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 its core processes, enabling the company to mobilize its workforce and acquire real-time insights in logistics.
Efficiency increased by 50%
Real-time 24-hour insights
Changes made in weeks vs. months
Custom terminal management system needed for better market responsiveness
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 digitization plays an important role in the business processes of Vopak, the company chose to build a new terminal management system with a focus on cloud and mobile use. This move would release Vopak from their dependence on an ERP supplier. More importantly, a custom system would help the company respond faster 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 digitization 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 would also benefit from robust and agile development, also enabling testing, deployment, and management of applications in an amazingly short time frame.
Direct collaboration between the business and IT leads to better, faster results
Solution - Because Vopak wanted to jump-start the project, the company used OutSystems developers to help with their initial delivery. The OutSystems development team brought expertise to transfer to the Vopak development team.
OutSystems also brought agile application development to the business, which was a whole new way of working for Vopak. The new methodology eliminated a layer of consultants and gave the developers the chance to engage directly with the business. Using OutSystems, it’s easier for business owners and IT to collaborate on what a design should look like and what functionality they want in an app. Not only does that process make the work more fun, it also leads to better and faster results.
"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 the 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."
A mobilized workforce and real-time insights lead to improved efficiency
Results - Equipped with OutSystems, the Vopak IT team built the new terminal management system in just 12 months. The Arrival2Departure application is now active in the port of Savannah, Georgia 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:
- A mobilized workforce - Unlike the ERP system, the Terminal Management System is available on 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 can access relevant data wherever and whenever they need it.
- Real-time 24-hour insight into terminal logistics - Because the Terminal Management System operates from one central database that’s 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.
- Improved efficiency - The above benefits combined help terminal employees carry out their work faster, leading to a 50% increase in employee productivity.
- Flexible IT - OutSystems helps Vopak more easily integrate with legacy systems. Not only that, 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.