News Feed Blog

Newsletter August 2019

Paper manuals in digital times

In most industries you can observe a trend towards digitization. There is no global player who has not started strategic projects to transform their company to meet the requirements of the digital age. This trend is also true for the yachting industry. More and more of the documentation comes in digital form and needs to onboard a yacht when it leaves the shipyard. As a service provider we support the shipyards preparing the documentation for the crew. To achieve this we follow a proven process. You can read all about our work in our latest article.

Trending charts in IDEA

Good news for all the engineers out there: In July we started implementing a new feature in IDEA that was often requested by engineering departments and technical managers: trending charts.

With the scheduled release in September 2019 the engine room log gets new chart capabilities that allow filtering, custom charts and much more.

IDEA’s trending module

How to get started with IDEA’s new purchasing system

We have already mentioned it in the past: the support for our old product IDEA VIO is running out by the end of 2019. Seven years after the introduction of IDEA.NET and one year after the release of IDEA Yacht we will end the support for our beloved product.

The reason for this decision is mainly of technical nature. In terms of software development IDEA VIO is a dinosaur. The support for 3rd party tools and frameworks used within VIO was discontinued years ago by the manufacturers. For over 7 years after developments ceased we did our best to keep VIO fully operational, even on Windows 7. But now with the end of support for Windows 7 by Microsoft it is a task we cannot manage anymore. The technologies (frameworks, browser etc.) are changing so fast these days that VIO cannot be maintained anymore from our side.

You can continue using IDEA VIO and work with it like you have done for so many years, but we cannot guarantee compatibility to new systems like Windows 10 or mobile devices.

If you are interested in upgrading please contact us. We can provide you with detailed information on our latest product IDEA Yacht and the update process.

The new purchasing module in IDEA YACHT 2019.2

With IDEA YACHT 2019.2 the purchase and stock control got a major update, including new functions like budgets and custom purchase states. Below you will find a short overview of the changes – as always, you can get access to our public demo here.

First look

Starting page of the new purchase module

Above you see a screenshot of the new purchase order page which is now divided into two major parts. At the top, you will find the button to generate a new order (you can choose the type of the order as shown below).

Create a new order dialogue

You can also find a filter in the upper part of the page. This filter will search in all PO’s in your system and indicates the amount of matching records on the lower left side for each state.
Talking about the lower part – left hand you’ll have an overview about your states with the amount of PO’s inside, on the right hand all PO’s in the selected state is shown (highlighted in blue).

Create a new Project Order (PO)

If you create a new PO you need to enter the following data:

Wizard for a new PO

Please note that you can change this information later on the detail page of a purchase order if required.

Using the filter

Like mentioned before, the filter will always be applied to all your purchases in the system. You can just search for whatever you are looking for and see the number of matching records indicated in the lower-left corner.

New filter functionality

Editing the PO states

Purchase order states

With IDEA YACHT 2019.2 you are now able to set up your own purchase order workflow/states. The new management page is located in the Stock Control menu.

[!]Please note: To use the above-described function permission is required[!]

This page allows you to add/edit your purchase states using a simple grid. If you click on “Add New State” (top left corner) or on the blue arrow inside the detail column you will see the edit popup.
Please note that the first and the last state do not allow to receive items, required budget checks or approvals.

Allow to receive

“Allow to receive” defines that for this step everybody who can access this step can receive line items of the related purchase orders.
Please note: At least one of your purchase states should make use of the “Allow to receive” flag in order to complete a purchase order.


Approval Functionality

You can define if the step needs approval prior to proceeding with your purchase workflow. Every role member who has the corresponding right in the permission settings can approve:

Permission Management: Stock Control Module

Budget check

Purchase Order Details: Budget Check Activation

If the “Budget Check” flag is one, the related purchase will generate budget usage and in case the budget is exceeded will require approval before proceeding in your purchase process.

Please find additional information in the section below.

Purchase State Permissions

Purchase Order State Details: Purchase State Permissions

The “Select Position (Create)” permission defines which position can move an existing order to this step or create a new order in this step.
The “Select Position (Modify)” permission defines which position can move the order from this step or edit the order details.


You can access the budget configuration over the corresponding menu point:

How to work with budgets

Interval: Set an interval of how often the budget will be filled up (Cannot be changed after the first usage of the budget!)
Interval Unit: Days, weeks, month and year are available (Cannot be changed after the first usage of the budget!)
Amount: Setup the amount – it’s always in the vessel’s currency (See system settings)
Start Date: First occurrence of adding the amount to the budget. (Cannot be changed after the first usage of the budget!)
End Date: Last occurrence of adding the amount to the budget (leave empty for infinite repeat) (Cannot be changed after the first usage of the budget!)

Budget usage tab

To open the details of a budget, including the configuration and usage, please click the blue arrow in the overview grid. The budget usage tab offers a filter to search for a particular PO and directly jumps to the purchase order.

How to use budgets

The PO workflow

If you open a PO you’ll get the following view below which allows you to move the PO through your purchase workflow using the buttons on top:

State change for purchase orders


The below screenshot shows a pending approval indicated by the exclamation mark in your current step.

Approval screen for purchase orders

If your account does not have the corresponding right to approve this purchase order you still have the option to send a notification to other users to help you out.

Sending an approval request
Choosing a messaging group for the approval process

The notification can be checked in the “Home” menu with a direct link to the corresponding PO:

How to check a pending approval

Budget approval

Similar to the general approval, budget approval is necessary if the purchase order exceeds the currently available amount of the budget.
If your account does not have the corresponding right to approve this budget you still have the option to send a notification to other users to help you out:

Budget approval process

In case you have the permission to approve a budget you will see the following popup – left side provides a quick overview about the budget and on the right side you can see the resulting budget balance if you would approve:

Budget approval

Receive items

In the step that is defined to receive Items (allow to receive) the items can be received in full or partly:

How to receive an item

After clicking on the receive items button you can assign all items to their master storage or choose for each line item to which storage it shall be moved to:

Stock arrangement with the new purchase system


If you click on the blue arrow in the overview grid for an item you can alter the line item in various ways:

Discount functionality

Another new feature: a discount field where you can enter the % of the given discount for the line item.

Moving back one step

Move a step back

You have the option to move a step back according to your purchase workflow, this will reset any budget usage and might require you to approve this purchase order again.

Auto close purchase orders

[!]Please note that a PO with all items received will automatically be moved to the last step if the following setting is activated (by default)[!]

Auto close functionality


The invoice tab allows you to track invoices for a purchase order including the related documents:

Invoice handling

In the detail view you can alter the invoice to your needs:

Adding invoice details

And add related documents to the invoice:

Add a copy of the related invoice

Download the pdf version of this news article here

How IDEA ensures that a client’s vessel does not leave a shipyard without proper documentation

Documentation (either paper or digital) is still an often underestimated but very important aspect of today’s superyachts with regards to class, flag, certification and regular surveys. Within this article, we will provide some of the details and challenges, which we as a company have seen over the past 18 years within the yachting industry.

Articles about digitization are dominating global business news. It is a constant buzzword in all media. This trend can be observed in the yachting industry, too. Most European shipyards started digitization activities in all parts of their businesses. In consequence, most of our documentation projects today require more digital than paper manuals compared to 12 months ago. Unfortunately, this is not the standard for all shipyards.

Therefore, the handling of ship documents remains a complex task, which is often outsourced by shipyards, because they lack the capacity to check, sort and digitize the documents. For them it is more cost-effective to contract an experienced specialist to manage this task and to ensure that all critical equipment like main engines and generators have proper documents.

Whenever IDEA takes over a new project, we define the scope of work, taking into consideration all onboard tasks such as the maintenance plan or spare parts import. We then introduce our standard procedure to the shipyard and negotiate the details. A single point of contact on both sides is one of the most important aspects of professional project management, but unfortunately, this is sometimes neglected.

During our kick-off meeting with the crew and shipyard representatives, we outline the exact scope of supply to set the right expectations on all sides. The most important tasks are:

  • the exact database specifications,
  • the project timeline for all contracted tasks
  • delivery dates for final database and documentation version.

This precise preparation of project plans and a clear, target-oriented communication for the duration of the project between the customer and us allows seamless delivery of projects.

On client side, a designated person is named to manage all documentation for this project. This person’s main task is to collect all documentation for received equipment and hand it over to IDEA. An experienced member of the IDEA Professional Services team is usually supporting the shipyard to ensure the best possible outcome of this process.

Constant communication between all parties and tracking of received and missing documentation during the project ensures that the documentation is in-line with the equipment on-board. Additional revision and monitoring allow both parties to easily compare and update documents. Revision monitoring is especially important, as suppliers have to issue updates to their documentation because of changes in these highly complex systems like propulsion and audio-video installation.

As soon as documents arrive from the shipyard or a supplier, the IDEA Professional Services team processes the documents internally immediately and uploads them to the IDEA Yacht installation, which is always hosted online during the build stage. This ensures that all documents are accessible by all parties (e.g. shipyard staff, crew, IDEA) at all times within IDEA YACHT.

Because of this process, each vessel leaves the shipyard with a complete set of digital and paper manuals in at least a preliminary version. Some of the manuals will receive an update only after the hand-over of the vessel. In this case, IDEA will deliver an update to the documentation 8 weeks after the delivery of the vessel.

The above-described workflow is based on our experience gained in over 18 years of project work for shipyards and management companies. We constantly revise the process with each new project to ensure that it reflects the requirements of our clients.

Newsletter July 2019

Summer season 2019 is in full swing and like all of our clients we are working hard to get things done and keep our valued customers happy.

As planned at the beginning of this year we are delivering our second major update in 2019. We used the past quarter to improve one of our core modules in IDEA Yacht: the stock control and purchasing system.
Besides these developments, we released the first version of our new product IDEA FMP (Fleetmanagement Portal) and made it available for selected companies for testing. The feedback we received is now used to optimize our product and finally start promoting it in the yachting industry.
Please find below more information about these topics.

A new look and improved functionality for Stock Control 2.0   

In about a week’s time, on 10.7.2019, we will release our second major update in 2019. The second update will present IDEA’s Stock Control Module in a new look. We improved the usability and added new functionalities that complement our stock control & purchasing module nicely.

Like in other parts of IDEA before, we now changed the purchasing overview to a server side grid that improves loading times drastically. At the same time, the view itself was modernized and filter options were added to make it easier to navigate a large number of POs in different states.


One of the greatest setbacks in this view until now has been the missing adaptability of IDEA’s PO workflow to internal vessels or management company workflows. With the new version, crew members and/or management can now add or rename purchase order states themselves to reflect their individual purchase order workflow.
With the revamp of the stock control module we introduce a budget and approval function for purchasing. Administrators can now create budgets for roles and/or departments to control expenses of the vessel.

Budget planning

These functions are complimented by improved stock management and stock history capabilities. Users can now reproduce all spare parts movements in detail. Every time the stock level of an item is changed, the change is tracked with amount, reason and person who triggered the change.
A complete list of all improvements and bug fixes can be found in our release notes, which will be available by the 10th of July.


In February 2019 we started our journey to develop a fleet management portal that would be compatible with both our products, IDEA Yacht and IDEA SBA. This task was more complicated than initially anticipated and resulted in quite some development work, but we finally managed to release a first version that is able to cope with all our product databases and helps fleet managers to supervise their vessels.
Although we already have a working version out there, we are not tired of improving and bringing it up to the next level. To ensure these actions, we need you to test the FMP in order to generate Feedback and to drive enhancements forward.
The more feedback we get – the more useful features can be implemented into the FMP.
If fleet management sounds interesting to you, please feel free to contact us or request a demo access to FMP.

You want to know more? Join our community: Newsletter or contact us directly!

Newsletter June 2019

IDEA YACHT – new functions and features – release of 2019.2 by beginning of July

We are constantly working on new functions and features to stay ahead of the industry rules and regulations mentioned in the third article below, which shall help our customers to prevent from any imponderability’s and to manage their daily tasks on-board much more efficiently than before. 
Therefore, we would like to introduce a few more features of IDEA YACHT.Please find below some of the highlights for the next release. 

Improved Stock Control Module

The stock control module provides a detailed overview of all items, which have entered and left the vessel.Due to several adjustments, changes within the stock can now be easier identified and reasons for them recorded.
Besides the better overview, it is now possible to integrate new items one time and adjust the amount of it manually. This saves time adding new items to the system and prevents from any discrepancies of the real stock on-board and the ones included in the database.
On top of that, we guarantee that existing data and stock levels will not get lost by integrating them to the new version. Another advantage to enhance the workflow on-board will be that from now on every spare part will be linked to a storage area on-board. No lost items anymore!
New IDEA YACHT goes Fleet – New product available by end of 2019
The yachting industry becomes more professional and complex every year. With these changes in industry, international operating Management
Companies facing different types of challenges every day, such as supervising the daily routines and gathering all types of information on-board a super yacht.
Therefore, we took the opportunity to assemble a lot of feedback from specific management companies and decided to start an initiative to develop a Fleet Management Portal (FMP), which will future wise help fleet managers collect and manage all information in an easy and timely manner.
The re-use of an already existing product ensured that we had not to start from scratch and were able to develop a trial version of a FMP within 3 month, which is currently tested by several management companies.
With the feedback in hand, we will continue developing the Fleet Portal and adjust it to the needs of the Industry.
We will shortly provide many more information on our latest product – the Fleet Management Portal – stay tuned.
Yachting and our responsibility towards the environment

Climate change is an undeniable fact these days and can be observed throughout the planet.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) realized early that ships play a major role on the global climate change and started discussions on how to achieve a greener foot print for all kinds of ships including yachts with the introduction of the first MARPOL Regulation in 1978. For us as a software company we have to react to the changing legislations and adjust our software to reflect the new regulations.
Doesn’t that sound interesting? Click here to read more.

Climate Change and Yachting?

Yachting and the environment

Climate change is an undeniable fact these days and can be observed throughout the planet. In a lot of regions the weather is slowly changing and extreme weather conditions seem to be on the rise. Heavy storms accompanied by intense rain seem to appear more often while in other regions droughts are causing humanitarian crises.

The reasons for this rapid change are manifold, but without a doubt most of the triggers for climate change are manmade.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) realized early on that ships play a major role in the global climate change and started discussions on how to achieve a greener foot print for all kinds of ships including yachts with the introduction of the first MARPOL Regulation in 1978. Regular meetings of IMO committees make sure that the regulations are revised and extended regularly to reflect the latest developments in technology and environment. That is why these meetings let to a variety of new regulations for ships that already came into force recently or will be enforced in the near future and which will bring changes to the shipping industry.

For us as a software company we have to react to the changing legislations and adjust our software to reflect the new regulations. That is why we are preparing the implementation of new information fields and functions to help you to comply with the new regulations for the second half of 2019.

We want to take the opportunity to have a brief look at the most important regulations for yachts and on maritime initiatives aiming to make the world a greener place.

The Polar Code and other regulations to save special regions

Based on forecasts that shipping in polar regions will increase in the coming years due to new shipping routes and booming tourism IMO was forced to act and design regulations that reflect special weather and environmental conditions at both poles.

The result of these actions is the latest addition to environment friendly improvements in shipping: the Polar Code. It entered into force on 1st January 2017. This new regulation is setting standards for all ships operating in the arctic and Antarctic regions and has implications on MARPOL and SOLAS as it covers mandatory measures and recommendations for safety and pollution prevention.

As already indicated above the Polar Code takes into account not only the sensitive ecosystems of the arctic regions, but also the predominant harsh weather conditions that demand special requirements for humans and machinery. All ships intending to operate in these fragile ecosystems now must comply with the regulations of the Polar Code and apply for a Polar Ship Certificate.

So it is no surprise that the Polar Code touches a wide variety ship operation:

  1. design and construction of ship and equipment, e.g. stability, watertight and weather tight integrity
    1. operational requirements e.g. creation of a Polar Operational Manual
    1. training of crew especially for masters and commanding officers with regards to watch keeping according to STCW
    1. search and rescue operations
    1. pollution prevention and oil handling
    1. voyage planning and navigation

At the end of the article you will find the links to the regulations in full.

Air pollution regulations

A major driver for climate change and the connected warming of earth is air pollution. This includes all kinds of gases produced by ships through traditional combustions engines primarily used in shipping.

That is why IMO tries to reduce emissions in shipping on several levels. One notable change was the further amendment of resolution MEPC.176(58) for MARPOL Annex VI (in force since 1st July 2010). The new amendment in resolution MEPC.251(66) states that starting from 1st January 2020 all ships must comply with SOx control which limits the global sulphur limit to 0.50% (regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI). Though it gives exemptions for yachts:

  • Yachts solely used for recreational purposes of less than 500 GT and constructed before 1st January 2021 do not need to comply with the TIER III requirements.
  • Recreational yachts of less than 24 metres will not need to comply with TIER III even after 1st January 2021.

Another change in Annex VI concerns the installation of equipment containing ozone-depleting substances. According to chapter 12 the new installation of such equipment will be prohibited on all ships constructed on or after 1st January 2020 and on all ships constructed before 1st January 2020 with equipment deliver on or after 01.01.2020.

These new regulations have to be reflected in ship’s certificates (generally all ships over 399 GT) and engine certificates (all engine of more than 130 kW power output.

Another emission control established under chapter 13 is NOx emission control for special areas like the Baltic Sea and the North Sea (MEPC.286(71)) that applies also for ships above 24m and below 500 GT. All new ships who want to travel these special areas are required to have a TIER III engine. Although exceptions for special trips (refits etc.) apply. A proposal from ICOMIA to mitigate the implementation of emission control on smaller vessels was rejected in the IMO meeting held from 13.-17. May 2019.

There are many more regulations coming into force in the future. The above regulations were only a small selection of them. Always stay informed by visiting

How can yachts and especially you as a crew help to save the environment?

There are numerous initiatives out there who seek to clean the oceans from all the waste that is constantly produced by our society. Below you will find a few links that give you an idea on how you can participate in this process and can support others.

Start changing your everyday life:

  • use reusable plastic and avoid disposable articles, but best would be try to avoid plastic at all
  • buy and eat sustainable seafood
  • manage your waste and properly dispose hazardous materials
  • try to reduce energy consumption → reduce CO2 emissions
  • do not leave garbage at the beaches and always collect it

And here are some notable projects you can support or join:

  • The Adventure Scientists: This side tries to involve people in the collection of data for scientific projects at universities and institutes. Look at projects they are offering (present and past) and see if you can participate in the data collection that will help science. A great project from the past was the collection of water sample to investigate the concentration of micro plastics in the oceans
  • The Ocean Clean-up Project: Everyone heard about this and similar projects. Although the first testing phase was not a success this project gives hope for the future to maybe clean our oceans.
  • Look at organisations like Ocean Conservancy , Oceana , Blue Marine Foundations or The Green Blue (just to name a few) They offer lots of programs and information to protect our oceans.

IMO Links

Ever wondered what we are doing if no one is watching?

Regular readers of our news flash already know the answer: We are working on a better product.

To give you some more proper insight here are the next planned changes just for the next release end of quarter 2 in 2019:


  • Stock history for idea
    • All items will get a storage, no magic quantity in the “void”
    • All stock changes will be looked in a readable and trackable manner
    • IDEA will know:
      • Who changed
      • Why was it changed
      • When was it changed
      • What and how much was changed
      • Where was the change performed (storage)
      • Reference to the element that triggered the change (maintenance task, purchase)
      • Comment
  • Upgrading existing date into the new structure
  • Add required functions for purchase upgrade
    • Budget system
    • Custom purchase states
  • Update old purchase data into the new structure
  • Vessel shopping cart
  • Mobile App updates
    • Logs and rounds
    • Vessel database
    • Maintenance data


  • Stock history usage in all system parts
  • Upgrades for the purchase views and related functions
  • Invoice data for purchases
  • Receive items manually into different storages


  • Update all related reports for PO and stock management
  • Bug fixes / smaller changes
  • Finalizing and intern test for the new App (engineering part) , closed beta start of July
You would like to know more about the changes, keen to see first glances of the new stock control module, wondering how the look and feel of the new mobile app is?? READ FURTHER!

IDEA Yacht Stock control – the make over!

In the current state a lot of changes happen in the backend, screenshots are rare good right now. Nevertheless below are some early state views for the stock history page and the state editor for purchase.

The new purchase page itself will show up next month but will follow the concept of the new permission page. Overview about your states on the left, right side table with purchase orders in the related state.

Details for a purchase order are on a new detail page with different tabs for each part of a purchase.

stock history
Purchase state editor
Purchase state editor – overview
Purchase order state detail page

First new IDEA mobile preview

Our new mobile app is heading in the right direction, below  are two screenshots showing the current dashboard and the round screen.

IDEA mobile UI

Easter Wishes & Greetings


Stand up and cheer, for Easter is here. Happy Easter!

The whole IDEA Team wishes you fulfilling, joyful and relaxing Easter holidays with your family and friends.

We are using the Easter weekend to prepare for the first event of the Mediterranean season: the 36th Palma Superyacht Show in Palma de Mallorca, from 27. April until 1. May 2019.

IDEA will join the ranks of exclusive exhibitors in the city harbor of Moll Vell in the center of Palma to be part of this special event and its energetic atmosphere.
We will seize the opportunity to introduce the latest version of IDEA Yacht, which increases the user friendliness by optimizing input screens and window scalability. We also worked hard to reduce loading times to provide you with a better user experience.

You can expect more innovations from us in 2019!

Please visit us at our booth YS07 to receive more information on IDEA YACHT, to test our software and to discuss future developments with one of our team members.

Please do not hesitate to contact us ( if you want to schedule a meeting.

I am looking forward to seeing you in Palma!

Best regards,
Felix Menges (Sales Manager)

Yacht Management Software

Newsletter April

New IDEA Yacht update 2019.1

In the past months we received a lot of feedback from our clients. This feedback is very valuable to us as a company as it shows what we do well and where we have to improve. For our first update in 2019, we decided making it “your version” by concentrating on your improvement and feature requests and implementing as many as we can. The results can be seen in IDEA Yacht version 2019.1.

Please find some of the highlights of this update

Horizontal layout

The two pictures below illustrate the difference between a vertical layout and a horizontal layout:

(Img 1: Vertical layout / version 2018.4)

(Img 2: Horizontal layout / version 2019.1)

The change has many benefits for you as a user. A lot of whitespace between the lines is eliminated which means that more information can be displayed in the same amount of space. This results in a better overview and less scrolling.

Improved input screens

Until now, the input screens within IDEA yacht were still based on the old IDEA.NET user interface which was replaced last year. As a result, they were hard to navigate and it was even harder to grasp all the information presented in this screen. We designed new input screens throughout the program that are more structured and easier to handle.

(Img 3: Ticking of a maintenance task)

New permission manager

The permission manager received a complete overhaul. The old version did not go along with the new design and was difficult to use. All permissions were on a single page which resulted in a lot of scrolling. This new version creates a simpler overview and a new toggle feature enhances the usability of this module.

(Img 4: Permission Manager)

Some other improvements include:

– Improved scalability of windows through removal of iframes and implementing responsive design, resulting in better viewing from tablets.
– Spare parts can be defined for “One-Time Tasks”
– Entries in the rotation log of the Crew & Guest Database can now be edited to correct false entries.
– and many more…

You can find the complete list of changes in this update here.

In the next update, we will continue to implement your ideas to make IDEA Yacht an even better software. We rely on your feedback, good and bad. Please let us know your thoughts and ideas by sending an email to

Introduction to Maintenance Methodologies

Maintenance is a widely used concept in all industries today. In the yachting industry, most vessels use preventive maintenance as their method of choice. However, there are more methodologies in use than just preventive maintenance. In our latest article, we would like to introduce you to the history of maintenance and give you an overview of the most common maintenance methodologies. You can read the full article here.

So stay tuned!
Carolin Eidecker & Daniel Wolthausen


To computer based maintenance over time

The history and current state of maintenance

Tools and machines have been used for a long time by humans to simplify daily routines. Think about spears for hunting in the bronze age or using simple cranes to construct monumental buildings like the Colosseum in ancient Rome. During all this time these tools were only repaired when they broke. Maintenance was non-existent. Over time this changed.
Maintenance is now an important part of daily routines in all industries and modes of transport. Companies today are aware of the fact that proper maintenance of machinery reduces costs and increases longevity. In the long run, adequate maintenance ensures quality production and transport.
Over the years, maintenance methods have evolved in virtually all industries. Modern methods have been tailor made to the specific needs of each industry. At the same time, if you take a step back and look the bigger picture of many maintenance systems, it becomes clear that most of the systems in use are based on similar principles. The following paragraphs briefly outline these basic maintenance strategies, how they evolved over time and what changes you can expect in the future.

Maintenance before the 1950s

The initial turning point in maintenance history was marked by the end of the second World War. This war triggered a lot of technological advancements such as the jet engine which forced engineers to reconsider their maintenance approaches.
Before World War II, machinery was quite simple and carefully engineered which made it very reliable. Consequently, there was no need for daily maintenance. Maintenance was only performed when a failure was detected. This maintenance approach was called Break-Down-Maintenance (BDM) or Corrective Maintenance (CM). Due to the nature of this maintenance method, no factory personnel were dedicated specifically to equipment maintenance. Defective parts were often replaced by workers only when dysfunction appeared. As a result, long production delays due to missing spare parts were quite common yet unpredictable, disturbing production and delivery schedules. This maintenance approach was very simple and cheap, but in the long run, highly ineffective as it caused unexpected production delays and cost companies a lot of money.
In the mid 40s, machinery became more complex. Driven by the war, there were many technological advancements in a very short time. The aviation industry in particular saw many changes caused by the development of the jet engine. Based on this new technology, a whole new generation of airplanes was developed for commercial aviation. These new airplanes were far more complex than those being used before the war. With the increasing complexity of equipment, more and more malfunctions occurred and more repair work had to be done.
The industry reacted and introduced new forms of maintenance methods that rendered BDM nearly obsolete. Today, BDM is hardly used anymore.

Maintenance from the 1950s to present

Confronted with more complex machinery, engineers had to develop new methods to maintain the equipment and make it more reliable. This led to the development of a process called Preventive Maintenance (PM) which is still used by many industries today.
PM is probably the most common maintenance method today. With preventive maintenance, all maintenance jobs follow a fixed schedule, typically created by the equipment manufacturer. Suggested maintenance intervals are usually based on time (e.g. every two weeks) or running hours (e.g. every 50 hours). Intervals based on fuel consumption, for example, are far less common.
Following a fixed maintenance schedule greatly extends the equipment lifespan, minimizes unexpected malfunctions and reduces production delays.
The downsides of preventive maintenance are high. Sometimes this includes unnecessary costs and large amounts of time that must be invested to cover all maintenance work. Parts such as gaskets are often exchanged during routine maintenance even if they are not worn.
Despite these disadvantages, PM helps to keep machinery (yachts included) in good and safe condition and outweighs the invested time and costs by far compared to doing no PM at all.
The disadvantages mentioned above regarding added labor time and costs involved were the reasons why the aviation industry started searching for different way to perform maintenance in the 1950s.

Maintenance driven by the aviation industry

Shortly after preventive maintenance was introduced to the aviation industry, airplane manufacturers realized that this maintenance method was not sufficient. The industry had high hopes to reduce equipment failure by a large margin using this new process. However, in contrast to other industries where preventive maintenance had a big impact, aviation companies did not observe a significant decrease of equipment failure, even though they spent much more time on maintenance and exchanging parts which resulted in higher costs for airplane maintenance. As a result, aviation companies, frustrated by ongoing equipment failures, analysed maintenance records in the 1960s to find reasons for this. The results were astonishing. Contrary to the assumption that more failures occur with greater age of parts, researchers found that failures appeared randomly over time. They realized that they had to change their maintenance approach to reduce equipment failure. They developed a methodology based on several equipment factors e.g. reliability characteristics, impact of failure and operating environment to name a few. That is why this method was called Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM).
Measures were taken on the basis of this data analysis resulting in a massively reduced number of maintenance jobs without increasing risk of failure of equipment. The impact of this new maintenance approach can be illustrated by the comparison of the Boeing DC-8 and 747-100. The old Boeing DC-8 being maintained following traditional PM needed roughly 4.000.000 labour hours before reaching 20.000 operating hours. The more complex 747-100 following RCM only needed 66.000 labour hours to reach the same operating hours (maintenance white paper).
As you can see the impact of this new approach in preventive maintenance in the aviation industry was immense, along with its methodology regarding maintenance schedules, reducing failure rates and maintenance costs drastically. That is why the US Department of Defense’s attention was drawn to this methodology. The DoD helped to improve and standardize RCM in the following years and started to use it in all divisions of the armed forces. Today the term RCM is protected and owned by the Aladon Network.
Closely related to RCM is Risk Based Inspection (RBI). This method is very similar to RCM. It combines the concept of failure identification and risk evaluation to create a maintenance program suitable for a complete system such as a ship or an oil rig.
Although being very effective maintenance methods, both RCM and RBI need a lot of data and initial work to turn them into an effective preventive maintenance program for a technical system such as an airplane or a navy vessel. During the setup process, a dedicated team will have to work full time on this topic and follow a standardized process. This is why both concepts are most commonly used in complex environments with high safety standards.
The methods described above, PM, RCM and RBI, are the current state of modern maintenance, but new maintenance methods are already being introduced and used.

The future of maintenance

In recent years there were several technological advancements that introduced the opportunity to develop new kinds of maintenance approaches. First of all, processing power in modern computers has increased greatly in the last 10 to 15 years. This progress made it possible to introduce new technologies such as machine learning to the broad mass of users. Other important drivers for new maintenance systems are the miniaturization and price reduction of sensors and the possibility of sensors to communicate with other sensors and systems (Internet of Things, IoT).
Based on these new technologies, Condition Monitoring (CM) / Predictive Maintenance find their way into all kinds of different industries, e.g. commercial shipping and aviation).
CM is constantly monitoring the condition of machinery with the goal of finding defects and identifying the root cause of failure. The collected data is compared to reference values for the equipment, for example, an optimal working temperature range for an engine. If the system detects deviations from this specified range, it triggers pre-defined maintenance tasks (e.g. visual inspections, part changes etc.) best fitted to the collected values. Machine learning helps to make this process more accurate and reliable over time. The more data that is collected, the better the maintenance.

The role of PMS systems in modern maintenance

Modern PMS systems like IDEA Yacht support users to maintain equipment in several ways and help to keep a vessel safe at all times.
Maintenance information can be put into the PMS system and tasks can be triggered when certain time based intervals, hour counter based intervals and/or certain conditions are being reached. Crew members are informed about the upcoming tasks and all the work that has been done is documented to help later on in potential investigations or audits.
The constant improvement of PMS systems ensures that a variety of maintenance methodologies including CM can be used on board.

For further information, please refer to the following links:
Reliability Centered Maintenance: Aladon Network
Navy RCM Handbook
Future Technologies in shipping

Stay Interested!
Daniel Wolthausen (Dipl.-Wirt.-Ing.(FH) & MSc)
IDEA Product Manager