Working in shipping is a very demanding job, and sailors face many challenges, sleepless nights, long working hours and uncertainty as to how much time they will spend on board ships. During the Covid-19 pandemic, awareness of these issues has been in the spotlight, with many companies providing support to seafarers in the form of mental health training, industry initiatives and now counseling and opportunities surrounding their skills.
New York-based maritime technology company Seafair has developed a platform to help seafarers be properly associated with jobs and duties that ensure their roles best reflect their skills. The platform matches seafarers with shipping companies through an algorithm that contains data about their background, skills and performance on board a ship.
We chat with Agapitos Diakogiannis, Founder and CEO of Seafair to learn more about how this technology works and how the industry can get involved.
How it started
The complementary crew software technology developed by Seafair was created after its founder, Agapitos Diakogiannis, moved to the United States to join FJ Labs – a venture capital firm in New York. While working there, Diakogiannis noted that there was a new wave of digital labor market technology within the oil and gas industry that allowed contractors to be screened and carefully vetted before they went out. be given tasks and roles. Given his background in shipping, Diakogiannis began to explore what this technology could offer the shipping industry.
âI have seen a new wave of digital labor market in traditional industries like construction, manufacturing, oil and gas. I’ve seen start-ups using data and technology to control work and I’ve found it exciting, âhe says. âGiven my interest and experience in shipping, I started exploring whether a digital job market made sense in the shipping industry.
âI spent three weeks in the Philippines working with local recruiting agencies and talking to several sailors. The processes I have seen and the stories I have heard have convinced me that the maritime crew and the actors who participate in them can greatly benefit from technology and data.
Since its launch at the end of 2020, Seafair has already acquired several customers, including one of the top 100 shipping companies. Currently with five locations – New York, Berlin, Athens, Odessa and Manila – the company aims to create a diverse, inclusive and transparent culture and community for its workforce and seafarers.
How it works?
Seafair collects data on seafarers’ backgrounds, skills and performance on board ships. This data is then entered into the software’s algorithm which allows shipping companies to match people to the most relevant vacancy based on their skills.
To begin with, seafarers need to create a profile on the Seafair platform where they can upload certificates and sea service documents. From there, the system then runs background checks of the uploaded documents for themselves. ensure that the information is correct and validated. Once verified, the sailor’s information will be posted on the platform, allowing shipping companies to view the profile.
The software’s algorithm matches seafarers to the most relevant job posting advertised by shipping companies based on vessel specifications as well as specific criteria of individual shipping companies.
Diakogiannis explains: âOur maritime customers have access to our platform, where they can consult the profiles of verified sailors. Our clients can schedule interviews on the platform, and when they want to hire a sailor, they can generate digital contracts and complete the hiring process in minutes.
The technology also allows shipping companies to access seafarer data at all stages of the hiring process. Once hired, the shipping company can continue to use the platform while the sailor is on board via digital contracts, work schedules, payments, training sessions and reviews. Technology is also helping to restructure the training process for seafarers, enabling them to prepare better and faster for promotion to higher ranks.
This digitized information allows the shipping company to keep track of all the information and store it in one place.
âCollecting all of this data is extremely important to shipping companies, not only because it helps them automate back-office work, but more importantly because it gives them transparency when it comes to making a decision about it. crew, âsays Diakogiannis.
The shipping industry has struggled to stay on top of seafarer management due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Thousands of sailors found themselves stranded aboard ships and many of them were assigned to unknown tasks and felt overwhelmed by the workload. Could digital platforms like this be the way forward for the industry?
Technology such as the platform developed by Seafair enables transparent communication to be developed between shipping companies and the seafarers themselves, which is vital for the overall operation of the vessel.
âOur thesis is that the crew is and must remain a human-centered function in maritime transport. The technology we have built around verifying sailors promotes transparency and ensures that sailors who deserve the best opportunities can get them, âsaid Diakogiannis.
“Our thesis is that the crew is and must remain a human-centered function in maritime transport.”
Another important advantage of the technology is a reminder function when a seafarer’s certificate expires or when a rest break is approaching, which is vital for the general mental well-being of seafarers, as has been pointed out. during the Covid-19 pandemic.
To support the mental health of crew members, technology is helping to set up a reward system. The system recognizes high-quality, hard-working sailors so the shipping company can recognize their hard work and motivate sailors who may not feel recognized for the contributions they make during their careers at sea.
Seafair expects more leading maritime companies to partner with the company to optimize their crew management operations and skills-based hiring means.