role to play to ensure goods are safely delivered on board the vessel. What unexpected hiccups can happen? SeaSafe knows it has to expect the unexpected as vessels are continuously on the move. While containerships have fixed voyage schedules, most vessels managed by Wallem operate to a less predictable tramp service and typically we are only notified of a vessel’s confirmed ETA a few days before it docks. In the worst-case scenario, a vessel might change port when the supplies and services have already been arranged per the original schedule. Another issue with major knock-on effects is an unexpected change in the readiness of the order. We are currently dealing with a case where we had arranged a service engineer to attend a vessel in Pusan, South Korea to overhaul its engine. With less than ten days before the vessel’s scheduled arrival, the vendor informed us that parts needed for the job had been delayed and would not reach the port in time. Our team immediately leapt into action sourcing the parts from an alternative vendor who could get them delivered to the vessel at very short notice, so that the work could proceed as planned.

What items are most difficult to deliver? Arranging the delivery of items classified as dangerous goods is always a challenge. Some specialist spare parts in this category can only be obtained from a single location where our managed vessels seldom, or never, visit. Such parts are expensive to deliver and often must go through additional custom procedures, so there is no room for error when planning the necessary logistics with local agent, forwarder, and vendor. Spare parts needed for urgent repairs are another special case because we are working against the clock. We recently dealt with one case in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, where the required parts and engineer were arriving from different locations. Matters were further complicated because there were no direct flights to the area. Nevertheless, we managed to get both the parts and the service engineer where they needed to be for the repairs to go ahead. What was your most memorable requisition? I don’t think I will ever forget the effort and adrenalin rush that went into sourcing 20,000 surgical masks and coverall sets for Wallem personnel shortly after the Covid-19 outbreak started in Wuhan. Availability and prices were changing by the minute – we felt more like stock market traders. It quickly became clear that fulfilling the order from a single vendor in a single location was not feasible, so it was all hands on deck as the team approached suppliers around the globe. Decisions had to made on the spot, as we knew supplies would be snapped up by someone else if we didn’t act immediately. How has Covid-19 impacted procurement? The Covid-19 pandemic has sent shockwaves through the global supply chain. For a start, it originated in China - the factory of the world, so it had an immediate domino effect on manufacturers across elsewhere reliant on Chinese suppliers, including those producing engines and other ship equipment. Before long, factories and businesses outside China came to a standstill as local lockdowns were imposed.

From a logistics perspective, airfreight was hit particularly hard. There was a dramatic reduction in capacity, which caused costs to rocket. The capacity shortfall also means shipments going through transit hubs are at risk of missing connections. In nearly all countries, medical equipment and supplies take priority on whatever capacity is available. It has made the tight scheduling of shipments that was possible before the pandemic next to impossible. The availability and price of consumables has also been badly affected as our regular suppliers simply don’t have men on the ground. As a result, lead times for deliveries have lengthened from two working days to ten. What permanent changes will Covid-19 bring about? Like many other businesses, we will need to think strategically about the whole supply chain and the way we manage warehouse inventory rather than concentrating solely on the efficiency of individual transactions for each ship. What will procurement look like in five years? Digitalisation looks set to be a game-changer. Reliable data and common standards for sharing it will transform the way we do procurement, in the same way it will drive the evolution of functions elsewhere in the Wallem Group. Wallem’s decision to use BASSnet as a unified solution across the business for managing vessels maintenance, safety, operations will provide us with maximum transparency on real-time inventories across the fleet. Tangible data will strengthen our purchasing power greatly as tangible data will enable us to plan ahead by analyzing consumption and lifting pattern, which in turn leads to volume discount and/or better negotiate agreement with suppliers. Looking further ahead, if we can properly harness algorithms, machine learning, and such like, procurement will stop being treated as a “cost”, instead, be regarded as an opportunity for adding value. The manpower currently employed for performing administrative tasks could be reduced and diverted to get on with valuable strategic work that benefits the company’s profitability and sustainability. ∎

Kennis Lee with Queena Sze, Operations Manager and Jason Lai, Contract Manager




S Y S T E M U P D AT E :

SUCCESSFUL The Sedna platform will transform the way staff in Wallem’s Agency business carry out their work. The new platform is already up and running in Hong Kong and Singapore, with other sites due to come online soon.


What was the most difficult part of the project so far? Andy Chan, IT Projects Director, Wallem Group: Wallem’s agency business has used corporate email systems like Outlook for pretty much as long as anyone can remember. So initially the idea of sweeping it all away and introducing a new platform was greeted with a degree of skepticism. Some thought it would be counterproductive, particular if it turned out there was a steep learning curve and prolonged transition. These worries proved unfounded however as staff acclimatized within weeks of it going live. So far SEDNA has lived up to our expectations for enabling greater collaboration among the different teams in the Agency business than was ever possible with conventional email setup.

Did anything catch you by surprise during the roll-out? Andy Chan: Not really. Thanks to meticulous planning and repeated user training, the rollout was largely uneventful. There were some minor teething problems in the weeks immediately after the system came online, but that’s only to be expected. But they were nothing serious and resolved within days, if not hours.

Alex Crooks, Product Manager, Sedna: A distinguishing feature of the roll-out was that we didn’t provide on-site training or change management support due to the pandemic, which would normally accompany a project of this scale, making it one of our first fully remote launches. So, we were delighted with how everything proceeded so smoothly. Of course, the credit really belongs to the Wallem IT team, who demonstrated unparalleled professionalism and enthusiasm in the way they engaged and led their teams’ transition to SEDNA

Andy, are there any colleagues you would like to thank for their contribution? It’s hard to single out specific individuals as it’s very much been a team undertaking from the start. However, Sandy Chan in Hong Kong went the extra mile at every stage of the project from initial planning right through to post launch support. She was central to coordinating the business users before the platform went online and has since become the “go-to” person for anyone needing support. Jenny Wu deserves credit too. She effectively became our local SEDNA ambassador in Singapore. Despite being a relative newcomer to the team, she quickly earned her colleagues’ respect for


Alex Crooks: I was astounded by how quickly and easily the teams at Wallem embraced SEDNA. I think it reflects the energy put in by Wallem’s IT team and ‘super-users’ (selected to represent each team) with our training and solution consultants in the final countdown to the official launch to ensure that SEDNA’s configuration aligned as closely as possible with Wallem’s internal processes. Thanks to those efforts, it was our smoothest ever launch experience.

her dedication and drive to bring the project to fruition. But I suppose really I would like to give everyone a big ‘thank you’ for their effort and cooperation. What features have proved popular? Andy Chan: Email categorization is hugely popular among the ops team as it lets them prioritize tasks more effectively. The ability to tag and alert someone in a task was also welcomed. They’re also impressed with the responsiveness of the search functions through category and tags. Their colleagues in customer support also like the tagging functionality, as it’s easier to keep track of who has read an incoming message and will action the request. The ability to drag-and-drop attachments directly to composed emails and preview attached Excel files has gone down well in the finance team, as has the follow-up alarm function for setting reminders. Can staff still using the old system still interact and collaborate with colleagues already on the new platform? Andy Chan: Yes, they can. We spent a good deal of time sitting down with the business teams to determine the best way to run business mailboxes on SEDNA and personal mailboxes on Wallem Outlook in tandem. We also implemented some behind-the-scenes technical changes to make the transition as seamless as possible in terms of ensuring both 100% business continuity and user experience. Most users have adjusted quickly to using dual mailboxes without ambiguity. In the Ops team, for example, we’re seeing Outlook used less and less, except for occasional personal communication. The same thing can be seen in Customer Services, where Sedna is used for day-to-day communications with customers, while Outlook is restricted to personal use or HR matters.

course of migration. We are indebted to our ‘fast-learners’ who’ve assisted on the ground helping bring their team up to speed. The feedback we’ve had so far suggests people are finding the system pretty intuitive. Alex Crooks: Wallem IT and SEDNA have created a library of training materials specific to the Wallem implementation, and further resources are available at support.sedna.com. Team members all receive remote training from an experienced SEDNA training consultant and afterwards their team’s superuser can step in to offer further support. In terms of implementation, what’s still left to be done? Andy Chan: The backbone of the system is all in place. And now that Hong Kong and Singapore are up and running, our primary focus is the next phase to introduce the platform at other regional offices. Are you planning to celebrate or take a break? Andy Chan: We would love to but not just yet. The platform is intended to work handin-hand with Wallem’s Agency business globally. We will start thinking about possible celebrations as we get closer to that goal.

REPORTS FROM THE FRONTLINE Pulse asked Esther Phua, Accounts Executive, and Cory Mercado, Accountant to tell us what they think about the SEDNA platform What features do you best like? Esther: “The tag function is a lifesaver for checking who’s read a particular email” Cory: “The colour coding makes it much easier to monitor whose doing what, and the auto-tagging saves time by pulling together all information related to an individual job” How will these features improve productivity? Esther: “Tagging enables us to keep track and follow up on emails promptly” Cory: “We no longer waste time searching and gathering together the information or data needed to respond to a client” How are your colleagues finding the new platform? Esther: “We’re still getting familiar with all the new features, but it’s already making a positive difference.” Cory: “We’re all on different learning curves, but everyone is eager to explore its full capabilities and discover how we can put them to best use.” What advice would you give to first time users? Esther: “Keep using the system. Stick at it.” Cory: “The seminars run by Ms Jenny Wu were really informative. But like learning any new skill, the best thing it hands-on experience using it”

How can staff prepare? What training is available? Andy Chan: We’ve organized briefing sessions, on-site discovery workshops, and refresher training to keep users warm on our




E-LEARNING FOR CREW IS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER Praveen Shukla, General Manager for Crewing, explains how e-learning puts learners in charge, takes us through the evolution of online training at Wallem and offers a glimpse of what the future might hold. The advent of eLearning marked a paradigm shift in training. Most people think this is because of the technology involved, but in fact the shift we’re talking about is much more fundamental. Firstly, it effectively reverses the role of teacher and student. E-learning is much more learner-led than classroom learning, which is mostly instructor-led. Secondly, learning becomes a more fluid, continuous activity rather than one divided into discrete blocks. Thirdly, unlimited digital access and capacity remove artificial barriers and limits on what can be learned. But one challenge remains unchanged and that is making sure what is taught penetrates the mind of the learner. Of course, e-learning is especially fitting in a maritime context, as seafarers seldom have opportunity to physically attend classes in training centres. Wallem therefore sees e-learning as one of the main tools for competency building.

FIRST STEPS The journey began in November 2012 when we migrated from a traditional classroom set-up based on handouts, videos and test papers to launching an Online Training Portal bringing training literally into the homes of every Wallem seafarer wherever they live in the world. In years since, our provision of online training has evolved rapidly taking advantage of technological developments at every turn, but particularly cloud-based delivery and software-as-aservice (SaaS). These tools allow training to be customized to the target audience and content to be periodically refreshed so that it remains relevant and engaging. We expect on-demand access, mobile-friendly delivery and greater interactivity to be the key attributes driving future development and essential for solving the so-called last-mile problem. Not everyone has super highspeed Internet at home,



and broadband at sea varies from fleet to fleet and even from ship to ship, but this shouldn’t impede their opportunity to learn. To ensure maximum reach, effectiveness and user satisfaction, online training has to work on a variety of devices, on multiple platforms, and over Internet connections with relatively low bandwidth and/or high-latency. Wallem is investing heavily in grappling with these challenges so that we can push out best-inclass training content regardless of how it is being accessed.

COMPAS TURNING POINT Wallem’s cloud-based crewing platform, COMPAS, was created to deal with administrative crewing related tasks. It provides our seafarers a self-service ‘single-window’ to access their personal information, certificates and pay-slips. They can also use it to register for and book classroom-based and online training courses. The system keeps a record of attendance, assessment and feedback. An upgrade to the system introduced a host of new capabilities for storing and delivering e-learning content which is now available to seafarers on-demand through the self-service interface. Storing all training materials in a single digital location has vastly improved our processes for updating and delivery of content. For example, whenever a seafarer is deployed on a new ship, they have to review a pre-joining briefing on matters such as safety and environmental protection, Wallem’s MARPOL Compliance Program, and other owner instructions specific to the vessel. Since these materials are now stored centrally, they can be dynamically updated to reflect changes in regulation as well as owners and/or trade specific requirements. Because the briefing is accessed on-demand, those updates are immediately available. Our long-term ambition is to provide targeted briefings based on rank, type of vessel, commercial needs and existing knowledge possessed by the user. After reviewing the briefing, the seafarer completes a short test, which is assessed by faculty staff at the Wallem Maritime Training Centre (WMTC) to check they have absorbed the most important information. This Pre-joining briefing proved a milestone in our voyage into e-learning. It revealed to us the tremendous possibilities of

training and familiarizing the seafarer before his deployment. To enable quick absorption and retention, the briefing employs a variety of media formats including video, text, and interactive slides. But more importantly, it can be accessed at home, in a hotel, whilst in transit, in short, from anywhere there is a wireless connection

THE HUMAN TOUCH Even in the age of virtual training, we recognize that human interaction and the personal touch are important. This is especially true when the trainer’s role extends beyond instructor and enters the realm of coaching. Simulators Multiuser, interactive, and heavy simulation requiring expensive machines will continue to drive market for classroom-based training. Our e-learning philosophy is not to replace the human touch but to provide substantial content for reaching larger audiences whilst providing similar or better results than classroom-based training. In the short to medium term, we foresee e-learning taking place alongside traditional training, but looking further ahead, the winners will be those who embrace emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality. These are at various stages of development but continue to mature, as does the communications infrastructure for linking users at sea and ashore to training content. There is still much to learn from the

computer gaming industry particularly with respect to improving user immersion. Some of the data generated in training exercises might one day be fed into AI systems that learn the tacit knowledge of operators in order to provide necessary nudges and guidance when its most needed. Some of these developments are a long way off, but it is nevertheless exciting to be on this journey. Wallem is at the forefront of this transformation. Our intention is not solely to provide our seafarers with the best possible training experience, but to share our learning with industry at large to help make it safer and smarter.

SOCIAL BENEFITS E-learning has proved immensely beneficial to our seafarers. It is more accessible, allowing them to study where and when they want. Our continuous innovation in training delivery and methods is a key enabler for Wallem in terms of providing better value to our clients, maximizing return-on-investment in human capital, and allowing us to stay at the forefront of the industry. But perhaps more important still are the social benefits of our e-learning programs. It has brought about a significant impact on the lives of our seafarers and their families globally. Making the latest knowledge available at the touch of a button opens pathways to career advancement, better job options and income. Above all it has paved the way for safe and quality vessel and fleet operation. ∎




RELEARNING HOW TO LEARN In a time of lockdowns and social-distancing, traditional classroom-based training is no longer feasible. While Wallem’s technological infrastructure has allowed a seamless pivot to online delivery, both learners and trainers must adapt to the new format, writes Ben Shao, Head of Learning & Development.


OVID-19 is forcing businesses in all sectors to reevaluate the resilience of their operations, to test the agility of their technology to support business continuity and to assess the ‘digital fluency’ of their

workforce. With many countries under lockdown, borders closed and the regulations of social distancing and work-from-home in force, we must all adapt to the “new normal”. In many cases, organizations are accelerating digital transformation programs that were already underway. In the context of education and training, it has precipitated a wholescale shift from learning in the traditional classroom environment to learning remotely on a virtual platform. There are two sides to this transition: both trainers and learners must adapt. Learners may need to overcome any lingering skepticism they have toward virtual training by approaching the experience with an open mind and a desire to make the best of the system. As well as vanquishing their preconceptions, they will have to exercise greater self-discipline and perhaps learn new habits in order to reap the full rewards of the new approach. Trainers, on the other hand, will need to become more creative in the way courses are designed and delivered, as traditional methods and teaching styles often don’t carry over well to a virtual setting. While the conventional lecture approach is still commonly seen on episodic webinars or podcasts, it doesn’t work well for extended learning. Concision is vital. Breaking long agendas down into bitesizes segments and shortening one-way lectures helps, as does creating opportunities for live interaction such as polls, emoticon, gamification. Virtual whiteboards and breakout rooms are great for boosting engagement from learners. But more important still, they provide opportunities for trainers to assess how well their learners are absorbing the course content in lieu of reading learners’ facial expressions or body language. To help learning continue between sessions, learners should be encouraged to buddy-up. Supporting one another in the



interim periods has been shown to boost morale and staying power. Furthermore, knowing that your buddy might ask for help (or even test you) later on improves levels of engagement and attentiveness when the session is taking place. While lockdowns, travel restrictions and work-from-home policies remain in place, Wallem is taking full advantage of its technological infrastructure to help its people grow by learning new skills or reinforcing and enhancing existing ones. Whether it’s taking online courses on how to use our new decision-making support tool, or participating in virtual townhall meetings to discuss safety, people from across Wallem are embracing the “new normal” as they continue to strive to modernize shipping.

“Both trainers and learners must adapt”

Ben Shao


KIDS OF WALLEM SEAFARERS SHARE THEIR BEAUTIFUL DRAWINGS ON THE THEME ‘LIFE AT SEA’. We were overwhelmed by how many amazingly talented kids have sent us their drawings. Thank you very much to each and everyone of you for participating. To view all the artworks please click here

Denise Cassan

dra C. Medez -

Age 12 enko - Age 6

Agniia Varavch

S.Sanjith A

ge 14

Angel May E. Trinidad - Age 13 wallem.com



Wriddhiman Das - Age 12

d T Calzado - Age

Xian Lance Edwar


iben Roh

ipathi - Age 3

Reyaansh Mani Tr




Tandel A

ge 16


Karampreet Sin

gh - Age 6

Denise Indicio

Advitiya Pawa

Preclaro - Age

n Adhikari - Ag



tima - Age 13

Maria Binte Fa