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Issue 5 2015 - Freight Business Journal

///FREIGHT SOFTWARE GUIDE The hidden industry’s hidden industry

Association of Freight Soſtware Suppliers chairman, Gordon Tutt, liſts the lid on the freight industry to reveal the sophisticated soſtware that makes it tick.

When she hosted January’s BIFA Freight Service Awards held, renowned journalist and television presenter Naga Munchetty made reference to what little coverage there is of the freight forwarding industry in the national press and media. While the achievements

of the manufacturing and customer service industries and the contribution they make to the global economy are oſten mentioned, very little credit is given to the work of the freight industry which oſten is key in securing new business. The ability to store, transport and export goods in a costly and efficient manner is a vital element in enabling our manufacturers and exporters to meet the demands of their customers in both speed of delivery and cost. The other unsung element of

our industry is the soſtware and system providers, without which many of the processes and procedures could not operate effectively. There has been a continual

advance in the technology used by warehouse operators, forwarders, transporters and carriers over the last 45 years since the first systems were

widely introduced. Recently, there has been an explosion in the use of hand held devices, which initially started with bar code scanners and has progressed to the wider use of ruggedized devices commonly used on the shop floor and in ports and warehouses. I’m constantly amazed at the

scope and level of functionality that is now provided to both the operators in our industry and their customers. The ability to track the progress of goods and enable customers to know when delivery is completed in real time is now commonplace in many parts of the freight and logistics industry. Most systems and soſtware

developers have had decades of experience in handling the constant demands to make alterations to their systems, not only to meet legislative changes but enable their customers to operate more efficiently. The challenges continue

for the soſtware suppliers and further developments are already under way in order to meet the needs of their customers. The introduction of new Customs legislation in the EU is one area which will also require significant investment

by developers in order to meet the requirements set out in the Union Customs Code (UCC). Developments which impact

the trade (approximately 19 in total) will have to be managed closely and implemented within the timelines defined in the Multi Annual Strategic Plan (MASP). The latest revisions of the Implementing Acts and Delegated Acts which form part of the new UCC have not yet been adopted. The Commission has recently advised that there will be no vote on the Implementing Acts

in the Customs Code

Committee before the summer recess. So it is unlikely that they will appear in the Official Journal as regulations before late September at the earliest. The soſtware providers who

are involved in this area of the business are pro-actively monitoring the progress of the legislation and especially the details of the implementation of each part of the acts which will be introduced during a transition period. It will be vital to ensure that

any new development

is ready to be used by their customers in time for the start of each element of the transitional legislation. Any failure to meet these targets could severely

impact their customers’ operations. In the UK the community

service providers and soſtware suppliers are also starting to plan the changes to their systems in readiness for the transition from CHIEF to the new UK national customs system which is called the Customs Declaration Service (CDS). The CSPs and AFSS have been actively involved in a series of bi-lateral discussions with the CDS project team during the last 18 months. As the CDS project now moves into the next stage the CSPs and soſtware suppliers will now become involved in technical workshops. These will be organised by HMRC in order to plan in detail the development needed at the trade end of the system. There will need to be close collaboration between the CDS developers, CSPs and Soſtware providers at the various stages towards the move from CHIEF to the new CDS systems. AFSS members are also

actively involved in many other aspects of the freight, courier and logistics business. One area which has been covered in both the national and trade press is the difficulties faced by trade with declining numbers of HGV drivers in the UK. There

are also increased demands on transporters, couriers and distributors to reduce costs and use their resources, both man and machines, more effectively and efficiently. Some AFSS members

specialise in specific areas of the transport business. Their systems can provide utilities which help vehicle operators to plan their loads, maximise utilisation of their vehicle capacity and provide access to their systems by the driver in his cab using the latest mobile technology. Technology in the cab helps the driver identify potential delays en route to the delivery or collection and re schedule if necessary. This not only gives better utilisation of the vehicle but can help warehouse operators who are expecting the delivery or collection better plan their work schedule and maximise the use of their own resources. In principle, it should no

longer be necessary for

warehouse staff to waste time waiting for vehicle arrivals as they can be kept updated on the progress of the vehicle via the operators system. With an ever increasing

dependency on technology in the workplace (fixed or mobile)

Delays still the order of the day

Reading Gordon Tutt’s piece above, I was again struck by the unbelievable delays in implementing projects in Europe and the UK, writes former AFSS chairman, Ken Gower. My own role with AFSS started

some ten years ago and the two major agenda items at that time were the EU modernised Customs Code proposals and the replacement for CHIEF which was getting close to its perceived end of life. Aſter years of meetings, huge mountains of paper detailing

proposed procedures, business process models and the rest, we seem to have hardly moved forward. So why? Taking HMRC first, it is

undeniable that the department has lost some very good people but that does not really detract from the quality of the team still in place. However there have been

some critical decisions

that have gone badly wrong and perhaps it is fortunate that the CHIEF system has continued to perform extremely well considering its age. When it

was originally decided that the system needed replacement there were a number of other projects that were considered more urgent and understandably took precedence. It was finally decided to work with Cap Gemini to produce the solution which was to be CHIEF STE with a delivery date of 2012. For various reasons, that

contract was not fulfilled and with the government budget constraints placed on HMRC along with other departments, decisions were further delayed.

Because of the failure of other IT projects

linked to government

a number of constraints were placed on the procedures involved in placing orders, so the process became extremely slow. It looks like 2017 will be the likely delivery date for the new Customs declaration service - let’s hope that this will be achieved. With Europe’s MCC project, the

delays are mind-boggling - though given

the is perhaps not different member

states involved, each with their own agenda, it

surprising in some ways and the

original end date of June 2013 was always in doubt. The work and the expense involved leading up to that date and the fact that legal issues surrounding the Lisbon Treaty had not been foreseen makes the whole situation quite farcical. It would appear that the delays

are continuing, with the EU always proposing unrealistic timescales with dire warnings about non- adherence. To its credit, HMRC has always been blunt about the impracticalities but has received little support from member states.

On current timescales, it will be the 2020s before the whole Code will be in place. All of this of course added

to the workload on our own Customs department; on trade associations that are involved in endless meetings and discussions; on soſtware suppliers that have to devote time to consider and develop systems that may or may not be required. With these pressures on time

and money, is it really too much to ask that the EU joins the real world?

the risks associated with any disruption to that service become an important area to consider. It is therefore important that all systems have adequate provisions to make them secure from possible unauthorised access and malicious damage. There is also a need to provide disaster recovery options where possible. The design of systems which avoid unnecessary disruption to the operation in the event of any single point of failure is now essential. Many AFSS members can

give advice and guidance on the options that are available for both the security of their systems and the provision for continued operation of applications and systems in the event of external disruption. AFSS members have a wide

portfolio of systems, soſtware and services

designed to

help their customers remain competitive. They have many years’ experience in understanding the needs of the freight, transport and logistics industry and are preparing to provide solutions for the changes and challenges that the future will bring. A list of AFSS members can be found on

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