Pascal’s Challenge: remaining the most technically advanced terminal

Pascal Muller, employed by ICT Group and currently working as a Software Engineer at ECT, has been closely involved in these operations for the past several years. “My focus over the past three years has been on optimising maritime planning processes. Whenever a ship arrives, we know  how many containers, and what types of containers, need to be unloaded from and loaded onto the vessel.”

The Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam (ECT) container terminal is located in the Maasvlakte industrial area, directly facing the North Sea. Large cranes are in operation on the site, loading and unloading containers, while automatic vehicles drive back and forth. ECT is one of the leading and most advanced container terminal operators in Europe – a position that ECT, backed by ICT Group, is determined to maintain.

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Marten’s challenge: Can an SME supply flexible power? Absolutely!

The generation of sustainable energy is subject to sharp peaks and troughs which do not match those of consumption, which is why future energy consumption must be scheduled to coincide with energy-generation peak hours, thereby reducing energy storage. We also refer to this deferred energy consumption as flexible power supply. This power can be used to respond to market prices, reduce peaks in the distribution grid, or to provide balancing power to TenneT.

Aggregate energy demand
For instance, if the energy consumption of an individual small or medium-sized business is too low to be able to supply flexible power, they could turn the tables by joining forces with other businesses to aggregate their energy demand. This is relatively easy for households due to the limited number of energy-consuming appliances, which mainly comprises boilers, heat pumps and, at most, an electric car. The number of ‘energy guzzlers’ in the business market is much higher and more diverse. And connecting all these devices to a platform that monitors and manages energy consumption is a highly complex process most businesses will likely want to outsource. To respond to this need, ICT Group joined forces with Engie, Jules Energy, Enexis, New Energy Coalition, TU/e, the City of Groningen and the Zuidoost Business Park.

“We examine methods for promoting the energy transition in the small and medium-sized business segment.”
– Marten van der Laan, Senior business consultant

As part of this collaboration, ICT Group has provided access to its energyNXT platform, which monitors the energy consumption of all devices connected to it. At moments when the supply of sustainably generated energy is low, energyNXT makes sure energy consumption is deferred as much as possible.

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Marten’s challenge: Taking an entire neighbourhood off the grid? Let’s investigate if this is really possible!

“We’ve known for some time that analytics will play a key role in the world of renewables, but it’s not clear at this stage what those algorithms should look like. We are part of a consortium of organisations – the other partners being Enexis, the University of Twente, Enpuls, Endona, Buurkracht and Dr Ten, a manufacturer of sea salt batteries – focused on investigating what it takes for an entire neighbourhood to reduce its conventional energy consumption to zero by switching to solar energy and home batteries.”

In the Veldegge section of the town of Heeten in the Dutch province of Overijssel, a total of 48 homes are currently connected to a single transformer house. ICT’s role is the integration of different technologies and the delivery of the EnergyNXT-platform.

“I see this as an excellent opportunity to learn what it really takes to make an entire neighbourhood selfsufficient in terms of energy.”
– Marten van der Laan, Senior Business Consultant

Challenging business case
But the technology is not the only challenge presented by this project: there is also the business case. The Endona energy cooperative played a crucial role in this project: they registered the consortium for the Energy Act Experiments Regulation, which provided a legal framework for generating, distributing and marketing energy in a specific area.

Do you want to learn more? Read our case study!


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JOHN’S CHALLENGE: better results thanks to good collaboration

The Amsterdam Houthavens area has become a special, restricted traffic area for high-quality living along the IJ waterfront, thanks to the Spaarndammertunnel. The brand-new, 800-metre long tunnel, of which 470 metres is covered, has ensured that eighty percent of the daily 22,000 vehicle movements passes underground. The tunnel creates space above ground for greenery, bicycle and walking tracks as well as public transport, and connects the new residential area with the city centre. The connection of the tunnel’s technical installations was realized through the collective efforts of a collaboration that came about in an unexpected manner, but which turned out to be very successful.

Communicate continuously
The Spaarndammertunnel was opened for traffic during the spring of 2018. And with results I’m proud of, says Voeten. “And I’m not the only one who is entitled to be proud! This project is a prime example of the results you can achieve when you collaborate effectively. As long as you communicate continuously and work together, you can raise a project like the Spaarndammertunnel to a higher level. If it were up to me, we would work together more often. And as far as that’s concerned, I’m also not the only one.”

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VICTOR’S CHALLENGE: managing projects in which things are put in motion

The Amsterdam Noord/Zuidlijn is a 9.7 kilometre underground railway connection that cuts the travel time from the north to the south of Amsterdam in half. The extremely prestigious and ambitious project involved drilling and construction beneath the busy city, in which people live and work. A widely discussed project, which received a huge amount of publicity, both in Amsterdam and beyond.

The Noord/Zuidlijn is a project commissioned by the Amsterdam City Council. The Council signed a contract with Siemens for the realisation of the tunnel-technical installation. Siemens is a reputable party in the domain of system integration and optimisation, and has the required expertise and experience when it comes to infrastructure projects. “In a large project like the Noord/Zuidlijn, there are times when you need additional manpower and knowhow. This is why Siemens contacted ICT Group to obtain their assistance and advice required for connecting the station systems and central control systems with the current network. And this is when I got involved in the project”, says Victor Sikkel, technical project manager for ICT Group.

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Johan’s challenge: Developing solutions that accelerate real innovation

The all-electric racing car of the InMotion student team of the Eindhoven Technical University (TU/e) scored the fastest lap time at the Zandvoort race track in 2017. The team partly owes its success to the integrated architecture for the Electronic Control Units, which was made possible with the support of Motar. Johan van Uden was a member of the software development team that automated the code generation process of a model which was developed in MATLAB/Simulink. Motar is currently also used for a wide variety of other design challenges.

“Innovating is collaborating. ICT Group understands this and facilitates this collaboration at all levels: internally, with customers, and with colleges and universities.”
– Johan van Uden

Automated Code Generation

During his student days, Johan was one of the founders of the TU/e’s racing team. When he took up employment as a software developer with ICT Group, he was given the opportunity to develop Motar: software that can automatically generate error-free code from the control model. As such, Motar makes an important contribution to the most complicated part of an innovation project: converting a prototype into a ready-to-use product, and in cases of embedded software, this involves converting a Proof of Concept into ‘production class’ software.

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Annie’s challenge: designing software for Air Traffic Control using Festa’s Model Driven Engineering tool

To shift from traditional software development to a Model Driven Engineering approach means stepping out of your comfort zone. ICT Group’s software designer Annie Jovitha Arulanandam took up the challenge by trying out the Festa Engine tool to design software for an Air Traffic Control system.

When Annie Jovitha Arulanandam started working for ICT Group in 2017, she had more than five years of professional experience in the traditional way of software development. “That means creating lots of code that you often have to rewrite again and again,” she says. Through ICT Group she was introduced to Festa, a company that has created a tool to build high level control logic using a Model Driven Engineering approach. She enrolled in a training assignment to experience the Festa framework first hand, which meant learning a completely new way of developing software.

“If an application could be done in the Model Driven Engineering way, I would do it. The benefits are plenty.”
– Annie Jovitha Arulanandam, Software designer

Case study Softwareport: the three musketeers of a Model Driven Integrated Solution

Softwareport provides a software development platform that combines high-level control, embedded software and virtual prototyping into one integrative solution. The Softwareport is a joint venture of three software companies – Cordis, Festa Solutions and Unit040 – that uses a Model Driven Engineering approach, saving time, costs and programming headaches. Read our case study here.

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WIBO’S CHALLENGE: contributing to traffic safety in the Gaasperdammertunnel

It is expected that the first cars will be driving through the Gaasperdammertunnel in 2020. The tunnel is located under part of the current A9 Gaasperdammerweg. The tunnel will increase the traffic capacity for road users, but it will also improve the quality of life for local residents. ICT Group provides a part of the software for the tunnel technical installations and participates in the testing of the systems.

Tunnel tube closing systems such as traffic lights and road barriers, air ventilation, lighting, safe escape routes … Wibo Tienstra knows all too well that constructing a tunnel involves a lot more than merely installing tubes and laying asphalt. “A wide variety of technical installations for the tunnel and traffic are procured, and they have to communicate properly. In a way that, for example, the air ventilation is activated during traffic jams, and that the drainage systems work adequately when it rains. All aimed at a fast and safe traffic flow for the road user.”

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RENÉ’S CHALLENGE: to guarantee the safety of millions of people at all times

The world’s largest sea lock is currently being built in Ijmuiden in The Netherlands. The lock exceeds the size of the locks in the Panama Canal and the Suez Canal. Ambitious? Certainly. But it’s a sheer necessity in order to ensure that the Port of Amsterdam remains accessible for large container vessels and cruise ships. And to create a water barrier that stops the sea during storms in order to guarantee the safety of millions of people.

René van der Pluijm, Project Manager at ICT Group working on the OpenIJ project. “Unsafe situations must never arise, under any circumstance whatsoever. The economic and public interests are simply too large. This is the reason why we predict possible failures. What can possibly go wrong, and how can it be prevented? We think of all possibilities in advance, and test all possible situations just as extensively as in a normal situation.” Everything is recorded, right down to the smallest detail. And there’s a considerable list of requirements and applicable legislation that must be complied with, in a demonstrable manner. “The decision of one person can have consequences for someone else. I communicate and harmonise, and I keep an overview over the entire design.”

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YNZE’S CHALLENGE: Ensuring a good traffic flow in Zuidas

Building a tunnel at a mere five metre distance from the front of luxurious office complexes and law firm offices. Renovating a railway station while commuters can continue travelling by train every day. Everything in the domain of Infra coincides in the Zuidasdok project – road, railway, tunnel, bridge – and all this within the format of a postage stamp. A complex environment in which ICT Group is playing an important role.

Management and maintenance
Ynze Goinga, who works for ZuidPlus and is involved in the management and maintenance of the A10 Amsterdam-Zuid ring road, that is crossing the Amsterdam district of Zuidas in Amsterdam partly at the moment. “I’m making sure that whatever issue occurs, the problem is solved as soon as possible. I’m involving the right people, and do all the reporting and administrative work. In addition to corrective maintenance, I also focus on preventive maintenance: making sure that nothing breaks down. How long will something work? Where do you install it? When do you need to maintain or replace something? This applies to the current situation but also to the future. I analyse and assess the design and make choices to facilitate future maintenance. In that capacity I see all areas of the project.”

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