Port community system initiative gets a push

By: Rob McKay

Willingness of technology providers to explore possibilities seen as a boon

Port community system initiative gets a push
Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) director Neil Chambers.


The national port community system (NPCS) concept gained impetus following a Fremantle Ports-led workshop in Sydney, according to attendees.

The initiative aimed at streamlining supply chains and boosting trade efficiency in the container port interface supported by IT has been a point of discussion in one form or another for a number of years.

Observers say the constructive involvement of a number of technology providers, including 1-Stop, Containerchain, WiseTech Global (Cargowise), and Hi-Tech Freight Solutions was marked by an increased willingness to explore opportunities to share data, perhaps through a central repository.

Fremantle Ports logistics manager Doug Brindal says the meeting’s outcomes were very encouraging and provided a foundation for progress.

"Existing technology providers have been very good at adopting a ‘bottom-up’ approach to addressing the information needs of the container logistics chain," Brindal says.

"Sure, there are existing gaps, but all of the providers have product expansion plans and opportunities and Australia’s Customs electronic interface is world class.

"The difference in this discussion was that each of the technology providers and supply chain participants supported the need for better data exchange between systems and platforms."

Fremantle Ports, which is making much of the running supported by National ICT Australia on the concept, is summarising the outcomes of the workshop and is looking to progress the agenda early in the New Year.

Brindal says using a workshop facilitated by this latest push container services new start-up Container Transport Alliance Australia and involving a smaller number participants allowed discussions to be more "free-flowing" than might have been the case with a formal conference.

"Bringing like-minded people together who are willing to explore opportunities to provide a better service to the container transport chain was critical to improving efficiency and maintaining ongoing reform," CTAA director Neil Chambers observes.

"All of the workshop participants appreciated the need for each company to maintain their individual competitiveness, but brought a willingness to see the bigger picture, and to discuss real and practical solutions.

"I think the real step change here is the seeming willingness of the stakeholders to explore a structure, perhaps in the form of a national not-for-profit entity, to exchange necessary ‘event’ data between technology providers and thereafter to participants in the supply chain.

"The trick will be to do this in a manner that avoids competitive tensions, maintains data ownership and confidentiality, and allows commercial innovation to thrive.

"If that can be achieved, we’d make a huge contribution to completing the integration ‘pie’ and reducing data servicing and re-keying costs."

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