North Star Shipping use ATMS for Incident Management

Picture of ships off the coast of Aberdeen

Case study: This UK shipping company created their own system for accident and incident management using Pisys360 Action Tracking.

The company, which owns and operates the largest wholly UK-owned fleet engaged in the UK’s offshore industry in the North Sea, faces regular inspections and audits by external regulatory bodies. The company had to be able to show regulatory compliance at all times, included being able to prove that all incidents and accidents were properly investigated and followed up.

The company’s ongoing ability to operate its fleet depends critically on the company’s tracking and recording of incidents and accidents.

In addition to regulatory compliances, the company faces regular audits of various types – such as class inspections and client audits – and by a range of organisations including MCA (Maritime & Coastguard Agency) and LRQA (Lloyds Register Quality Assurance).

The existing incident management system multiple linked spreadsheets to allow the recording, sharing and reporting of incident data across the company’s operations and vessel fleet.

Effective up to a point, the system met the need to maintain tracking logs for all its vessels, and enabled incident related actions to be determined.  There was, however, no mechanism for tracking progress and closing-out of actions.  For the company this is a vital function whose absence, in the words of Paul Craig, the company’s Safety Manager, “…left us with an open loop”.

He continues: “We had three basic needs that were not being met adequately: traceability, accountability and visibility.  Because we didn’t have those with the old system, the task of continuously showing compliance with all the relevant regulatory and audit requirements was much more arduous than it need have been”.

A fresh system was required… …but, crucially, a fresh system that fitted with how the company operated, and NOT vice versa.  The company’s Business Systems Analyst Graeme Phillips explains: “We’d taken the previous system to its limits, and we couldn’t take it any further.  But it was important that the new system blended in with what the staff were used to – right down to making the screens look like they did before”.

Challenges

The existing system had reached its limits. There was:

  • no mechanism for tracking progress and closing-out of actions resulting from accidents and incidents.
  • only limited traceability, accountability and visibility within the system.

Pisys worked with the Graeme Phillips and QHSE Team to develop a full Incident & Accident Management System, using the simple configuration functionality of the Action Tracker.

Solution - Pisys Action Tracking system

Pisys set about configuring their Action Tracking system to handle the required data. The outcome was a full incident & accident management system meeting all requirements.

Pete Henderson, Pisys Director, comments: “Most incident reviews and most audits result in actions, and so a system with action tracking at its core provides a natural solution to incident tracking and management. The advantage with our system is that it built around the idea of a high governance workflow, so you already have a strong sign off and audit mechanism built in - the incidents details are entered on the easily customised forms within the system"

Do our customers feel that their Pisys system bears this out? The company’s safety manager responds: “There’s not a thing I’ve asked for that the Pisys teams haven’t managed to deliver.  They’ve made the system do everything we needed – such as tracking actions that must be carried out right across our vessel fleet. They’ve also made it look and feel like what we’ve used in the past. That’s been excellent, because a system like this is only going to be fully effective if people are comfortable using it”.

Graeme agrees: “Pisys’s turnaround  was excellent.  Having used many IT companies through the years to develop and deliver software, I’ve had the full range of experiences – from easy to difficult. I’d give Pisys 10 out of 10”.

 

Delivering in spite of challenges

For Pisys, the project was not without its challenges. “We threw some tough requirements at them”, comments Graeme, “A good example is how they got to grips with the incident severity matrix system that we’ve honed and developed through the years. Superficially it looks simple, based on a green/yellow/red ‘traffic light’ system, with the outcome determining what type of follow-on investigation should be carried out. But the outer simplicity masks the very clever way that Pisys built our severity matrix system into their reporting facilities”.

It is well known that, following delivery and installation, every IT system will have glitches and gremlins that must be ironed out. In this respect also, Management is pleased with Pisys’s performance: “Technically, any issues they’ve dealt with where help tickets were raised – we’ve always had a reply within an hour”.

Benefits

Asked how the company has benefited from its new incident management system, John Blaikie the company’s Quality Manager replies: “Because the front end mirrors our old information forms, we’ve been able to get up and running quickly.  And that’s been tremendous.  It also means that we can run reports simply when we need new things – such as: ‘How many hours had the guys in the team been working before this incident arose’.”

Paul Craig adds his own illustration: “Two months ago we had a safety investigation after a near miss. To avoid recurrences, we set up a system of alerts in the Pisys system. Just this morning the action came up and I sent out an alert on this topic to all ships. In the old system the incident would have been deemed closed.

But with the Pisys system we can set up measures that will directly help reduce accidents and incidents in the future – potentially saving lives”.

“The bottom line is that Pisys have been consistently brilliant. And the system we’ve taken from them is very effective and simple to use”.

He adds as his final words: “…and to say that this is an extremely important system for our company is an understatement, as it encompasses all of our QHSE records.  It works, and we trust it to work”.