10 ways FastCalGas 121 can reduce costs and save you hours in labour intensive logistics

Calibration gases are essential for making sure gas detection equipment is performing effectively. But keeping vessels fully stocked with up-to-date calibration gases can be challenging, costly and time consuming, especially when managing multiple types of vessels, all with different gas requirements, operating around the word.

FastCalGas 121 is a fleet-wide, fully managed service that removes the logistical challenges of calibration gas management and ensures you’ll never get caught out and run the risk of having to buy expensive, low quality gas from unknown overseas suppliers at short notice. All you need to do is tell us what equipment you have on board. We’ll calculate exactly how much gas each vessel needs and send a 2-year supply directly to its next convenient port of call.

Here are ten ways FastCalGas 121 can help you streamline your calibration gas supply and administration:

  1. Never run out

When a vessel suddenly informs you that it’s run out of calibration gas, you’ll be forced to use a local supplier. This means that the gas will most likely be poor quality with a short shelf-life. In addition to this, the costs of delivery, agent, import and launch boat fees will result in you paying way over the odds-on shipping just one or two bottles.

This can all be avoided by using FastCalGas. We can calculate exactly how much gas you’ll need over the next 24 months then send it directly to the vessel. It simplifies the process into one order, two years’ supply and one delivery.

  1. Fewer administration charges

Multiple re-stocking deliveries for each ship means more freight costs, more dangerous goods charges and higher customs’/agent’s fees.

Our 1-2-1 service is designed to cut down on these charges as well as the hidden costs that come from the time spent on administration and logistics. Reducing your administration charges by up to 50%.

  1. Stress free
    Organising a reliable supply of calibration gas for a global fleet can prove troublesome and time-consuming – time that superintendents could be spending in higher value and more critical areas of the business.

Using a managed service removes all this stress from the process. We review your vessels gas detectors to determine your requirements and run on-going checks with vessels to ensure they have an adequate supply on board. In the unlikely event of your supply running low because we’ve under-calculated your usage, we’ll arrange for replacements to be sent directly to the vessel.

  1. Less wastage

Because of the instability and impurity of the gases used and the relatively poor quality of cylinders within the industry, most calibration gases have a short shelf-life of just 6-12 months. This means that gases need to be replaced more regularly – regardless of how much remains in the cylinder.

Using products of a higher quality and a significantly longer shelf-life can therefore make a great deal of difference.

  1. Longer shelf Life

FastCalGas has a 27-month manufactured shelf life on all reactive mixtures – a world first. It has the highest gas production standards of any calibration gas on the market and uses advanced materials with a mass spectrometer to analyse and verify the quality of every cylinder. In 30,000 deliveries, only two defects have ever been reported, a quality yield of over 99.993%.

  1. Shipped across the globe

Wherever in the world your vessels operate, our FastCalGas 121 team have access to a global delivery network of 8 international hubs, taking away the added pressure of finding local suppliers and managing complicated overseas logistics yourself.  Our lean order processing and extensive global supply chain means that 98% of our orders are shipped within 24 hours.

  1. Compatibility
    This can be a headache when using multiple suppliers. Quality control will also be an issue as different suppliers will all need to meet the same standards. FastCalGas is guaranteed to be compatible with all the leading brands of gas detectors and, because everything is coming from one supplier, you can be sure that the quality will always be consistent.
  2. Easy to sign up
    All we need to know is what gas detectors your vessels are using, how often they bump/calibrate on average and what flow rate regulators they use. You can simply pass on your inventory or let us contact the ships directly to get the information, we take care of all the rest. There’s no contract, no long-term commitment and no hassle.
  3. Flexibility

We don’t need to ship all your calibration gas in one delivery and one location for every vessel. We can ship a single vessel’s two-year supply to meet it at the next convenient port so the agent doesn’t have to pay high storage fees for long periods.

The cost can be spread over twenty-four months or you can make savings with a discounted price that’s paid with the initial delivery of gas to each ship. There may also be credit and invoice options available depending on your budget and your requirements – we can tailor our service to suit your needs.

  1. Superior service

Martek has over 100 years of gas detection experience and our customer service is renowned in the maritime industry. You can expect technical experts with a full set of language skills who are proficient in organising the handling of dangerous cargo.

With an industry leading product quality, worldwide distribution network, and expert team, FastCalGas 121 is your answer to pain free calibration gas supply for your entire fleet, allowing you to free up your time and concentrate on other tasks.

Contact us today to find out how FastCalGas 121 can offer you fleet-wide, risk free calibration gas supply that’s on time, every time.

The risk of Legionella at sea

Managing the water supply on ships can be troublesome. If you don’t monitor it correctly, it will have serious effects on both your crew and your operations.

Poorly maintained water can easily result in contamination from bacteria and pathogens leading to outbreaks of noroviruses, Salmonella, E-Coli and Legionnaire’s disease.

Here we look at some of the dangers of Legionella and how you can avoid them.

What is Legionella?

Legionella is a type of bacteria that can cause diseases such as Pontiac Fever, Lochgoilhead Fever and, the most serious, Legionnaire’s Disease.

The bacteria gets into your lungs when you breathe in aerosols – small droplets of water suspended in the air. If not treated with antibiotics, it begins to affect the heart, brain, and other organs. The drop in blood pressure can also lead to septic shock as well as lung and kidney failure.

Where is Legionella found?

The bacteria is common in natural water sources like rivers, lakes and reservoirs but usually in low quantities. It becomes a major problem in purpose-built water systems where conditions are right for it to thrive.

It’s pretty resilient to low temperatures but prefers a temperature between 20-50 °C. Showers, cleaning systems, hot and cold water systems, air conditioning systems and drinking water systems all provide the right environment for contamination.

If these systems are poorly maintained, the bacteria will grow and increase the risk of Legionnaires’ disease.

What is Legionnaire’s Disease?

This is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. The symptoms are similar to the flu – you’ll have a high temperature with fever and chills, muscle pain and tiredness, a cough, and probably a headache. You might also feel confused and experience vomiting or diarrhea.

Everyone is open to infection. However, the risk increases even further if you are over 45 years old, smoke or drink heavily, have an impaired immune system or a pre-existing condition like diabetes, heart disease or respiratory issues.

Given that a 2018 study found that 46% of UK officers (holding Certificates of Competency) were over the age of 45, this suggests a large number of seafarers are at increased risk.

Because of its similarity to the flu, it’s not always easy to diagnose – especially at sea where they may not be easy access to a medical professional who can conduct urine or blood tests. Access to antibiotics to treat the disease will also be much harder to find.

In the past 30 years, there have been over 200 cases of Legionnaires disease on ships and it can have a devastating effect on your crew and operations. In one incident alone, 50 seafarers were infected and one crew member died.

Legionella at sea

All man-made water systems can be a breeding ground for Legionella and the conditions onboard ship provide the perfect environment for the bacteria to thrive. You should be paying particular attention to these areas:

– Any part of your water system that has a temperature between 20–50 °C.

– Any outlet that creates and disperses water droplets. This includes showers, sink taps, air conditioning units, fire hoses, and washing equipment.

– Anywhere that water is stored or re-circulated.

– Places where there are deposits containing nutrients that allow bacteria to grow such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter, and biofilms.

What can I do to prevent it?

There are a few simple measures that you can perform to reduce the risks from Legionella at sea.

Boiler outlets
Make sure the water is more than 60 °C.

Taps, toilets and showers
If they’re not frequently used, they need to be flushed through at least once a week.

Hot and cold water supply
The hot water supply temperature should be greater than 60 °C and the cold below 25 °C. If they aren’t, then the water needs to be tested for legionella.

Showerheads and pipework
At least every three months, dismantle, clean and soak for a few hours in a disinfectant or chlorine solution. If a shower hasn’t been turned on for 2-4 weeks, you should do this before it’s used again. You also need to find and remove any plumbing that’s become isolated from the regular flow of water or is no longer used.

Freshwater tanks
To prevent the growth of bacteria, make sure the residual disinfectant level is maintained at more than 0.2ppm free chlorine. They also need to be super chlorinated twice a year with the water flushed through outlet points.

Testing

Ship operators have a responsibility to protect their employees from legionella, as outlined in the guidance from the Health and Safety Executive.

You should conduct regular tests to check for bacteria present in the water onboard ship – both your sewage effluence and your freshwater.

Drinksafe will allow you to maintain the safety of your water source as well its distribution system. It will test for bacteria and toxins in the water that you use every day for drinking, hygiene, and food preparation. For extra peace of mind, we can also provide a special add-on that’s specifically designed to protect against the dangers of legionella.

Know the risks and always ensure that your water supply is safe.

Contact us to learn more about our onboard legionella and potable water test kits.

Personal or Portable Gas Detectors – what’s the difference?

The size, capability, and usage can vary greatly between personal gas detectors and portable gas detectors.

However, these distinctions might not always be clearly defined by suppliers which can leave you feeling confused.

Which type and model of detector you choose will depend on your own particular requirements:

  • the gas or gases you need to monitor
  • the frequency and conditions of usage
  • and the level of detail you need in your reporting.

Personal Gas Detectors

As the name suggests, personal gas detectors are small enough to be clipped to the belt or clothing of the user.

Because they’re designed to be worn, they need to be able to withstand the kinds of knocks or damage that come when they’re carried into confined spaces, so you’ll usually find that they have a high IP rating.

To keep everything compact, they’ll probably use a self-contained battery which is sealed inside the detector. When the battery reaches the end of its life, the device itself will need to be replaced.

Personal gas detectors are usually much cheaper than portable detectors but their capabilities and screen displays may be more limited and they don’t always allow for calibration or pump options.

They’re often used for detecting one particular gas – like our hydrogen sulphide and oxygen single gas detectors – but more advanced devices can detect four or even five.

Portable Gas Detectors

These larger and more complex devices can offer a more sophisticated solution both in the number of gases they’re able to trace and their data logging.

Although they’re not as durable or easy to carry as personal gas detectors, they do come equipped with a pump which enables you to test remotely.

They’re also easier to calibrate and you can re-charge or change their batteries without the need to replace the whole unit.

The greater number of sensors on a portable detector means that they can provide a wide variety of different feedback as well as storing much more information.
The software on the Marine Tankscape, for example, provides complete data logging of gas readings with tank identification and vessel location which makes detection, analysis, and action planning easy.

It also enables you to print tamper-proof calibration certificates on-board, further reducing costs and making the process far less complicated.

The best of both

The Marine 4 and Marine 5 can be classed as both personal and portable.

They have the benefits of the personal – small enough to be worn, robust enough to cope with tough conditions, simple one-button operation with audio and visual alarms – but they feature the advantages of a portable gas detector too.

The Marine 4 will detect and display up to four gases simultaneously.
These can be configured depending on your requirements and include a combination of methane, oxygen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, and other flammable gases – the Marine 5 gives you one extra should you need it.

Both are compatible with an internal sampling pump which enables you to test remotely and safeguard your crew. This provides flexibility for pre-entry into deep tanks, holds and void spaces and has a wide range of applications in a variety of different industries.

You can even bump test and ensure you’re always compliant by using the ABC Station. This provides you on board self-calibration and produces a tamper-proof calibration certificate that’s acceptable to all Class, Port State Control and Oil Majors.

Martek offers a full consulting service to create a bespoke gas detection package that’s tailor-made to your exact requirements. Get yours now.

The problems with connectivity at sea

A good internet connection is fast becoming essential in today’s shipping industry. Operators who don’t stay on top of the latest developments and take advantage of all the benefits they bring are beginning to lose out commercially to those who do.

But connectivity at sea isn’t all plain sailing. Here are some of the problems that you might face – and the solutions offered by the mini-VSAT Broadband.

It has low bandwidth

Connectivity can significantly reduce your operating costs. It enables you to improve fuel consumption, monitor performance, update real-time weather reports and fine-tune your planning. There are also numerous benefits that come from seafarers being able to use their own devices – training, leisure activities and staying in contact with friends and family, for example.

These factors are becoming a standard issue on-board and they all depend on bandwidth. The higher the bandwidth, the greater the advantage to your operations.

In the past, however, bandwidth restrictions and coverage restraints have been a major issue with connectivity at sea. Happily, this is no longer the case. Systems like the mini-VSAT Broadband are able to provide a high-speed data channel with unlimited usage that’s available in a variety of different plans. The high-speed global network delivers speeds as fast as 20/3 Mbps and is perfect for video-conferencing, streaming, entertainment content and the application of the Internet of Things (IoT) which allows the transfer of data without any human interaction whatsoever.

It’s unreliable

You might expect unstable connections, lack of coverage, lapses in service and long delays as your system tries to locate a satellite. A good internet system should take into account these factors and search for overlapping beams that take advantage of redundancy in satellite coverage.

The mini-VSAT Broadband uses the most advanced managed HTS network – the industry leading Ku-band VSAT. It has a coverage of 272 million square kilometres and the system has automatic fast switching between the network’s redundant beams which gives you seamless communications wherever you are in the world. The prioritised voice service has crystal clear call quality and supports Wi-Fi connections between compatible phones.

It also has a much greater resilience to weather and rain fade – important considerations for the extreme and changeable conditions at sea.

It’s complicated

A huge rack of equipment, lengthy installations and being locked into a restrictive long-term contract – these are all things of the past.

With the mini-VSAT Broadband, you get a straightforward one box solution that manages your whole network without lengthy ownership costs. The plan is much more flexible too, just a single monthly subscription that you can easily change or cancel with no penalties or commitment. To help with any technical issues, we offer a global support programme and a two-year parts and labour warranty that you can extend to five years.

It’s expensive

Connectivity doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Installation is free in selected international ports and your airtime options can be adapted to suit the requirements of every kind of operation.

The average person touches their smart phone 2,617 times a day so, to prevent your data usage costs spiralling, our system gives you complete visibility. You can monitor and control the amount of data your crew and equipment are using to make sure you always keep within your budget.

It’s not secure

For all the benefits of being connected at sea, there are dangers too – cyber-attacks can have a devastating effect on your operations. In 2017 the NotPetya ransomware cost Møller-Maersk an estimated £300 million and the company had to reinstall over 45,000 PCs, 4,000 servers and 2,500 applications. This wasn’t even a targeted attack.

Without adequate protection, a determined hacker could penetrate all your operational information including routes, manifests, charts, payroll and employee details. Shipping companies always need to be aware of security and take the necessary precautions.

The mini-VSAT Broadband has a six-level cybersecurity programme which includes an advanced network-level firewall – there’s also automated threat management for extra peace of mind. For breaches caused by human behaviour, it comes with the award-winning KVH Videotel ‘Cybersecurity Safety at Sea’ training programme which has proved invaluable in making sure seafarers are aware of the risks that come with on-board connectivity.

Mini-VSAT Broadband gives you fast, secure, global connectivity with no hassles or hidden costs.

Contact us to find out more.

IMPORTANT BULLETIN: Software for ABC Stations

In September 2016 we were made aware of a time/date error in software of the Auto Bump Calibration station (ABC) for Marine 4’s.  To resolve this issue customers were sent instructions and an update on a USB labelled either Silver or Gold ABC Update. 

If the instructions sent with the update were not followed in full it can corrupt the system and make the station inoperable.

Until now, we’ve been replacing any corrupted stations regardless of the age or warranty status, this will cease from 1st August 2019.

The Silver or Gold ABC Update was a very specific upload to solve a very specific software issue, and the USB’s issued should never be used for routine updates or to fix unrelated problems. We know there are still some USBs out there so if you have one, please discard it.  It can be identified as it will state gold/silver on the label.

Don’t upload the Silver or Gold ABC Update to your ABC Station unless you have been instructed to do so by Martek Marine.

If you do experience an issue with your station that isn’t covered in the manuals, contact one of our experts in the technical support team. And, if you have any queries or further questions, please let us know – we’re always here to help.

Technical Support Team –
Dave.orourke@martek-marine.com / +44 (0) 1709 599 213
Bridie.pears@martek-marine.com / +44 (0) 1709 599 237

Gas detection: the hidden costs of third-party servicing

On paper, using a third-party to service your gas detection equipment may seem like a cheap option.

However, there are several important considerations that can be easily overlooked. These factors could end-up costing you significantly more in the long-run.

Maintenance and repair

Because an intermediary won’t have in-depth, intimate knowledge of the systems they’re servicing, potential issues can easily be missed during routine maintenance.

If a problem does develop it will also be more difficult for them to diagnose it. They may have to use trial and error to find out what’s wrong, taking up valuable time and probably resulting in repeat attendances. All of this will cost you extra money that could have been saved by having the equipment serviced by the supplier.

Spares

Guesswork and misdiagnosis can lead to multiple purchases of components and spares that simply aren’t needed.

For example, it’s very common for third-party services to suggest replacing sensors or buying new pumps – both of which are expensive components. However, it’s quite likely that actually, only the consumable components inside the sensors and pumps need purchasing. This a much cheaper option and something that the supplier of the device would be aware of.

Martek assures a first-time fix for issues such as these. We come equipped to cover all eventualities and only use what is absolutely necessary in order to minimise your costs.

3rd party servicing considerations
Are you paying for the hidden cost of a 3rd party service?

Safety

Regardless of how much knowledge and experience a third-party intermediary claim to have, using them is always a risk. Gas detection devices and critical safety systems are simply too important to take chances with.

You could face detention for lack of compliance, or even put the lives of your crew in danger by using someone who hasn’t been trained by the manufacturer to service your equipment.

Training

Your costs will be reduced if your crew fully understand the systems you use. It will allow issues to be identified quicker and more easily so that they only issue RFQs for what’s really necessary.

A third-party intermediary doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to advise your crew whereas Martek offers effective training on the operation of the equipment we provide. This will ultimately help you to keep your long-term costs down.

Warranty

Most gas detection equipment has exclusive components – Martek, for example, has a unique sensor provider. When third-parties can’t source these elements, they end up replacing critical sensors with different, ‘closest fit’ alternatives. This creates a hybrid system that isn’t guaranteed to operate properly. In addition to this, it will no longer be manufacturer approved so your warranty will be voided too.

Upgrades

It’s unlikely that the gas detection equipment you’re using is brand new – it may even have been a while since you looked into the latest available developments.

There are many cost-effective upgrades that could provide numerous benefits to your system by reducing the number of consumable spares or the frequency of services required. Third-party intermediaries may not be aware of these upgrades – or even if they are, they won’t be in a position to provide them to you.

Martek is a world-leader in marine safety with years of experience in gas detection technology. We have a global supply chain to deliver goods quickly and conveniently and we’re always at the forefront of the latest innovative and cost-saving equipment.

Packages

Martek is a one-stop-shop for all your gas detection requirements so we’re in the position to put together a solution that’s designed for you. We offer various packages which include spare parts and calibration gases that will streamline your supply chain, reduce the costs of multiple orders and keep your invoices to a minimum.

The world’s major ship operators trust us to improve their performance and keep their ships and crews safe. You should too.

Contact us to find out more.