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Fleet managers seek help in cutting costs

OWNERS looking to reduce operational costs are turning to software management tools to keep check of fleet overheads and spare parts. They are pushing harder to save money on operation fleets, looking to streamline spare part and maintenance schedules more pro-actively, leading to recent fears that safety and maintenance quality could be jeopardised. But as asset values plummet, leaving banks taking a stronger interest in how owners manage their vessels, managers are actively seeking modern software tools for assistance, according to Spectec, an Italian company that has seen sales of its software system rocket. Chief executive Giampiero Soncini said his company has signed 178 contracts during the first two months of this year, compared to only 78 during the same period in 2008, with some companies making multi-million dollar enquiries. “This has been the best two months ever for Spectec and this has left me speechless,” he said.
Expecting owners to withdraw from software purchases as the economic downturn spiralled, Spectec began to take measures in preparation, including closing some loss making offices at the end of last year. But so far the company has seen revenues continue to climb. “My perception is that when there is a bonanza and people are making huge profit they become complacent,” he said. “In those situations they take the risk and try smaller, cheaper companies, but today with profits down there is more focus on making real savings and being seen to do this.” Since 2005, when Spectec was acquired from the Dutch communications group, Xantic, the company had seen no multi-million dollar bids. But now it is in discussions with a number of shipowners for licenses to instal AMOS, its asset management system, across fleets with sizes of over 100 vessels. “What I perceive is that the companies that have always been strong are getting stronger. I have not seen a slow down on orders from our biggest customers,” said Mr Soncini, who sees the asset management software market as being in a position for consolidation. Spectec has bought a 20% stake in MarineXchange Software of Germany, which provides cruise operators with the tools to optimise their food and beverage ordering. Mr Soncini said he was still looking at further acquisitions, with talks ongoing with two other companies. “We have cash in the bank and an untouched line of credit with the Hellenic Bank. I hope that a couple of companies I have respected very much might join forces with us.”

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