Case study Distribution and transport

Workflow automation

Helping a leading UK port to deliver efficient services

Waterstons has worked with PD Ports, a leading UK ports business, since the beginning of 2010. The port had recently implemented several new systems including a data warehouse system, an ERP system and a port management system when Waterstons suggested that a workflow platform would support them in bringing information from all of these systems together and streamline business processes.

After considering a number of options, K2 blackpearl, a leading process automation tool, was selected to accelerate workflow as it was the best option to support the port’s business systems and would provide a better long term solution at integrating with their new ERP business system, IFS.

Waterstons planned and carried out the installation and provided on-site consulting and development expertise to assist with the creation of workflows.

The first area to be tackled was Proof of Delivery scanning (POD Scanning). PD Ports manage a fleet of drivers who obtain signed receipts for each delivery which are stored and retrieved for enquiries and invoicing. Using K2, SharePoint, and InfoPath for user input, Waterstons’ development team created a solution whereby receipts that are scanned in by the PD Ports team are automatically matched up to the relevant job. If the job number is not found, the blackpearl tool automatically emails the relevant contact to prompt them to correct the information. If a customer requests a copy of the scanned proof of delivery, blackpearl automatically picks up the request and processes it. This particular workflow was developed using K2 Studio and Microsoft Visual Studio. This combination requires minimal code-writing, and provides a high level of flexibility to adapt to the changing needs of the port.

The speed and ease of development of workflow applications using K2 blackpearl has enabled PD Ports to implement a number of other processes, with technical assistance from Waterstons where required. blackpearl can be linked to third-party systems such as Active Directory and bespoke SQL databases using “SmartObjects” which can be further integrated into InfoPath forms, making it easy for “non-technical” users to tweak and extend interfaces and workflow logic.

With the help of Waterstons PD Ports was able to turn around a required spot solution into a strategic platform. Waterstons helped us to develop the first process on K2 to address the POD scanning. The result is immediate cost savings and improved business process speed. For PD Ports, K2 will be the strategic platform to build business logic outside of off-the-shelf business applications and to avoid customisation
Marco van den Bremer-Hornsby IT Director at PD Ports