Insight | Case Study: Toei Reefer Line


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Case Study: Toei Reefer Line


Sashimi specialist chooses Fleet Xpress in switch to higher quality service

Operating a specialised ship type whose global fleet numbers fewer than 30 ships, Toei Reefer Line is one of the world’s leading companies delivering sashimi-grade tuna. The company operates two distinctive vessel types; one that receives fish caught by vessels at sea and transported to countries like Japan, Korea, etc and the other being factory vessels that work around the Mediterranean countries and Australia. Both are designed to serve the Japanese consumer market renowned for its discerning palate.

Quality is a necessity at all stages of the supply chain, with end customers demanding individual care and attention that is backed up by robust online services.    

At sea, there are up to 50 personnel on board any given Toei Reefer Line ship. Sustaining quality relies heavily on retaining skilled Toei Reefer Line crews, to load and operate these sophisticated ships, which process, prepare and store high-value cargoes at temperatures as low as -55oC. It is integral that crews remain satisfied with working conditions on board ships that are at sea for extended periods, often in remote locations, and this requires substantial investments.

Enhanced crew connectivity and continuous coverage

With ships deployed in the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian Oceans, and beyond, Toei Reefer Line cited enhanced crew connectivity and continuous coverage as primary drivers for their recent switch in satellite service provision for four internationally-trading ships. The carrier exchanged its existing Ku-band solution for a new commitment to Fleet Xpress from Inmarsat, in a contract also including Fleet Care support services. 

“Coverage and reliable support are central considerations in selecting VSAT connectivity,” commented a Toei representative. “The coverage of Fleet Xpress is very wide and far ahead of all other competitors.” 

For the crew, the carrier opted for free crew internet up to 10GB/month, with greater usage available using the pre-paid Fleet Hotspot dedicated crew channel. Fleet Hotspot ensures that crew demand for connectivity has no impact on business channels.

Unlimited free internet access with Fleet Hotspot

With the help of Fleet Hotspot, Toei Refeer provides unlimited free internet access to the crew onboard, observers, and vendors without compromising on business-critical bandwidth. Powered by Fleet Xpress, Fleet Hotspot ensures that the crew's connection demands do not affect the business channels and gives crew access to high-speed connectivity with the freedom to use the internet on their own devices and manage their own access whenever they need it. 

“Providing crew with unlimited data has proved to be extremely beneficial in supporting their welfare needs,” said Toei’s spokesman. “This was one of the challenges we sought to solve in increasing data speeds as part of our choice of service.” 

As a highspeed Ka-band (GX) plus continuous FleetBroadband (L-band) back up hybrid service, Fleet Xpress is now installed on over 11,000 ships worldwide and has increasingly found favour among specialised fleets. 

Above and beyond higher committed information rates, Fleet Xpress routinely delivers data speeds approach maximum information rates (MIR), which are almost twice Ku-band. In business terms, the new capability enables VPN networking, remote access via TeamViewer, and CCTVs on board. The ‘always-on’ capability of Fleet Xpress is also included in the contract, where other VSAT suppliers can sometimes charge extra for backup.  

"Providing crew with unlimited data has proved to be extremely beneficial in supporting their welfare needs. This was one of the challenges we sought to solve in increasing data speeds as part of our choice of service."

Spokesperson for Toei Reefer Line

Evaluate greater use of analytics

Provision has also been made for Toei Reefer Line to evaluate greater use of analytics in ship efficiency management, enabled by Inmarsat’s IoT-based platform Fleet Data and its Certified Applications Partner programme.

Pricing is “nice and smart”, according to Toei Reefer Line, but it also raises its own customer care ethos to outline Inmarsat’s approach. “In an industry that is changing rapidly year on year, it is essential that the provider brings expertise and local support to serve our requirements, as well as the right proposal. Relationships and responsiveness are critical, and so is technology. We also recognise the value of Inmarsat’s Fleet Care service and maintenance package. As a next step, we are evaluating the use of dual GX antenna for all four vessels and upgrading our existing plan to FX Premium MIR 6Mbps/3Mbps (with CIR). This will ensure that our communication service is more efficient which will help our business and support our efforts in continuous crew welfare.”

The four-ship transition came after extended, collaborative trials of the service onboard the 4,150gt Toei Reefer Line ship Kurikoma during the second part of 2020. With vessels widely deployed, installations took place on their return to Japan after several months, with support provided by KGK Japan to adapt existing 1m antennas using Ku-band to Ka-band conversion kits. 

Endorsement from a forward-looking fishing industry player comes at a time when Inmarsat has identified the specialised sector as a key potential beneficiary of its investments. In the short term, Inmarsat is far advanced in its plans to upgrade Arctic coverage by introducing two new GX satellite payloads dedicated to the region in partnership with Space Norway.