“When I was in eighth grade, I read a book on programming computers using BASIC, but I still hadn’t even seen a computer by the time I had finished the book,” commented Ron deBruyne, founder of maritime software company Helm Operations. “When I got in front of my first “green screen” computer, it all made perfect sense. I loved the logic around software development, it was my creative outlet.”
For over 15 years, deBruyne and his team have been focusing this creative energy on developing software solutions tailor-made to maritime operators, enabling them to move past paper records and cumbersome Microsoft Excel and Access tools while at the same time increasing the efficiency of their operations. Over 1000 vessels use their software including those owned by SVITZER, Seaspan, McAllister, Blessey Marine, Crowley, and Florida Marine Transporters.
On many other ships right now “crews are orphaned off and disconnected using paper and Excel spreadsheets over email, which is not intuitive or convenient,” notes deBruyne. “With this huge explosion of computer-literacy within the work force coupled with data connectivity at sea, crews are routinely looking for better solutions, ones that are tailored to their workflow.”
Helm’s dedication to the needs of the maritime industry end-user has been noticed on a global scale and today the company has announced its acquisition by renowned Japanese classification society, ClassNK.
“We’ve known about each other for a long time,” commented deBruyne, “but it was just in the last 6 months that things started happening. After trying to find ways to partner up, [the acquisition] became a mutual conclusion.”
With ClassNK’s incredible global reach and deep client list now at their fingertips, Helm Operations will likely expand quickly over the next few years.
“We see this as an accelerator,” notes deBryune. “An opportunity to leverage resources and expand global reach particularly in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.”
In an emailed statement, Yasushi Nakamura, Representative Director and Executive Vice President of ClassNK, praised the purchase, saying:
“At ClassNK our mission has always been to ensure that global innovation is put to use for the benefit of the entire maritime industry. Commencing with the acquisition of NAPA earlier this year, and the acquisition of Helm now, we are bringing together a team of leading software companies from around the world in order to help achieve that goal.
Through this acquisition we can provide Helm with the resources and reach to even further develop their industry-leading software systems for all aspects of ship operations, and in turn make them available for everyone in the industry around the globe. We very much believe that Helm’s innovative solutions can contribute greatly to the improved safety and efficiency of shipping companies – and are excited about being able to ensure these technologies are available industry-wide. “
“In today’s day and age, we have this opportunity to really connect people and computers that we weren’t able to before. In the past, if you weren’t wired for green-screen computers, then you weren’t a user,” adds deBruyne. “Now everyone is a computer user.”
“In ClassNK, we’ve found a partner who shares our vision of providing the maritime and offshore support sectors with the best software possible, and we’re incredibly honored and excited by the potential for new developments that this new partnership will create. By working together, we’re convinced we can create a world-class software platform for the global maritime industry.”