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Incorporating Clean Shipping International


Thursday, October 4, 2018 

Helm Operations says that less than two years since it began helping tug and barge operator Ivy Marine become one of the first companies to achieve compliance with new Subchapter M rules, Alabama-based Tug and Barge Solutions (TBS) has more than 100 vessels using the company’s Towing Safety Management System and audit services, powered by Helm CONNECT software.

Founded in 2012 by tug captain turned ISM/ISO auditor Pat Folan and towing vessel operators Steve Wilson and Patrick Boles, TBS has been helping towing vessel operators achieve compliance with the US Coast Guard (USCG), International Safety Management (ISM), Tanker Management and Self-Assessment (TMSA) and other standards for more than five years. Starting with operators on the US Gulf Coast and along the Intracoastal Waterway, TBS has expanded to serve vessel operators throughout the US. Since the release of the USCG’s Subchapter M rules, TBS has emerged as one of the leading consultants for achieving Sub M compliance, providing towing operators with an easy-to-implement towing safety management system (TSMS).

“We saw the changes coming to the industry and wanted to put together a complete system to help small fleet operators achieve compliance,” said Folan. “As a former tug captain myself, I knew how important it was to keep things simple, and easy for crew to use.”

In September 2016 TBS helped its fellow Daphne-based tug and barge operator Ivy Marine to become one of the first companies in the country to receive USCG certification for its TSMS, leaping ahead of many larger operators to achieve Subchapter M compliance. In the two years since then, TBS’s client base has grown to include more than 125 vessels in the US. Over 100 of these vessels use Helm CONNECT to manage their compliance activities and records.

TBS provides its customers with a customised TSMS system incorporating maintenance and compliance routines all within the Helm CONNECT platform, which is accessed via an internet connection or installed locally on vessels. Data from forms, compliance and maintenance routines completed by the crew are instantly shared with the vessels' owners and TBS, allowing TBS to provide feedback and manage compliance and safety in near real time.

A key element to TBS’s growth has been the company’s close partnership with Helm Operations and use of Helm CONNECT, said Folan. “Between Ivy Marine and TBS, we’d worked with just about every software system out there, but Helm CONNECT really stood out from everything else we worked with. This software has really given us an unmatched combination of user friendliness, powerful features, and great people dedicated to making TBS and our customers successful.

“Prior to starting with Helm CONNECT, we’d been managing and supporting our customers on paper. Moving to Helm CONNECT has allowed us to rapidly expand our business while helping us provide even deeper insights to our clients. Today, we’re able to provide almost real time advice to more than 100 vessels.”

As TBS continues to grow its operations among Subchapter M vessels, the company is working with Helm Operations to expand into a wider range of markets.  

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