Geared to growth

DFDS has a clear strategy: growth. And because they operate no less than 38 ships, a series of port terminals and Denmark’s largest hotel on water, technical operation is no trivial matter. In 2009, DFDS was faced with the challenge of selecting a system which could contribute most effectively to realising and supporting an ambitious growth strategy.

Kasper Moos, VP Technical Organisation says: ”In order to support our growth strategy, which included both rationalisation, organic growth and acquisitions, we needed one system which could become the future platform in several areas”. At the time, the business had four different systems for system maintenance (PMS) which were distributed throughout the fleet and the shore-based operations – the goal for the new system was to unify the four existing systems into one new, fifth system.

DFDS chose SERTICA – the system with the most powerful technology for data exchange between ship and shore.

The challenge: growth and optimisation

The project was intended to be a kick-start for a larger data cleansing and in order to be able to focus optimally in the choice of the system, DFDS prioritised their needs and requirements at the start of the process: “We opted to cut to the chase and find the best and most powerful system for PMS with a rock steady motor for data exchange between ship and shore. We knew that this kind of system would be the perfect foundation for supporting our ambitious plans for optimisation and growth and that was the reason why we chose SERTICA,” says Kasper Moos.

Jakob Steffensen, Project Manager, adds: “All our ships are connected to the Internet and are in principle online all the time. But in practice we found that there can be short fallouts, as well as slow connections and other problems, which arise as a result of sailing 100 nautical miles from land. We CANNOT be dependant on a 100% online connection.

In the past, DFDS had four different systems, each of which had a replication engine for data exchange. SERTICA runs on just one engine which is stable and works – all the time. This is the primary reason that SERTICA is very succesful across the entire organisation. SERTICA consequently minimises unnecessary downtime, which is a significant advantage.

Jakob Steffensen elaborates: “What is ingenious about SERTICA​ is that it is designed specifically to function on an unstable network connection. It has saved us a lot of worries. Our crews are very happy with the system. They no longer need the hassle of data transfers because now they happen automatically in practice.

Another, and very important parameter for DFDS is user-friendliness. Programs on board ships must be simple and easy to use, so that downtime is minimized : “There are more than 10 different software systems which the crew use every day and it goes without saying that the more user-friendly the systems are, the more efficiency we get out of the systems and the easier it is to fulfill regulatory requirements”, says Thomas Mørk, Director of Marine Standards in DFDS.

Technical department – a cost center

The technical department of a shipping company is a necessity. However, it is often difficult to associate it with anything other than costs. SERTICA helps to localize problems, increase productivity and improve methods, thereby reducing costs: “In reality, our department is a cost-center. We are actually only a cost and there is thus only one parameter for improvement, and that is in optimization. SERTICA​ runs our optimization and transformation project from a data perspective.

We have discovered from personal experience that measuring generates results”, says Kasper Moos, and the rest of the team add: “SERTICA​ is our data repository. SERTICA​ is the tool that we use to collect data and exchange it to and from shore. For example, we use the Dashboard in SERTICA, a sort of dynamic bulletin board on the ship,” they explain.

The Dashboard can be a source for problem searching and this way it can form the basis for yet another revamp,” says Kasper Moos. “It is all about optimization!” Thomas Mørk adds: “We are always thinking about how we balance what is necessary in relation to the authorities against what we CAN achieve with the right ideas and systems. In this way we achieve a lot more than ‘just’ a classification and approval, we achieve genuine improvements, optimization and thereby savings.

In addition to the fact we have SERTICA​ on all of our ships, we also have an agreement with RINA Digital Solutions which means that we can install a ‘SERTICA​ Light’ on all the ships that we have in a time charter,” explains project manager Jakob Steffensen. “It is a major advantage for us as a technical department, that we have the possibility to do this, it is hugely efficient that all ships run on the same platform. With SERTICA​ on all the ships we have the chance to run our benchmarking and optimization across the fleet.

The experiences that we have with our own ships can be used directly on the time-chartered ships and also run things like our bunker savings on these ships.” SERTICA has become a tool in DFDS’ continuing search for improvements and DFDS has ideas for projects in abundance: It is all about optimization.

Computer that shows an example of a DFDS Dashboard

Supplier or partner

DFDS found it essential to find a supplier who could supply both the system as well as the customizations that DFDS had identified: “RINA Digital Solutions is well known in the field and has always been a reliable and stable supplier,” says Jakob Steffensen, adding: “We rely on RINA Digital Solutions. They are a valuable partner for us and they are not afraid to tell us if we are heading in the wrong direction.” Thomas Mørk, who is in charge of Marine Standards in DFDS adds: “We have tasks for RINA Digital Solutions for many years to come.

The collaboration with RINA Digital Solutions has been and still is a mutual success. “We believe in entering into an extended collaboration with our suppliers,”Kasper Moos explains. “If I have to point to one thing that we would like as an improvement from RINA Digital Solutions, it would be for them to allocate even more of their competent staff to DFDS. But apparently RINA Digital Solutions have other customers too!” says Thomas Mørk with a smile. DFDS regards and treats RINA Digital Solutions almost as an internal department of their own company. They have built a close relationship and an open environment for coaching, where counseling is a normal part of daily life.

DFDS provides good ideas and requirements from the business and RINA Digital Solutions provides strong technical competencies and experience from other projects. The requirements of RINA Digital Solutions are still clear – to deliver within the budget limit – and on time.

The future with SERTICA

The next step in the collaboration is ‘SERTICA Next Level’ as DFDS calls it – and Jakob Steffensen says that the entire platform and the standard are in place in SERTICA with regard to DFDS.

This is where the fun begins,” he says, referring to DFDS’ large-scale plans for the development of SERTICA in relation to the other projects that DFDS has on the drawing board. Additional capabilities for the management of activities, incidents, certificates and knowledge-sharing across the fleet are some of the development projects that are already underway. “SERTICA​ is our platform for information sharing on the ships,” says Kasper Moos. “If one were to sum up the project ‘SERTICAin DFDS’, then the conclusion would be that we are now geared to growth! It is as simple as that,” says Kasper Moos.

We have an ambitious growth strategy in DFDS and we can implement this in practice with the tools that we have. SERTICA​ is definitely a very important piece of the puzzle,” concludes Kasper Moos.


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