Welcome to our newest series, Meet the User, designed to give our customers a voice and our readers the opportunity to gain an insider perspective on our products and solutions. Through this series, we aim to connect and educate the shipping community, and inspire innovation and industry growth.
Meet Josh Ervasti, Operations Manager at Stena Bulk in Houston, Texas. Josh has a degree from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, and prior to Stena Bulk he sailed as second mate, coming ashore a while after becoming chief mate.
Stena Bulk is one of the world’s leading tanker shipping companies, providing safe and cost-effective transport of crude oil and petroleum products at sea. They operate a fleet of about 100 vessels and have offices in six countries. Stena Bulk is part of the Stena Sphere, which has around 20,000 employees in Sweden and around the world.
Interviewer: Tor-Arne Berger, Q88 Product Manager
Tor-Arne: Hi Josh, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to participate in our series! How often would you say you are using Q88?
Josh: I use Q88 multiple times every day. Without a doubt, it is a very important tool in our everyday business.
Tor-Arne: What’s the key value of the system for you in your role at Stena Bulk?
Josh: The questionnaires, the documents, and the crew matrix, followed by the deadweight calculator and the vetting functionality are by far what I use the most frequently. The beauty of the system for us is time. Everything we do takes time and there is a finite supply, so if we can gather twelve documents at the push of a button, it is extremely valuable as a time saver.
Tor-Arne: Is the fact that the Q88 solutions are all cloud-based important to you?
Josh: Of course, anything that makes it more easily accessible wherever you are, including on my phone. We no longer have the luxury of saying ‘I’ll get back to you tomorrow’, so being able to share information without having to bust out the computer is a huge benefit. It’s all about saving time and ease of use, and your system checks both of those boxes.
Tor-Arne: Which other parts of the Q88 product family do you use on a regular basis?
Josh: The Q88 Voyage Management System (VMS) is where we live throughout the day, it is where we manage every financial aspect of our voyages. Milbros is the best cargo database out there that I have ever seen. We use it for SDS’s and Marpol safe carriage information, and this is very valuable to us. With the carriage of Annex II cargoes, you need a tool like Milbros. You were way ahead of the game showing the IBC code 2021 changes, so we had ample time to review and plan.
Another feature we use of the officer matrix compliance functionality, which is a very powerful tool.
Tor-Arne: How has the pandemic changed how you work?
Josh: The pandemic has touched pretty much every aspect of the business. COVID has been difficult to manage, especially with the severe impacts with respect to quarantines, even when going between ports in the same country. As an owner, we’ve been able to add clauses to charter parties to share some of the burdens.
From a technical management and crewing perspective, the pandemic has been extremely difficult, and the crew has been impacted the most.
Going back to your cloud question; while working from home, Q88 has been great and always available to us.
Tor-Arne: What, if anything, would be an additional feature that you’d like to see on Q88.com?
Josh: An integration with the class societies so certificates can be automatically updated when they are issued or renewed would be very cool and helpful.
Tor-Arne: Josh, thanks very much for your time!