Home » Exclusives, Maritime, Ports/Terminals » GoFast feature involving empty containers online soon

The Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) is pushing for its member carriers to finally adopt its web-based reservation and appointment system for the return of empty containers in the next few weeks.

AISL general manager Atty. Maximino Cruz, in a text message to PortCalls, said pilot testing has already been done and “we hope to get it rolling soon.”

“There is now a groundswell to get it done,” he added.

An online reservation and appointment system for empty container returns, GoFast works by interconnecting all stakeholders directly involved in the activity, including shipping lines, truckers, customs brokers, and depots.

A system owned by AISL, GoFast was introduced in 2015 with some features gradually adopted and implemented by some AISL members. However, the empty return feature has not been fully implemented.

GoFast also features a web-based inventory system for off-dock container yards/container freight stations (CY/CFS) and the acceptance by terminal operators of GoFast-generated electronic delivery order as web-CRO (container release order). Other functions include digitizing some processes of shipping lines, including online payment of the administration fee for equipment insurance clearance.

Cruz said the empty return system “will do away with face-to-face interaction which usually breeds corrupt activities in the ground level.”

“The system promotes transparency and more importantly, it ensures predictability. I believe that this Web-based system is one of the more effective weapons in eliminating anomalies in the return of empty containers,” Cruz explained.

Truckers’ participation

In a letter to Department of Transportation officer-in-charge for maritime Fernando Juan Perez, Association of Concerned Truck Owners and Organizations (ACTOO) president Ricardo Papa said it is finalizing discussions with AISL and participating empty container depots on the operational mechanics and timetable for the pilot implementation of GoFast’s empty return feature.

Papa said ACTOO’s initiative is part of its commitment to support the continued efforts of government and industry stakeholders “to formulate and implement tangible solutions to system and process inefficiencies that plague our transport and logistics community.”

Perez, in response, welcomed ACTOO’s initiative and hopes “efficiencies undertaken will also translate in lowering down costs for the end user.”

Papa, in his letter, said GoFast’s features include an exclusive system access for truckers to electronically notify the designated container depot that the truck with the empty container is on its way, and the real-time information to the trucking company and shipping line that the empty container has been received by the depot.

Transparency, predictability

He noted that the system allows transparency as there will be a single source of information on the empty return process, such as what empty container will be returned, where to return it, what truck is transporting it, and when it is expected to arrive at the depot.

Papa said it will also provide predictability, and efficiency and cost savings as container depots can efficiently manage their yard operations and truckers can have a faster turnaround time, resulting in more trips for customers.

AISL’s Cruz said, “We are glad that ACTOO has recognized the benefits of the system to alleviate the plight of its truckers not to mention the open support” Transport undersecretary Perez.

Difficulties with empty container returns have been a long-standing issue for stakeholders as the Philippines, being an import driven country, has only one export container going out the country for every three import containers coming in, which results in many empty containers being left in the country. And while volumes of imports have grown, the number of container yards, specifically in Metro Manila, has gone down in the last few years. More empty depots have opened though since last year and a few more will open this year in response to demand.  – Roumina Pablo

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