Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Deep Water Container Port Reveals Latest Box Location and Freight Status Tool

Customer Driven Evolution Means Retention of Functionality with Extra Data
Shipping News Feature
UK – DP World London Gateway, the Thames side deep water port, selected the first day of the Multimodal Exhibition to reveal the latest evolution of its 'Where's My Container' (WMC) tool, which is designed to assist customers ascertain the precise location and status of their freight in the easiest manner possible. DP World London Gateway MD and CEO, Chris Lewis, made the presentation to a large crowd gathered around the company's café stand to assure onlookers that the current functionality of the system remained, and was being further enhanced by the changes being introduced.

The principal aim is to ensure clients save money when planning the transport of their boxes by offering precise, real time data. Customers can now base their decisions on solid information without any need for speculation. Using digitisation which has worked well for DP World in other ports, the company is systematically allowing WMC to evolve, each stage being trialled prior to release. Now the company says it will be able to offer location, status and availability for every single container passing through both its London Gateway and Southampton facilities.

Chris Lewis was keen to emphasise this is no scrambled release of a new product and was aimed at offering a bonus for stakeholders right along the supply chain from the shipping lines through hauliers and even as far as retailers. More precise information in real time offers opportunities to cuts costs by eliminating wasted journeys and giving a chance for the collection of two containers by the same vehicle when released simultaneously.

The new version of WMC is being released in three phases, and only when each has been thoroughly tested. The main change which enquirers will notice initially is that they will now need to register to use it. The good news is that there is no need to pay anything.

Phase One is a Free to Air product offering a single portal for both of DP World’s main UK ports. It is available now and will offer all the relevant basic features, boxes sorted by port, container status etc. and with an improved display.

Phase Two is WMC Premium, this will have enhanced information messages and will be available to trial free of charge for 90 days sometime this summer. It will show data such as the date of VPS bookings, details of discharge from the ship, memorising of the client list showing each company’s container history. Alerts as to status can come via SMS or email and the price to be charged by subscription is yet to be decided. Much will depend on the trials of the system currently under way.

Phase Three is even more ambitious, currently referred to as WMC EDI and will feature improved and faster message flows featuring a two way interface which is capable of operating by directly linking into a customer’s SAP system. Due out in autumn 2018 full details will be revealed nearer the launch date, but altogether DP World is claiming savings of up to 2 days through the ability to better plan work flows.

Chris Lewis made plain that the shifting company ethos which has emanated from the UAE headquarters over the past year or so is very much in the minds of London Gateway management. DP World is now proclaiming itself a ‘logistics enabler’, the recent deal with Virgin Hyperloop launching Cargospeed being a case in point, and the Gateway management has moved from the position of a traditional UK port, in which the vessel operators were the only real concern, to that of a group with a unique position in the centre of the supply chain with liabilities and a duty of care to anyone having cause to deal with them. Chris Lewis summed up thus:

”These WMC changes have been prompted by customer feedback and aim to increase efficiency, reduce costs and open up new revenue streams for all concerned. From the vessel arriving, to the goods passing out of the port, everyone is welcome to the 90 day free trial. The new product can reduce congestion and cut the number of phone calls to our customer services staff, freeing them up for other duties.

”Customers drive our business, and efficient VPS is necessary to avoid congestion. We currently average 35 minutes turn round time for each truck, which carries a typical load of 1.6 TEU. That means an average time for each box of around just 20 minutes. We feel in the past ports like us focused on ship turn round time. The influx of larger vessels means landside activities have assumed more importance, therefore DP World is expanding its core reach into logistics.”