Port of Rotterdam Authority

"With Salesforce, we can connect more ports and more shippers to ensure goods reach their destinations on time."

"With Salesforce, we can connect more ports and more shippers to ensure goods reach their destinations on time."


1,150 employees
Salesforce customer since 2017


months only to develop Navigate


Port of Rotterdam Authority makes global shipping plain sailing with Salesforce

A Japanese electronics manufacturer needs to transport a large shipment of smart TVs to Eastern Europe. Without first-hand knowledge of the available routes, the logistics team would normally turn to a freight forwarding agent for help. Thanks to Navigate - an online route planner developed by the Port of Rotterdam Authority - the manufacturer can find the most efficient shipping option. 

“Shippers want real-time data about routes and ports, so they can ensure their goods are transported around the world quickly and efficiently,” said Chantal Gouka, Digital Lead for the Port of Rotterdam Authority. “With Navigate, they can compare hundreds of sea, rail, or barge connections via Rotterdam and plan an optimal route.”

Port of Rotterdam inspires a sea of change with digital solutions

The online route planner is the latest step towards the Port of Rotterdam’s ambition to become the smartest port in the world. It’s already the main gateway to Europe for liquid bulk, dry bulk, and container cargos, with a record 240 million tonnes of goods passing through its harbours in the first six months of 2019. To maintain its position and see off competition from new freight destinations, the Port of Rotterdam, needs to keep optimising and digitalising its operations.

With a 75-strong developer team, the Port Authority is on a mission to extend its digitalisation efforts to everyone involved in container transportation. Its pioneering app Pronto already helps vessels simplify and optimise port calls and now with Navigate, the Port Authority is targeting importers and exporters. Both solutions are built on Salesforce Platform. “Smart ports are the future of container transportation,” said Gouka. “With Salesforce, we can accelerate our digital transformation and bring new solutions to market quickly and reliably.“

Heroku supports dynamic development and seamless scalability

The Port Authority used Heroku to develop Navigate in just five months with five team members. “Heroku is a real plug and play solution and very easy to use,” said Kevin Kruijthoff, Product Lead PathFinder for the Port of Rotterdam Authority. “We’re constantly adding new features and data. Heroku makes the development process very dynamic.”

Following the successful implementation of Navigate at Rotterdam, the Port Authority is now offering the solution to other destinations based on a software as a service model. “Navigate comes with an in-built dataset and supports mobile and browser-based access,” explained Kruijthoff. “The container ‘dynos’ used by Heroku makes it really easy to scale and adapt the solution for other ports.”

Making container transportation greener and easier

Gdansk and Sohar were the first ports to become part of the Navigate ecosystem, which will also help shippers select more sustainable transportation routes. “Users can search on a range of factors, such as Co2 emissions and transportation time,” explained Kruijthoff. “Navigate also connects shippers with other services and providers that form part of the freight supply chain, such as empty depots for storing goods.”  

To provide such extensive visibility, Navigate needs to be able to pull in huge amounts of data. The Port Authority’s developers have used a Heroku Amazon S3 plug-in to optimise storage as well as Heroku Postgres to simplify database setup and maintenance.  

Marketing analytics demonstrate impact and inform decisions

To measure the impact of Navigate, the developers have embedded a marketing analytics dashboard that displays key metrics, such as search and visitor volumes. Many ports use a fairly traditional mass market approach to marketing; the insights from Navigate will enable a more targeted and segmented approach.  

“We’re opening new offices in those countries with routes that get more interest on Navigate,” said Krzysztof Zalewski, President of the Board’s plenipotentiary for Marketing and Communication at the Port of Gdansk. “Navigate is an important step towards the full digitalisation of our port. Smarter operations will enable us to cope with the growth in cargo volumes.”

Encouraging more collaboration in container transportation sector

Navigate is also becoming an important sales tool for the ports of Rotterdam and Gdansk. “We can use the usage statistics to drive smarter conversations, which improves lead conversion,” said Gouka. “Navigate has helped to create a community of recurring online visitors, which helps us build stronger relationships and unlock richer insights.”

As more ports join the Navigate community, the more valuable the solution will become to the world’s container transportation industry. “We believe in working with other ports to improve efficiency and transparency for shippers. It’s not about competition; it’s about cooperation,” said Gouka. “With Salesforce, we can connect more ports and more shippers to ensure goods reach their destinations on time.”  


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