Sea Technology

MAR 2017

The industry's recognized authority for design, engineering and application of equipment and services in the global ocean community

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www.sea-technology.com March 2017 / st 11 so, the amount of data that require processing during a port call should not be underestimated. Handling that increased amount of information in a relatively short space of time is stretching back ofce teams and, according to a recent survey, is beginning to affect front-line customer service. In- accurate invoices and late bills of lading are already being cited as unintended consequences of managing such large volumes of containers. To manage these issues, a carrier has a stark choice— employ more staff or introduce efciencies to its operations. Paper-thin margins generated by low freight rates tend to rule out an increase in headcount, and so owners are opting to build in a level of intelligent automation. Adapting to Meet Changing Needs Alongside handling the actual processing and transmis- sion of the data, automation allows for a necessary evolution in practice by reducing errors and omissions that inevitably creep in when manually processing such large quantities of information. Valuable validation protocols can also be built in; for example, good software will constantly be asking questions as data are exchanged. Questions such as: Is this my container; is this container really on my vessel; and does the bill of lading and booking information show the cor- rect freight and charges are vital if efciency and accuracy are to be achieved. The software can also generate prompts to ensure the terminal receives the required information on time—this prevents the unwanted penalties often awarded by terminals for late reporting. From a customer perspective, automation will also en- hance service levels and user experience. Linking the car- rier's in-house software with a self-service facility will offer customers up-to-the-minute visibility over their actual cargo movements. Technology can also be harnessed to deliver added-value services such as internet bookings, tracking and scheduling, as well as creating more transparency be- tween the operator, agent and user. Increasingly, these ser- vices are expected by today's more sophisticated customer. But it is not just the day-to-day operations that require so- phisticated IT solutions to remain viable. Canny carriers are utilizing IT to investigate and reduce costs in a number of areas; maintenance and repair being a good example. The average carrier-owned-container (COC) operator holds two to three times the number of boxes in relation to the on- board slots they have available. It is generally accepted that a value of around $1 per box per day is about right to cover all leasing, storage, repair and re-positioning costs. There- fore, a COC with a total carrying capacity of 10,000 slots (Top) Intelligent software gives full visibility throughout your business. (Bottom) A comprehensive work desk for a port agent.

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