Scottish startup Ankaa is using digital technology to take the headache out of the maritime crewing process.
The maritime crewing process is far from straightforward. After all, in order to work at sea, each seafarer, explains Ankaa founder and managing director Ian Livingstone, needs to maintain a broad range of vocational certifications that can run to some 40 different documents or thereabouts. Meanwhile, ship owners, operators, managers and crewing agents are all required to maintain complete visibility on crew credentials to ensure regulatory compliance. Unsurprisingly, the resulting administrative burden is “significant and involves duplication of work, bulky email attachments and unsecured data traffic to multiple involved parties”.
Established in 2016 to facilitate a secure and streamlined solution to all this, Ankaa currently offers two fully-operational products in the guise of Ankaa Marine/Contractor and Ankaa Recruiter. Available via a web portal with cloud storage or a mobile app for IOS and Android, Ankaa Marine/Contractor provides stakeholders involved in the management and contracting of employees with real-time access to all personal data, next of kin reports, analytics, documentation and other useful employer tools. At the same time, employees can access and update their profile, as well as benefit from such features as certificate expiry alerts; employment analytics; receipt of safety bulletins; and the sending of payslips directly to their profile.
An “end-to-end digital recruitment tool”, Ankaa Recruiter, on the other hand, ensures General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance when gathering and sharing personal information or shortlisting personnel during the hiring process. “The system’s key benefit is in being able to gather multiple vocational certifications which are essential to the position,” Livingstone says, noting that “candidates can utilise the mobile app or portal to create a digital profile and apply for open positions”.
Among other things, Ankaa’s digital tools also make use of artificial intelligence (AI) to help recruiters identify the most suitable candidates for a position while also boasting a bank account verification tool that ensures the validity of bank accounts to help avoid errors with the payment of wages. “There are many crew management and recruitment solutions available, but Ankaa has a friendly and easy-to-use interface which stands out in terms of accessibility and the solution it offers,” he states.
Having undergone extensive testing prior to launch, the two Ankaa solutions have already been deployed in real-world maritime application, with the Fletcher Group and Serco NorthLink, for instance, currently operating Ankaa Marine/Contractor. Indeed, Serco NorthLink, which runs ferry services to the Scottish Isles of Orkney and Shetland, was instrumental in the development of this particular product, field-testing the tool on its two freight vessels MV Helliar and MV Hildasay.
As well as using the Marine/Contractor platform on its crew managed vessels, Clyde Marine Recruitment (CMR), of which Livingstone is also the managing director, is also using the Ankaa Recruiter system within its offices in Glasgow, Gdynia and Riga. “In the first month of launching candidate digital profiles, CMR saw over 3,000 candidates register and create profiles,” Livingstone says, revealing that a subsequent survey of candidates gave the tool a 4.3-star rating.
But that’s not all, with Ankaa’s solutions also proving a boon in the light of increased remote working as a result of the current COVID-19 situation. “During the pandemic when the CMR team were all working from home, it was clear that using Ankaa provided significant benefits as the team could post positions, gather and search candidate data then securely share with clients all within a single system,” he reports.