Global Database Benefits for Shipping Containers

As demand for international goods continues to grow, so do the number of lost and stolen cargo containers.  Now, freight containers can be tracked once registered in BoxTech, a non-profit technical characteristics database of global container information established by the Bureau International des Containers (BIC).

BoxTech was released in July 2016 in the efforts to meet the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) protocols and regulations of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).  Specifically, the platform fulfills the SOLAS Verified Gross Mass (VGM) declaration requirement.  Database features are also expected to propel the search and seizure of lost or stolen containers by identifying the use of improper markings.

The BoxTech Technical Characteristics Database collects:

  • Container number
  • Size-type code
  • Tare weight
  • Maximum gross mass
  • Maximum payload
  • Maximum stacking weight

Shipping giants, such as Maersk and CMA CGM, have already begun using the platform; both carriers have uploaded data for their entire container fleets. The databank includes the information on more than 30 percent of global container fleets and 1,100 users, allowing shippers to reduce likelihood of problems from containers that have bankruptcy status or other “special” statuses.  Users, which consist of ports, terminals, and shippers, can flag sold units as well as upload their own container fleet information. Subscribers can also list containers of interest in the “recovery alerts system” to determine legal status.

BoxTech simplifies a shipper’s due diligence in compliance of the IMO regulations for ocean freight and trade. The program continues to attract attention and has built a user-generated, semi-automated system that stems from industry feedback.

For more information, visit the BIC BoxTech Technical Characteristics Database.

Shippers Brace for Dec 18. ELD Mandate

U.S. importers and exporters not budgeting or preparing for the impact of the electronic logging device (ELD) rule are in for a surprise next quarter.  The electronic logging device (ELD) rule is part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) transportation reauthorization bill signed into law by President Obama in 2012.  Fast forward five years and the U.S. trucking industry is reeling as the law goes into effect this Dec. 18th. Lobbying by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and trucker protests have fallen on deaf ears at Capitol Hill as the deadline looms closer.

Established to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data, ELDs synchronize with a vehicle’s engine to automatically record driving time, for easier, more accurate hours of service (HOS) recording.

Domestic trucking is notorious for false HOS reporting.  Drivers often stretch past the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service Final Rule guidelines resulting too often in collisions and fatalities.  In 2017, reports of false log violations increased by 11.5% with over 30,000 drivers placed out-of-service by law enforcement.

Unfortunately, shippers that hold up drivers at delivery are a significant contributor to the growing epidemic.  Whether importing, exporting or delivering final-mile, the industry will no longer be able to squeeze extra capacity from overworked drivers.  The current 50,000 truck driver shortage will aggravate capacity further as violators are pulled off the road at the end of the April 1, 2018 grace period.

Shippers should be prepared to:

  1. Evaluate route lengths for drop-and-pick deliveries;
  2. Ensure adequate warehouse labor for unloading;
  3. Maintain available dock space for deliveries;
  4. Prepare for higher rates and tighter capacity.

Who is exempt from the ELD rule?

Drivers who use the timecard exception are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs. Additionally, the following drivers are not required to use ELDs; however, they are still bound by the RODS requirements in 49 CFR 395 and must prepare logs on paper, using an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD), or with a logging software program when required:

  • Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.
  • Drivers who are required to keep RODS not more than 8 days within any 30-day period.
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or a recreation vehicle trailer with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000. (As reflected on the vehicle registration)

For more information, visit the FMCSA’s Electronic Logging Devices information page.

CBP’s Forced Labor Focus has Shippers on Alert

In August of this year, the United States passed the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (COAC). The legislation contains clauses that affects the entry of merchandise with links to individuals who have been forced into labor. The United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) is committed to educating shippers of the consequences and risks associated with forced labor as well as their responsibility of compliance under reasonable care.

COAC defines the scope as any merchandise, regardless of the degree or method by which it is collected or created, made in part or wholly by persons forced into labor, is prohibited from entry into the United States unless CBP finds clear and convincing evidence that said merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

In the case of a violation, CBP will:

  • deny entry and may seize products;
  • refer the issue to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with request to initiate a criminal investigation for violation of U.S. law;
  • issue a summons or Request for Information.

The Associated Press recently reported on the instances of forced labor trafficking of North Korean citizens and nationals. While foreign factory jobs are coveted by North Korean citizens, they are far from freedom, often imposing the same strict policies as in their home country.

The report documented seafood produced by forced North Korean labor ended up in supermarkets across the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  Which, according to the sanctions, is a federal crime.

CBP states that it is the obligation of importer to exercise reasonable care and due diligence to ensure that their products comply to all the laws and regulations including those related to human trafficking and forced labor.

Customs welcomes allegations on forced labor at its eAllegation portal. Parties who provide original information that leads to the recovery of penalties or fines are eligible to seek compensation.

Maintaining vigilance is the best way to remain socially compliant in an industry where forced labor exists.

Concerned with compliance? Contact Green Worldwide Shipping today!

The Case Against Transportation Costs, Time and Value

I come from the operational side of freight transportation, so naturally, that’s my focus. I’ve built up a good amount of empathy for (often overworked) logistics managers and their (more overworked) staff. No matter the organization, their procedures or the individual operator’s role, responsibility and work-ethic, there always seems to be a severe shortage of the same thing – TIME!

  • Sending and confirming bookings via e-mail.
  • Hunting documentation discrepancies.
  • Manually updating tracking spreadsheets.
  • Fielding updates to purchasing and sales teams.

Sound familiar? Job creep is a reality in any industry, but the degree to which an organization lets it persist can tally up and bottleneck in freight transportation. That’s why supply chain managers throw up their hands and declare, “do you know much time it would take to switch to another forwarder?!” The honest answer is, I do.

And, no matter how large your organization, the answer will always be, “less time than you are wasting now.”

Let’s take a real-life example (names have been changed):

I met John Smith at a purchasing solutions conference roughly 4 months ago.  We happened to sit next to each other during a local networking luncheon, and once he found out I worked in logistics, he really let it all out.

John was the Materials Manager at local parts manufacturer and he was frustrated, rightly so.

John spends his first few hours of the day assigning work to his operations team. Their system comprised of manual functioning spreadsheets and emails passed from department to department. Tracking seemed endless because of mixed transits and routings. The requirement of accurate Importer Security Filing (ISF) meant his team had to follow-up overseas constantly to ensure each shipment received the proper AMS match – to avoid a Customs exam or worse, a customs penalty (up to $10,000 USD).

Rolled bookings were not communicated timely, so John needs most afternoons coordinating between sales and purchasing to maintain delivery expectations; all while senior management was pressuring him to lower overall transportation costs. How was he going to reduce costs when he needed 10 more team members to handle his scaling supply chain?

I felt bad for John; we are all John.

Feeling sure I could remedy his situation, I walked him through several strategies to solve his supply chain woes. We talked about automation, better logistics designs, and how increased operational efficiency was a better long-term costs cutter than simply pushing down transportation costs – which leave you with the same problems and worse service.

Even though he knew my solutions would help, John hesitated, “There are so many moving pieces, I just don’t know how we’d find the time.”

I hear this simply too often, and it’s a complete misperception.

John quickly discovered that switching freight providers is much easier than he thought.  Over the course of a few short meetings, we worked out a set-up that allowed us to take the most time-consuming tasks off John’s (and his team’s) desk.

In total, the scary switch took roughly 10 hours to transition. John and his team now have access to an automated management system with live real-time shipment updates allowing them to book and track their import shipments with a few clicks, communicate status updates to stakeholders and managers without delay, and ship their inventory to customers immediately after receiving the order from the customers.

Those ten hours gave John back his evenings with the family, reduced his blood pressure, and even enough time for a few golf games on the weekends.

While I cannot slow down the Earth’s rotation and add a few hours to the day, I can help you discover and eliminate the excess in your operational supply chain, and take some real work off your desk.

If you’re ready to take your time back, contact me, Thomas Jensen, at Green Worldwide Shipping.

Thomas Jensen

Sales Executive, Green Worldwide Shipping, LLC.

Veterans Day Port Schedule

Due to the holiday weekend, please the following summary of ports hours of operation for Veterans Day 2017. For full closure details, please see visit the links provided.

WEST COAST

LOS ANGELES & LONG BEACH – open 11/10; see Pierpass for full weekend schedule

(APM terminal, Terminal C 60, Eagle Marine Services Terminal, International Transportation Services Terminal, Long Beach Container Terminal E, Pacific Container Terminal, TraPac Terminal, Total Terminals International, West Basin Container Terminal, Yusin Terminals)

HOUSTON

Bayport and Barhours Cut Terminals – normal business hours

SEATTLE

North Harbor

South Harbor

  • Olympic Container Terminal (OCT) – OPEN
  • Husky Terminal – OPEN
  • Washington United Terminal (WUT) – OPEN (No MOL or ZIM containers will be dispatched or received)
  • Pierce County Terminal (PCT) – CLOSED
  • APMT – OPEN
  • East Blair (EB 1) – OPEN
  • TOTE – OPEN

EAST COAST

SAVANNAH, BRUNSWICK

All terminals will operate at normal business hours

VIRGINIA

All terminals are operating at normal business hours

CHARLESTON

Container – 11/11 0600-1300

Breakbulk/Ro-Ro – CLOSED

(Gates at Columbus Street, Union Pier, Veterans Terminals)

Inland Port Greer – normal business hours

MIAMI

POMTOC – Open 11/10, 11/13

South Florida Container Terminal – Closed 11/10

BALTIMORE

Dundalk Marine Terminal

Seagirt Marine Terminals

  • ICTF-CSX – OPEN
  • Port America Chesapeake – OPEN

North Locust

The airports will not be closed this weekend.