Wood Towing, LLC. has provided towing, barge fleeting, and shifting in the Lower Mississippi River and Gulf Intracoastal Waterways for over 60 years. They operate seven towboats, working for several of the largest barge lines in the nation.
We recently visited their office, situated along the Mississippi river just outside of New Orleans. After admiring the gorgeous oak trees on the property and meeting their welcoming residential chickens, we joined General Manager Patrick McNeill to walk through his experience since implementing Helm CONNECT back in January.
Prior to using Helm CONNECT they faced challenges keeping up with paperwork, and with Subchapter M around the corner they knew they needed a better way of tracking their information. “There’s not an effective way of keeping up without a formal system in place. We needed something that was verifiable, trackable, and reliable,” says McNeill.
After implementing Helm CONNECT, McNeill started to see value in just a couple of weeks. “Prior to using Helm CONNECT, I was sending paperwork to the vessels and couldn’t easily track what happened after that. Now, there is much better communication between the office and the vessels. Ensuring the crews have done what’s required is now entirely transparent and straightforward.”
The day to day visibility into the vessels has been the biggest win for McNeill. There’s more accountability on both sides. “If the vessels make a request of shoreside staff within the system, that quite literally can’t get overlooked. And vice versa, as we can now ensure we clear communication of expectations to the vessels and receive proactive alerts as to when assigned tasks are overdue. It’s a win win.”
One benefit Wood Towing never expected was more efficient management of their shoreside mechanics and port engineers. “The office can clearly assign them tasks and prioritize those tasks so they can better manage their time. For example, we used to have disjointed lists of repair work that needed to get done during a shipyard visit. Now nothing gets forgotten or brought up more than once.”