Air Freight News

Star Information Systems supercharges flagship system with new tech platform

May 30, 2023

As part of its drive to continuously improve its rig and vessel management solutions to meet the future demands of the shipping and offshore industries, Norwegian software supplier Star Information Systems (STAR) has launched STAR Suite – comprising its STAR enterprise asset management (EAM) system and apps but now featuring an advanced technological platform that combines the best web and native functionality and performance.

STAR Suite uses game-changing onboard software technology to enable enhanced planning and preparation of onboard work in a safe and cost-effective manner. The new product suite is the same as the old EAM but with additional targeted functionality and enhanced configuration capabilities.

Simple installation and enhanced user experience

“User-friendliness is vital for busy seafarers. With STAR Suite we’ve worked hard to modernise the desktop interface compared to the existing EAM. We’ve also improved the entire installation process. First-time installation onboard a vessel will take an hour at most, but after that every new user can be up and running in a minute. The software is also continuously and seamlessly upgraded so you always have the latest version,” says Product Director Per Anders Koien.

Tailorable and dynamic

“The system is customizable so we can configure customers’ preferred user interface if desired. From the start we can also configure any kind of supportive business process. This flexibility is very important in view of the fact that our customers range from oil and drilling rig companies to liner and ferry operators, all with widely differing business workflows. If at any time they want to change those processes we can easily adapt the system without requiring a whole new version, which also means less cost,” adds Koien.

The new platform brings further new easy-to-use mobile apps to support crew onboard, including apps dedicated to work quotas and spare parts inventory management. “Crew can use the apps as part of their daily rounds and the data auto-synchronises with the central database onboard saving time and effort,” he adds.

Solving the bandwidth challenge

Being cloud-based the STAR Suite platform enables SaaS (software as a service) even for onboard applications/users. “You can use live cloud-based systems on vessels like ferries that sail close to shore but it’s not practical for oceangoing tonnage that spend a lot of time in areas with limited bandwidth. You really need to have the software onboard. A key part of our solution is to install a web server on the ship that runs in the same way as a cloud solution but locally. Data exchange between the web server and our centralized cloud is very fast and takes up minimal bandwidth versus a bandwidth-heavy live connection,” says Koien.

Making life easier for IT departments

STAR uses dockers to distribute new versions and upgrades to STAR Suite for speed and convenience. “This technique hasn’t traditionally been used for desktop applications, mostly for lighter systems and mobile apps. It’s much faster and more convenient. We also use DevOps for continuous development and distribution, meaning our development team can automatically push out updates including bug fixes and other fine-tuning improvements to increase customer satisfaction,” says Koien.

This approach significantly eases the burden on customer IT departments who do not have to be heavily involved in system upgrades. “IT personnel can spend their time elsewhere on more important issues rather than getting bogged down in client-side supervision of upgrades. It’s a big differentiator for our platform,” says Koien.

Optimized performance with edge computing

As a progressive web app (PWA), STAR Suite is platform agnostic so works seamlessly on any device and operating system. The system uses edge computing, which provides local processing of data onboard to ensure reliable speed and performance. Relevant functionality is also available offline. “In addition, our host servers are powered by the Ubuntu Linux operating system, which being mostly open-source software means reduced cost for customers,” says Koien.

Focus on superior data management

Data quality is crucial for system integrity. Poor existing database data and unmanaged data input means users might not always be able to trust reports and KPIs that you ask a software system to output. For example, when ordering spare parts, if a system doesn’t contain the correct model or serial numbers – which is quite common – you can end up ordering the wrong part. Crews may also enter data in a haphazard manner versus company standards. I’ve also seen databases copied from sister vessels with all sorts of wrong information. Maintenance routines can also be incorrect,” says Koien.

STAR has developed functions to help customers preserve data quality and remain in complete control. STAR Suite focuses on defined master data and centralized data management. “We can configure exactly who does what in the system as directed by the customer, who may mandate that all data entries must be approved first by the shore office. Our team are very familiar with all onboard equipment, so we can also do build databases from scratch on behalf of customers to ensure reliability,” says Koien.

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