Port of Rotterdam Authority

"With our Pronto app, we can help customers ensure their ships and cargos arrive at their destination on time."


1,150 employees
Salesforce customer since 2017


faster development for future versions of port call app


Port of Rotterdam Authority reduces ship wait times with trailblazing app

From fresh oranges to iron ore and crude oil: more than 450 million metric tonnes of goods pass through the Port of Rotterdam every year. Every port call made to load and off-load these goods involves a series of complex processes executed by different teams.

“Just one change in a ship’s schedule can have a knock-on effect that delays not one but several port calls,” said Thea de Vries, Director of Marketing and New Business for the Port of Rotterdam Authority. “We want to help our customers improve the efficiency and predictability of port calls not just at Rotterdam but around the world.”

Encouraging greater digitalisation will be key to achieving this goal. The Port Authority has already launched a pioneering app called Pronto to help simplify and optimise port calls. Pronto, which is built on Salesforce, helped ships visiting the port cut their waiting time by an average of 20%. With nearly 30,000 port calls at Rotterdam per year, the time-savings potential is huge.

The Port of Rotterdam blazes a trail in digitalisation and collaboration.

The Port of Rotterdam is the main gateway to Europe for liquid bulk, dry bulk, and container cargos. It supports around 180,000 jobs and generates added business value of more than €14.4 billion per year. But Rotterdam doesn’t just want to be one of the largest ports in the world, it also wants to be one of the smartest.

“We want to make the Port of Rotterdam and its ecosystem as efficient and sustainable as possible,” said de Vries. “Automation and digitalisation will enable us to unlock new revenue streams and overcome challenges facing the shipping industry – especially around energy consumption.” 

As competition from nearby ports increases, Rotterdam needs to ensure it provides a seamless experience to its customers on a day-to-day basis. “To be a strong global player, we need to keep optimising our operations. And that also means optimising how we – and other parties – collaborate,” said Sjoerd de Jager, Business Lead Port Call Optimization at the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

Real-time information optimises port call planning.

From the moment a vessel leaves a port, the clock starts ticking. “Every port call may involve up to 30 different parties and processes, which are all interlinked,” explained de Jager. “With real-time information sharing, teams can proactively plan for potential delays by revising their schedules or redeploying resources.”

Pronto enables everyone in the value chain to monitor the status of a port call via a single dashboard and access key information, such as water depths, admission policies, and arrival and departure times. “Better visibility means there’s a lot less stress and frustration for everyone involved in the port call process,” added de Jager.

Development, deployment, and integration made easy with Heroku.

Pronto is underpinned by multiple apps – all of which have been developed and integrated via Heroku. The prototype was designed and developed in just a few weeks. “Heroku is very fast and easy to develop on,” said David Hoepelman, a Developer at the Port of Rotterdam Authority. "Linking Heroku to your source code repository and tapping into existing resources from the Heroku Elements Marketplace, rather than create from scratch, is as close as you can get to one-click deployment."

To enable seamless collaboration, Pronto supports more than 70 data interchange methods. “With Heroku, we can connect Pronto to internal and external systems more easily,” said Hoepelman. “We generate an ‘adaptor app’ for each connection, which means we can onboard new users and data formats really quickly.”    

Smarter insights drive process improvements.

Pronto has been deployed by around 50 organisations involved in port calls at Rotterdam. “Pronto provides shipping companies, agencies, service providers, and operators with one version of the truth,” said de Jager. “It enables everyone to execute port calls more effectively.”

As the user base grows, the Port Authority will be able to feed more information into the app’s machine learning models and unlock new insights. It has already been able to ascertain how long certain steps take during a port call, which means it can predict timelines more accurately and identify process improvements.

“The more data we put into Pronto, the smarter it gets,” said Hoepelman. And that’s why the Port of Rotterdam Authority wants to extend the use of the app beyond the Netherlands. “Pronto is founded on international standards, so it can work anywhere in the world – we just need to adapt the app for each port and their challenges,” he added. 

Salesforce enables an ongoing wave of innovation.

Thanks to the Salesforce Platform, making these adaptations is quick and easy. Hoepelman estimates that the Port Authority will be able to design and develop new iterations of Pronto 10 times faster than the first release of the app.

Implementing new features is also quick and easy, which means the Port Authority can deliver on its commitment to ongoing innovation. “We’ve been in continuous improvement and development mode ever since the prototype went live,” said de Jager. One of the newest Pronto features enables shipping companies to calculate and measure their air pollution emissions.

“Energy consumption and costs are a major concern for our customers; we want to help them find an optimum balance between speed and sustainability,” said de Vries. “With Pronto, ships can use less fuel but still arrive at their destination on time.”

Fuelling greater efficiency across the shipping value chain.

Next on Rotterdam’s digitalisation radar is the complex process of bunkering – when ships are refuelled before leaving port. By using an app to automate the process, the Port Authority will be able to reduce paperwork, simplify communication, and improve safety controls - all of which will help more ships to depart on schedule.

“With the Salesforce Platform, we can focus our development time on addressing the challenges facing the shipping industry and realising the full potential of digitalisation,” said de Jager.

For the Port Authority, Pronto is only the start; its digital ambitions stretch way beyond the harbour walls of Rotterdam. “Imagine if ports around the world were digitally connected so they could send information back and forth about departure times,” said de Jager. “With Pronto, we can find new ways to encourage greater collaboration across the entire shipping industry.”

With just one app, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has already succeeded in improving port call efficiency and capacity planning. “Pronto is a great example of how we are using digitalisation to increase efficiency ,” said de Vries. “By optimising port calls, we can help our customers ensure their ships and cargos arrive at their destination on time.”

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