Reefer madness

Green Management Sp. Z o.o is a Polish ship management company based in Gdynia, Poland. It was established nearly a decade ago as an in-house management team for owner Green Reefers, its responsibilities growing over the years until Caiano Group acquired the parent company. At this point Green Management became a full vessel management company with responsibility for 30 reefer ships operating worldwide. The scope of services goes beyond usual Crew plus technical offered by third party ship manager. It is more like substitute for traditional ship owner activities, including full insurance service, post fixture operations and cargo care. With it goes a different operating philosophy and mentality of staff. In 2013 the company plans to take another step forward by expanding its services to third parties, applying ten years of experience in reefers to RO-ROs and container carriers.

Reefer shipping is an uncertain market that, during the past few years, has steadily declined. The recession led to the scrapping of approximately 80 reefer ships and several shipping companies leaving the sector altogether. Caiano Group has supported its reefer investments and taken responsibility as a shipowner and is now looking forward to opportunities on the changed playing field in the reefer market. The impact of many years of low rates means, however, that most companies retaining a reefer business handle all management inhouse – much like Caiano Group. Green Management is therefore looking at other vessel types to acquire new business, where company’s ability and culture could add a real value to ship owners’ operations.

When asked whether handling a new type of vessel will present technical or operational challenges to a company that has been involved solely with reefers for nearly a decade, managing director Irek Kuligowski says no: “Of all dry cargo vessels, reefers are the most technically complicated. Operationally speaking they are difficult to operate too, primarily because of the sensitive cargo. If a manager can take care of and survive in the reefer shipping then they should be able to operate any other kind of dry cargo ship. As such we will be diversifying into the RO-RO and container ship sector.”

Green Management expects to gain its first vessel in early 2013, with a goal to expand its third party management fleet of RO-ROs and container ships to a significant number by the end of the year. One of the most attractive propositions Green Management holds for potential clients is that its ten years as an in-house management team for complex reefer vessels means it has developed advanced systems aiding operational efficiency and reliability. With its fleet of 30 ships already in its responsibility, the company has also had the opportunity to test them out.

“We have the luxury of 30 vessels and an owner that backs us in developing operating systems of the highest quality,” says Irek. “Contrary to many ship managers that will look for systems to buy in, we are approaching it internally and asking what the best way to do it is. With ships already under our responsibility, we have been able to test and perfect systems such as the Digital Inspection and Reporting Systems (DIRS) that all of our superintendents have on their smart phone. We also have an in-house Vessel Reporting System (VRS), introduced even before the new SEEMP regulations were introduced. Money in the reefer trade was short; these are just two of many techniques we developed to economise on elements such as bunker.”

Apart from technological advances, Green Management also has a number of services that make it stand out from the average ship manager. It supplies riding and diagnostics gangs. New maintenance and repair techniques are based on moving from spare part to component based M&R, by establishing its own stores and workshop with access to deep water pier. The company is developing IT services to help ships establish onboard communications, planned maintenance systems (PMS), and other onboard computer networks. It is also moving into new building supervision by employing some of Poland’s expert naval architects that have already had experience abroad in the offshore sector. Finally, the ship manager is now able to provide ship security including vessel hardening and even armed guards if necessary.

Poland is quickly becoming a hub for ship management due to the excellent price/quality ratio it offers. The costs of living and operating in the country are cheaper than Western Europe yet the quality of personnel is equally high. There are thousands of Poles working all over the world and would be happy to work from home. For ship owner or manager this means that there is no reason to bring the labour where the jobs are, it is by far more economical to bring the jobs where the people are and hire staff as per local conditions. Gdynia in particular is becoming a hive of maritime activity, and Green Management is capitalising on the opportunities the rising awareness of this fact offers. All major materials and service providers are in town and very responsive to ship managers requirements. Rolls Royce, Wartsila, Wilhelmsen Services, Hempel, Jotun, are all available locally. DNV has its major Technology Center in Gdynia and offers a whole range of services, including possibility of training Supers on 3D full mission simulator rather than in the classroom, unique in the shipping world.

“Green Management has survived the challenging conditions that saw several companies pull out of the reefer business,” states Irek. “Now, as our Group CEO Mr Eivind Eidesvik says, we are entering into recovery mode as we can see that rates are already going up. We have greatly improved the services on offer and the quality of our operations by reducing daily OPEX and off-hire significantly whilst maintaining the quality of the vessel.”

In light of this positivity, the managing director ends with a brief outline of Green Management’s short- and long-term plans for the future: “In the short-term we hope to close the year with a significant number of ships more under our management. For the long-term, I believe the company’s core business will remain in-house reefer management because that is the priority of our owner. Poland is rich with all types of expertise and with it the company will continue to grow in a controlled way.”

Green Management Sp. Z o.o
In-house ship manager
Expanding into third-party
Unique service offering