A Modern Platform for Management Excellence

Case Study | Modern Application Development


Amid all the talk of digital transformation and what some call the Fourth Industrial Revolution, it’s easy to forget that a lot of day-to-day life continues to depend on innovations from the First Industrial Revolution — like the coal that is stockpiled, blended, and shipped by Westshore Terminals.

Beyond its use as a crucial ingredient in the steel-making process, for example, coal serves as a cost-effective fuel for close to half of the world’s population, which means the work Westshore Terminals does every day is vital to the global economy.

Like almost every other sector, of course, information technology can help an organization like Westshore Terminals to not only keep running, but to perform with greater efficiency and effectiveness than ever before. To prove it, read on to see how Architech has been working with Westshore Terminals to perform a little digital alchemy that will cement its position as an industry leader.


Fossil Fuels


Agile Product Design

User Experience Design

Application Modernization

Agile Engineering

Quality Assurance

The Customer

Based 32 km south of downtown Vancouver in Delta, B.C., Westshore Terminals operates all year round and is capable of moving 33 million tons of coal a year. A team of approximately 300 employees serve customers in both Canada and the U.S. in sectors such as energy and steel.

Westshore Terminals turns to Architech to create a modern platform that helps achieve operational and workforce management excellence

The Challenge

While its core business is focused on the physical handling of coal, the ability to manage data with accuracy and reliability is critical to Westshore Terminals’ ongoing success.

This includes coordinating the scheduled arrivals and departures of trains bearing coal and the ships onto which it will be loaded. Then, there are the complexities of different coal grades and products, many of which must be tracked and handled separately.

Like many organizations, however, Westshore Terminals was using a combination of legacy applications, those it had developed internally and those that were purpose-built for its industry but didn’t meet its unique needs.

The Solution

Over the course of a multi-year partnership, our team at Architech is working with Westshore Terminals to develop a series of modern applications as part of a Terminal Management System (TMS) that will help maintain its leadership in the coal sector.

An Operations (OPS) module, for example, helps keep track of trains, the products they’re carrying, and other mission-critical operational data. Our work means Westshore Terminals employees have access to schedules, reports, and other information in an intuitive design.

Other features provide Westshore Terminals with the ability to create interactive voyage and train schedule plans using simple drag-and-drop functionality, enabling users to easily make changes and improve the efficiency of their operations.

A workforce management system module, meanwhile, gives Westshore Terminals the ability to track everything from payroll, hours employees have worked, absences, replacements, and shift scheduling.

The Results

The work we’ve done with Westshore Terminals has been a collaborative process, where training sessions and end-user feedback have been critical in making enhancements to their day-to-day tasks. Since then, some of the benefits have included:

A Transition From Manual To Dynamically Digital Workflows

Instead of having to update numbers and reschedule trains based on unforeseen circumstances, the interactive Gantt charts our team created can handle calculations for Westshore Terminals employees automatically. The intuitive nature of the tool has prompted discussions about additional capabilities we might be able to offer in the future.

Continuous Improvement Coupled With Risk Mitigation

As with any modern technology platform, the TMS will need to be enhanced as Westshore Terminals’ needs evolve. We ensured introducing new features won’t also introduce errors or application failures by automating testing in the Operations module. It means Westshore Terminals can continue to innovate with us more frequently, and with greater confidence.

Compliance With Labor Regulations And Maximized Productivity

As a unionized workforce, Westshore Terminals needed to ensure it can keep track of schedules while also adhering to well-established collective agreement rules. Our development of the workforce management tool will not only achieve those goals, but it will also let staff schedule shifts to replace each other as needed, ensuring work continues to get done.

Enterprise-Grade Security Based On Least Privilege Principles

The security module developed by our team allows Westshore Terminals employees to access the information they need — but only the information they need. Corporate data is protected via a permission-based login system based on roles or other criteria, for example. This approach gives Westshore Terminals’ leadership peace of mind that they can avoid any vulnerabilities or potential data breaches if, and when, the organization extends access to its systems to third parties of any kind.

Increased Visibility Into Business Performance — From Anywhere

While those on the front lines obviously need to make use of the TMS, others — including senior executives — can logon remotely through a secure virtual private network and stay abreast of all operational activity. This will allow Westshore Terminals to make critical decisions in real-time.

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