On 6th March 1969, the Encounter Bay, the then-largest container ship in the world, set sail on a transcontinental voyage that would change the face of world trade forever. Her exploits across the seven seas paved the way for ‘sea change’ in navigation, prompting shipbuilders to reimagine and innovate. In just 50 years, the capacity of modern containers rose to more than 14 times that of the Encounter, with ships of up to 24,000 TWE capacity ruling the high seas today.     

The current state of Port Management 

While this illustration may project the massive volumes that are the everyday norm in international maritime traffic, the rather mundane management solutions employed by some of the world’s busiest ports do not mirror the stir in the industry; with the majority of ports worldwide classified as Tier 2 and 3 – where operations are primarily manual and modern equipment and resources are slow to come, making these government-owned ports sluggish and stagnant. In an industry like transportation, businesses toil to improve efficiency, even if only by an iota, as they recognize how far it may go in giving them the edge, putting them in the best position to have their competition by the hip. In other words, improved efficiency in maritime transportation translates to immediate positive transformation in the global economy.   

While improved turnaround time and efficiency as a payoff of greater automation seem quid pro quo, it is also crucial in optimizing safety and security. With the current traffic and competition in maritime trade today, port executives must work infallibly to ensure smooth function; slight errors from the employees can lead to a slew of issues, like stalling and even severe accidents owing to carelessness and mismanagement. Therefore, it is as clear as day that apart from infrastructural development, the development of the IT resources and improved automation holds the key to accelerating progress and boosting revenue.   

In an ever-changing environment, which involves operations from various corners of the globe, all with individual maritime policies and regulations, manual management and administration will continue to become more complex with every passing year.  

The power of the Maritime Single Window  

This problem could be resolved if port management were empowered by IT with end-to-end visibility for mariners, improved transparency, and data sourcing through IoT and RFID. Yet, the most tactile feature would be streamlining complex procedures (compliance, safety, etc.) by connecting all the governing agencies and offices through one portal. In addition, it must account for the differences in policies and rules of various countries mandated by the governments of the user.   

Enter the Maritime Single Window (MSW), the portal that makes cross-border trade simpler and marine logistics chains more streamlined, mandated by the IMO in 2019, and yet to see marked adoption rates worldwide. The myopic view of many ports fails to see the harmonization of vessel reporting obligations possible with it and the customs process solutions. We can link the governments involved in direct trade electronically for the first time, providing tangible cost savings for businesses and the government. And for governments, it is easier to check and eliminate corruption by improving methods to counter dishonest practices and reducing discretionary decisions by simply automating them.   

The benefits they offer to both traders and port managers are myriad and can be listed as follows:  

For traders  

  • Single submission – With suitable national registration, companies must enter the required information once rather than submit paperwork at every stopover.   
  • MSW can take over the clearance procedures as they are facilitators of complete and accurate data to said cross-border agencies.  
  • It can win maritime traders higher credit scores from banks, improving their financial positions.  
  • More efficient logistics: Companies can get cheaper logistics and transport services because MSWs facilitate services connecting transport and logistics chains.   
  • Reduced business transaction costs: Companies can interact with the standard import and export service ecosystem with lower prices and higher efficiency with an MSW. This may reduce the recruitment needs of companies within their international trade staff, thus saving human resources and management costs.  

For Ports & Regulatory Agencies   

  • Connectivity, simplification, standardization, automation, and increased reliability of information exchange and data reuse  
  • Ease of transactions resulting in lower transaction costs.   
  • Facilitation of G2B status information.   
  • Improvement of port logistics.   

Future-proofed shipping  

The verdict has to be that MSW is the future of port management and logistics; it galvanizes and bullet-proofs shipping for all parties. It is ever scalable and can be reproduced over multiple ports and their terminals. And while their adoption is straightforward, stakeholders must carefully modify their business strategies to stay clinical amid the changes brought within the system. When implementing the single window system, care must be taken to maintain the legacy systems, information flows, and processes to create a viable trade ecosystem that benefits all parties equally.  

If you wish to transform your maritime business and desire a trustworthy partner in doing so, browse the Experion website to read about xPort, our pioneering MSW solution.