What is Marine Project Management?

Regardless of the industry you work in or the social circles you frequent, at some point you’ve probably heard about project management. Defined as implementing various skills, methods and processes as well as applying previous experience to achieve a specific objective, project management usually entails a set goal that is constrained within a certain timescale and budget. It is this set goal and deadline that distinguishes project management from simply management which is often an ongoing process. Subsequently, project managers often need a wide range of technical skills as well as extensive knowledge when it comes to managing a team.

Project management is a vastly universal concept and is utilised across a variety of industries. The maritime and marine sector for example often implements project management across their operations such as projects where marine engineering might be necessary. This includes new builds as well as conversions and refitting projects.

So, what is marine project management, and why is it so important to the maritime sector?

What is marine project management?

As the name suggests, marine project management is the implementation of specific tools, techniques, skills and knowledge within the marine industry. Due to the complicated and complex nature of marine services, project management is a crucial component of the maritime industry and ensures continuity in the sector’s day-to-day operations.

What are the core components of marine project management?

There is a variety of core components necessary for the implementation of marine project management. These components include:

  • A core brief outlining the necessity of the project
  • Specifying project requirements such as the timescale and resources needed
  • Securing funding and preparing a case to justify any costs
  • Developing a management plan including a budget
  • Leading the project and ensuring timely delivering
  • Managing and mitigating the risks and sudden changes involved
  • Ensuring the resolution of any issues or difficulties
  • Monitoring progress of the project and motivating the team involved
  • Maintaining communication with all parties involved and managing the budget
  • Closing the project when appropriate

It is also important to note that as project management outlines the entire process from start to finish, it can also be a helpful mechanism for managing costs and ensuring there is a stringent budget in place. A lack of an efficient and effective plan in place for largescale marine projects runs the risk of unexpected and costly delays.

When might marine project management be implemented?

Project management is separate from the usual operations of a business and is implemented when a solution is needed within an agreed timeline and/or budget. Therefore, it can be assumed project management would be necessary within the maritime sector for largescale projects such as those requiring marine engineering.

What is marine engineering?

Marine engineering is the process of engineering a variety of marine and maritime vessels including ships such as bulk carriers and tankers as well as submarines and smaller boats. In some cases, marine engineering is also used to describe the engineering of other ocean structures and systems. It is the combination of several other engineering services including but not limited to, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science.

Marine engineering plays a vital role within the maritime industry and requires stringent project management in order for the processes involved to be carried out efficiently and successfully. These processes would be dependent on the project itself but might include converting or refitting an existing vessel, or an entirely new build.

What does new build mean in the maritime industry?

In the maritime industry, a new build usually refers to the fabrication of a new vessel or marine structure. As with many other marine services, a new build is often a complex process where consultants, engineers and other employees within the sector must work together to streamline the project. To be completed, a new build also utilises construction management as well as technical operation support.

Undertaking the construction of a new build requires operational commitment as well as the highest possible levels of quality control. This is particularly important with new vessels, especially when it comes to the materials used and of course, the physical engineering and fabrication of the vessel itself. Every new build team should be carefully selected. This includes a dedicated Project Manager to oversee the process from start to finish.

What is a conversion and refit?

Another service within the marine sector that requires stringent project management is the conversion and refit of a ship or vessel. In contrast to a new build, a conversion and refit is the alteration of an existing vessel. A conversion and refit project entails:

  • Supporting the owner and/or operator throughout the project
  • Different conversion solutions to meet the needs of the owner and/or operator
  • Feasibility studies and the preparation of technical solutions
  • The employment of experienced marine engineers
  • Technical drawings, reports and specifications
  • Building relationships with marine suppliers
  • Supervision of the conversion itself

In a similar fashion to a new build, converting or refitting an existing vessel, ship or submarine is also a highly complicated process that requires project management from start to finish. For example, in a conversion, it must be decided whether a vessel is refitted or retrofitted. During a retrofit, new updated equipment is installed that modernises the vessel. This is in contrast to a refit, where equipment is simply replaced, and the structure of the vessel remains largely unchanged. Despite sounding similar, the two processes are vastly different, hence why an experienced Project Manager is needed.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, project management is an incredibly important concept, especially within the marine industry. Ensuring your team are led by an experienced Project Manager can cement operational continuity and ensure you keep to the agreed budget and deadline. This is particularly pertinent with the marine sector where large scale maritime projects such as the construction of new vessels require a multitude of people, services and skillsets.

Essentially, project management within the maritime industry ensures the streamlining of various services within the maritime industry and cements operational continuity in one of the world’s largest and most industrious sectors.

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