BV perspective: the evolving role of a surveyor

BV perspective: the evolving role of a surveyor

Feb. 1 2023 - Marcello Zanotti - 4 min


My journey with Bureau Veritas began 15 years ago. After a decade working as an engineer at a tanker company, it was time for me to try something new in the maritime sector. I became a Bureau Veritas surveyor, performing between four to eight surveys each month. Now as Marine Operations Director I carry out fewer surveys, but still with an overview of how the work of surveyors is evolving.

Of course, certain challenges will always form part of a surveyor’s daily routine – adapting to the ship’s schedule, for example. We have a responsibility to respect the vessel’s time in port when conducting our surveys. The last thing we want to do is cause delays and operational disruptions. To avoid this, we adapt our schedules and ensure we have sufficient time for the full scope of the survey. Working on ships in yards or dry docks generally gives us more time and flexibility, but at any moment we could receive a last-minute call for surveys or damages.

Navigating an evolving industry

Many core elements of our work remain constant, yet I have certainly witnessed a lot of change since I started at BV. First of all, we have widened the net of our scope as surveyors. Ships are governed by significantly more codes, rules and conventions than 15 years ago. On the positive side, this means our industry is safer and more sustainable. However, for some companies, ensuring compliance with additional regulations raises concerns of operability and profitability.

A changing industry is also a more complex one. For instance, now cyber security and digitalization form part of surveyors’ considerations, in addition to existing class rules and statutory regulations. Surveys now cover new requirements and scopes such as water ballast treatment systems (WBTS), energy efficiency (EEXI , CII , etc.) and equipment for emissions reduction such as scrubbers or alternative fuels propulsion. In addition, the team ashore will play an even more fundamental role in guiding the surveyors in the execution of their tasks

To support our work, a growing number of tools are available. Operations can be carried out remotely, backed by solid onshore support, to optimize safety, availability and flexibility. Our ongoing digital transformation and the use of new IT tools, including VeriSTAR Green , UTM software and mobile apps, also aids us in the execution of surveys and audits

The heart of the role: people

Tools play an important role, but not as much as people do. I’ve remarked a change in attitudes and the level of crew training which makes proximity with our clients all the more important. Ultimately, our role as surveyors is to verify compliance with rules and regulations, but we are also delivering a service to the ship’s crew and owner. Our duty is always to act according to our code of ethics and pre-defined standards.

For logistical reasons, clients are often relying on the same group of surveyors. Building a relationship based on mutual trust and respect is crucial. We are perceived as key technical experts, supporting operational activity while prioritizing ship and crew safety.

To summarize, BV’s added value lies in the flexibility and availability of our teams, both onshore and onboard.