For more than 90 years, Damen Shipyards has been at the forefront of maritime innovation. In the last century, Damen revolutionized shipbuilding with standardization and serial production. Today, it’s working to become the most sustainable and connected shipbuilder on the planet. Damen’s forward-looking IT team continues to embrace new digital tools—from 3D modeling software that’s revolutionized the way it engineers its vessels, to an IoT platform that helps ship captains sail more efficient routes, reduce fuel consumption, and predict when maintenance is required, before it leads to costly disruptions.
A few years ago, Damen began planning a complete revamp of its backend IT landscape as it prepared for digital transformation. Many of its systems, management realized, were too old and sluggish to support its new data-driven way of working. The company focused its attention on its digital assets first: including a brand-new ERP; and new platforms to drive vessel engineering, employee experience, sales, and customer service. To make these systems interoperable, and dialed into a common source of data, IT leaders knew they needed more robust integration, too.
“All our integrations had to be rebuilt,” says Kruithof, Damen’s product owner for integration. “So we brought the team together and began searching for the technology to help.”
Topping the list, according to Kruithof, was webMethods from Software AG, the industry-leading hybrid integration solution. Like a lot companies buying new, cloud-based solutions, many of Damen’s older digital assets were located on physical servers scattered across dozens of locations. webMethods’ ability to connect this siloed blend of on-premises systems and cloud-based apps through its hybrid Integration Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) was, therefore, essential.
With more than 600 integration connectors, webMethods’ agile microservices-backed architecture is compatible with most leading applications. So all the benefits of simple integration started rolling in.
Damen’s first webMethods-supported project, in late 2021, was the creation of a new version of myDamen, a portal where customers order replacement parts for their vessels. This required building complex integrations to Salesforce which were notoriously tricky. But with a dedicated expert provided by Software AG, webMethods soon proved to be a game changer. For customers it means faster service and less vessel downtime. For Damen it means fewer errors, lower inventory costs and higher customer satisfaction. Now, thanks to the webMethods’ connector for Salesforce, the integration team is developing complex integrations in a couple of days instead of weeks—and the company can enjoy all the business possibilities that brings.
“I won’t pretend this transformation was always easy,” says Kruithof, “but Software AG rose to the challenge. Their teams completely aligned themselves with our objectives, and we worked incredibly hard together to make our transformation happen. I’ve never worked so closely with a partner before, but it made all the difference. Our issues are fixed, we have a stable platform and we’ve gone from one integration taking as long as 1300 hours to being able to develop 120 integrations in just 18 months. And we’re getting faster all the time!”
Encouraged by this success, Damen turned to even bigger projects. Integration staff are now using webMethods to implement three major IT rollouts: a new engineering platform powered by Dassault, an employee experience portal powered by Workday, and a full ERP migration to SAP. webMethods has helped create hybrid integrations whereby new employee data entered into Workday is immediately available across a wide range of cloud and on-premises ERP systems in the company’s different divisions, which means it’s now easier than ever to onboard employees, get them productive, and maximize their value to the company.
APIs are becoming more and more important for Damen, and the company is making full use of webMethods API Gateway to keep their data and applications safe from external threats. “We have more and more exposed APIs,” says Kruithof. “Working with Software AG is helping us test and improve our security, and we’re looking to enable our people to create their own one click deployments so they can create and manage their own integrations without putting our data at risk.”
“People think integration is simple, but it isn’t,” says Kruithof. “Software AG gets that. They’ve worked with us to help develop best practices, working closely with our Customer Success Manager. We realized that the process starts with clear objectives and smart organization—and is a true team effort.”
The success of all this effort speaks for itself. Those 120 new integrations have resulted in just 78 IT support tickets in the last year – and most of those were a result of poor-quality data input. “That’s a huge achievement,” says Kruithof. “And it shows how all our integrations have reliability and security baked in.”