MANCHESTER, NH--(Marketwire - Aug 28, 2012) - PortsAndPilots.com is an iPad app that started as a "Pilot's Twitter," but that has grown far beyond that -- and that by using Scribe Online, is helping pilots navigate the increasingly chaotic waters of the world's busiest ports.
Safely guiding a modern supertanker or cruise ship into seaports requires a pilot acutely aware of all the latest conditions -- cargo load, ship turning radius, crew fatigue status, harbor traffic patterns, weather, currents, bridge height clearance -- right down to whether the garbage has been taken out. Scribe makes it easy to bring all that information together onto one connected, easy-to-understand dashboard, by connecting the databases that are used by PortsAndPilots.com in its innovative iPad app.
"Before Scribe, the situation was just a mass of complexity, because we had built the original 'Pilot's Twitter' on a MySQL database, and trying to get that to work with Dynamics CRM was just not happening," says Warren Wood, CEO and Founder of PortsAndPilots.com. "We not only had hundreds of databases, but our super-fast growth meant we had all these pilots submitting text, photos, location data, time data and even videos that we needed to handle.
"My development team was beating their brains out trying to accomplish all this with middleware code. When Scribe Online came in, I was able to throw out all the middleware code and re-task my development team from banging around on the back-end to working on all the features and front-end design, to serve the pilots better."
Two major factors convinced PortsAndPilots.com that they needed to adopt Scribe: 1) the sheer power of Scribe Online to connect all the databases they were dealing with, and 2) the ease of understanding and using the Scribe Online UI.
CRM is used in an innovative, but crucial way by the PortsAndPilots.com app. The overriding concern in the shipping industry is safety, and harbors around the world have increasingly put pilots under a microscope.
"There is an alarming and unstoppable trend for pilots to prove every movement they do -- so they can defend it if there is an incident," says Wood. "With the skyrocketing increase in ship traffic, the bigger and bigger sizes of ships -- the complexity of the job has gone through the roof. Scribe has helped us tame that complexity a bit, as we connect all the databases through CRM, to turn our little app into an ERP for pilots.
"This is already making a huge difference in safety and efficiency. When pilots get onboard, the ship is often already underway and you only have about 10 minutes or so to get your act together, so simplicity and clarity are at an absolute premium. Scribe helps us reach down into the databases and pull out the bits of information that are relevant and surface them through the CRM right into Outlook."
For example, pilots take pictures of the exteriors of the ships they work on, as well as the interior of the bridge. To an untrained eye, it looks like a big boat on the water, or a thrilling view out over the deck of a supertanker. But to a pilot, subtle details like whether the ladder they are going to have to climb up is at the waterline or 15 feet up the hull, can be a life-and-death issue when you're in pitching seas, while trying to match course and speed with a vessel the size of an entire football stadium.
Some ships require the pilots to land on the decks by helicopter; the pilots are using their smartphones to shoot video of the landing sequence, and uploading it to the shared databases so other pilots can tell the best way to approach in heavy weather or emergency situations.
"These databases are getting populated with thousands of tiny details that to the experienced eye of a pilot, can make a world of difference," said Wood. "You can see how the formation of the stern is going to affect the way the ship will back up -- or how the rudder will influence the way it will handle a turn. You can see that some of them, you have to have the tugs further forward that usual. Or that the ship will turn sharply to port, but not to starboard.
"Just at a glance, an experienced pilot can tell you how that ship is going to handle -- like a horse rider can tell from a glance how a horse is going to behave -- if it's going to be wild or mild-mannered, if it will be strong and slow, or fast and fragile."
Pilots on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia are already using the CRM functions in PortsAndPilots to standardize the checklist they use for their "passage plan," decreasing the chances that something will be overlooked.
Wood said that he is so pleased with the job that Scribe has done for him that he is already recommending Scribe to customers to use to connect their own databases. The long-term plan is to use the main PortsAndPilots.com database as a kind of "mother ship" and to then share the data with the wild tangle of databases used in ports around the world.
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