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Digitalisation at Contargo

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The digitalisation of container terminals makes them more efficient and more transparent, helps to reduce costs and increase capacity. So that the software can meet our own needs, rather than having to adapt our processes to the software, Contargo frequently develops its own solutions. Using the example of the Terminal Operating Systems (TOS), we show you how this is done.
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Making handling more efficient

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The container hinterland network Contargo organises container transports between the western seaports, the German North Sea ports and the European hinterland. For this the enterprise uses combined transport, exploiting the inter-system advantages of the transport modes barge, rail and truck in an integrated transport concept. Fixed routes, fixed schedules and high frequencies form the basis for fast, efficient, reliable container transports.

Combined transport offers many advantages: it can cut costs and reduce the CO₂ emissions per loading unit. The bottlenecks in this type of transport are the terminals where containers are transferred from one transport mode to another. In order for procedures to be efficient here, they need to be structured, fast, and understandable for the user. The prerequisite for this is a Terminal Operating System that optimises processes for the people, the equipment and the freight.


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Integrating new terminals

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Ever since the founding of Contargo in 2004 there had been a clear need for a terminal operating system, to be used in the large, high-performance terminals. So a system of this kind was duly procured. However, more terminals with IT which did not support this function were repeatedly being integrated into the Contargo network – for instance Wincanton, which was taken over by Contargo in 2012. Thus in 2014 it was decided that in order to master future challenges Contargo needed a completely new software landscape.

In 2015, detailed requirements engineering was started as a preliminary step. For 12 months all terminal sites of Contargo were involved in identifying, analysing, specifying and validating the requirements for the new software system. At the end of this process there was a call to tender which turned out very unsatisfactorily, because not one of the applicants was in a position to fulfil the specified requirements.  


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"In the end we decided to develop our own software together with our service provider Synyx. This has many advantages: we have the source code, and this gives us long-term investment security and means we can adapt the software continually to changing background conditions. We are not dependent on a single manufacturer, and the software is secure."
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The Scrum method had already proved its worth in previous projects at Contargo. The advantage of this method for the management of agile software projects is that a practical pilot version is obtained within quite a short time and this can be tested out at one site. There, more users familiarise themselves with the software and pass on their experience from its daily use to the team of developers, so that the software can be further optimised.
To find out more about Scrum simply move your cursor over the elements of the Infographic on the next page.
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Product Backlog

The starting-point in Scrum is the customer (Product Owner) who establishes the requirements for the product (in the Product Backlog). Unlike the usual procedure in Scrum, Contargo works with both specialist and technical product owners to identify the requirements. The special feature at Contargo is the close involvement of specialist employees in a user group that contributes its experience to the project. The group is largely responsible for the function of an application, as a requirements analysis always takes place before every project. This team also supports the project during the development phase in which the users give their feedback on the preliminary version of the product.

Sprint Cycle

A Sprint Cycle lasts two weeks. In this time the teams works on the specified Sprint backlog. The team discusses daily, gives weekly feedback to the other teams and presents its results every two weeks. Then the cycle starts over again with a different work package.

Sprint Planning Meeting

At the beginning of each Sprint a kick-off meeting is held with the purpose of selecting a work package from the Product Backlog, to be made into a Sprint Backlog.

Sprint Backlog

The teams of developers receive individual work packages (Sprint Backlogs) every two weeks that have been taken by the product owners from the product backlog at the Sprint Planning Meeting.

Daily Scrum

The members of the teams discuss and coordinate internally every day.

Weekly Scrum

Every week the teams give cross-team feedback on the status of their work and discuss obstacles and challenges.

Sprint Retrospective

After every Sprint a retrospective view takes place – and improvements are derived from it.

Sprint Review

Every two weeks the team presents its results to the Product Owners and future users, live on the system.

Product Backlog Refinement

Throughout the whole process, product owner and team develop the Product Backlog further, re-arrange, prioritise, delete, add details, make summaries, etc.

Team

An interdisciplinary Scrum team transforms the requirements for the product into functionalities. The team, consisting of eight people on average (developers, scrum master and product owners), organises itself.

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Since Contargo attaches great importance to close collaboration between theory and practice, in the TOS project, too, project teams were composed of Contargo's own employees together with employees of service provider Synyx.

Click on the pictures.for more information about Contargo and Synyx:
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Essential for successful introduction of TOS: a positive attitude of the managers to the new software and hardware. This was the purpose of a Management Meeting held in March 2017 at the offices of service provider Synyx in Karlsruhe. Here, managers had an opportunity to see, experience and understand the new processes – and feel at ease with them. In small groups the managers were given a demonstration of the new applications, and had a chance to try them out for themselves.
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With the pilot version of TOS a new phase began: suitable hardware had to be purchased and all participants had to have training.
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As well as its own software Contargo also needed various items of hardware (components) in order to use the Contargo Open Logistics Apps. When selecting components, the main criteria are risk minimisation and business continuity.
To keep the terminals running, Contargo uses standard hardware components and standard equipment (e. g. tablets and scanners) which can be quickly replaced in case of defects.

Ease of exchangeability is also a criterion. Thus for instance instead of a standard PC, inexpensive minicomputers called Raspberry Pis were used for the self-check-in kiosks. At the terminals spare preconfigured devices are always available, so that terminal staff can replace a defective device without the support of a technician.
Products were also selected according to whether manufacturers could be expected to go on making them for a long time. To fulfil this criterion the team selected individual components with care. For instance, with receipt printers care was taken that they would take standard format receipt rolls that are available everywhere, so that ordinary thermal paper rolls could be used.  
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At the beginning of the pilot phase in Koblenz, the process specialists and the roll-out team supported their colleagues during the changeover. Personnel like terminal dispatchers, administrative staff and the gate team were given training on the spot, directly with the new process, to familiarise themselves with the procedures, the software and the hardware. Because Contargo prioritises the user experience, the apps are very intuitive, so crane and reach stacker operators only needed short explanations before confidently finding their way around. Truck drivers, too, were supported by the team at the self-check-in. Since many of the drivers come from other countries, Contargo had already prepared for the new check-in system by having the forms translated into ten languages.
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On the next page you will find a map of Contargo’s locations. On it, you can click on the three sites that have already begun using the first elements of TOS. Find out more about their progress and their initial experiences.

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Neuss

Exemplary terminal on the Lower Rhine

Frankfurt-Ost

Terminal with potential

Koblenz

Pilot location for TOS

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The Terminal Operating System is just one module in Contargo’s comprehensive digitalisation concept. In future many other applications will contribute to the Smart Terminal.

Click on the graphic for full screen mode.


Your contact at Contargo for all questions concerning digitalisation:

Henrik Hanke
IT Manager
Tel.: + 49 2065 499 210
E-Mail: hhanke@contargo.net
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Impressum   Contargo GmbH & Co. KG
August-Hirsch-Straße 3
47119 Duisburg
Deutschland
Freecall 00800 CONTARGO
info@contargo.net
 
Translation
Anne Ray

Editing and Design

Medienbüro am Reichstag GmbH
Reinhardtstrasse 55
10117 Berlin
+49 30 30872993
contargo@mar-berlin.de

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Augenschmaus Fotografie
Contargo
Farideh Diehl Fotografie
Henry Tornow
LOKOMOTIV Fotografie
Margarita Andris
Motivjägerin | Tina Trippens
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Tim Frankenheim

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Synyx

The Contargo IT department has been working for several years now with IT service provider Synyx from Karlsruhe. The company, founded in 2002, develops individual, high-performance software for its customers by integrating open source solutions/frameworks. In this way solutions are created that are efficient and mature.
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As well as consulting, the portfolio of Synyx includes the improvement of existing software and software development teams, and open source software development. Synyx supports the unique selling points of its customers by the development of individual software, and offers them the possibility of differentiating themselves from the competition. Their work is built around a user-centred approach.
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Transparency and interactive collaboration are important to Synyx. The agile work methods produce a lean, transparent development process. The self-organising, interdisciplinary teams work in cycles of two weeks, thus they are able to react at short notice to problems, changes and wishes. The teams also consider sustainability. In terms of software development, sustainability means providing maximum usefulness at all times while keeping the required resources to a minimum. Quality at Synyx is not regarded simply as a technical matter; rather, the focus is on the user. Only software that is actually used can truly deliver added value.
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For Synyx, Open Source is a way of life, an attitude that permeates all areas of the company. Not only does the team develop software with an open source code that is accessible to third parties; it maintains a culture of sharing and participation, with the focus on working together. The company’s basic values include a good working climate with open communication, and a sense of social responsibility. It aims for lasting value rather than short-term success: this applies to the quality of the services, to customer relations and its attitude to the environment.
At the Devoxx4Kids Events, Synyx employees show children how to use computers creatively and enjoy programming.
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Management Meeting

Change Management

In small groups the managers were given a demonstration of the new applications, and had a chance to try them out for themselves.

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Der Kran aufbau im Zeitraffer

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Koblenz

In the Rhine Port of Koblenz a small team from Contargo Rhein-Main organises transports between the business centre of Koblenz, with its many production sites of global enterprises and suppliers, and the western seaports. The trimodal terminal has two berths for barges and a rail siding for the handling of all types of containers – including dangerous goods containers, reefers and tank containers. Other services provided are container repair and maintenance, stuffing and stripping, value added services, and the purchase and sale of containers. At present the terminal is being enlarged by the addition of a site on the opposite side of the port.
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The pilot project for the introduction of the new software in Koblenz began in summer 2017. Koblenz was the first terminal in the enterprise’s European container network to be equipped with the necessary hardware and software. Now truck drivers can check themselves in and pass the automatic gate. Particulars of the container to be loaded are transmitted electronically to the crane operator‘s tablet. The crane operator has to confirm when he has completed the manoeuvre. Over the next few years, other functions will be successively introduced at the terminal, and the other Contargo locations will make use of the resulting experience.
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"The Terminal Operating System offers numerous advantages for customers, business partners and Contargo. Customers benefit from the fact that loading errors and discrepancies in the depot no longer occur and they have status information in real time. Our business partners save a lot of time, for instance thanks to check-in simplification at the automated kiosk, where translations are available in a wide range of languages. And among other features our employees have support from the clear instructions to equipment operators and the automation of the check-in system."


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Together with the terminals in Koblenz and Gustavsburg, the terminal in Frankfurt’s Osthafen is part of Contargo Rhein-Main GmbH. The terminal links one of Germany’s most important metropolitan regions with the western seaports of Rotterdam and Antwerp and the northern German port of Hamburg. The trimodal terminal in Frankfurt-Ost has two rail tracks and berths for two inland vessels. Containers of every type are handled here – including dangerous goods containers and reefers. Other services provided are container maintenance and repair, stuffing and stripping.
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Introduction of the Terminal Operating System is intended primarily to streamline truck processing. In 2017 the new parking spaces and the waiting bays for trucks were already completed. Here the drivers now find kiosks where they can check into the terminal themselves. Following automated admission to the terminal, the trucks are then handled with precision.
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"By introducing TOS I expect process improvement that will benefit everyone concerned: the peak times in the late morning and the afternoon will be relieved, also partly due to truck drivers being able to check themselves in. Processes at the terminal will be improved, enabling us to increase our capacity. Our personnel will be under less pressure thanks to process optimisation. And the roads outside the terminal will not be blocked by waiting trucks, because they can park on our site while the drivers complete the formalities."
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Neuss neu

The terminal in the Flosshafenstrasse belongs to Contargo Neuss GmbH. By September 2018 the terminal area was modernised and almost trebled, while business continued as usual. Now 84,000 m² are available for trimodal container handling. With two newly-installed cranes, Contargo now has five portal cranes in Neuss fur container handling (two of them at the site in Tilsiter Strasse). The length of the sidings has been increased to 1,400 m, enabling two block trains to be handled simultaneously. Handling capacity at the terminal has been doubled, to 200,000 containers. Thus Neuss can be used in future as a hub of the Contargo Group for the seaports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. The trimodal site has three berths for barges and two rail sidings for handling all sorts of containers – including dangerous goods containers. Other services provided are container repair and maintenance, and stuffing and stripping on request.
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Neuss is one of the largest terminals in the Contargo Group, and also one of the most modern. Additional space for waiting trucks, and optimised processes for checking-in and checking-out will help to free up the roads in the port. OCR gates, a drive-by kiosk, and self-check-in at the gatehouse, are expected to halve the throughput times of trucks in the terminal.
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"Since autumn 2017, at our terminal we have integrated the operative applications STAR, Self-Check-In and Gate Control from the Contargo Open Logistics Apps – COLA for short – into our existing terminal system. The new processes help to substantially speed up the processing and throughput times of trucks at our terminal. In future other COLA applications will be successively introduced to harmonise our processes more extensively in a unified system environment."  
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Contargo

These two gentlemen were not part of the team using Scrum to develop TOS (they adorned the 2016 Contargo Calendar) – but they stand for the many employees from various Contargo companies who have engaged in this project in addition to their core tasks. On the next few pages we present some of them to you.
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"I have been working with Scrum for five years now and I am convinced by this method. It encourages mutual trust and cooperation with our partner, and the teams can organise themselves. The focus for us is on the production capability of the locations. If something goes wrong there, it has immediate and far-reaching effects: e. g. truck tailbacks and stress for all concerned. So we give high priority to risk minimisation and business continuity, and we almost exclusively use components that can be replaced quickly and easily on the 'plug and play' principle if there is a defect. Here, too, we have adopted an agile approach and developed the Best Practice scenarios iteratively in each case. The direct feedback of experience gained from the operation has helped us tremendously in building up a robust, secure tech stack geared to business continuity."


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"Having spent many years in logistics consultancy and the management of complex supply chains, I have experience in optimising and realigning processes. I am now using this expertise as an input into Requirements Engineering. Together with our operative colleagues we examine our processes, take them apart, eliminate the parts that do not add value, rearrange them and in this way create standards for successful work in the coming years. We refine the system during development with Scrum, where the close link with practice in small, iterative steps helps us to translate our processes into a precisely-tailored software landscape that meets all our requirements."
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"I have been supporting the project since its introduction at the first location, Koblenz.
I mainly act as a contact partner for my colleagues and make the changeover with them on site. We do not simply provide training – we take our colleagues with us, sensitise them to the new approach and learn directly on the process itself. The actual training goes smoothly because with our apps we focus on user experience. You could almost call it a 'playful' changeover. I take the feedback we have worked out together back to Development."  
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"The software for operating a container terminal can be developed perfectly using the Scrum method. I am taking part in the TOS project as a specialist advisor and I am impressed by this method because after each Sprint, which lasts 14 days, we see new results and do not have to theorise endlessly. We quickly get the first elements which are then successively extended and improved. Another advantage is that if new requirements are added, as is happening just now in Koblenz due to the expansion of the area with exactly-positioned parking bays, the software can be easily extended."
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"As a specialist Product Owner, I have been involved in developing the Terminal Operating System for Contargo. I was working with Scrum for the first time, and I am impressed how fast we got the first results and could begin trying out the software. Scrum is just right for developing TOS. It was not – and is not – possible to define all the software requirements beforehand. Many functions and requirements only emerge and can be defined during practical use. Here Scrum, with its short cycles, enables the software to be continuously improved. In this way we get a software system that solves the concrete problems and supports us in the everyday tasks of operative business."
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