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Booking containers on-line at the Manila International Container Terminal

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Author(s): Marcelo P. Apidos, Business Support and Communications Specialist, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. Manila, Philippines

Philippine-based port operator, Inter national Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), rolled out a new e-commerce service that allows the paperless booking of full export containers at the company’s flagship, Manila International Container Ter minal (MICT). The system, known as Web Booking, is an intranet/ internet-based  application intended to make business transactions at the terminal more efficient. Web Booking is a complementary feature of MICT’s new gate system and is easily accessible at the terminal’s e-commerce facility, MICT iBox, which can be accessed via MICT’s website, http://www.mictweb.com.

The new gate system and web booking

Early in 2006, ICTSI constructed a new central gate at the MICT, which features truck portals with imaging cameras, automated dr iver transaction kiosks, weigh bridges, andradiation portal monitors. The new gate is seen to beef up thesafety and security of cargo as well as the terminal premises. It was also aimed at terminal productivity and efficiency with the introduction of remote checker stations and a paperless system. Before Web Booking, shipping line clients of MICT used the Export  Container Order (ECO) for the booking of containers. A pre-gate entry procedure, the ECO is presented to the administrative check (A-check), where data is manually inputted into the booking system.

After the container is booked, only then will the container be allowed entry through the gates. At the entry, checkers conduct a manual  physical inspection (P-check) of the containers before allowing the containers to proceed to the stacking yard. The manual A-check had capably run the booking of containers for years. However, the gradual increase in export container volume at the terminal resulted in a slow down in the handling of boxes. Queuing started as  more truck drivers lined up to present the ECO in A-check.

Thereafter, data is manually encoded for the container booking. Also, the procedure started to be  susceptible to some errors and delays as ECO data were at times, because of the manual handling, incomplete, incorrect, or even tampered with. These translated to a slower movement at the truck holding area, slowing overall container movement. With the observed scenario, the MICT found it apt to initiate an enhanced booking  system, not only to accommodate increasing trade volume, but also to streamline the booking process.

Web booking launched

Through the new system, export  containers can now be booked online, in advance, by the shipping lines, thus, deviating from the sure dilemma at A-check. Through Web Booking, shipping lines   access MICT’s iBox facility, create and finalise a booking, and the container isautomatically booked. Drivers no longer need to proceed to the A-check for export  containers as this step has been taken out.

Instead, they go directly to the entrance gates. The Pcheck at the gates has also been replaced with cameras with optical  character recognition (OCR) capability and radiation portal monitors (RPM) for the scanning of the containers, resulting in the faster entry of containers. With the  paperless procedure, the long lines at the A-check was addressed; inconsistencies were resolved as the shipping lines themselves encode the data; while ECO tampering is easier to track as web booking users are required to log in prior to booking.

Moreover, being automated, the system easily responds to the increased container volume entering the MICT.  For major shipping lines with the capability of transacting direct computer to computer infor mation exchanges, electronic data  interchange (EDI) is also possible as the system fully supports Container Announcement Message (COPARN), a standard UN/EDIFACT message exchange implemented worldwide. This means that shipping lines no longer need to re-input existing data about the export containers on Web Booking as MICT’s system is able to automatically verify the data.


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