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 & Barge Solutions (TBS) announced October 4 that more than 100 vessels now use the company’s Towing Safety Management System (TSMS) and audit services, powered by Helm CONNECT software.
Founded in 2012 by tug-captain-turned-auditor Pat Folan and towing vessel operators Steve Wilson and Patrick Boles, TBS has been helping towing vessel operators achieve compliance with the Coast Guard, International Safety Management (ISM), Tanker Management and Self-Assessment (TMSA) and other standards for more than five years.
Starting with operators on the Gulf Coast and along the Intracoastal Waterway, TBS has steadily expanded to serve vessel operators throughout the United States. Since the release of the 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 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.”
TBS made headlines in September 2016 when it helped its fellow Daphne, Ala.-based tow and barge operator Ivy Marine become one of the first companies in the country to receive Coast Guard certification for its TSMS, leaping ahead of many larger operators to achieve Subchapter M compliance. In two years since then, TBS’s client base has grown to include more than 125 vessels in the country. More than 100 of these vessels use Helm CONNECT to manage their compliance activities and records.
A key element to TBS’s growth has been the company’s close partnership with Helm Operations and use of Helm CONNECT, according to Folan.
TBS provides its customers with a customized TSMS system that incorporates 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.
“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,” said Folan. “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 said that it is also working with Helm Operations to expand into a wider range of markets. “As a company, our goal has always been to support a wider group of customers,” said Folan. “Thanks to Helm CONNECT, we’re now able to serve more customers in a wide variety of verticals, and we’re currently working with Helm Operations to develop new safety management systems for dredging and marine construction vessels, as well as passenger and fishing vessels going forward.”
Caption for photo: Chrystie Benson, left, with Helm Operations and Pat and Sandy Folan with Tug & Barge Solutions at Helm Conference 2018.