Port Community System – the ABCs of a digital nautical revolution

Port Community System – the ABCs of a digital nautical revolution

Cloud computing, the new moon of the digital revolution, is slowly but eventually sweeping the Logistics industry off in a technological tide. Port Community System, the centralised electronic platform for trade transactions is reviving the deep waters of maritime trade, and global logistics has caught the wave to re-write its business equations. The e-platform intended to integrate the multiple stakeholders in a vast seaport area unifies the heterogeneous congregation of portal communities. Ports are major informational hubs that inter-connect supply chains globally and are composed of a varying group of public and private companies.

Serving as the bottleneck in the transport chain, they are the logical nucleus of an intricate web that encompasses all bodies involved with the trade. Port Community System serves an entity that delivers information to supply chains which operate in a port and is woven around the unique characteristics of the port and the stakeholders who are involved in the development of that particular port system.

Participants like shipping lines/agents, terminal operators, forwarders, enforcement bodies, importers, exporters, warehouse operators, etc are brought together in the process of transaction, record keeping and information sharing, intended to improve workflow. The heterogeneous community of organisations, though varying in functions, relies on each other’s information for effective operation. Port Community System seamlessly integrates these port communities to streamline the workflow and achieve competency on a global platform.

The W’s & H of PCS – Role & functioning

Designed as a modular system that provides specific tools to various sectors within a port community, Port Community System ensures a tightly integrated logistics process. The electronic platform not only links operational and administrative procedures but optimises, and automates the logistics processes as well. The community system is designed for, and by, the port users. Every port has its own Port Community System that is customized according to the workflow of that particular port and addresses its specific requirements. They vary in technical as well as functional design and operation as some are designed for specific ports while others offer generic solutions.

Port Community System coordinates the activities of firms in the port’s transport network and integrates the exchange of information between various port agents. Each stakeholder can send information to a central system, which can be retrieved by other stakeholders who have access to that particular information. This integrated platform covers a vast and multifarious domain of trade and logistics including road/rail transportation, voyage processing, maritime statistics, waste reporting, transshipments, Public domain tracking facilities, etc. To sum up, a Port Community System:

  • Enables intelligent and secure data transfer between the port and the customers as well as with all public and private stakeholders.
  • Develops and Implements protocols for processes and messages with the port community.
  • Systematically derives information from stakeholders, cutting down on re-entries, errors and processing costs.
  • Centralizes the whole portal community and information.
  • Provides transparency and real-time information to facilitate tracing and tracking of cargo.
  • Helps to clean-up the system by detecting inefficiencies or security breaches

Benefits of an integrated portal

Port Community System remains as a neutral and reliable entity that simplifies the transaction and workflow of a port and catapult it to global competency by implementing a one-stop-shop for information exchange. Port Community System facilitates the more proficient movement of goods while letting the customs and the other government departments to exercise effective controls.

Port Community System reduces redundant procedures and saves on clearance time by gathering information once and permitting controlled access to it by the members of the port community. By channeling the information effectively through the different sectors, the Port Community System oils the smooth flow of goods across the supply chains, create transparency and reduce functional complications.

With the information readily available for the participants, the time required to release cargoes is also reduced. There is no wastage of efforts as duplication of entry and storage of data is limited to a minimum. Less paperwork facilitates easy import-export procedures and reduces risks at the customs clearance, loading and discharging, and in the dispatch and delivery of cargo in and out of the terminal. PCS takes care of the technical architecture in a port community, processing message exchanging between stakeholders and centralizing all community information. It plays a major role in risk assessment, fencing the entire process through electronic data.

The electronic platform provides a competitive edge to a port as it serves as a determinant in the value-added services the port offers to the supply chains, like safe and secure transactions, risk management, integrated supply networks, easy and efficient EDI information exchange, etc. Port Community System is the fuel that smoothens working of a port from cargo transfer, tracking and tracing, status information, e-data concerning all import-export cargo, handling, and deliverance of dangerous goods, etc. While in smaller ports a Port Community System functions as a continuation of an existing system offering company-specific tools, in larger ports, they play a neutral role as an information broker.

One of the major benefits of such an electronic, standardized platform is the reusability of the delivered data. This facilitates greater efficiency, lower costs, better service provision & planning, swifter turnaround times, reduced errors, optimal re-use of information and 24/7 availability. The concept of single submission of data is the highlight of the International Trade Single Windows. One of the key factors of an effective PCS is that unlike most government Single Windows, it provides Business-to-Business information exchange. The introduction of Port Community System has not only enabled data transfer but also the single submission of data for multiple uses in the Business-to-Business area of port operations.

Re-defining future frontiers

Recognizing a need for a more structured, effective and meticulous communication in a community network, ports worldwide have invested in unique bespoke Port Community Systems to integrate the port authority, customs, cargo owners and carriers. The success of a Port Community System depends on the sense of harmony between the community members, where they accept a common action plan and work together to attain the required progress.

Throughout its introduction and growth, Port Community System has continuously adapted to the needs of a complex supply system and the changing national and global trade scenarios. There is a higher quotient of efficiency and fast processing that benefits all members who are involved, including the Government as well as the trade, transport and logistics communities.

The future of Port Community System is sure to witness the linking of port community platforms on a more global basis. With global ports initiating a welcoming move towards the Single Window system, Port Community System will see its boundaries broadened and roles revised.