ICO dramatically improves efficiency of terminal management

Enabling better service to customers

Published on 02-Oct-2012

"The combination of Oracle and IBM technology offers the high levels of performance and availability we were looking for to support a truly 24/7 business. So far we have maintained our previous levels of 99.6 percent uptime, and hope to continue to do so." - Alain Guillemyn, IT Manager, International Car Operators (ICO)

Customer:
International Car Operators (ICO)

Industry:
Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:
Belgium

Solution:
High Availability , Information Integration

IBM Business Partner:
Iptor Belgium bvba

Overview

International Car Operators (ICO) is one of Europe’s leading stevedoring companies for roll-on roll-off (RoRo) cargo, offering vessel and terminal handling services, vehicle processing centers, port agency, customs clearance and forwarding. A subsidiary in the RoRo division of the international transportation giant Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), ICO serves all major RoRo shipping lines and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The company’s main terminals are in Antwerp and Zeebrugge in Belgium, but it also has facilities in Italy and India.

Business need:
ICO operates stevedoring services at ports throughout Europe. With multiple standalone IT solutions, inherited from acquired companies, ICO struggled to integrate information and provide an optimized view of customer activity, shipments, assets and more. The company was unable to maximize efficiency and could not provide a complete, across-all-ports reporting service to customers.

Solution:
ICO launched its “Terminal Operating System” (TOS) project, covering all its European operations, and deployed an Oracle Database on its existing IBM® Power Systems™ servers. The servers support both IBM i and IBM AIX® environments simultaneously, enabling ICO to run existing and new applications concurrently.

Benefits:
Gained the ideal platform to support TOS project, facilitating intelligent berth and yard planning to boost efficiency. Preserved exceptional uptime levels of 99.6 percent for its terminal operating system. Enabled the delivery of real-time status to customers through a web portal, greatly improving customer satisfaction.

Case Study

International Car Operators (ICO) is one of Europe’s leading stevedoring companies for roll-on roll-off (RoRo) cargo, offering vessel and terminal handling services, vehicle processing centers, port agency, customs clearance and forwarding. A subsidiary in the RoRo division of the international transportation giant Nippon Yusen Kaisha (NYK), ICO serves all major RoRo shipping lines and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). The company’s main terminals are in Antwerp and Zeebrugge in Belgium, but it also has facilities in Italy and India.

Launching the “Terminal Operating System” project
ICO recognized an opportunity to strengthen its position in the global marketplace by introducing new features that would improve the customer experience. To do this, however, the company first needed to standardize the systems used to manage its terminals.

“After ICO was formed in 2007, we inherited different software systems for the management of each terminal,” explains Alain Guillemyn, IT Manager at ICO. “The Antwerp and Zeebrugge main terminals, in particular, had systems tailored to its previous expertise, which dated back to the early 90s. This no longer fulfilled current customer requirements, which we have seen evolve to focus more on flexibility and efficiency, rather than specialization.”

In response to these findings, ICO embarked on a project to analyze customer requirements and use the results to develop a new approach. As a result, the “Terminal Operating System” project was born: an initiative to standardize on a single management system across all locations, incorporating intelligent predictive capabilities wherever possible to improve efficiency. The challenge was to ensure that the company had an IT platform in place capable of supporting the range of new features planned.

“One of the constant challenges in our industry is working out the most efficient approach on-the-fly,” comments Guillemyn. “We need to know the best place to dock a ship so that it is closest to the appropriate car pool to unload the vehicles, while taking into account the distance of the vehicles to load, the current and future planning, and customer priorities. This led us to developing complex algorithms to calculate the optimal balance between a number of competing factors. We needed a high-performing database and server platform to drive the system.”

Identifying the ideal database solution
ICO is a long-time user of IBM solutions, deploying IBM Power Systems servers running the IBM i operating system to support business-critical applications over two years ago. IBM Business Partner Iptor Belgium bvba utilizes IBM Tivoli Monitoring to ensure that ICO enjoys reliably high levels of availability.

“The IBM Power Systems servers have delivered impressive uptime levels of 99.6 percent,” says Guillemyn. “We have plans to upgrade to the latest IBM POWER processor-based servers in the next year. Most importantly, we wanted to find a database solution that integrates well with our existing Power Systems environment, preserving the levels of uptime we have become accustomed to.”

The company’s IBM Power Systems servers are partitioned to support both the IBM AIX and IBM i operating systems simultaneously. Following an evaluation of competing offers on the market, ICO chose to deploy an Oracle Database within the IBM AIX partition as a platform for the new TOS.

“We were impressed by the close integration between the IBM Power Systems hardware and Oracle Database software,” comments Guillemyn. “Many of our staff were already familiar with Oracle solutions, and the easy access to developers specialized in working with Oracle appealed to us.

The implementation was carried out completely in house, achieved largely within the planned timeframe and budget with help from in-built migration tools. ICO mirrors data between its two highly resilient IBM Power Systems servers using integrated replication capabilities in its Oracle Database.

Boosting efficiency and service to customers
The IBM servers play an integral part in making ICO’s TOS project a reality. Using the new solution, ICO is now able to optimize logistics on an ongoing basis. Standardizing on a single database platform across the company offers a comprehensive view of operations, and makes it possible to identify opportunities to increase efficiency and act on these.

“All the initiatives covered by our TOS project – including the “Yard Solver” that calculates optimal position of cars, work queues and e-invoicing among others – are powered by the underlying Oracle Database and IBM Power Systems platform,” explains Guillemyn. “The combination of Oracle and IBM technology offers the high levels of performance and availability we were looking for to support a truly 24/7 business. So far we have maintained our previous levels of 99.6 percent uptime, and hope to continue to do so.

“We are now able to process more cars within the same period of time as a result of smarter, more efficient operations,” continues Guillemyn. “By ensuring that our ships are docked at the most convenient place, we can cut down on the kilometers cars are transported, contributing to lower costs and carbon footprint.”

The new solution has also provided the ideal basis for the development of a web portal, through which customers can view the real-time status of their consignments.

“Customers expect more from their suppliers as time goes on,” says Guillemyn. “It was vital that we retain our competitive edge by responding to their desire for more up-to-date information. Previously we could only generate reports twice or three times a day, whereas with the new standardized, high-performing platform we can offer real-time updates. This calls for a lot of processing power and performance from the underlying software and hardware – something that the IBM and Oracle solution delivers.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
Power Systems, Power Systems running i

Software:
AIX, Tivoli Monitoring

Operating system:
AIX, IBM i

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America September 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, AIX, Power, Power Systems and Tivoli are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at www.ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. Oracle Database is not an IBM product or offering. Oracle Database is sold or licensed, as the case may be, to users under Oracle’s terms and conditions, which are provided with the product or offering. Availability, and any and all warranties, services and support for Oracle Database is the direct responsibility of, and is provided directly to users by, Oracle.