While the issuing of e-certs is widely accepted within maritime, LR has focused its attention on building capability to use the technology across the business in our drive to build for scale and growth. Our customers are able access signed certificates in LR Class Direct and through a Verification Portal using a unique tracking number which is also available for third-party stakeholders, such as Port State Control, to view the certificates more easily. It also adds efficiency to the survey process. With certificates built into our reporting systems, they can be automatically endorsed so when a surveyor credits a survey and uploads his/her report no additional work is required.
Electronic certificates can be seen two ways – either as a collection of data behind certificates or as a facsimile of a paper copy that is signed electronically and stored. A key question is whether we need the facsimile if we have all the data – at some point, it is likely that paper will become irrelevant. This transition offers us the potential to move away from individual certificates produced for each component on a vessel to a single certificate for an entire vessel, containing all the relevant data tracked through one LR number.
While the drive toward single ship certification is still an industry ambition rather than a reality, the e-certification evolution currently under way presents huge advantages.
As part of our e-certs programme, LR has laid the foundations not just for certificate for periodical work – this whole end to end process for managing and signing templates and publishing certificates, which we can use in other parts of our business.
The system has been tested and approved by the Panama flag authority and we are in talks with other flags. Leading customers have already started using it. There is no questioning the benefits, but the most exciting bit is how we are able to use the technology elsewhere.