The publicly traded Murmansk Sea Commercial Port was founded in 1994 as a state enterprise and is the forth-largest port in Russia - the second-largest port in all of North-Western Russia. With seventeen berths and a total of 120,000 square meters of outdoor storage space, more “black gold” is exported through the Murmansk port than through the ports of Saint-Petersburg, Kandalaksha, Vyborg and Vysotsk combined.
From 2001 to 2005, the port's cargo turnover grew from 5.52 million tons to 14.6 million tons. Of all cargo flows passing through the Murmansk port, 97 percent are for export, and most are headed to Western European countries, making the port not only a prominent local port but a significant enterprise on the international market, as well.
After approximately ten years of steady growth, the port's management realized that some key issues were interfering with the port's profits - namely quality control, cost efficiency, damage and theft prevention, and fire safety.
At the time, the port's management was supported only by radio communication. "We could not see the work being done, so we had no way of evaluating procedures or ensuring compliance with quality and safety standards," explains Chief Engineer Igor Prischepov.
Visual quality control was key to preventing damage caused by employees who neglected to uphold procedures and standards. At the time, careless crane operators, in a hurry to increase their output, were causing damage to the equipment, which in turn caused considerable expense for the port, including penalty payments to the railway, repair costs, and the maintenance of a special work team. Similarly, over-ambitious loaders were transporting 1.5 – 2 times more weight than was acceptable by safety regulations, thereby causing unnecessary expense related to servicing and replacing the equipment.
In addition, because it keeps extremely valuable property in its territory, the port was also at risk of theft and vandalism.