The Dutch transport sector is advancing digitization with the help of IoT

Compared with the transport sectors in other countries, and with other vertical segments in the Netherlands, the Dutch transport sector is probably one of the strongest when it comes to its appetite for Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and its willingness to invest.

While the economic environment significantly improved for Dutch transport and logistics companies in 2017/18 compared with the difficult years before, challenges such as efficiency improvements and cost reduction remain, which is why process automation, supply chain optimization, and data analytics are high up on their investment agendas.

All of these areas can be addressed with new, digitally-enabled solutions that can transform decade-old maintenance and mobility processes or provide new platforms capable of collecting customer data, which could then be used to develop better and more personalized services. Solutions based on the Internet of Things can, for example, help by providing a layer of visibility into processes, products, and partner relations along the supply chain. Supplemented by applications such as predictive maintenance, companies can optimize vehicle and machine use, streamline fleet operations, and, as a result, reduce unplanned downtimes, delays, and repair times. Finally, the enhanced provision of mobility solutions will create better customer service and improve the customer experience.

Dutch ports betting on innovation

Among Dutch transport and logistics companies, investments in the IoT area are quickly moving beyond the proof-of-concept stage and are rapidly getting sizable. A highly interesting example is provided by the Port of Rotterdam. Following its aim to become the smartest port in the world, the Port of Rotterdam - in collaboration with IBM Watson IoT, Cisco Kinetic, and Axians - is currently preparing for the future of autonomous shipping. While the first autonomous container ship in the world is currently under construction in Norway and is expected to be launched in 2019, the Port of Rotterdam has announced its intention to be able to host autonomous vessels like this by 2025. To prepare for this goal, and also to significantly improve the efficiency and safety of ships and cargo handling in general, the whole port area has been equipped with sensors to constantly collect data about weather and water conditions such as wind, visibility, height of tide, and tidal stream. With IBM Watson IoT, a digital twin of the port will be created over the months to come, helping to visualize and analyze all the data on processes and conditions, and make the best possible decisions based on it. In the future, the data can also be used to inform ships, e.g. about the best time to enter the port, in order to save fuel costs and lower the CO2 footprint of the Port of Rotterdam.

Growing number of cloud computing initiatives

As a side effect, initiatives like those in the IoT area have become a significant growth driver for cloud computing in the Dutch transport and logistics sector. The Port of Amsterdam, for instance, is currently conducting a complete switch-over to the cloud, which is supported by Ictivity, an IT service provider specializing in managed services and IT adoption. The migration provides the port with greater flexibility, scalability, and stability, and also lays the foundation for developments such as big data and the Internet of Things (IoT). Future projects might, for example, be the use of drones to monitor the port or sensors indicating when bollards need to be replaced. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has chosen Red Hat solutions to increase the number of services for its passengers. For this purpose, Red Hat is building a hybrid, multi-cloud development platform based on the Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform that runs on Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and the on-premises virtualized environment.

PAC expects an acceleration in IT demand in the months to come. Spending on topics such as real-time data analytics, the Internet of Things, but also cyber security is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the transport and logistics area.

For more detailed insights into the structure and transformation of the transport market in the Netherlands, and further projects and trials around technologies like the Internet of Things, blockchain, and robots, please read PAC’s latest “Transport – InBrief Analysis – Netherlands” SITSI report.