Blue and Gold Fleet operate a 20 + boat fleet in the San Francisco bay area operating ferries, bay cruises, and tourism boats.
Six years ago, the company operated steadily with a fleet of 12 boats. Then it expanded into ferry services which added at least two boats a year, taking them to over a 20 vessel fleet. When the company was small, they tracked all their preventative maintenance and repairs on dry erase boards, excel, and paper. However, as they began to grow, this method proved to be a challenge.
“We tried Google calendars and excel sheets but found it difficult to maintain as our fleet grew. It was up to your own head to keep everything together and it just wasn’t sustainable,” says Kent McGrath, VP of Blue and Gold Fleet.
They were also finding it a challenge to provide adequate communication to the crews. “If the crew noticed an issue on the boat, say a door wasn’t closing properly, they’d tell shore. But if it wasn’t fixed right away, the crew would see no action and they’d write it up again. Or worse, they’d think they were being ignored.”
They needed a way to track their maintenance, so nothing was missed, and needed a better way to close the loop on communication with their crew.
“Starting with Helm was a large company commitment. But once we devoted the time to getting it set up and entered all our data, it was completely worth it. Now all of our information lives in one single location and I have a clear view of all my maintenance for the whole fleet. We use to focus on the real “maintenance show stoppers” ensuring they were taken care of but now we can focus on every small component that requires maintenance as well. You identify your holes and Helm helps you fill them.”
Using Helm, they were able to solve their crew communication as well. “The feedback loop to our crew is much better. Now, communication is right there in the wheelhouse. Crew don’t have to flip through log books or go to shoreside to figure out if something is being taken care of.”
“If you build out the system properly, Helm will help you. You’re not going to drop the ball on anything and mess up for the coast guard. It’ll take the weight off of you, and Helm can do the heavy lifting.”