IMP streamlines processes

The DAKOSY Import Message Platform (IMP) makes it possible: in future, those involved in the transport chain in the Port of Hamburg will be kept better informed, more quickly.

It’s Monday morning in the Port of Hamburg: the import containers unloaded over the weekend are to be transported as quickly as possible to the hinterland – the recipients are already waiting for them. But the forwarder still has to send all the documentation to customs and wait for its approval. And of course they’re not the only company that has to submit documents. The customs staff are overwhelmed with queries and cannot possibly process everything at the same time. In this scenario, everyone starts the week off on the wrong foot.


Therefore, the Port of Hamburg community has set up an electronic platform that allows anyone involved in the transport chain to feed in information and thereby gain authorisation to access information from the platform that concerns their own transport. This new platform is known as the Import Message Platform (IMP). This system, whose development was accelerated by HHLA, enables all participants in the import process to obtain status updates about their transport activities in good time, thus enabling them to plan ahead more effectively.  Carriers provide manifests, forwarders provide dispositions and report which mode of transport is required in the hinterland, customs and the authorities can report approvals, and hauliers and rail companies can receive information about the latest container transport status.


IMP shows the latest status for goods

The idea behind IMP is that everyone is kept informed and can find out the latest status of their goods as quickly as possible. Those involved exchange information automatically, which streamlines processes. The logistics chain works. Rail transport companies, for example, can reassign space on a train if it becomes clear that a container shipment has been delayed, thus ensuring that the train still leaves the port full. If the terminal is already aware before the ship arrives which mode of transport will be required in the hinterland and when, this can optimise the use of the space available.


Customs notifications outside of office hours

If a ship is unloaded over the weekend, however, the customs notification cannot be processed immediately since forwarders don’t generally work at the weekend. The new Auto-IMP function provides help. The new system means that it is now possible to have customs notifications confirmed automatically even outside of office hours. Forwarders log the customs notification in the Atlas customs processing system even before the ship arrives. This constitutes the basis for the summary report, in other words the goods-specific declaration. If the container is unloaded, the process is also automatically confirmed for customs, who then complete the process and give approval. When the logistics manager arrives in the office on Monday morning, he or she is then able to order the container truck straight away. However, it must be noted that customs do not automatically approve every shipment immediately. “Sometimes we need to see a document, an invoice or transport information,” says customs official Susanne Thieme. “These are generally provided by the relevant companies via email,” she adds. However, this can only happen once the person in question knows that the document is required – i.e. maybe not until next morning or at the start of the working week. That is why there are plans to facilitate the uploading of documents so that companies can store the relevant transport documents on the platform in encrypted form. If customs require one of these documents, they can access them round the clock “without anyone actually having to be sitting at their computer at the other end,” says Ms Thieme.


“Everyone benefits from this platform”

When providing customs notification, the forwarder then only has to give a reference number. To the customs official, this indicates the availability of documents to which he or she can refer at any time in order to provide subsequent approval a. The data is encrypted so that only customs officials may access it. One major advantage for forwarders is that they can dispatch the heavy goods vehicle a few hours earlier on a Monday morning.
“Everyone benefits from this platform,” says Dirk Gladiator, who is responsible for the IT service provider DAKOSY’s Port Communication Services department. All shipping companies and port terminals are now hooked up and ready to go, and soon all the authorities concerned with imports will also be connected. This constitutes the basis for forwarders to benefit from the information as well, “thus making the platform a private cloud for the Port of Hamburg,” Mr Gladiator adds. According to rough estimates, around a quarter of forwarders are already working with the platform, with others expected to join their ranks by the end of the year. Large companies integrate the data pool into their own systems via interfaces, while small and medium-sized companies can access it by using a Web app. As Mr Gladiator says: “All you need to be able to access the platform is an Internet connection.”
(Author: Nicole de Jong)

IT service provider DAKOSY was founded in 1982 as a data communication system for the Port of Hamburg. The company developed the Import Message Platform (IMP) in partnership with the Port of Hamburg, including HHLA.