“When my ship comes in …” is a popular way of expressing hope that eventually one will earn riches and success. Royal Dirkzwager’s clients literally need to know when ships are coming in. Their profitability depends on it.

Royal Dirkzwager’s core process is collecting, interpreting, validating and distributing information to logistics suppliers, warehousing companies, merchants and other interested parties in the shipping industry.

As CCO Jeroen Kortsmit explained, “We try to deliver that information in such a way that it can be integrated instantly with the recipient’s own business process. “Our bespoke [custom] service for the client lies in validating the information and adding the human intelligence.”

“The ability to respond quickly to client requests and roll out completely new service offerings in two months gives us a huge strategic advantage. Our team’s skill with Apama makes it happen.”
-Ton de Jong | CIO, Royal Dirkzwager

Over the years, Royal Dirkzwager’s clients have asked for faster response times and more reliable information covering a wider geographical area. This led Royal Dirkzwager to the Apama Analytics and Decisions Platform. By using Apama, not only can Royal Dirkzwager offer more realtime data, it also can quickly develop and market new maritime logistics products, gaining a huge strategic advantage.

Needed: faster service, wider coverage

The more accurately a ship-servicing business can estimate a ship’s arrival time, the more efficient and profitable its operations will be. A trucking firm, for example, can use precise ship arrival data to avoid idle periods for trucks and employees waiting on the dock. That information translates into lower costs and higher asset utilization.

Royal Dirkzwager receives and validates information about shipping positions and relays that data to clients around the world. The company also keeps basic vessel data, such as a ship’s length, beam and draught, capacity and operating line.

In the past, Royal Dirkzwager relied on transponder technology to transmit data to coastal receiving stations, which in turn passed it to a dedicated server. Offshore range was limited to approximately 40 kilometers.

To expand that range and improve response times, Royal Dirkzwager added satellite technology but that introduced a load problem. With now over 120,000 different ships to be monitored daily and sending their location data every two seconds, the event stream could overload the company’s system.

CIO Ton de Jong explained: “Simply increasing our system capacity was not going to resolve that issue. Moreover, it wouldn’t meet our clients’ increased needs in terms of proactive information provision. So we went in search of a scalable solution that would also allow us to expand our package of services for clients in a straightforward way.”

AIS Events: a scalable solution based on Apama

Royal Dirkzwager turned to the Apama platform—based on the market-leading Complex Event Processing (CEP) engine— to develop a sound and scalable solution. The project, called AIS Events, produced impressive results.

Royal Dirkzwager can now handle 1,500 messages per second in real-time—a 300 percent increase.

Clients subscribe to information about specific ships based on virtual zones drawn around any location. As soon as a monitored vessel enters (or exits) a zone, the subscriber receives details by email or text. An XML message can also be submitted to an operational system or invoke a Web service. Through this messaging service, Royal Dirkzwager directly supports its clients in optimizing their own operational processes.

New innovations now possible

Royal Dirkzwager originally selected Apama for its cost-cutting potential. Now, though, its “ship has come in” with strategic advantage gained through technical prowess.

“During the implementation and as we were configuring the dashboards, we discovered all sorts of other interesting possibilities using Apama,” Ton de Jong said. “The ability to respond quickly to client requests and roll out completely new service offerings in two months gives us a huge strategic advantage.”

The company uses Apama to enable clients to calculate the Estimated Arrival Time (ETA) of any ship anywhere and then revise the ETA continuously as circumstances change. The service tracks ships as they cross virtual lines and feeds clients continuous location-based event updates. That project was completed in only weeks.

Because of Apama, clients also can set their own custom alerts. Initially, clients had only generic alerts based on preset data points about each ship. Now, they can switch alert factors on and off, selecting the updates that are more relevant to their businesses. For example, they can choose to be alerted only when specific ships pass designated passage points.

“I am so proud of our Apama development team,” Ton de Jong said. “They have mastered a platform for growth and innovation, excelling at meeting client needs. This is our lifeblood.”