Monthly Archives: June 2017

Effective Shipping Business Management With Shipping Software Solutions

Over the years, the process of shipping goods has evolved in many ways. Cargo volumes have increased every year, vessels capacity has grown and the requirements for shipping companies to comply with regulations (i.e. Customs, IMO, etc.) have also increased steadily. Freight forwarders and shipping companies used to depend highly on manual labor throughout the entire shipping process – from packing, to warehousing, inventory, loading, transshipping, and discharging of consignments. Nowadays, much of these tasks have been automated, thanks to modern shipping software solutions which enable shipping companies maximize shipping efficiency.

Maritime software solutions have been developed for companies that provide cargo transport services. They are available off-the-shelf for Shipping companies like Bulk, Tank, Container, RoRo, and break bulk carriers. They are easy to use, can be customized for specific purposes, and can be integrated into existing platforms and applications. Once employed properly, integrated shipping software can provide significant cost benefits and higher level of operational efficiency.

Since no two shipping companies are alike when it comes to their software needs, shipping software companies develop different types of shipping software depending on their functions. Container management software centrally manages a global or regional container fleet and provides visibility on container stock, container expenses and facilitates the planning and forecasting of container stocks. It maximizes the use of a container fleet. It manages complex tasks, eliminates paper works, and provides real-time reports allowing operators to monitor transaction processes from start to finish.

Modern shipping companies use container tracking software to provide their clients visibility on the actual progress of the container transport process. It generates real-time data on the exact location of containers, and provides logs of exact time each shipment leaves the port and of its estimated time of arrival.

Voyage calculation software also known as voyage accounting software enables operators to have an early forecast on costs and income to expect from each port call and/or voyage. It calculates all costs involved including port costs, canal fees, and bunker costs. With these data, operators can proactively manage their cargo mix and simulate the contribution impact for different port rotations or vessel speeds. They can then choose the most cost-effective deployment and rotation of a vessel and avoid expensive and/or less-profitable ones.

To ensure quality customer service maritime software solutions eliminate problems prevalent in cargo shipping such as lost, stolen, or damaged shipments, tracking problems, delayed delivery, uncontrolled transaction costs, and many others. Proper use of these software solutions provides powerful and seamless results, and enables shipping companies to enhance productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

House Shipping Software Solution

Over the past two decades, automation of business processes has significantly increased in many industries including aviation, telecommunications, and banking. In shipping, automation has improved business efficiency by simplifying critical operations that require time and expertise. Nowadays, with increasing access to modern technology, it’s not unusual to find a small carrier using cheap off-the-shelf shipping software solutions to streamline and manage its core operations more efficiently. However, there are still quite a number of carriers who prefer bespoke IT systems despite the availability of much cheaper packaged solutions.

There are certain factors that motivate shipping business operators to develop their own IT systems in-house instead of buying cheaper off-the-shelf solutions. One of these is the advantage of having full control of the development processes which allows users to make specific improvements to the original platform as necessary. In addition, In-house platforms have been tailored to exact specifications, which is believed to deliver competitive advantage.

However, while bespoke systems offer full control of operation-specific features, they also require skilled IT staff and programmers to implement necessary upgrades. The fact that technology is rapidly changing means that IT platforms date and become unsupportable after a while. If a shipping business cannot keep up with the pace of change, it will find itself stuck with an obsolete technology which cannot support newer IT platforms. In addition, investing in a customized platform to automate only a single segment of shipping operation (e.g. a single segment of a terminal), is not worth the cost of the investment, which is significantly higher than buying off-the-shelf shipping software which can be customized to carry out various functions.

The following are some of the most prominent benefits of using off-the-shelf or packaged shipping software:

1. Price. Buying packaged software is calculated to be 10 to 50 times cheaper compared to developing an in-house IT system.

2. Flexibility. Modern packaged shipping software incorporate built-in switching options which allows operators to customize application to perform various tasks without doing any expensive reprogramming.

3. Upgrade options – Packaged software provides upgrade solutions to keep pace with fast changes in technology to make sure that users are always working from tried and tested, up-to-date, and well-supported platforms.

4. Guarantee. Customized or in-house systems do not offer test-runs prior to installation, and the end-product is not revealed until it has been delivered. Off-the-shelf solution allows you to use a system for a certain period to see if it delivers what you expect before you actually buy and install it into your existing IT infrastructure.

5. Efficiency. Packaged solutions are more cost-effective, require less resources, and deliver long-term solutions that can be customized to handle specific requirements of a shipping business.

While off-the-shelf shipping software offer a lot more benefits both in cost of investment and scope of features, accessibility to technology has significantly increased the number of software developers in the marketplace, many of which are not reputable. Carriers should be careful in choosing a supplier by checking their capability, reliability, and financial stability. After all, it’s not wise to buy from a company who’s not going to be around after two or three years, leaving you without support in a case of system failure.

Overcome Shipping Obstacles With Reliable Shipping Software Solutions

The shipping industry is one of the most valuable and rapidly growing industries in the international business field today. without over-the-sea trading, economies will deteriorate because businesses will have very limited options to import and export goods to other countries.

Virtually all activities performed in the liner industry involve significant labor costs and time critical processes. As global trade rises, the pressure on shipping companies also increases. The demand for better customer service delivery and industry excellence keeps growing, and changes need to be made in order to sustain reliability of operations. This is the primary reason why shipping companies need to adopt modern sea freight technology and use cutting-edge shipping software solutions.

There are many areas of the shipping business that can be refined with the utilization of shipping software solutions. Principals, agents, feeder or short sea business, NVOCCs, and terminal and port operators – all parties involved in the shipping process can benefit from adopting modern shipping technology that offers software integrity and user-friendly features.

Software suites such as LIMA enables principals to combine full business functionality with a Windows-standard and easy-to-use interface for management and staff members. This line management software application addresses and resolves problems in schedule management, voyage management, CRM, cost management, equipment handling, accounting and data management.

Agents can take advantage of agency suites such as ALFA to streamline processes for sales and marketing, tariff/quotation/contract management, bookings, B/Ls, manifests, invoicing, dangerous goods handling, voyage account, Intermodal, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). With a software application such as ALFA, redundancies are eliminated and work flow is optimized.

For feeder and short sea business, applications such as FAST offer solutions for enhanced booking process, sophisticated invoicing, complex tariff and cost management, and direct linkage to customers and partners to accommodate short transit times and avoid delays in the communication chain.

Software application suites designed specifically for NVOCCs like LIMA NVO provides the vehicle for either regional or global non-vessel operating common carrier businesses to gain competitive edge. Companies have a flexible and scalable software solution to control and monitor all business activities with complete visibility which results in improved staff productivity, tighter rein over contribution margins and revenue, reduced expenses and built-in best practices for enhanced customer service level.

Most shipping software today include applications for improving terminal operations. Terminal management software was developed in order to simultaneously and efficiently handle containerized, RoRo and general cargo for multiple shipping firms. With the use of a reliable terminal management system, operators are rest assured to run their business free from irregularities and hassles, and be able to communicate with agents and shipping firms in an entirely organized manner.

Guidelines For Choosing the Right Shipping Software Solution

In the shipping industry, choosing a software solution is a crucial undertaking for long-term business growth and sustainability. It is therefore important for shipping companies to maneuver through the selection process with knowledge that not all shipping software vendors offer solutions that could address all their operational concerns.

In order to find the best software, shipping business leaders must always remember that acquiring new information technology should not just reduce costs but also assist the progress of processes to improve efficiency and gain significant business advantage. They must perform the following proactively when selecting the right shipping software solution:

Gather data. Choosing enterprise software solutions that do not meet a company’s operational requirements is a waste of time and resources. It is important to identify key issues prior to starting the selection process.

Develop a list of software requirements. This should be performed in order to find out which requirements solution providers respond to. Only then can a vendor short list be created to determine the candidates.

Request for information and prepare a proposal. Buying enterprise solutions demands scrutiny, piloting and comparison with other similar solutions. A collection of data from different departments of the company should be obtained. The information gathered should clearly define employee responsibilities, business processes, data and work flow for the vendors to identify which areas of operation the software solution is greatly and least advantageous to.

A proposal from the shipping company should be prepared to provide an orderly and sensible view of the business’ environment and ideals for automating vital business processes.

Create scripted scenarios. Conventional strategies for evaluating software have become insufficient for complex integrated systems. Scripted scenarios can be used by companies to help them with software selection. In a scripted scenario, businesses can present a unique challenge that they want to be addressed and resolved. Creating these scenarios provides the opportunity for the company to express their vision for their operational environment following the new software’s implementation.

Have the vendor perform a detailed demonstration. Companies should have vendors arrange a detailed product demonstration using the organization’s scenarios as basis. This should be done in order to avoid the vendor from running the demonstration freely and overlook vital issues that need to be addressed. Evaluating the software can be relatively simple if the software provider will perform a concise demonstration of their solution.

Choosing the most beneficial shipping software solution for liner businesses takes thorough analysis and proactive decision-making. Enterprise solutions can be extremely costly and companies do not want to waste both time and resources in implementing software applications that would fail. It helps businesses tremendously to utilize a system for evaluating and measuring software capabilities.