Lloyd’s Register has created a mobile app using Oracle's software platform to provide its surveyors and customers with access to ship certification data on the move.
The 254-year old marine engineering and risk management firm provides a range of services including conducting surveyor assessments to maintain standards of shipping fleets.
Last year, Lloyd's Register planned development of the app on Oracle's Mobile Application Framework platform. This was aimed at offering customers the ability to book assessments, monitor and check the status of surveys, browse classification data and create a list of their ‘favourite’ vessels for quicker access via mobile devices. it is also used its by surveyor staff to provide access to data while conducting assessments.
“In the case of surveyors, if they have been sent out to a vessel they can only access that data if they have a network access point,” said Richard Childe, Lloyd’s Register Oracle database administrator.
“Now they can access this data when they are on a ship if they have got a signal, which just makes it a lot easier for them to do their job.”
Building on legacy environment
The app, available on Android and iOS, was built in-house by Lloyd’s Register, which decided against outsourcing the work to its suppliers including Infosys and Capgemini, with development completed within two months, going live in February this year.
The software delivers data from a legacy IBM mainframe running the hierarchical database Information Management System, which is then mapped to an Oracle 11g database using an Oracle Gateway.
“One of the benefits of this is that we have put a shiny new face on a piece of quite old tech,” Childe said.
“We had no hardware budget to do this at all, so we needed tech that gave us performance but sat alongside our existing stack.”
Customers demand mobile
Childe said that the creation of the app was driven by customer expectations to access information via mobile devices, with the company aware that clients could be attracted to competitors which had more advanced technology.
“If we didn’t do this then customers would get disgruntled because another classification society has better tech. How do you measure the business you are going to lose? It is not quantifiable, so you have to do it."
He added: “The app has shown customers that we are ahead of the curve technically and we have given them what they want. We haven’t put an app out there that two months later they have ditched it, it is in regularly usage.”
Lloyd’s Register had developed mobile apps in the past but these were more rudimental, Childe told ComputerworldUK, with a lack of network access limiting capabilities to checklists.
“Although this is a production app and it is live and people are using it regularly, in some ways it is a pioneer, as it shows the technology does work, and now we can go forward and look at what else we want to do.”
Future app development - location data
Going forward, Lloyd’s Register plans to extend the features of its mobile app to assist surveyors in becoming more productive, such as harnessing location data.
“At the moment surveyors describe the component, they make a note of it, write it down onto a laptop and then take it away. But why not just take a picture of it, upload it through a mobile app to the database with the GPS location of the vessel?” he said.
“Rather than typing out a survey report which is a long piece of text, why not just speak it into the phone and save it as audio file?"
“The potential is enormous because mobile should really be changing the way people actually do their job. We are in a ideal position to make people more productive by using mobile.”