On the Forefront of the Cloud Revolution: Terminal Giant Vopak Transforms Its Business with Rapid Low-Code Development
At Vopak, one of the world’s largest tank terminal operators for the oil and gas industry, a real cloud revolution is underway. In a nutshell: exit the less flexible JD Edwards ERP system and enter all the benefits of standardized SaaS and customized PaaS. The company is using the OutSystems low-code platform to build large mission-critical applications to support their core processes, enabling the company to mobilize their workforce and use real-time insights in logistics. OutSystems drove a productivity increase in the terminal.
Low-Code Terminal Management System
Challenge - Vopak was confronted with an important decision at the end of 2014. Oracle was going to stop supporting the JD Edwards ERP-system in 2020 and Vopak had to decide how to proceed with their IT-strategy. Since digitalization plays an important role in the business processes of Vopak, the company chose to build a new terminal management system themselves with a focus on cloud and mobile use. It would release Vopak from their dependence on an ERP supplier. In addition, the company would be able to respond more quickly to market developments and be more flexible for their customers.
"OutSystems enables us to build our own custom applications, bringing them to the business as a PaaS, and implementing changes extremely fast. This gives Vopak the ability to innovate the company's core processes, really putting us on the forefront compared to our competition."
Vopak chose to build the new terminal management system with OutSystems because its low-code platform fit the company’s need for fast and easy application development. “Low-code ensures digitalization of assets and creates a scalable platform which you can use to connect with other platforms,” says CIO Leo Brand. “OutSystems has the most mature solution in the market and has a lot of international deployment experience. On top of that, they allow for multiple roll-out scenarios. We plan to deploy the new system in Amazon, but in a few situations on-premises as well.”
With OutSystems, Vopak benefitted from:
- Robust low-code development and deployment – Enabling agile development, testing, deployment and management of applications in an amazingly short time frame.
- Mature product and company – OutSystems has a lot of experience in supporting large international companies making it a suitable partner for delivering such a huge project.
- On-premises and in the cloud – The platform is capable of running in Amazon, but also as an on-premises solution allowing multiple rollout scenarios.
Real-time, Mobile, Flexible and More Efficient
Solution - Equipped with OutSystems, the Vopak IT team built the new terminal management system in just 12 months. The first deployment was done at the port of Savannah in the United States. The new system will soon be rolled out worldwide to all Vopak terminals.
Ultimately, the new Terminal Management System will support both core logistics processes - order to cash (the process for financial settlement) and arrival to departure (the management log for input and output from the terminal).
The new terminal management system gives Vopak:
- Real-time insight - Because the Terminal Management System operates from one central database that is updated in real-time, employees have 24/7 insight into the terminals' logistics processes, from anywhere in the world. Operational decisions can be made using the actual data, resulting in better planning decisions and increased safety.
- Mobile workforce - Unlike the ERP system, the Terminal Management System is available on safe tablets and smartphones, allowing front-end staff to handle everything on mobile devices without having to go back and forth with paper forms. This gives terminal employees in the workplace immediate access to all protocols and procedures. Employees get access to the cloud where they can find relevant data.
- Flexible IT - With OutSystems, the IT department can implement changes in weeks instead of months as was the case with the old ERP system. This enables the company to respond more quickly to new situations and requests from the workplace and from its customers.
- Efficiency improvement - All these benefits combined provide a great efficiency improvement within the company. Terminal employees' work can be carried out faster.
The New Way of Working
Results - OutSystems developers also played a key role in delivering the project because initially, Vopak wanted to jump start the project. OutSystems development teams brought expertise and more development capacity to Vopak.
OutSystems also brought agile application development to the business, which was a whole new way of working for Vopak. The new methodology cut out a whole layer of consultants and gave the developers the chance to engage directly with the business. Business owners and programmers can collaborate on what a design should look like and what functionality they want in an app. It doesn’t only make the work more fun, but also leads to better and faster results.
Building the Terminal Management System with OutSystems provides:
- Real-time 24 hour insights to the terminals logistics
- Employee access data via mobile, tablet and PC
- Integration with legacy systems
- Efficiency increases of between 10 and 25 percent
- Faster and more efficient app building
"I worked at the terminal with the business for twenty days when developing an application to plan maintenance. After two days, we were able to showcase a first version to further discuss what was needed. As a developer, it's really fun to see end-users’ enthusiasm when we realize their ideas. This brings a lot of energy and a feeling of pride in your work."