Home HRCompany Profiles Helm Operations launches free trials of Helm CONNECT
Ron deBruyne

Ron deBruyne

Software developer set to upend industry by making preventive maintenance simple and affordable for crews and operators

Victoria BC – Helm Operations has served notice to the workboat industry, and to rival software companies, by showing how preventive maintenance can be made simple for crew and operators, and affordable for workboat companies.

Canadian-based Helm Operations stepped up its campaign by launching free trials of its Helm CONNECT Preventive Maintenance software at last week’s WorkBoat Maintenance & Repair Conference and Expo in New Orleans. It’s the first part of a roll out that the company believes will wake up an entire industry.

Helm CONNECT is the new flagship product of Helm Operations, a company whose mission is to make record keeping and recording easier for managers and crews alike. Helm’s existing software is used by more than 1, 000 vessels around the world and Helm CONNECT, launched quietly at the beginning of April, is already in use by US workboat owners Magnolia Fleet, Louisiana Intl Marine and Bordelon Marine.

Said John Stewart, Vice President of Magnolia Fleet, “We switched over to Helm because it is the most user friendly vessel operations software program I have come across, and I think we have demoed or used in combination all of them.”

Over the course of the two-day WorkBoat Maintenance & Repair Conference and Expo, upwards of 100 companies opted in for free trials of the new software. Among them are owners of fishing, diving, research and passenger vessels; shipyards have also entered discussions with the software developer to start using the new preventive maintenance system.

The widespread interest isn’t surprising to Helm Operations CEO Ron deBruyne, who has spent more than 15 years developing software for the maritime industry. “Many owners today are either struggling with paper or excel based maintenance systems, or have implemented expensive and complex software systems that are difficult for crews and shore based staff to use effectively, ” says deBruyne.

“What workboat owners and engineers tell us however is that when systems are hard to use, they aren’t used properly, if at all. Owners then foot the bill for not only the expensive training and implementation costs these complex software systems require, but also increased maintenance costs when accurate and timely maintenance information isn’t available. We developed Helm CONNECT to fix those problems.”

Helm CONNECT offers an intuitive interface developed through consultation with workboat managers, crew and engineers to make preventive maintenance and regulatory compliance easy, allowing crews to get ahead of issues instead of reacting to them. The system’s flexible combination of online and onboard functions also allows records to be accessed and updated at any time and from any Internet enabled device.

“We do extensive usability testing, and our approach is that if crews or engineers can’t figure out how to use our software during that testing phase, we redesign it until they can, ” deBruyne adds.  “The result is a system made up of simple but powerful applications designed for the specific tasks faced by crews and shore-based staff every day. Reporting complex maintenance and compliance information is made simple because each app deals with a particular workflow, based on the different roles within a maritime company.”

Helm CONNECT Preventive Maintenance includes five apps; Engine Log, Maintenance, Action Items, Inspections and Shipyard, allowing port engineers and maintenance managers to easily schedule equipment repair and replacement work, track tasks by status and are alerted to issues needing further action. Efficiency is everything, once logged onboard, information is synched with the shore management system automatically, so that data only needs to get entered once. Helm CONNECT is also configurable to each customer’s processes, so customers can set up templates, checklists, routines and inspections in line with their own needs.

Beyond just functionality however, deBruyne says Helm Operations is also challenging its competitors on price and affordability “We’ve seen owners with only 5 vessels charged $70, 000 or more to implement our competitors’ maintenance systems, but there’s no reason that owners should have to be pay tens of thousands of dollars to set up an effective maintenance system.”

“Helm CONNECT puts the customer in charge, so that owners only have to buy the functions they need, which eliminates the need to buy a large enterprise system to manage maintenance and compliance. As a result we can offer Helm CONNECT Preventive Maintenance for only $99 per vessel per month – making it affordable for every operator whether they have one boat or hundreds.”

“Workboat companies want easy to use, affordable maintenance management software to close the loop on compliance, ” says deBruyne. “That’s what Helm CONNECT is all about.”

About Helm Operations

Since 1999 the world’s largest and most respected tugboat and barging companies have trusted their operations and compliance-related data management to Helm software, which is developed by Helm Operations. Today Helm software is used on more than 1, 000 vessels worldwide.

Free trials of Helm CONNECT can be found at www.helmoperations.com/trial

Located in Victoria, BC Canada Helm Operations is a subsidiary of ClassNK, one of the world’s leading classification societies. ClassNK is dedicated to supporting the growth and development of the maritime industry, and ensuring the safety of ships, their crews, and the marine environment. With more than 8, 600 vessels on its register, ClassNK provides classification and certification services to more than 20% of the world’s merchant fleet via a network of some 130 offices worldwide

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