Transforming ship logbooks from paper to digital
Logbooks provide elementary evidence of the activity of a ship’s command and crew. This means all important issues relating to ship operations, such as navigational and safety-related information, are recorded in a logbook. In addition, there are a number of books and reports shipowners are required to maintain related to environmental protection and reducing their carbon footprint.
On the bridge, traditional paper logbooks are still widely used, in spite of technological developments such as electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) and automatic identification systems (AIS). With this technology and digitization currently on everyone’s radar, the question arises: “Why are logbooks still kept in paper form?”
“Traditional logbooks are still widely used because it has been like this for decades,” said Volker Wenzel, professional mariner and technical marketing manager at Raytheon Anschütz, a business of Raytheon Technologies.
Raytheon Anschütz recently launched the Anschütz eLog as an alternative to paper logbooks. Designed according to ISO standard 21745:2019, it features automatic and manual data entries, which are digitally signed and stored securely using blockchain technology. Authorized data access and data analysis and export are possible from anywhere in the world, and Anschütz eLog is type-approved and accepted as a full equivalent for a paper logbook by several flag states.
“New solutions like this have advantages compared to traditional logbooks,” Wenzel said. “First of all, there is the quality of entries. A logbook is a hard currency towards third parties as charterers or authorities, but a faulty, illegible and incomplete logbook is always vulnerable.”
In fact, the quality of entries in paper logbooks depends on many factors, such as the person making the entry, the time of day, the actual workload and the situation at sea. In many cases, paper logbooks show illegible entries, improperly corrected entries, missing entries and, in some cases, false entries.
In addition, if the data is not available digitally, analysis, process optimization or re-use of data become more difficult. Also, specific events or events in the past take great effort to find because searching or filtering are not possible on analog data in paper logbooks.
“Our customers often need the data from paper logbooks in a digital format. But entering massive amounts of data by hand in Excel pages or photographing logbook pages is cumbersome, inefficient and error-prone,” Wenzel said. “And finally, we need to question the cost and effort related to the logistic of paper logbooks, as well as the environmental effects of paper production.”
By eliminating the costs and effort associated with paper logbooks, electronic logbooks can provide the answer, while, at the same time, guaranteeing high data quality and secured global data access.