Daniel Clarke, Senior Developer, EMEA Products for WiseTech Global, asks why run two systems when one simple, cost effective workflow can be switched on today?

Many logistics businesses still run inefficient manual or dual system operations in their dealings with UK Customs. The Union Customs Code (or UCC) is only 18 months away, and unless these businesses move quickly, they will miss the opportunity to ease their migration to it.

The introduction of the UCC across the European Union will completely rewrite the UK Customs system. Although the previous implementation of the EU Harmonised system was difficult, it has to happen, largely because the UCC is but a part of successful global initiatives to streamline the movement of goods worldwide.

This has the potential to be a huge disruption, and it’s not yet clear how much time software houses will have to build new functionality and links into HMRC before the 2017 launch – the fine details, such as specifications, are not yet available.  

Match the streamlined UCC to a single forwarding platform with integrated Customs entry 

Regardless of an operator’s size and the trade lines it covers, submitting an entry from software conjoined with a third party link to Customs will only slow you down. 

If you’re a small business that does all of its entries manually, you probably have enough errors to contend with already. To carry on with manual entry after the UCC begins could bury your business in even more errors, and the drain on productivity could be catastrophic for your business.

Right now, while everything is still in the voluntary phase, you have an affordable opportunity to catch up.

The way to minimise the UCC’s impact in the future is to prepare in the present by implementing an integrated software solution that includes built-in formal entry and air inventory management connected directly to UK Customs. 

Simplicity, time savings, and lower software costs

The Customs entry component of every consignment can be very stressful. The forwarding agent who files the entry gets pressure not only from the consignee that wants its goods cleared, but also from Customs as it develops tighter and tighter procedures. Meeting the expectations of the consignee and ensuring compliance with customs can be very costly and time-consuming. Shaving off even the smallest amounts of time improves forwarding agents’ operational productivity and costs. 

Serious business issues arise from the lag of third party customs systems trying to communicate, from the inconsistency and lack of visibility inherent in running multiple systems, from the overtime spent in rectifying problems, and from having a staff that needs to learn too many tasks spread across too many systems when they ought to be following one, standard workflow. Consider how multiple systems and manual interventions by your staff can result in mounting costs. Even a simple task can take more than a few minutes to re-key information from a disparate system, plus more than a few attempts’ worth of time lost in order to fix mistakes from misinterpreted messages. 

Running a faster, single platform system recoups that lost time, productivity, and potential profit. Time spent on data entry is dramatically reduced when your operators only need to input any new information required by the Customs entry process, rather than starting from scratch. I’ve seen how removing the gateways and barriers between software systems and people can reduce entry time from six minutes to one. And using cloud-based integrated connections to customs can result in upwards of 50 percent savings over the cost of using external third party providers.

The simplicity and time savings gained from a single system cannot be overstated. When customs processing is always within reach, when information doesn’t have to travel between disparate systems to customs authorities and back again, then you truly have the most efficient, cost effective solution for both your operators and your clients.

While the new Union Customs Code will certainly be a huge adjustment, you can ease the pain by doing a two-stage change. The first is the adoption of a single automated environment right now. The second will be a relatively easy switch to new UCC functionality when it is introduced.

Daniel Clarke is Senior Developer, EMEA Products for WiseTech Global


Media Contact: Lisa Tree, lisa.tree@wisetechglobal.com