CHOOSING THE RIGHT DIGITAL STRATEGY
The very synesis of a Port Community System is that it should be a neutral and open platform enabling intelligent and secure exchange of information to improve the efficiency and competitive position of the port communities. Globally, Port Community Syste
The very synesis of a Port Community System is that it should be a neutral and open platform enabling intelligent and secure exchange of information to improve the efficiency and competitive position of the port communities. Globally, Port Community Systems are managed and maintained by operators who are neutral, independent, and a trusted third party.
About two years ago Ministry of Shipping approached ports and terminals for data on international transshipment of goods in India. It took two months for compilation of data from various ports. However, after creation of final MIS it was found that there was a mismatch of data in terms of the transshipment cargo volume provided by ports, terminals and shipping lines. The reason for the inconsistency was due to different methods of computing the data. It remains a challenge for the policy makers to gather reliable and consistent information about the trade for key policy decisions. Such situation could easily be avoided by implementation of PCS bringing in standardization in the industry. An effective MIS would lead to better analytics of situation, thus faster resolution of various inherent issues.
The PCS juggernaut
While PCS 1x or PCS+ is in progress, at the same time at institutional level most of the major stakeholders like shipping lines, ports, customs etc have their own proprietary web-based platforms for data/information exchange, and if we look in the context of import, a shipper has to visit 3-4 different portals of various agencies apart from physical visits before he finally takes delivery of cargo. Striking a balance is also a challenge for the success of PCS because it looks to bring in transparency but at the same time there are some strategic competitive information that companies might not like to disclose. Moreover, digitalisation has not reduced the cost for freight forwarders and spending per move has not come down for them. There is a need for digitalisation to move beyond data capturing to changing the way transaction is done. An ideal PCS should focus on incremental data and not just repetition of data.
Notably, industry veteran
during his tenure as President of AMTOI under the aegis of FILA mooted the idea of a port community platform. Clarifying the role and security aspect of PCS, Sailesh Bhatia, explained, “Even though each entity have their proprietary application but PCS doesn’t replicate it. PCS rather works like a PBX box which acts as a connector without it being able to listen to the conversation. In similar manner for a PCS to work doesn’t require it to store data, and it only provides the connectivity to share the information. Even in current structure all stakeholders are exchanging data between each other but that necessarily doesn’t mean capturing of information.”
Though there are apprehensions about information security on PCS, but industry leaders clarify that if it is workable in other countries, why not in India! Some of the good examples of port community systems in places like Rotterdam or Felixstowe, where a large ecosystem has integrated into the local platform to securely exchange their data in order to streamline their operations.
Connecting the dots
In the existing model due to existence of various portals, identical data is keyed multiple times into various platforms which adds