Dynamic Lock Schedule for the Port of Amsterdam

Submitted by
Triquanta Web Solutions
The Case
Tools / Apps
Short introduction
The Port of Amsterdam (PoA) is one of Europe's leading sea ports. For sea shipping organisations it is very important that their vessels can enter and leave the port as efficiently as possible. Together with PoA we have developed a real-time web application for the schedule of the sea lock in IJmuiden. The online lock schedule offers clear information about the accessibility of the sea lock; facilitating more effective scheduling for inbound and outbound vessels and providing more transparent and flexible scheduling procedures for all PoA’s partners; providing customers an optimal port visit and improving efficiency in terms of both time and expenses for all parties involved. PoA is the first port in the world to make lock schedule information transparent in this way.
Launch date
The Port of Amsterdam (PoA) is one of Europe's leading sea ports. As such, PoA is continually improving the port access, making the port faster, smarter and cleaner. Recently, PoA has upgraded their services with their nautical partners by implementing a new way of working: dynamic lock scheduling for the IJmuiden north lock. This allows for more efficient scheduling for incoming and outbound vessels and results in a transparent and flexible schedule for all parties involved.
PoA believes that their large sea lock calls for highly efficient scheduling. You might think that, given the size of the lock, it probably doesn’t make that much of a difference because the lock is so large that it can accommodate any vessel. But it’s a little more complex than that: not only are the ships of the future likely to be larger in size, the number of vessels passing through Amsterdam is also expected to increase. While scheduling lock traffic may be relatively straightforward, accommodating a ship is a fairly complex process that depends on a large number of factors, including:
- Accessibility of the lock
- Availability of a pilot
- Availability of tugboats
- The tide
- The weather conditions
- Whether or not the ship is on time
As part of the objective to make the port smarter, cleaner and more efficient, PoA has been working with their nautical partners (including shipping agents, terminals and others) on improving their services by implementing a new way of working: dynamic lock scheduling for the IJmuiden north lock. This system should facilitate more effective scheduling for inbound and outbound vessels and provides more transparent and flexible scheduling procedures for all nautical partners. Partners have to confirm their reservation to ensure a place in the schedule. Transparency on the status of the reservation should encourage partners to keep the information up to date and prevent them from unnecessary blocking slots in the schedule.
To provide the nautical partners with useful insight into the lock schedule, it needs to be available 24/7, with real-time data, and in an easily accessible online application.
To make the lock scheduling transparent we developed a responsive web application that shows real-time information from the PoA back office. The application is built around a timeline with all planned inbound and outbound vessels.
The two main benefits of working with Dynamic Lock Scheduling are:
- The schedule is confirmed and published at a much earlier stage than before (48 hours in advance for inbound vessels and 24 hours in advance for outbound vessels); PoA works closely with their nautical partners in preparing this schedule; and it is made available through the web application.
- Transparency of, and access to details on, lock scheduling: shipping agents have 24/7 access to the schedule through the web application; this provides them with information on their shipping schedule and the accessibility of the lock, which, in turn, provides opportunities for changing their own schedule (resulting in possible improved efficiency and cost reduction).

Since launching the web application in November 2016, over 100 nautical partners have started using Dynamic Lock Scheduling. This enables them to be more flexible and provide better services to their customers. Users spend a significant amount of time on the DLS website: a session lasts on average more than two hours. In turn, the Port of Amsterdam will be able to provide better services to their partners, accommodate an increase in traffic, and reduce scheduling costs because of the DLS.

The application is only available for partners of PoA. Hopefully the screenshots and this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lemmftIcCPo will give a good impression of the application. It is also possible to give a demonstration when needed.
Technical challenges
We made a connection with PoA's back office system called Hamis. The connection is secured by IP restriction, password, and key-based authentication. Via this encrypted connection, new data is imported every minute in Drupal, so the data in the web application is always up to date. Every 5 minutes, the web application is refreshed automatically. In that way users can leave the web application running - which they indeed seem to do, based on statistics - so they always see the most recent information without having to refresh the page.

For new users, a special on-boarding has been made when requesting a DLS account. This on-boarding was built on top of the Drupal user registration.

To make the application as user-friendly as possible, an advanced front end has been implemented that dynamically builds a visual timeline based on the available data. In this way, the timeline is displayed as compactly as possible while there is as much information on the screen as possible. For this to work we had to develop a sophisticated calculation algorithm for the dimensions of the timeline. Extra challenge was to get the timeline working on all devices.
Challenges in (combination of) modules
We have created a custom module for the connection with Hamis. For the on-boarding wizard we used the Owl Carousel.
Name client
Port of Amsterdam (Havenbedrijf Amsterdam)
What does the client think about the project?
Peter Alkema (Policy Advisor, Harbour Master’s Division): “It has already become almost impossible to imagine our work without the Dynamic Lock Scheduling, only six months after implementation, and it has made the 48-hour scheduling of the Noordersluis completely transparent for our nautical partners. With the help of the DLS they can plan their own logistical and/or service processes much more efficiently.
In cooperation with our partners we will keep developing and we will soon expand the application with extra services. Offering this type of innovative services is a focal point for the Port of Amsterdam.”
(original quote in Dutch: “De Dynamische Sluisplanning is zes maanden na implementatie al bijna niet meer weg te denken en heeft de 48 uurs planning van de Noordersluis volledig transparant gemaakt voor onze nautische partners. Met behulp van de DSP kunnen zij hun eigen logistieke en/of service processen nu ook een stuk efficiënter plannen.
In samenwerking met onze partners blijven we doorontwikkelen en gaan we de applicatie binnenkort uitbreiden met extra services. Het aanbieden van dergelijke innovatieve services is een speerpunt van Port of Amsterdam.”)