Last autumn various interest groups, ports and the business sector established standards for nautical port information. This milestone, which has been reached after a number of years intensive international collaboration, is, however, not the end, but rather the beginning. ‘We now have to press ahead. Not only with the worldwide rollout, but with the translation for implementation in other sectors as well.’
The standards have to bring uniformity in the terms and definitions that parties in the shipping industry and logistics apply. ‘That simplifies mutual exchange of data’, according to Andreas van der Wurff, Maersk Line, Husbandry Manager Northern Europe Region. ‘This will not only ensure a safer and more efficient chain, but it is also the only way to proceed in successfully digitising the process for freight transport. That is why it is so important that many more ports, shipping companies and other parties waste no time in embracing these standards. This should become the worldwide standard. Then everyone stands to gain.’
Pallet, box and container
The standards have been complied by the Port Call Optimisation Task Force (Shell, Maersk, MSC, CMA-CGM and the ports of Algeciras, Busan, Gothenburg, Houston, Rotterdam, Singapore and Ningbo Zhoushan), the International Harbour Masters' Association, United Kingdom Hydrographic Office and GS1. ‘This first series of standards are not aimed at the ‘wet’ side’, explains Jaco Voorspuij, senior manager Transport and Logistics at GS1. ‘They pertain to nautical terms that relate to vessels that sail in and out of ports. That is a really sound basis, which is already going to ensure great efficiency gains in the area of loading ships and ship-related services. The next step is that we discuss standards that pertain to the freight on board. This will enable us to integrate with the logistics world and their standards. This concerns terms like, for instance, shipment and consignment and how units such as a pallet, box and container are defined. At present, road transport, aviation and sea-going shipping all use their own terminology.’
From cargo to shelf
Voorspuij is positive about the progress made. ‘It is likely that the logistics definitions will be ready by end 2018. A great many parties are enthusiastic and cooperative, and appreciate the usefulness of these standards. 45 years ago GS1 was one of the first companies to introduce article identification by means of barcodes on products in the supermarket. It would certainly be wonderful if, in the foreseeable future, we can come up with a standard that enables us to monitor the entire logistics process from production right through to the product on the shelf. To achieve this, the logistics activities in the maritime sector and ports will have to be seamlessly connected to the logistics that have gone before and have yet to come. That applies both in physical terms and in terms of information exchange.’
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