Royal Wagenborg manages ship and shore with LANSA

The Royal Wagenborg group, a global logistics provider based in the Netherlands, provides shipping, towage, offshore supply services, passenger services, stevedoring, warehousing and dispatch, crane rental, standard and special road transport as well as the assembly of prefab constructions. Wagenborg uses LANSA on its ships and on land, for fleet management, crewing, chartering, passenger reservations, ship maintenance, replenishments of goods and parts and for an XML-based supplier portal.

Harry Meyer, IT Manager at the Royal Wagenborg group, says, “LANSA paints the complete picture. Windows clients with a SQL Server database on board our ships, Windows clients with a central iSeries server for our offices onshore, web access for third parties and XML data exchange with our suppliers. We can do it all with our own team. This was the deciding factor. LANSA’s methodology appeals to us and fits our pragmatic business culture.”

We can do it all with our own team. LANSA’s methodology appeals to us and fits our pragmatic business culture.

  1. Finding a Productive Tool
  2. Synchronizing Ship and Shore
  3. B2B and B2C eBusiness
  4. The LANSA Advantages
  5. Company and System Information

Finding a Productive Tool

The Wagenborg IT development team: Left to right: Harry Meyer, Aart Wezeman, Jan Egbert Muurman, Ida Eckhardt, Theo Mulder, Jan Koster and Kees Bonthond
The Wagenborg IT development team: Left to right: Harry Meyer, Aart Wezeman, Jan Egbert Muurman, Ida Eckhardt, Theo Mulder, Jan Koster and Kees Bonthond

“Wagenborg, a family owned company, has been in business for over 100 years,” explains Meyer. “When I joined in 1989, there were various non-integrated systems and platforms in use by the divisions. Shipping and passenger services both used a Phillips computer, Reining Transport a Unisys Burroughs and Kramer Transport a MAI basic4 machine. None of the divisions had a software development tradition. My mission was to set up an integrated IT environment for the entire Royal Wagenborg group to support our objective of rapid growth.”

“I soon concluded that none of the systems would support our future business plans. At that time, IBM launched its AS/400 platform, now called iSeries. The low cost of ownership, architecture and reliability appealed to me and had the scalability to meet our growth objectives.”

With the iSeries in mind, Meyer investigated iSeries packages. “Because of the diversity of our business and broad range of services we offer, none of the available solutions was a good fit,” says Meyer. “Moreover, it is Wagenborg’s strategy to remain as independent as possible from third parties and we did not want to adapt our procedures to conform to a package. Therefore, we started with in-house development using RPG.”

“But after six months I started to look around for more productive development environment than 3GLs. At the time, we chose SSA’s AS/SET and worked for several years with that. But AS/SET capabilities did not keep up, while LANSA continued to evolve and expand. So in 2000, after extensive evaluations, we moved to LANSA.”

“LANSA paints the complete picture. Windows clients with a SQL Server database on board our ships, Windows clients with a central iSeries server for our offices onshore, web access for third parties and XML data exchange with our suppliers. We can do it all with our own team. This was the deciding factor. LANSA’s methodology appeals to us and fits our pragmatic business culture.”

AS/SET capabilities did not keep up, while LANSA continued to evolve and expand.

Synchronizing Ship and Shore

Wagenborg’s shipping division was the first to implement LANSA. Wagenborg Shipping operates 150 ships and offers “total ship management” for its own and third-party owned ships. Total ship management includes chartering, nautical and technical support, crewing, insurance, claim processing, shipbuilding, sales, purchase and financing.

Jan Koster, project manager application development at the Wagenborg group, says, “Our Wagenborg Logistic Financial Information System (WALFIS) has been developed completely with Visual LANSA and consists of integrated modules for every aspect of ship management.”

The fleet list module covers central recording of ship details, such as length, width, depth, load capacity and motor capacity. The fleet list, Wagenborg’s first LANSA-based web application, is available to all divisions.

Wagenborg’s crew planning module, a Visual LANSA-based application with a browser interface, allows overseas recruitment agencies to enter and maintain crew details online. Crew planning covers personal details, including availability and certification by ship tonnage. “Crew planning is a complex graphical application,” says Koster. “We would not have been able to offer this functionality with our old tool-set.”

Voyage administration, used by the chartering department, manages type of goods shipped, loading and unloading ports, passages, tariffs, commissions and more. It generates financial transactions for invoicing and commission and sends them to Wagenborg’s financial management system.

The fleet management system, with modules for both the crew and onshore offices, supports planned maintenance, parts and materials, including consumable goods. A Visual LANSA application lets a ship’s crew order parts and materials while at sea using electronic forms. The ships typically have a Windows 2003 server and a fiber-optic network with five or six clients attached.

Transactions are exchanged as email attachments for processing by Wagenborg’s onshore iSeries fleet management application. Because satellite connections are expensive, the ships use email compression technologies from AMOS email. Order confirmations and other transactions returned by email are processed by the Visual LANSA application onboard the ship.

Current transactions also include onboard petty cash transactions and crew allowances. Eventually the electronic forms will cater for approximately 50 transaction types, allowing almost all of a ship’s onboard activities to be exchanged and processed in a standardized way, both in the ship’s local Windows and Wagenborg’s central iSeries system.

Our Wagenborg Logistic Financial Information System (WALFIS) has been developed completely with Visual LANSA and consists of integrated modules for every aspect of ship management.

B2B and B2C eBusiness

Wagenborg offers ferry services to the northern islands Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, both popular tourist destinations. Ferries carrying up to 1.500 passengers and 70 cars depart every one or two hours, depending on time of the day and season. Passengers can book through a LANSA website. Reservations are especially intended for cars.

Meyer explains, “There are only a few ways you can differentiate yourself from your competitors. Firstly, you need to provide a quality and reliable service. But secondly, you also need to present yourself from a marketing point of view in the best possible way. Our LANSA-based website has helped to achieve this, by publishing our ferry schedule and other details and by offering web reservations. This has lowered the barrier for potential customers.”

“An added advantage is that personal details and trip data is entered by the customers themselves. This results in faster processing and a lower error rate.

Wagenborg has also built a supplier portal with LANSA Integrator to automate the purchasing of ship parts and other materials. The transaction exchange uses an industry specific XML-based MTML format via information broker Marine Transaction Services (see www.mtml.org).

Wagenborg publishes Requests For Quote transactions and suppliers respond with a Quote, which receives either a negative response or if accepted, a Purchase Order from Wagenborg to which suppliers return an Order Confirmation and Invoice.

“The Suppliers Portal offers a enormous improvement in ship maintenance and inventory management,” says Meyer.

The Suppliers Portal offers a enormous improvement in ship maintenance and inventory management.

Koninklijke Wagenborg’s subsidiary companies are active in shipping, tugboats and offshore supply services, passenger services, stevedoring, forwarding and warehousing, crane rental, (special) road transport, assembly of prefab constructions.
Koninklijke Wagenborg’s subsidiary companies are active in shipping, tugboats and offshore supply services, passenger services, stevedoring, forwarding and warehousing, crane rental, (special) road transport, assembly of prefab constructions.

The LANSA Advantages

“The old green-screen application offered insufficient support for our current business processes. It wasn’t possible to offer true Windows clients and web access. The capabilities we now have with LANSA are far more modern,” says Koster.

“With LANSA we can sit with the end user and prototype an application at the very beginning. This is a very positive element for our end users.”

“We can offer Windows and web applications and XML transactions with our iSeries. It offers a fast and reliable platform. Only once a month we have a scheduled re-boot, but otherwise we never have to press the reset button.”

“By giving access to crew, agencies, suppliers and customers we are well on our way to moving all data entry directly to the source, where the authority and responsibility should be. In the old days there was always a large stack with mail and fax pages waiting to be manually re-keyed and processed.”

“We have a development team of six people. With this small team and LANSA, we achieved a lot in a small time frame. We started with setting up a solid basis structure in the LANSA Repository and by documenting standards. This costs a bit of extra time at the start of a project but pays back ten-fold in productivity during the remainder of the project.”

“Coming from AS/SET’s procedural environment it was a cultural shock getting used to LANSA’s event driven environment. But that transition only took a short while and every one was soon familiar with LANSA.”

“We have a practical attitude and want to work productively. Much of the underlying code you would have to do yourself in other languages is already available in LANSA, “concludes Koster.

Meyer confirms Wagenborg’s practical attitude. “Wagenborg is a fast acting and competent organization with a flat management structure. We can do business fast. In addition to this, we are going through an enormous fast growth. The IT department should be a reflection of the organization and we are. We want to and are able to respond fast and in a professional way with a good team and the help of LANSA.”

“LANSA is our standard development environment. Anywhere in the organization where we do our own development, we use LANSA.”

“We have a productive team and a very good mix of experienced older and younger people. The transition to LANSA was smooth for everyone, both for the older COBOL developers as well as for the younger Visual Basic developers. The support and training from LANSA’s office in Amsterdam was excellent. Now we all have the same interchangeable LANSA skills.”

LANSA is our standard development environment. Anywhere in the organization where we do our own development, we use LANSA.

Grasping Future Opportunities

“Our organization demands that we develop software in house and for this we need a good tool. We found that tool in LANSA. LANSA offers standardization and documentation and simplifies development and maintenance. It hardly matters anymore whether a program was developed by developer A, B or C,” explains Meyer.

“LANSA provides an integrated set of good tools that we can use in a wide range of development projects.”

“We managed to move all development into one development environment with LANSA. Now we all have the same interchangeable LANSA skills. It means the skills and knowledge of people in the team remains interchangeable. People complement each other, understand each other, and work from a common point of view. Even all the temporary Visual Basic Band-Aids that we had to apply in the AS/SET years are now replaced with LANSA applications.”

“I expect our customers will ask for more real-time and online information in the near future. For example, inventory position and movement of goods inquires in our Warehousing division. With LANSA, we have a perfect opportunity to meet these demands. Anywhere where our customers have Internet access, Wagenborg can be of service.”

“IT is an essential component in support of our company’s strategy. We, as the IT division, want to deal with this in a practical way. With our extensive knowledge of Wagenborg’s business processes we are well positioned to develop custom software.”

“One of the points in my mission statement is to follow the development in all markets in which Wagenborg is active and to investigate how to respond with IT to the changing requirements of our organization.”

“We can grasp any opportunities with LANSA. Our department, and within that every individual, plus the tools we select, have to contribute to meeting the goals of our organization,” concludes Meyer.

We managed to move all development into one development environment with LANSA. Now we all have the same interchangeable LANSA skills.

Company and System Information

Royal Wagenborg logo

  • The Royal Wagenborg divisions include Wagenborg Shipping (total ship management, stevedoring and towage), Wagenborg Offshore (services for the oil and gas industry), Wagenborg Passenger Services (ferry services to the
    Dutch islands), Wagenborg Reining (road transport and warehousing) and Wagenborg Nedlift (crane rental, special transport, assembly, engineering, multi-modal projects and project management).
  • The Wagenborg Shipping Division consists of the following companies: Wagenborg Shipping, Wagenborg Shipping North America Inc, Wagenborg Shipping Sweden AB, Wagenborg Shipping Asia Pte Ltd, Wagenborg Projects & Logistics, Wagenborg Stevedoring and Wagenborg Towage
  • The Royal Wagenborg group employs about 2,000 people (excluding contracting crew). Wagenborg’s IT team consists of 18 people: one manager, six developers, two service desk people and nine system support people.
  • For more information visit: www.wagenborg.com