SOLAS VGM™ software has aided shippers in racking up 12,000 verified gross mass (VGM) transactions over the five months its been live and is reducing the costs and processes associated with the requirements.
The software platform, which has been developed by Marine Transport International in partnership with big data company Black Swan, stops shippers from having to deal with carriers separately and submit individual containers.
The platform allows shippers to submit the VGM information of multiple containers through one portal directly to carriers.
SOLAS VGM™ is built using the blockchain, a public ledger where transactions are recorded and can be shared with multiple parties without needing to go through a central point. It also has the potential to link up with other software, such as EDIFACT, meaning that it doesn’t require every single party to use the platform before it can be fully realised.
The technology can also aid carriers, port operators and forwarders by sharing information securely. This has helped remove bottlenecks and increase efficiency in carriers, forwarders and ports processing shipments.
Jody Cleworth, CEO of Marine Transport International, said: “The shipping industry is starting to realise the benefits of digitalisation, but there’s still a lot to be done. Every player, whether it’s a port operator, a carrier or a forwarder, has different systems and processes.
“This means shippers must spend time and money sending multiple forms of documentation and waiting for responses. We’re helping our customers, like Cycle Link UK [a paper exporter], reduce costs and speed up the processes, by offering a service that is open, adaptable and works with existing systems.”
The introduction of the VGM requirements on July 1 2016 has created what some in the industry estimate to be a $4 billion market, as different players in the sector have applied new charges. In many cases, shippers have to cover the additional costs themselves.
Gary Waters, Global Logistics Director at Cycle Link UK, said: “We had two people working full time making sure all our shipments had the right VGM documentation and that everything had been followed correctly. By using the SOLAS VGM™ platform, we’re turning shipments around quickly, avoiding additional costs, whilst having just one person focused on VGM.
“This has allowed us to redeploy the other employee elsewhere in the business which, when you’ve got 10 employees in operations and 21 in total, is a significant benefit. Shipping is a complex process, and the VGM regulations are a necessary but still additional layer to that. Anything that can help simplify interactions between all the different parties can only be of benefit.”