AISL to PPA: Use GoFast as container monitoring system

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  • The Association of International Shipping Lines is offering the use of its GoFast system as container registry and monitoring system
  • The establishment of a CRMS is being eyed by the Philippine Ports Authority
  • AISL president Patrick Ronas said GoFast may be expanded to operationalize full-cycle monitoring of container movements
  • Unlike the CRMS, GoFast system does not use “costly” container tagging devices but EDI messaging

The Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) is offering the use of its GoFast system in place of the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA)-proposed container registry and monitoring system (CRMS).

AISL president Patrick Ronas, in an interview with PortCalls, said the GoFast system is already in use by all but one member line and may be expanded or modified to fit CRMS requirements.

READ: PPA proposes import container monitoring system

PPA in June consulted the public on a proposal to establish a container tracking and tagging system for import containers, later calling the system CRMS. CRMS is designed to record all import containers passing in and out of terminals under PPA jurisdiction to provide real-time monitoring on the location, status and movement of containers—from their discharge from the terminal to their return to an empty depot and to the port for re-export.

The proposed system, according to PPA, aims to improve trade facilitation and address concerns with logistics efficiency and costs, including the long-standing issue of unreturned container deposits.

According to the plan presented during the June 15 public hearing, PPA will develop and procure the technology infrastructure and tracking devices or equipment solutions as well as other requirements to implement the system.

An administrative order providing guidelines for the proposed system–already approved by the PPA Board–will be issued this month, PPA Port Operations and Service Department manager Atty. Hiyasmin Delos Santos earlier told PortCalls. A public consultation on the order will be conducted afterwards.

READ: PPA to release order on container monitoring system this month

Introduced in 2015, GoFast is an online reservation and appointment system for empty container returns that interconnects stakeholders directly involved in the activity, including shipping lines, truckers, customs brokers, and depots. Aside from automating the return of empty containers, GoFast over the years has offered other functions that digitized some processes of shipping lines.

“AISL’s formal proposal to PPA will be based on the technical proposal for an expanded AISL GoFast electronic container monitoring system,” Ronas said.

GoFast features encompass electronic information on import shipments consigned to Philippine importers, import container monitoring, shipping line electronic delivery order, data interface with terminal operator webCRO (container release order), reservation for empty container return to off-dock container yard, and automated recording of container arrivals at off-dock container freight station after transfer from terminal (port of discharge).

GoFast processes an average 100,000 import containers in Manila South Harbor, Manila International Container Terminal, Cebu and Davao.

Ronas said GoFast may be expanded “as a digital platform that will operationalize the concept of full cycle monitoring of container movements from port of discharge until their return and loading onboard outbound vessel.”

“The GoFast system is robust and feature-filled. Only some modifications need to be added… one of them is to provide visibility to the PPA,” he noted.

Unlike the CRMS, Ronas said the GoFast system will not require the use of “costly container tagging devices” but will instead take advantage of existing industry container electronic data interchange (EDI) messaging.

GoFast’s import container monitoring system may be expanded to accept and process industry standard container EDI messages for discharge/load (COARRI) and gate-in/gate-out (CODECO).

“Information on containers and their movements [is] owned by shipping lines themselves. EDI messages will be directly transmitted to AISL GoFast expanded system,” Ronas explained. Containers are part of a ship’s gear.

He said EDI messaging will not affect movements in the terminal as there are no telematics that need to be physically attached prior to exit or be recovered prior to loading.

Another feature of the PPA-proposed CRMS—taking out container insurance from authorized insurance providers as an alternative to container deposit and container maintenance fees currently being levied by shipping lines—does not sit well with AISL.

Ronas explained demurrage and detention charges are set high precisely to encourage importers/consignees to promptly pick up their loaded containers at the port and promptly return empty containers to the carriers.  “If importers/consignees pay only a small premium, this could send the wrong signal to importers/consignees which will result in a slowdown in movement of loaded and empty containers. The slow movement of containers could impact on efficiency of port operations because of potential congestion that can be created, and at the same time deprive the carrier (of) the needed containers to the shipper/exporter, be it in the country or elsewhere,” he said.

As for container deposits, Ronas noted some carriers do not even require this from clients, adding its imposition is a business decision on the part of carriers. – Roumina Pablo