Overcome Shipping Obstacles With Reliable Shipping Software Solutions

The shipping industry is one of the most valuable and rapidly growing industries in the international business field today. without over-the-sea trading, economies will deteriorate because businesses will have very limited options to import and export goods to other countries.

Virtually all activities performed in the liner industry involve significant labor costs and time critical processes. As global trade rises, the pressure on shipping companies also increases. The demand for better customer service delivery and industry excellence keeps growing, and changes need to be made in order to sustain reliability of operations. This is the primary reason why shipping companies need to adopt modern sea freight technology and use cutting-edge shipping software solutions.

There are many areas of the shipping business that can be refined with the utilization of shipping software solutions. Principals, agents, feeder or short sea business, NVOCCs, and terminal and port operators – all parties involved in the shipping process can benefit from adopting modern shipping technology that offers software integrity and user-friendly features.

Software suites such as LIMA enables principals to combine full business functionality with a Windows-standard and easy-to-use interface for management and staff members. This line management software application addresses and resolves problems in schedule management, voyage management, CRM, cost management, equipment handling, accounting and data management.

Agents can take advantage of agency suites such as ALFA to streamline processes for sales and marketing, tariff/quotation/contract management, bookings, B/Ls, manifests, invoicing, dangerous goods handling, voyage account, Intermodal, and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI). With a software application such as ALFA, redundancies are eliminated and work flow is optimized.

For feeder and short sea business, applications such as FAST offer solutions for enhanced booking process, sophisticated invoicing, complex tariff and cost management, and direct linkage to customers and partners to accommodate short transit times and avoid delays in the communication chain.

Software application suites designed specifically for NVOCCs like LIMA NVO provides the vehicle for either regional or global non-vessel operating common carrier businesses to gain competitive edge. Companies have a flexible and scalable software solution to control and monitor all business activities with complete visibility which results in improved staff productivity, tighter rein over contribution margins and revenue, reduced expenses and built-in best practices for enhanced customer service level.

Most shipping software today include applications for improving terminal operations. Terminal management software was developed in order to simultaneously and efficiently handle containerized, RoRo and general cargo for multiple shipping firms. With the use of a reliable terminal management system, operators are rest assured to run their business free from irregularities and hassles, and be able to communicate with agents and shipping firms in an entirely organized manner.

Shipping software solutions were built to facilitate and enhance the effectiveness of all the intricate processes that shipping goods entail. No matter what task is assigned to you, shipping software enables you to do it effectively and competently.

Effective Shipping Business Management With Shipping Software Solutions

Over the years, the process of shipping goods has evolved in many ways. Cargo volumes have increased every year, vessels capacity has grown and the requirements for shipping companies to comply with regulations (i.e. Customs, IMO, etc.) have also increased steadily. Freight forwarders and shipping companies used to depend highly on manual labor throughout the entire shipping process – from packing, to warehousing, inventory, loading, transshipping, and discharging of consignments. Nowadays, much of these tasks have been automated, thanks to modern shipping software solutions which enable shipping companies maximize shipping efficiency.

Maritime software solutions have been developed for companies that provide cargo transport services. They are available off-the-shelf for Shipping companies like Bulk, Tank, Container, RoRo, and break bulk carriers. They are easy to use, can be customized for specific purposes, and can be integrated into existing platforms and applications. Once employed properly, integrated shipping software can provide significant cost benefits and higher level of operational efficiency.

Since no two shipping companies are alike when it comes to their software needs, shipping software companies develop different types of shipping software depending on their functions. Container management software centrally manages a global or regional container fleet and provides visibility on container stock, container expenses and facilitates the planning and forecasting of container stocks. It maximizes the use of a container fleet. It manages complex tasks, eliminates paper works, and provides real-time reports allowing operators to monitor transaction processes from start to finish.

Modern shipping companies use container tracking software to provide their clients visibility on the actual progress of the container transport process. It generates real-time data on the exact location of containers, and provides logs of exact time each shipment leaves the port and of its estimated time of arrival.

Voyage calculation software also known as voyage accounting software enables operators to have an early forecast on costs and income to expect from each port call and/or voyage. It calculates all costs involved including port costs, canal fees, and bunker costs. With these data, operators can proactively manage their cargo mix and simulate the contribution impact for different port rotations or vessel speeds. They can then choose the most cost-effective deployment and rotation of a vessel and avoid expensive and/or less-profitable ones.

To ensure quality customer service maritime software solutions eliminate problems prevalent in cargo shipping such as lost, stolen, or damaged shipments, tracking problems, delayed delivery, uncontrolled transaction costs, and many others. Proper use of these software solutions provides powerful and seamless results, and enables shipping companies to enhance productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

Benefits of Using Packaged Shipping Software

It’s hard to imagine a shipping business without an IT department nowadays. As technology becomes more and more advanced, carriers keep up by taking advantage of the latest innovations and best practices in the industry in order to remain competitive. Forward thinking operators have taken advantage of the rapidly changing technology by using advanced shipping software solutions to enhance their competitive advantage. However, when it comes to choosing the right software solution, the shipping industry is divided between in-house and packaged solutions. Shipping companies need to analyze their unique requirements to determine the type of business solution that will bring more advantage to their daily operations.

Global operators seem to have conflicting views with regard to the cost-effectiveness of building in-house IT systems compared with buying ready-made, customizable platforms. Both have their own advantage when it comes to streamlining operations that have direct effect on the cost-efficiency of a shipping business. Understanding the specific differences between these two systems can help operators make more informed decisions in using their resources.

Bespoke System

Many operators prefer hiring programmers and software developers, and build customized software to fit their specific business requirements. Doing this gives them full control of software development. However, bespoke or in-house systems will require time until they are working live, which will delay the positive impact of automation sometimes up to 3-4 years as seen for bigger implementations. It will also consume resources on the carrier side not only from the IT but also from the involved departments.

In addition, the fact that technology evolves rapidly, software solutions that have been custom-tailored to support a specific function may date quickly and not work on newer platforms, necessitating a painful upgrade that may include an expensive migration process. For the same reason, in-house systems require skilled IT staff which results in increased operational expenses – something that does not sound interesting in a slumping economy.

Packaged System

Generally, ready-made shipping software are a lot cheaper and easier to implement when compared with in-house systems. In fact, buying off-the-shelf solution can be 10 to 50 times cheaper than developing a bespoke system. In addition, modern packaged software incorporates a switching capability, which allows the user to customize each application to handle specific requirements without any expensive re-programming. Once customized, packaged software have the capability to automate time-consuming and resource-intrusive business processes.

Modern packages solutions are flexible enough to work for almost any carrier, regardless of size, specialization, or local requirements. This capability makes it even more appealing for vessel operators to buy off-the-shelf instead of commissioning expensive in-house solutions.

Packaged software solutions are widely available in the software market and can be purchased at very reasonable prices. In addition, many software companies offer excellent guarantee periods for their products during which any software issues are fixed without extra cost.

Change can be Painful

Despite the impressive features of packaged shipping software solutions, many carriers are still stuck with bespoke systems because of perceived difficulties that accompany a change in IT infrastructure. In most cases, these difficulties have something to do with legacy systems which often control key areas of a shipping business. Change in this case must be managed properly using correct methodologies avoid common problems that usually come with the process of implementing a new business system.

Shipping goods involves too many complicated processes that require focus and expertise in all aspects. To be more productive, operators must focus on their core business which is operating ships. They should not divert large amounts of resources to other activities outside their expertise to avoid uncontrolled expenses that can hurt their business in the long run.