Straight to the vessel

Straight to the vessel

Suppliers and vendors rely on their relationships with ship Agents to get their products onboard vessels. These relationships are key to a successful career in ship supply and are irreplaceable. It can be difficult, however, for those on the supply side to broaden their client base beyond those reached through their agents.

Many husbandry items and services that a ship may need whilst they are in port are better facilitated by an agent. Organizing medical support, handling shipments and food supplies need to be coordinated by someone who has a holistic overview of the master, crew and vessel’s requirements.

There are certain circumstances, however, when it is just as convenient for the principal (the operator, charterer or owner) to work directly with the vendor.

The traditional chain of the supplier, agent and master/operator can be looked at differently with the online DA (Disbursements Accounting) Tool created by Greek tech startup, Harbor Lab.

Vendors and agents alike can put their details into the platform free of charge exposing them to shipowners, operators and charterers looking for husbandry services whilst their ship is in port.

Harbor Lab’s CEO and founder Antonis Malaxianakis says: “The software we have developed brings transparency to the principal and supports their decision making at ports that are less familiar to them. From the vendor and agent side, it creates a level playing field as small companies can present their fees and capabilities alongside larger or more established businesses”.

To date more than 4,000 port calls have been processed using Harbor Lab’s online tool, across the 300 vessels that have brought their DA processes in-house and now manage their costs through the system. The platform has already attracted 1200 agents and vendors since it went live in March last year.

Accessing the tool is easy either by desktop or smartphone and all quotation requests from operators can be viewed in historical order on a personal dashboard.

Principals can reach out to individual companies directly through the tool and request competitive offers for items and make appointments based on these quotations.

Malaxianakis says; “Crucially, these tools are designed to save ship operators, vendors and port agents time, money and reduce their back-office paperwork as all correspondence and quotes are held in the system.”

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Greece-based tech start-up Harbor Lab launched its first product to the shipping industry two days before the Covid-19 pandemic began to shut down Europe in March 2020.