This is the final article in this four-part series on the Port of Antwerp, and how it uses Confluence and Comalatech apps to manage its documents and processes.

In our previous article we explored how Port of Antwerp uses Confluence and Comalatech apps to approve and distribute important regulations to their fleet of vessels. In this final article, we discuss how the crew of those ships are using Confluence to fill out and file daily reports, solving issues in real-time and increasing efficiency. While this use case doesn’t feature Comalatech apps, we thought our readers might be interested in it.

Port of Antwerp manages around 20 tow ships that operate within its harbour. Each ship has to record a variety of information, like the status of fuel and oil on board, if someone became sick, or in the case of an accident. With multiple crews operating on rotating shifts and constant activity, it’s important that these records are available for the oncoming crew, and the ships also make regular reports to the harbour office.

In the past, this process was done entirely on paper, which meant that time was spent copying out information from ship logs and physically carrying it across the Port to the office. This also meant that if the paperwork was dropped off in the evening, it might not be reviewed until the next day, and any issues that arose would take more time to be resolved.

Adopting Real-time Reports with Confluence

Today, Port of Antwerp is working on moving this process entirely online using Confluence as their platform. By moving the reports to Confluence, there is no need to copy information by hand or carry it across the harbour, saving valuable time. The office can review the information as soon as it’s inputted, and resolve issues much faster.

One unique challenge of this initiative was adapting it to the needs of users who have varying degrees of computer skills and may be unused to working with platforms like Confluence. Patrick Vanhoof, the Port’s Digital Workplace Expert describes how they overcame this issue, “We did some sessions about the use of Confluence and people said, ‘Maybe we can use this in our department. Can you help us do that?’ The ideas came from people themselves, and in that way they had buy-in and took ownership. They’re committed and they can convince others for you.”

The ideas came from people themselves, and in that way they had buy-in and took ownership.

This buy-in was a key factor in the initiative’s success. Work began on the project in 2016, and adoption continues to grow on an ongoing basis.

Organizing the Digital File Cabinet

The reports are managed in a separate space within Confluence. This space is currently limited to specific user groups in the operations department, primarily the ship captains, although there are plans to expand use in the future to the whole fleet. Each day, two pages are created for every tow ship, one page for the day shift and one for the night shift. These pages contain the report of what happened during that shift. In this way the captain of the oncoming shift and the office team can easily find and review the reports. Confluence’s scalability is also an important asset, as once this initiative is fully up and running the space will easily contain 500-1000 pages.

Port of Antwerp continues to innovate on many fronts, from commissioning the world’s first hydrogen-powered tug boat, to digitizing internal information and processes. By creating an environment for collaboration and knowledge-exchange, they allow ideas to come from within departments, addressing real needs, improving buy-in and allowing innovation to flourish.

We hope you enjoyed this series, and a special thanks to Port of Antwerp’s Patrick Vanhoof and Ivo Smet for all their support. For more Comalatech case studies, please visit Our Clients page.