Highlights PortShuttle Rotterdam case:
- A lot of manual work: scraping websites, cutting and pasting information
- Customers lack visibility into container statuses
- Cancellations led to additional costs
- Real-time data exchange with supply chain partners
- Customers can track their containers live via customer portal
- Less pressure on the work floor. Colleagues are now process monitoring
- Loading and unloading trains on a screen in operations room
- A step towards real-time slot planning
- Facilitating modal shift
“With this Intermodal TMS, planning trains is child’s play. We simply drag containers onto the train and with colours you can see at which terminals they will be unloaded or loaded at.”
PortShuttle Rotterdam annually organizes thousands of container transports by rail between terminals on Maasvlakte and Waal/Eemhaven. Additionally, the company manages the train handling for various rail operators in the Port of Rotterdam. These trains come from various destinations in Europe to Rotterdam. PortShuttle aims to optimize the rail product within the port and achieve modal shift with CO2 reduction through its services. After all, efficiency is key in container logistics.
Rail operators often have their operational teams far from the Port of Rotterdam. Therefore, it is ideal to have a local partner who excels in port logistics and train administration. The PortShuttle team manages one hundred slots per week and knows all terminal employees. As a result, any problems can be quickly and adequately resolved. This allows rail operators to focus more on their own commercial development of their train product.
Chain of parties
Within intermodal container logistics, you can see an impressive chain of parties. In addition to operators and terminals, transporters, freight forwarders, and end customers are involved in the process. Information exchange by email leads to delays because it often goes through multiple links. Sometimes an answer to a simple question, such as an incorrect reference, takes days to arrive. In practice, this often leads to cancellations and additional costs, an undesirable situation.
No up-to-date status
Rail operators lack insight into the status of containers in the Port of Rotterdam. Martijn Loois, Managing Director of PortShuttle, explains: “This is mainly due to a lack of automated connections with terminals and customers. Without up-to-date information on the status of the cargo, the loading and unloading process was often at risk. If you cannot inform your customers clearly, this leads to dissatisfaction. Nobody is happy with containers that remain stationary. It is unimaginable how much work this entailed: scraping websites, checking everything, and retyping information.”
Making complex tasks simple
Simply Deliver simplifies logistics processes through automation. “Simply Deliver heard in the market that we were looking for a solution. After receiving a demo by Osman Akdemir and Frank Erftemeijer, we quickly became enthusiastic about the module. We then asked them directly if they could deliver. The Simply team then made a first integration that seamlessly matched our needs. From that basis, we further set up the Intermodal TMS and optimized processes,” describes Martijn.
Insight into container status
Martijn Loois was looking for a tool to plan trains and make container status transparent to its customers: “With this Intermodal TMS, planning trains is child’s play. We drag containers onto the train and with colors you can see which terminals they will be loaded or unloaded at. It works very intuitively. Until recently, customers could not check whether a container was exempt and the documents were in order. This often led to frustrations and misunderstandings. Soon, the customer and the customer’s customers can have live view of their orders. Customers have direct insight into deviations and receive proactive alerts. It is then clear to everyone what actions still need to be taken for the successful loading or unloading of a container. This saves a lot of time because we have to call and email less.”
A step towards real-time slot planning
The container rail market still relies heavily on emailing and manual data entry. “We really want to change this and digitize and automate much more. Copying and pasting information costs our team a lot of time. With each copying task, there is a chance of errors, especially with difficult references. Now, we will reuse data. Customers submit orders digitally to us, and we then book a train within Portbase. Real-time insight into the chain is created by integrating with terminals, hinterland parties, and Portbase. This makes planning shunts, adjusting and optimizing trains faster and easier. Ultimately, this is a step towards real-time slot planning for trains in the Rotterdam port,” concludes Martijn enthusiastically.
From data-entry to proces monitoring
Also at PortShuttle Rotterdam, the connections with terminals, customers, and Portbase are running smoothly. Martijn is delighted: “Bookings are automatically entered into the system and we automatically provide feedback. This prevents so much manual work. It’s just more fun working as a process monitoring! Less pressure on the work floor means more time for the overall process. The process to the customer has improved, resulting in fewer cancellations. Our customers are reaping the benefits. Moreover, we can handle more trains with the same crew.”
“The great thing now is that the foundation has been laid, and we are fully committed to further development. In the office, we will enhance the visualization of train handling by installing a large screen in the operations room. Soon, colleagues will be able to track the progress of train handling live, observing the circuit through the port and the loading of trains block by block. I am convinced that our collaboration with Simply Deliver will lead to many more impressive advancements,” concludes Martijn with enthusiasm.