EURONAV is the world’s largest independent tanker company engaged in the transportation and storage of crude oil. The company is headquartered in Antwerp and has offices throughout Europe and Asia. EURONAV’s fleet management is mainly conducted by three wholly owned subsidiaries: EURONAV Ship Management SAS, EURONAV SAS, and EURONAV Ship Management (Hellas) Ltd.
EURONAV has many thoughts on innovation and ideas for the future. Therefore, they have chosen a technical fleet management system that will be able to keep up with their ambitious plans of being the most innovative tanker company in the world.
Improving fleet management with the right partner
Shipping companies often have very comprehensive processes of selecting a new supplier. A high number of suppliers are evaluated, and several presentations and discussions take place before the field is narrowed down. Often chemistry between partners becomes more important than one might think.
Rudi Vander Eyken, Group IT Manager at EURONAV tells, “We have not chosen a system supplier but a partner that can support us and our ideas for the future. SERTICA is not the only good system in the market, but RINA Digital Solutions is an agile development partner with an innovative mindset similar to our own. The challenging questions we get from RINA Digital Solutions help us improve our fleet management, and they simply get the job done without endless discussions.”
It is no secret that choosing the wrong partner can be very costly. In the first search, many shipping companies evaluate the functionality of the system. Since many suppliers can deliver a good system with the functionality needed, it often comes to personal relations and gut-feelings.
Rudi Vander Eyken explains, “Besides focussing on the main functionality I mostly observed the different vendors and finally proposed RINA Digital Solutions as the most professional and trustworthy software provider with whom we could built up a long-term partnership. What we need from a partner is continuity, direct answers, healthy ambitions and a good reference list. We did not choose the system that can deliver everything, but the company that can develop what we need now and in the future.”
Stefanos Christakis, ERP Project Manager at EURONAV adds, “The Danish culture affects RINA Digital Solutions and our partnership positively as they provide us with new ideas and tell us how to improve our internal processes. Due to the Danish culture and mentality, the support standard is also very high and professional.”
EURONAV has had many suppliers for evaluation, but they did one thing differently from other shipping companies. They visited an existing SERTICA user before contacting RINA Digital Solutions. Rudi Vander Eyken explains, “I needed to get a recommendation and be assured that RINA Digital Solutions delivers fast support – also after the roll out. Furthermore, I wanted to make sure that deliveries are correct and on time.”
The benefits of changing to a new ERP system
Deciding to replace an existing ERP system often involves various challenges. At EURONAV, the most obvious one is the conversion of data. Information needs to be adjusted to a new setup, which is extremely time consuming. Another challenge is the period in which EURONAV will be working in two systems, until SERTICA is installed on all vessels.
Maria Roussou, Technical Superintendent at EURONAV tells, “Changing to a new system puts a lot of focus on cleaning our data which is really good. We only transfer data which is 100% necessary and keep the rest for historically purposes.” She continues, “SERTICA is modern, intuitive and simply runs faster than our previous system. I can work in multiple windows without having to wait several minutes for a new window to open.”
Aris Ktenas, HSQE Superintendent at EURONAV agrees and adds, “No doubt that we have upgraded to a system of a new generation. The system is complex with many possibilities, but at the same time, it is extremely user friendly. Today I spend 3 minutes in Analytics making a diagram. Before SERTICA, this usually took me more than 20 minutes, which makes Analytics my favourite part of the system.”
Aris Ktenas continues, “We save a lot of time by reducing the volume of emails. Instead of having emails scattered all over, the response log makes it possible to add notes to concrete cases. This way we have all information in SERTICA, which simplifies the process.”
Amalia Karakonstanti, Senior Purchaser at EURONAV also experience the benefit of reducing the volume of emails and says, “SERTICA Connect saves us a lot of time because we no longer need to send emails with PDFs attached to suppliers. We do the comparison automatically instead of spending time doing it manually in Excel.”
Amalia Karakonstanti continues, “With SERTICA as our daily tool, we work more efficiently as we can reduce the volume of emails and auto-match invoices. We save time and money because we can do contract agreements and gather several requisitions in one.”
The departments are using different modules of the system, but they are all interrelated. The fact that EURONAV has gone from multiple systems to working in one system across departments means that everything is linked together.
Fitting SERTICA to EURONAV’s needs
It is no secret that EURONAV presented a relatively long gap list of items that have been developed or improved in SERTICA. EURONAV needs the system to fit all their needs, which included the development of the new module Master Data Management.
Rasmus Hansen, Head of Projects at RINA Digital Solutions explains, “The Master Data Module optimises both maintenance and procurement processes because you have all data in one location. By managing your master data centrally, you reduce administration costs and breakdowns. I am sure this new functionality will not only benefit EURONAV, but also current and future customers.”
EURONAV use the Master Data Management module to control and manage vessels centrally. Maria Roussou tells, “Before our processes were less controlled, as trust was placed in the people onboard the vessels. However, as EURONAV is expanding and starts adding new vessels on a regular basis, we need to control and manage centrally to align our processes.”
EURONAV has offices in both Antwerpen and Athens. The tanker vessels are managed from the Athens office whereas the FSO and VPLUS vessels are managed from Antwerpen. It is therefore essential that SERTICA can be operated from both offices without any problems.
Rudi Vander Eyken explains, “It is our ambition to be in better control of our processes by creating an overview of the entire fleet in SERTICA. We now have a robust system with a trustworthy platform. We have good communication between vessels and shore, which we have struggled with previously. And with the Master Data Management module, we feel SERTICA fits our needs.”
Tips to how you ensure a successful implementation
Shipping companies often experience that everyday business eats up time and resources, which means they have no time for strategic decisions on how to use the system. EURONAV has focused on these discussions and internal processes in parallel with choosing a new system. Therefore, more than 20 people were also involved in the selection process.
Rudi Vander Eyken says, “We included all relevant people in the selection process to create ownership and commitment. For a system to be implemented successfully, it must be accepted, and the users need to understand the value that the system brings.”
Stefanos Christakis adds, “The value SERTICA brings to EURONAV includes structured and streamlined processes across departments. We can control data and the approval flow more efficiently. As an example, price approval has been very complicated in the past, but now we save a lot of time and ensure that the correct people are involved in the process.”
Rudi Vander Eyken says, “My best advice to other shipping companies is to talk to references early in the selection process. This helps deciding if internal processes need to be changed. Seeing how others use the system and listen to how they experience the partnership is the best input you can get.”
The importance of a competent Project Team
The Project Team at EURONAV has ensured an efficient implementation of SERTICA. Stefanos Christakis is leading the team, even though he is new to the shipping business. His experience working with software development has, however, proven to be an advantage, as he knows and understands both the system and the supplier.
Stefanos Christakis explains, “I have an extremely competent team which enables me to focus on the actual project management. I try to listen to all stakeholders, but also take a decision when needed, so we avoid getting into endless theoretical discussions.”
Stefanos Christakis’ best advice to other shipping companies who are about to start a similar process is, to keep focus on the implementation and accept that not everything can be included in the first phase, “We currently focus on cleaning data and transferring this to SERTICA. Many ideas, wishes and other tasks arise in the process, but to keep our deadlines, we need to plan most of these in phase two,” says Stefanos Christakis.
Rudi Vander Eyken tells, “A dedicated Project Manager is crucial for an efficient implementation, so it is clear who takes the decisions and the responsibility. You need the right skills but also a cultural fit. Balancing and understanding cultural behavior is key to EURONAV as we experience a cultural difference between the office in Athens and Antwerpen.”
Innovation versus running behind facts
The Management at EURONAV aims at having time to think about the future. They focus on lean processes, valid data, KPI and reporting on a regular basis to stay informed. All this to be able to take the right decisions.
Rudi Vander Eyken tells, “We are investing now to be ready for market improvement. Often shipping companies use several systems not communicating to each other – we want to do different, we want to expand, and we are ambitious. We need a system supporting this kind of ambition.”
EURONAV has an ambitious plan to be the most innovative tanker company in the world, which means they discuss, explore and work with innovation on a regular basis in different networks. They have 12 different levels, some of which include topics such as block chain, predictive maintenance, sensors and digital twins.
Rudi Vander Eyken says, “We want to become innovative front-runners, because we believe this will become our competitive edge in the future. We are presently in the fact-finding phase to investigate what is possible within ship management. Once we have SERTICA implemented on all vessels, our digital transformation takes off. I am convinced that we can do better cost controlling by combining SERTICA with some of our innovative ideas and projects.”
Aris Ktenas adds, “We discuss many innovative ideas for the future and I am confident that some of the near future innovations at EURONAV involves the use of mobile devices. This can for example be in connection with audits onboard the vessels.”