URAG is a leading German towage provider that was established in Bremen, Germany in 1890. Today, they operate a diversified fleet of 17 tugs in Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven, and Hamburg.
Before 2012, URAG used a software that was specially developed to fit their needs while operating in a joint venture. The company’s needs eventually became too demanding for the system, and it was no longer able to cope. URAG researched several different solutions that were popular in Europe at the time, but nothing fit their specific requirements. In 2013, URAG received a recommendation from a global leader in the towage market which ultimately drove them to choose Helm.
Burkhard Dietrich, the IT Manager at URAG, was part of the team responsible for implementing the software and ensuring its success within the organization. Burkhard reported that the switch in systems was better received by the crew than anticipated, and the controlling department was particularly impressed with the reporting features Helm offers. “There is so much data we can easily access and use to improve operations. When first utilized, I saw their eyes go wide and they said, “wow, this is possible!’” Additionally, Burkhard stated that using Helm has positively impacted performance by decreasing the time it takes to complete reporting and invoicing by approximately 30%.
“With Helm, we are able to send invoices on an hourly basis compared to a daily basis like on the old system. Before, we had to wait for the work day to end before we could hit the finish button and do our invoicing. Now we can do it whenever it fits our schedule.”
The largest benefit URAG has seen from using Helm is the unification of different work paths. Previously the company used different systems for work management, competitor management, reporting, and invoicing, but Helm integrates these all into one program. “Its far simpler to use one software that does it all”, Burkhard told us.
While the overall process of switching software systems has been successful, it wasn’t without challenges. The most prominent one was dealing with time zone differences. Bremerhaven is 9 hours ahead of Victoria, making communication between companies difficult.
After receiving this feedback, it was obvious that our company had to develop a long-term solution to tackle this problem. In February of this year we opened another office in The Netherlands to better serve our European customers. After our new office opened, Burkhard said, “we are so happy to have a team in Europe now. I can call them whenever I need to during the day right when a problem arises, and they are always ready to help”.