Logistics Middle East
PLACING TECH AT THE HEART OF A NEW DECADE OF TRADE – HOW OMAN IS USING NEW DIGITAL SYSTEMS TO IMPROVE EFFICIENCIES FOR INTERNATIONAL FREIGHT FORWARDERS OLC executive director, Al Khattab Al Maani
The port of Salalah has also put in place new technology designed to enhance customer experience at its operations.”
OLC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AL KHATTAB
Technology is reshaping the way business operates across all sectors and regions. At the forefront is the Omani logistics sector where technology, in partnership with policy reform, continues to increase supply chain efficiency for freight forwarders.
In another major step towards leading logistics efficiency, Oman’s customs pre-clearance process Bayan, the GCC’s leading E-customs portal, has completed its second phase of integration with all government departments.
Whereas previously, importers and exporters were required to obtain certified, official documentation from relevant authorities prior to their Bayan applications, now all government departments and authorities are integrated on the platform.
This holistic ‘one-stop-shop’ for permit requests and fees payment is increasing efficiencies yet further - meaning no more trips to border control and no physical paperwork - just smooth online application, payment and approval.
As for physical inspections they’re fewer than ever before but, when absolutely necessary, border agencies and government departments now coordinate, acting simultaneously with a single shared inspection, further improving the customer experience and speed of process.
However, given Oman Customs’ advanced, intelligence-led approach to pre-screening, inspection rates are a region-leading 2.5% on average – even beating the EU’s four per cent average whilst maintaining comprehensive border security.
As a result, freight forwarders are now highly unlikely to lose time at check-points and are instead able to get goods to customers faster than ever before.
If the final destination for goods isn’t Oman, system improvements have enabled the creation of digitally-managed bonded corridors that will speed goods to their point of onward distribution, with customs clearance then taking place at the final destination.
The dry port currently under construction at the new Khazaen Economic City provides a further demonstration of Oman’s commitment to ensure the import and export of goods is as swift as possible.
Here goods will be able to be cleared by customs away from traditional ports of entry, reducing processing times further still and allowing shipments to be cleared adjacent to customers facilities.
Turning to other examples of how technology has improved operating efficiencies for freight forwarders, at Sohar Port and Free Zone an eroute planner, Sohar Navigate – the first of its kind in the region, provides a wealth of logistical information on available connections, optimising onward transit to over five hundred ports worldwide, both enhancing the user experience and their market access. Sohar has followed up with an App called ‘Ubi’, which users are already calling the ‘port in your pocket’ as it provides customers with greater visibility across port operations and shipment movements.
Ubi is able to process track and trace information enquiries for quayside, landside and gateway terminal operations for truckers, consignees and shippers.
Truckers, for example, can be informed through the Ubi app when their box is ready for collection.
They can pay using the platform, a process which removes the need to pay physically at in-port billing offices and saves time.
The app also includes a truck appointment system to streamline gate operations, reducing dwell time at the Sohar quay.
The port of Salalah has also put in place new technology that is designed to enhance customer experience at its operations. TradeLens, a new blockchain-enabled, auditable digital shipping platform developed by Maersk and IBM allows secure information sharing and collaboration across the international logistics ecosystem.
TradeLens participants currently include over 100 organisations including carriers, ports, terminal operators, third party logistics, and freight forwarders.
The platform tracks and handles 10 million events and more than 100,000 documents every week.
Similar progress is afoot in the air.
Oman Air SATS Cargo’s new Cargo Mobile App provides consignees and freight forwarders with a real-time capability to make bookings on the go, track and trace their shipments, receive notifications, perform online payments, view freight schedules and pick orders for examination and delivery.
The new system has already had a positive impact at Oman’s air freight hub at Muscat airport – increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction.
All in all, Oman’s technological renaissance throughout the logistics sector is simplifying business operations for freight forwarders – saving both valuable time and money across the board.
When this is combined with the fact that Oman offers faster access to regional and global markets than all GCC competitors, with two billion consumers within just five days journey by sea and three hours by air, it is unsurprising why an everincreasing number of international logistics companies are setting up shop in the Sultanate.