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Thematic Network on an Operational Platform for Quality Shipping

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Network corridors
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Maritime transport refers to the waterborne elements of the movement of freight and people. Many issues of quality are common between deep and short sea shipping and increasingly overall logistics, covering all activities required to deliver products from producer to costumer at agreed times and with agreed quality, is a key consideration.

ADVANCES is concernend with quality in maritime transport. Its objective is to respond to the European initiatives of Quality Shipping and Short Sea Shipping by considering the ways in which these aims can be assisted by using improved technology within an attractive commercial framework. Quality in shipping is most frequently related to achieving better safety at sea and much activity is rightly focussed on eliminating sub-standard shipping. The Advances Thematic Network is, however, intended to be a broader arena in which all the relevant actors in the transport chain contribute to an understanding of how to combine the industrial concept of total quality with the IMO and European desire for improved safety at sea.

In the maritime field Europe is known for the development of innovative technology and processes. Now it must integrate and exploit these developments. ADVANCES will seek to assist that process in its application to marine transport, which is regarded as an increasingly important element in sustainable transport systems for the future.


The objective of ADVANCES is to establish a network for:

  • Establishing a common understanding of 'quality maritime transport';
  • Identifying the missing elements needed for a wider adoption of a quality approach;
  • Evaluating previous and ongoing research to clarify the avaiability of required elements; 
  • Suggesting new activities to close the gap between the status-quo and future requirements;
  • Validating the practicality and viability of a 'quality' approach;
  • Disseminating results to industry.

Quality in maritime operations is taken to mean:

  • Better safety at sea;
  • Better protection of the environment;
  • Added value to the contribution played by shipping in the overall transport chain;
  • Improvement of operational, tactical and strategic decisions to allow waterborne transport activities to be optimised with improved commercial viability and better quality freight services to customers.

The role of a Thematic Network is to raise the level of debate across a wide range of participants, to develop broad consensus and to identify potential methods of achieving the goals. ADVANCES will develop discussion papers and presentations to facilitate bringing maritime stakeholders into the debate and to allow dissemination to the widest possible audience.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


As a result of ADVANCES project, the following definition for quality was developed:
Quality maritime operation means the provision of reliable, safe and cost efficient transport of goods and people, that satisfies customer requirements and does so with a risk to life, the environment and property that is as low as is reasonably practical. Quality maritime operation must be commercially attractive to shipowners and other operators in the transport chain in order to attract investment and long-term commitment to the provision of such services and the development / continuation of good customer relations.

The definition, although general in nature, is significant in its scope and applicability. It relates to satisfying customers’, society’s and the shipowner’s interests; the operation must be “fit for purpose” which is a specific ation that varies over different shipping trades.

ADVANCES has analysed different maritime operations, including inter-modal participation and considered the fitness for purpose requirement down to the level of the ship itself.

During the course of the Thematic Network progress was made in developing the debate surrounding quality shipping with important stakeholders in ship owning, ship building, classification, insurance, cargo interests and business analys is. The ship owner and operator are very much at the heart of supplying a quality service and ADVANCES has offered a systematic approach (framework) to achieving that goal. Whether performance improvement is being sought at an overall business level or in relation to a particular business element, the structure of the framework will assist.

Quality framework:

  • Specify high-level “quality” goals and constraints
  • Determine / review operational performance requirements
  • Determine / review options to delivering required performance
  • Review and rank risks to achieving required performance
  • Review of ownership strategy
  • Consider developing legislation: safety, environmental, navigation/communication
  • Consider regulatory opportunities
  • Decide on performance measures/metrics to use to manage the operation
  • Preview how these measures can help express quality
  • Review operational strategy
  • Consider through life cost and business implications
  • Choose appropriate in service management

    Policy implications

    A number of recommendations for further work and initiatives arise as a result of the ADVANCES project:

    • The existing level of scrutiny used to establish the Sustainability Index for a maritime industrial transport company is weak. It is recommended that the SI methodology be developed further incorporating to a greater extent existing shipping metrics.
    • Using similar considerations to those for SI’s, develop with shippers’ bodies a strengthened voluntary code for chartering maritime transport. Also develop with BIMCO an additional standard Charter Party formulation that provides for higher guaranteed quality levels and evidence of such.
    • Link the formulation of quality used in enhanced SI, voluntary code and Charter Parties to any European proposed Quality Standard.
    • General descriptions of good practice can only persuade and encourage to a limited extent. Continue the development of shipowner business improvement examples. Consider distribution of examples of methods to assess and deliver quality improvements to ship owner associations for promotion to their members.
    • Encourage suppliers, including shipbuilders, to develop case studies for “return on investment” for “quality” items, so as to encourage supply chain initiatives from the bottom up. Elements of this nature could be developed in European Commission supported projects for the shipbuilding and supply industries.
    • The ADVANCES approach to improving quality could also be applied to the formulation of new maritime regulations. It is therefore encouraged that developers of legislation also use “quality ass essment methods” when exploring regulatory options.
    • In addition it is suggested that DG TREN’s policy making activities could be supported by a small panel, with a range of maritime expertise and experience, providing ongoing review and analysis of issues relating to quality shipping and related legislation and initiatives.


    Key findings:

    As a result of the ADVANCES Thematic Network, a definition for 'quality maritime operation' was developed. This definition considers satisfying customers', society's and the ship owner's interests and that the operation must be 'fit for purpose' which is a specific


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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