Innovation gives container logistics a boost

New one-stop electronic system that lets firms in sector exchange information among moves to digitalise industry

An electronic system that aims to link up all container logistics firms on a single platform was launched yesterday, the latest in an ongoing campaign to digitalise the industry.

The Electronic Container Trucking System will allow container logistics players - trucking firms, drivers, ports and container depots - to communicate and coordinate information using a mobile application.

This will help save time and improve efficiency, given that those in the industry now use a number of disparate systems and devices, from mobile phones to walkie-talkies, to exchange information.

The system, which was developed by the Container Depot Association (Singapore) (CDAS) and Spring Singapore, will also employ geofencing technology to modernise depot operations, such as notifying container depot operators of incoming truck arrivals so that they can begin on the registration and clearance in advance. That will reduce turnaround time and ease traffic congestion.

CDAS president Sharafdeen Abdul Rasak said the new platform will help streamline trucking and depot processes. It will also reduce depot queue times by 30 per cent while potentially increasing each driver's daily delivery volume by 20 per cent.

"In future, this platform could host applications that fuel innovative business models like job sharing, and be connected to other industry systems to form the basis of a national digital infrastructure," he added.

The Electronic Container Trucking System will allow trucking firms, drivers, ports and container depots to communicate and coordinate information using a mobile application. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Spring expects about 200 container trucking firms or 1,500 vehicles to benefit from the new platform.

Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), who spoke at the biennial Logistics and Transportation Conference yesterday, said Singapore "must keep pushing the boundaries of innovation and productivity", especially in the face of new economic realities, which include an uncertain global economic outlook.

"There is room for our domestic logistics sector to achieve higher productivity, even in traditional areas such as the container depot and manufacturing industries," he added.

"We can harness the latest technologies, standards and skills to work smarter - to achieve more with less," Mr Iswaran said.

The two-day conference was held at the Furama City Centre and will come to a close today.

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation Standards Development Organisation and Spring also launched a technical reference yesterday that aims to improve operational efficiency and safety within container depots.

The technical reference, known as TR53:2016, provides guidelines for the 13 container depot operators managing empty container storage in more than 20 locations in Singapore, such as Tanjong Penjuru, Penjuru Close and Tuas Avenue.

It aims to standardise process flows and delivery information to boost efficiency in managing the return and collection of empty containers at container depots, which, in turn, will translate to faster turnaround time and more trips for container trucking operators.

The container depots handle about 15 per cent of Singapore's container throughput, which stood at more than 30 million standard units last year, and is projected to grow as port capacity expands.

Singapore Customs director-general Ho Chee Pong, who was part of a panel discussion at the conference yesterday, said smart logistics is the way to go for Singapore to stay ahead of competition.

"There's only so much more competitiveness you can squeeze out of hard assets.

"With global competition and our rising cost structure, we need a game-changer and an enabler that allows us to command that premium, or at least to stay in the game," said Mr Ho. He added that he believes the industry in Singapore is well-positioned to push for such change, given the country's Smart Nation ambitions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Innovation gives container logistics a boost'. Subscribe