Marina Management

Mobile Apps For Marinas

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The relationship between mobile devices, apps, and web browsing is often misunderstood. That’s not surprising – it’s a fast-changing environment. In this article we will talk about the pros and cons of apps, and what they really are.

What is an app?

App is short for application. Back in the day, we would have called them programs – software that allows you to perform a specific task.

Most people think of apps as downloads for smartphones or tablets, but the description is also commonly used for desktop programs too, like Microsoft Word. In this article, we will focus on mobile apps.

Web apps

Web apps are functional software programs that are accessed via a web browser – for example, using Microsoft 365 via Chrome. Marinalife Manager would be considered a web app.

Because you’re accessing a website, there’s no need to download anything from the app store. Plus, web apps don’t take up memory space on your device or put your data at risk.

The huge benefit of web apps is that they can be accessed on any device via any browser – there are no discrete versions for Apple or Android or even PC. This means that you don’t lose features or need to download new software if you change your iPad to a Samsung tablet. 

A single solution means new features can be delivered quickly and small improvements rolled out seamlessly to all users. Because of this, web app users often get a better experience and the benefit of the latest version.

Data security

Marinalife Manager

Data security is a big issue for everyone – we’ve all heard the stories of data leaks caused by a laptop left on a train. If data is held in an app downloaded onto a mobile or tablet, then the data is at risk if that device is lost or stolen.   

Marinalife Manager is designed so that marina and boater data is ring-fenced, and only delivered ‘as required’ from the Cloud to the device. Once the user has stopped viewing or editing the data, it is removed. Plus, sliding session expiration (effectively timeout) means that any device left lying around with the app open will require authorized login after a period.

For example, if a dockmaster at Marina A uses his tablet to add a note to John Doe’s account, that information is only available while John Doe’s account is open. When the dockmaster completes the task, the app removes anything about John Doe from the tablet without affecting the data stored on the cloud.

The same is true for boaters accessing the customer Portal on their phone – their outstanding invoices or payment history is only delivered from the Cloud to the phone when the boater clicks 'the button. Nothing is stored on the phone.

Connectivity

Connectivity issues are sometimes raised against web apps, but the reality is that these happen so fast (50-200 milliseconds) that the possibility of a connection being interrupted mid-action is minuscule.

Marinalife Manager was designed for low bandwidth environments, which means it’ll still work smoothly even if you’re on a 2G mobile connection rather than superfast WiFi.

Web app overview

  • No downloads – all online
  • No personal data risk
  • The same functionality on every device
  • Real-time updates

Native apps

Native apps are written for a specific operating system, like Android or iOS. You can’t just publish a native app, it must be approved and sold through the operating system store, like Google Play or Apple App Store.

Writing separate code is expensive and time-consuming, which is why some apps are only available on one operating system or may be less functional than their desktop versions. Every time the creator wants to make a change, it must be approved by the app store, and then the update must be activated by the user. Availability and functionality may also be limited by the users’ device – if you’ve got an old phone running an old version of iOS or Android, you may not be able to access app updates or even run some apps.

We’ve all bought a phone with loads of data, then found it running slowly or unable to download a new app without deleting something else. That’s because apps are stored locally on your phone – you download the software when you purchase an app.

Having the app running on your phone was an advantage a few years back because it meant the software wasn’t reliant on a connection to the internet. But this is much less of an issue with the huge investment in 4G and 5G technology, the expansion of the cellular network, and the availability of public or low-cost WiFi.

Native app overview

  • Discrete versions for Apple, Android, and desktop
  • Stored locally on your device
  • Must be downloaded from an app store

Accessing web apps

When you download a native app from the app store, it automatically drops an icon onto your device. This makes it easy to access the service or software

Add a web app icon to your phone or tablet

1. Go to your web browser and navigate to the site or page, such as your Marinalife Manager database or your Customer Portal

2. Click ‘share’ on the browser menu and select ‘add to home screen’. If you’re using an Apple device, you’ll need to do this from Safari, and use Chrome for Android devices.

3. Now you simply tap the icon to access the software, just as you would for any other app. 

This works for your customers too. Show them how to add the customer Portal link to their phone and they’ll be able to pay bills and make booking reservations at the time that suits them.

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Pins vs Boats: the benefits

When thinking about Marinalife Manager and taking a look at other systems on the market, we found that people like maps, and they like to see boats on the maps. However, they also wanted to know more about the boat – like how long they are staying, if there is any money owed, or even if they’d been checked-in without an accompanying order.

Operators told us that they wanted to know more about their sites and equipment and see these displayed on the map – boats, berths, mooring buoys, cranes, dry storage, washrooms, and more.

Boats or Assets?

Marinalife Manager: Mapping and Pinning

We decided to overturn the convention that maps had to show representations of boats and instead provide the kind of detailed information to make the map a central element in marina operations. With Marinalife Manager we switched the focus of the map from boats to assets.

With focusing the map on assets means that information about maintenance inspections and fault reports is visible alongside occupancy and boat information.

Boats or Pins?

Marina staff know their stuff. They know an 11m boat is longer than a 9m boat, so once they have that information, why clutter the map with generic boat shapes? Marinalife Manager uses the familiar Google Maps-style pin markers overlaid with easy-to-read icons and a color code system to illustrate occupancy, licensing, inspections, and faults in switchable screen views.

Swapping to pins makes the map easier to view and enables enriched layers of information without cluttering the display. Extra details like boat names and berth numbers can be shown or hidden in one click. Drill down to view just electricity pedestals or berth availability during a date range, or search asset name, customer, or boat.

Map Views

Using the same map, you can toggle between views to highlight information of value to different team members:

1. Occupancy view

In busy visitor/transient marinas, it’s vital to quickly identify who is due to depart, overstayers and available berths. Any user with a tablet can depart a boat, add nights to the invoice, allocate berths and more right from the map.

A simple search ensures allocation of the right berth – searching by length, draft, beam and mooring space type.

2. Licensing view

Suppose your marina offers annual or monthly licenses/contracts. In that case, it’s handy to see which berths remain unlicensed as you approach the renewal date – what is available to sell and who needs a reminder to sign.

3. Inspection view

Move your maintenance to Marinalife Manager, and you can identify overdue and upcoming inspections on the map.

Equip your maintenance team with a tablet, and they can check and complete tasks right from the map view.

4. Faults view

Like the inspection's view, faults are easily identified and resolved right from the map. Colour coded for high, medium and low severity, and the maintenance team can prioritize as they walk the facility.

Mapping styles

You decide how your map or marina plan looks – it can be the same full-color plan you use on your website or brochure or a line drawing; you’re in control. We can even use Google Maps on large sites like harbors or rivers, with the bonus of toggling between map and satellite views.

If berth numbers and asset names are in a map overlay, the user can switch them on and off, providing a clearer or more detailed view as required.

Making map changes

We don’t charge extra for uploading a new map. So if you alter the layout of your pontoons, move a line of mooring buoys or install a new launch ramp, it isn’t going to cost you.

Because Marinalife Manager is a modern platform, the maps aren’t hardcoded – adaptability is built-in. We want our users to make the most of the system, not be constrained by budgets.

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Marina Maintenance Management
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Managing Maintenance 

Marina Management Staff_Marinalife Manager

Everyone who works at a marina knows that the top priority is customer, staff, and visitor safety. Any environment with expanses of water, trip hazards like cleats and ropes, slippery launch ramps, boats, cars, and heavy moving machines like boat hoists and forklifts will be hazardous, especially when we invite customers and visitors on-site to have fun.

Detailed risk assessments, regular staff training, and external inspections contribute to a safer environment. There are simple ways in which the day-to-day marina management system can support a culture of safety first.

Capturing assets

An asset register is a basis for a reliable maintenance and inspection regime. The first step is to capture all assets in the database, such as finger pontoons, launch ramps, swinging moorings, shower blocks, and telehandlers.

Each business can include which assets pertain to them. Keeping a comprehensive record means a marina can allocate an occupancy (like a boat onto a berth), establish bespoke inspection and maintenance plans, flag faults, and allocate tasks associated with the asset.

Scheduled inspections and maintenance

Once the assets are captured in Marinalife Manager, the staff or maintenance team can set individual inspection and maintenance regimes for each. For example, monthly deep-clean of the washrooms, daily inspection of the boat hoist, or weekly fire alarm test in the restaurant.

Each asset inspection or maintenance plan can be as detailed as required, specifying the actions, parts to be checked and even the consumables needed for the job. Each task has a timetable and is assigned to a team or individual. Your team will see the tasks in their calendars and get automatic alerts for overdue actions.

Fault logging

A systematic approach to recording and actioning faults is vital for running a safe site. Not only can problems be rectified quickly, but it is crucial to record the timeline and people involved.

In Marinalife Manager any user can log a fault, such as a loose cleat, leaky toilet, or a blown light. Dockside and boatyard teams can use their tablets to log defects while doing their daily checks or while undertaking an inspection, rather than calling it into the office. Or the admin team can record a problem, if, for example, a boat owner reports his electricity point isn’t working.

Because all users have individual logins, there is a record of who first reported the issue and when, who was assigned the repair, and the completion date. Each asset has a complete history, making it easier to identify and rectify recurring problems.

Staff training

Marina Management Training_Marinalife Manager

A lot of organizations like to say that their staff is their greatest asset. Well, there’s a way to make that a reality with Marinalife Manager. Creating team members in the asset list makes it easy to set up training programs and check that certifications are up-to-date.

The maintenance regime process can be applied to first aid training, lifejacket inspections, and more. 

Single point of truth

One of the worst things that can happen is a customer getting injured because of inadequate maintenance or an unrepaired fault. Insurers, health and safety experts, and even lawyers can get involved.

Because the system is accessible to all staff (at no extra cost), and because every action is logged automatically, Marinalife Manager becomes the single point of truth. No more diaries, spreadsheets, and external software operating in parallel. No more lost Post-It notes or forgotten conversations.

With the inspection dashboard, managers have complete oversight of what is going on, whether procedures are being followed and whether tasks are completed on time. There’s also a comprehensive reporting suite that includes asset inspections.

With everything captured in one place, there is a full record of what was required and what actually happened, who did it, and when it was done. There’s less opportunity for maintenance to slip or faults to remain outstanding, and that means there’s less chance of injured customers and lawsuits.

Interested in learning more about Marinalife Manager? We're happy to help - getintouch@marinalife.com

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Smarter Marina Management Software: Flexible & Adaptable to your business
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Marinalife Manager started with the concept of a single, comprehensive system with all users accessing the same features. 

And that’s what we deliver. Marinalife Manager works behind the scenes to deliver what customers need, an operating system that enables the marina to run smoothly in the way that suits them best. 

More than just managing your docks

Marinalife Manager has the ability to run marinas, boatyards, dry storage, dry stack and launch on demand, membership organizations, and even boat sales.

It doesn’t take lengthy and expensive customization to meet these different requirements – we understand that marinas are always about more than boats, so we built the system to deliver what’s needed, out of the box.

Module-free

There are no extra modules to purchase in Marinalife Manager – the capabilities you need are there right from the start. Whether you’re running a marina, boatyard, dry stack, or yacht club, everything can be tailored to suit your operation.

Some customers will use every feature to the max, while others concentrate on a specific activity, or grow their system usage incrementally. Because the capability is built-in, operators can go at their own pace. Moving the management of the facility to Marinalife Manager isn’t an intensive project, it can be rolled into the process when the time is right.   

Assets and accounts

Marinalife Manager is based on accounts and assets, rather than boats. This gives us the flexibility to manage complex ownership structures, like boats with multiple owners or owners with multiple boats, and to handle relationships like captains, co-owners and agents. With that, the software can support yacht clubs and membership organizations that require more asset management.

Focusing on assets means that we can help you with more than boats on berths. When assets can be anything from a berth to yard space, telehandler to washroom, we can cover your whole facility, not just the floating infrastructure. That allows us to deliver inspections regimes, maintenance scheduling and fault flagging within Marinalife Manager, saving you time and helping to keep your facility and customers safe.

Feature development

Our digital architecture allows us to seamlessly integrate new features without impacting existing processes or data. There are no clashing modules, silos of data or legacy features; rather there’s a single, planned structure. This means we can be more agile and innovative, getting great ideas to our customers more quickly.

All Marinalife Manager customers are on the same version of the software, and all get software updates delivered automatically with zero downtime. Having all customers on the same version not only enables us to treat everyone fairly, but it also makes for faster deployment of updates and new features.

Interested in learning more about Marinalife Manager? We're happy to help - getintouch@marinalife.com

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