By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
Why would a company focused on risk management for the high-value maritime industry want to have a major presence in Chattanooga? When you think about it, the answer is obvious – it’s the first city in the nation with a gigabit network.
“A big factor was cost in relation to the big pipe we needed for our Operations Center,” Corey Ranslem, Chief Executive Officer of IMSA, told us in a recent interview. The company provides real-time geospecific risk and threat information to vessels at sea.
“We conducted a worldwide search for the best location based on five criteria,” Ranslem explained. “Chattanooga was the only city that satisfied all five. We came here because of the EPB internet.”
Now, the start-up is ready to go “full speed ahead” after installing its new Automated Risk Management Solution product on the first large vessel at the end of September. Pre-sales of ARMS, as the product is named, are underway, and the IMSA team will be promoting it at the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show that starts today. Full blown delivery is expected to start in early 2019.
Ranslem, an eight-year member of the U.S. Coast Guard, is part of a team of veterans that founded the company in South Florida in 2013 and established a second location in Chattanooga in April 2016. Most recently, IMSA participated in CO.LAB’s GIGTANK accelerator.
While Ranslem divides his time between the two locations, Frank Fenner, a Navy veteran who serves as IMSA’s Chief Operating Officer, is the top executive who is in Chattanooga full-time. The two knew each other for about five years before founding the company that draws heavily on their maritime industry knowledge and the needs of those in the shipping industry as well as the owners of large yachts.
“Ninety percent of our nation’s supply chain is on a vessel at some time,” Ranslem explains. “There’s a major incident every two to three days. On average, 10,000 containers and 2,000 lives are lost at sea annually.”
Those are significant statistics that cover everything from what might be described as normal accidents and weather events to unexpected disease outbreaks and the increasing frequency of attacks by pirates. Regardless of the cause, they represent a significant cost to the industry.
Enter IMSA and its innovative approach that is focused on providing real-time information to manage the known and unexpected risks faced by the maritime industry. Specifically, the start-up utilizes a variety of data sources that are combined into a friendly user interface for its customers.
“A lot of (the needed) information exists, but no one has provided the depth, breadth and scope of information that we do,” Ranslem says. Traditional information delivery methods involved email, phone calls and website access.
As you might imagine, that approach involves less than real-time information and, in many cases, requires a specific action by someone either sending the information or trying to access it. IMSA’s solution is automated, based on parameters set by the ship’s Captain.
“We spent an exorbitant amount of time getting feedback as we designed our user interface,” Ranslem explained. The result is a standard tablet installed on the ship’s bridge that allows the Captain to look at the screen in the morning and understand the day ahead in about a minute. Maybe there are reports of pirates between the ship and its destination? Perhaps there is a disease outbreak in the port? Maybe there’s a backlog that will delay unloading cargo?
The easy-to-read information allows the Captain to make strategic decisions. Since it is automatically delivered via satellite, the data are constantly being updated so, in essence, the Captain can quickly look at the screen, be updated on any changes, and make corrections as warranted.
All of these features are included in the ARMS product that will be focused initially on the large yacht sector. These are vessels that are at least 120 feet long.
“It’s a great proving ground for the technology,” Fenner says. It’s also a significant market – 6,500 yachts fall in that category, and the segment has grown more than 60 percent in the past decade.
“The vessels themselves will also be a data source, reporting threats back into our system,” Ranslem adds.
While sales and customer service will remain in South Florida, the appropriately named G-12C (Global Intelligence, Information and Communications Center) will be in Chattanooga thanks to the EPB investment in the city.
Here’s a picture of the ARMS product.