Business Challenge story
To drive profitability, Boskalis must ensure maximum availability for its fleet of dredging vessels. How could it plan essential maintenance effectively, even when its ships were out at sea?
Boskalis worked with partner SRO Solutions to enhance its IBM® Maximo® Asset Management solution with remote data replication, helping it monitor assets on and off shore—even over poor connections.
50%cost avoidance achieved by reducing system administration requirements
75%decrease in time required to manage data replication with offshore vessels
200%increase in number of ships connected to the head office
Business challenge story
Run lean, boost profitability
For enterprises with asset portfolios that attract substantial operational costs, profitability depends on keeping downtime to a minimum.
This was the situation facing Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., a leading services provider for the dredging, maritime infrastructure and maritime services sectors. To meet its commercial objectives, the company aims to complete essential maintenance tasks quickly and efficiently—but managing more than 300 vessels in five continents is a complex process.
Ardy van Oosterhout, Service Manager, Ships Offices & Asset Management, Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V., explains: “Our vessels are at sea for extended periods, which means it is essential to stock them with the right spare parts and tools ahead of time. In the past, it was difficult to predict exactly what was needed, which forced us to over-stock our ships. Carrying large quantities of stock onboard reduced operational cost-efficiency, and we were keen to find a way to optimize our maintenance processes.”
In addition, Boskalis knew that the sand and salt water environments in which it operates could significantly shorten the lifespans of its multi-million dollar equipment—another cost driver. To solve the challenge, the company aimed to improve asset reliability by transitioning from a reactive to a preventative maintenance model.
Integrated asset management solution
To drive better insight into its extensive asset base and maximize asset uptime, Boskalis uses IBM® Maximo® Asset Management software to manage its end-to-end maintenance processes in a single, centralized solution.
“Before using IBM Maximo, we relied on multiple different systems and processes to manage our assets, which made it very difficult to implement the kinds of proactive maintenance approaches that we were aiming for,” says Ardy van Oosterhout. “With IBM Maximo Asset Management software, we have full visibility of every tool and component across the business, both in our warehouses and onboard our ships.
“By keeping a full record of all of our maintenance actions in IBM Maximo, we can predict the optimal intervals to perform routine inspections, repairs and refits. These predictive analytics insights also help us to plan the necessary quantity of assets to stock on our vessels before they leave port. The solution enables us to confirm that each vessel’s certifications are renewed, and to maintain a complete record of every crew member on board.”
He continues: “By using IBM Maximo in combination with the SRO replication tool, we have an optimal way to centralise all procurement activities, and get direct insight into all completed maintenance. In addition, we have immediate access to all safety documents that report damage, near misses, accidents and other incidents. We even use the IBM solution to track the quantities of fuel, lubricants, oils and greases we use at sea, which are reported back to the office for forecasting purposes.”
Seamless data replication
Boskalis uses the Maximo solution together with SRO Data Replicator (SDR) software from IBM Premier Business Partner SRO Solutions. This combination ensures that Boskalis can effectively manage even its most remote vessels.
Ardy van Oosterhout comments: “We were previously utilizing another replication tool to keep the IBM Maximo records on our ships in sync with the records in our central database on shore. To replicate our data, we had to run multiple ‘shadow’ databases on each vessel, which held the records of maintenance that our personnel had carried out on board. These change records were then emailed to our data center, and inputted into our central database in batches.
“As well as increasing our maintenance requirements, our previous replication tool was incompatible with the latest versions of IBM Maximo. After considering a number of options—including developing our own solution on the Maximo Integration Framework—we determined that SDR was the best way to obtain maximum value from our IBM solution.”
He adds: “Unlike other data replication technologies we have tested, the SDR solution enables us to connect IBM Maximo instances on our ships to our central asset database on shore in near-real time, even over tenuous internet connections. Better still, because SDR handles data synchronization tasks automatically, there is no need for us to spend time, effort and resources maintaining multiple shadow databases on our ships, or to troubleshoot synchronization errors.”
Maximizing fleet availability
With IBM Analytics solutions driving its asset management process, Boskalis is achieving its goal of maintaining high levels availability across its fleet.
“Before, maintenance, execution and reporting varied from vessel to vessel,” recalls Ardy van Oosterhout. “Today, we process all of our work orders in the IBM solution, which enables us to apply effective, proactive maintenance policies in a consistent way—improving asset reliability, driving up availability and helping to boost profitability.”
By pushing data to the mainland via SDR, vessels can enter their own maintenance requirements directly into the central instance of IBM Maximo wherever they are—enabling tighter control and faster fulfillment. For example, if issues arise while a vessel is at sea, chief engineers can request spare parts, and have them transported to the vessel by the most efficient mode of transport. And because IBM Maximo and SDR deliver a near-real time view of inventory across the fleet, Boskalis can even assign a nearby vessel to deliver the necessary components—greatly reducing costly lead-time and freight charges.
Cutting cost and complexity
Thanks to its SDR solution, Boskalis is reducing the cost and complexity of maintaining a consistent set of IBM Maximo data at its headquarters and onboard its vessels.
“Our previous data replication system required substantial manual intervention from our IT team to manage and this limited the number of vessels we could connect to our central IBM Maximo platform,” says Ardy van Oosterhout. “Because SDR is such a low-touch solution, we were initially able to roll out IBM Maximo to 40 ships. Since this time we’ve added a further 20 vessels—an increase of 50 percent—and we expect to roll out a further 15 ships by end of 2016. We estimate that we now spend 75 percent less time on managing more remote connections, enabling us to avoid the expense of an increase in our IT headcount.”
Marc Boer, Manager, Plant & Management Support at Royal Boskalis Westminster concludes: “Our work with IBM and SRO Solutions is helping us to improve our planning and find the optimum balance between maintenance and operations. By continuing our close collaboration, we are confident that we can lift the uptime of our assets, reduce inventory costs and increase our profitability.”
About Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V.
Founded in 1910 and employing 8,500 people, Royal Boskalis Westminster N.V. is a leading global services provider operating in the dredging, maritime infrastructure and maritime services sectors. Its clients include governments, port operators, oil, gas and power companies and shipping companies.