Whilst initially this consisted of traditional key-based locking systems, in 1979 VingCard invented the world’s first recordable card lock. This sparked a revolution, both onshore and offshore, and as a result today most new-build vessels utilise an electronic locking solution, integrated within the complete systems.
Traditionally VingCard Marine primarily dealt with passenger ships such as cruise liners and ferries, which meant that although the company is headquartered in Norway, the US was one of its biggest markets. However, over the last decade, VingCard Marine has expanded its focus and is now quite prominent in the offshore and commercial sectors. In keeping with the global nature of the oil and gas industry, and marine market in general the company is dealing with clients from across the world but sees particular activity in South-East Asia (Asia), Europe, Scandinavia, and the US (North and South America).
Elaborating on VingCard Marine’s move into this market, sales manager Offir Karni comments: “In the past most of the ships in the offshore market were using metal key solutions, but we saw the potential for the application of electronic locking and the additional services which can identify when a person leaves or boards the vessel. Although essentially the technology used for offshore vessels is the same as that on passenger ships, when we entered this segment we had to customise the system towards the different requirements of offshore clients. Each vessel owner has a different idea of how the system should operate, and therefore we work very closely with the industry to understand and deliver what is required.”
As well as the electronic locking solution, VingCard Marine also offers gangway control and muster station capabilities all integrated into a one-card solution. Specifically the gangway control system is a secure and flexible method of storing crew, passenger and visitor data, and providing real time status reports of who is onboard and ashore as required by International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) regulations. Likewise, the muster control system utilises wireless scanners to register and track persons present at muster stations during safety drills and emergencies. “Each of these systems is accessible from just one card so that the same card used to enter your cabin also registers when you are onboard or onshore, and during emergency evacuation at the life boat. Furthermore we see the potential to integrate other capabilities based on the clients request and way of operation,” notes Offir.
“We are very focused on the integration of our system in line with the specifications of the ISPS, which means that the clients don’t have to deal with different suppliers but can purchase everything from us. This makes a lot of sense as in many cases we are the supplier of the locking system, and these additional services are just an extension of what we are already doing.”
Achieving this level of integration has required ongoing development, including one of the most prominent technology shifts in recent years towards radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions. Contactless technologies are becoming ever more popular in many different industry sectors, and this is reflected by the upturn in these types of solutions provided by VingCard Marine. “We have been selling RFID products for the last five to six years, and we see that for many new build vessels this is the technology of choice. Whilst our overall best selling product is still the traditional magnetic stripe card, RFID is the main solution we are providing to the offshore market today as it offers a lot of advantages with a minimal price difference. As a flexible platform for future applications, we are continuing to develop within this technology to fit with market needs. In the case of some of our segments we can even offer an RFID solution using mobile phones instead of cards, although due to restrictions this is not suitable for the offshore sector,” explains Offir.
“There are a few market trends that we see as being related to us indirectly as a supplier, such as the growth in alternative energy solutions and investment into new vessels for this. Likewise many of the easier and cheaper oil reserves have now been discovered, so the offshore sector is moving into ever-deeper waters. This requires them to either provide accommodation barges or larger vessels, and therefore clients always need to know who is onboard the rig and who is on the floatel, which RFID offers an accurate and stable solution for,” he adds.
Another market shift that is of interest to VingCard Marine is that whilst originally its main market was Norway when it comes to supply vessels and shipyards, in more recent years such activities have grown elsewhere such as South-East Asia, Brazil, China, Singapore, and Korea. In response to this as well as its technical office in Florida which takes care of the US and South America, last year VingCard Marine established a regional office in South-East Asia to address opportunities in this area.
“Our main goal is to work together with the market because we believe this is the only way that you can truly understand what the client wants, and as a result we don’t have sales agents. Instead we cultivate these relationships through our base in Norway and intensively travelling around the world to visit with clients. We recognise that safety and security are what matters to our clients, and having made this our objective for the last 150 years believe we are well placed to help achieve this,” concludes Offir.
Products: Marine locks and access control systems