Operational Excellence: DP World always finds the best transportation route

16 August 2020

DP World Antwerp is a leading terminal operator in the port of Antwerp. With the help of automatic, semi-automatic and manual processes, the company prepares countless containers arriving by ship for both domestic and foreign transport. In their search to optimise their complex processes and achieve operational excellence, the company recently called upon our expertise and data-driven approach.

The road to operational excellence

Like so many companies, DP World Antwerp continuously strives for operational excellence. is determined to minimise overhead costs – often caused by unnecessary container movements. Nevertheless, identifying process inefficiencies turned out to be no easy feat. Because DP World Antwerp processes large numbers of containers every day, even minor problems can have major consequences. Gaining analytical insight into their logistic processes and terminal operations was, in other words, much needed. And the reason why we started the optimisation process with an extensive route analysis.

Analysing the optimal transportation route

DP World Antwerp, having already registered their terminal process at regular intervals, we made good use of their input to start analysing optimal transportation routes. To visualise all container movements, we divided the terminal into elementary parts. Through process mining, we were able to analyse the event logs collected in the system, clean up the data and integrate them with additional relevant data from different sources. This enabled DP World Antwerp to track containers from their starting position up to the moment when they’re picked up and leave the system.

Proces Optimization


We adopted an incremental and iterative approach to this project. We started with a limited number of data sources and focused on one process at a time. Next, we invited DP World Antwerp's process experts to the table to clarify specific cases for us and spot which manual interventions could lead to failure. Co-creating everything step by step ultimately allowed the data set to take shape in the best possible way.

Surprising findings

Thanks to our visualizations, DP World Antwerp now knows exactly how much time individual containers spend at the terminal and which movements they make before they are picked up by a truck or ship. Together with the organisation's process experts, we established that no less than two-thirds of the containers did not follow the optimal route. In other words, 42 percent of container movements proved to be unnecessary. Thanks to our analytical approach, DP World Antwerp can improve their movement processes and continuously check and enhance them to maintain their effectiveness as time passes.

We also organised a workshop to explain to DP World Antwerp the usefulness of process mining and teach them which attributes and columns are needed within a data set, so that the company can apply similar processes to other operations in the future.

A successful collaboration

Other service providers whom DP World Antwerp collaborated with in the past often made processes even more complex than they already were and did not yield action-oriented insights. AE, by contrast, managed to offer concrete added value in a few weeks’ time, enabling the organisation to carry out optimisations and develop use cases on their own. For example, the company can now easily verify whether it’s more efficient for them to place the containers at the back of the terminal, or closer to the quay. Thanks to analytics, the company can also avoid unnecessary costs by spotting bottlenecks ahead of time.

Bram Vanschoenwinkel

Written by Bram Vanschoenwinkel

is an AI expert who started his career as a researcher at the Computational Modelling Lab at the University of Brussels and obtained a Ph.D. in Science (Machine Learning, Data Mining). He currently leads a team of 15 data scientists offering actionable business insights from data.

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