Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Port Survey Studies Freight And Container Management Systems

IAPH Looks at Standard Benchmark Requirements
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – At last months 27th World Ports Conference in Busan, Korea the results of a study commissioned by the International Association of Ports & Harbors (IAPH), the Tokyo based association which includes 230 ports in 90 countries among its members, into Port Community Systems (PCS) were released. A PCS is the system employed by a port to manage a standardised logistics procedure appertaining to the movement and documentation of general freight and shipping containers from first booking through to end of contract.

The survey, undertaken by the IAPH Trade Facilitation & PCS Committee, chaired by Frédéric Dagnet from the Marseille-Fos Port Authority, utilised the services of various experts including Dominique Lebreton of MGI, France, Bert Cappuyns, Portic, Spain, Olivier Jean-Degauchy, Soget, France and Ole Krebs from MCP UK, all four specialists in port management IT and PCS technology and operation, plus Jérôme Besancenot from the Le Havre Port Authority.

The study was based on a questionnaire that covered the following topics: services and procedures offered by the individual PCS, business model, technology, security, change management, legal framework, benefits, lessons learned and future plans and the Committee selected thirteen Port Community Systems for analysis from across the globe to be investigated in depth for comparison in order to establish both benefits and shortcomings of the various systems.

As technology moves forward it is of the utmost importance that ports employ the most efficient management systems simply to remain competitive and the implementation of PCS is a huge organizational change within port communities. Often local regulations demand that PCS become mandatory where the system has strong interaction with public bodies.

The survey showed that respondents are predominantly moving with Internet technology and that Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is an important element to the productivity improvement within the port community. High level security measures have been implemented across all PCS, differentiating between protection of commercially sensitive data amongst the various stakeholders and general intrusion protection. Track and trace for goods outside the port community has been addressed on a limited basis.

The most frequent services offered by PCS are related to Terminal control (gate-in/ gate-out) and reporting on container status changes. Almost all PCS had incorporated specific services to cover rail and/ or barge traffic. A recent trend in PCS service offering is to include a growing number of web services, to cover specific client requirement or information needs and PCS are widely being used by Customs and Port Authorities, Freight Forwarders, Shipping Lines and Agents, Terminal Operators and Customs Brokers with most PCS not outsourcing their technology development or their data centre and telecoms operations with data stored mostly in the private sector.

Utilisation of a well designed PCS offers significant improvements for users judging by respondents’ answers. The main benefits declared during the interviews are based on the improvement of the quality and real-time exchange of information with the reduction of paper being a secondary advantage. PCS employment meant a real improvement in the logistics flow through the port with some respondents revealing reduced port administrative costs due to ease of accessing information. This meant improved transparency enabling users to know precisely the anticipated release and arrival times of consignments. From a financial perspective, some PCS operators emphasized the necessity to evaluate really accurately all potential costs to ensure a successful transition and employment.

The most common proposal for future developments was the enlargement of the scope of the PCS and providing services to stakeholders who were not users. According to Dominique Lebreton, MGI’s AP & Project Manager:

“This survey demonstrated that one of the key factor of success was the implementation of a real Public Private Partnership (PPP) all through the project. Indeed, companies running the PCS are wonderful organizational vectors to bring together logistics professionals and administrations such as Customs and Port Authorities. Logistics players’ expectations are on the implementation of the system based on internet technologies as well as on standardized procedures. We noticed that projects on the implementation of PCS were mainly based on the requirement for organizational innovation.”

Photo:- The Hakata Port International Terminal one of the thirteen respondents studied in the survey.