Launch of Two Industry-Led Initiatives to Transform the Container Logistics Industry

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Two industry-led initiatives supported by SPRING Singapore (SPRING) were launched by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry), to benefit the logistics sector. These announcements were made at the biennial Logistics and Transportation Conference organised by the Container Depot Association (Singapore) (CDAS) last week.

The first initiative is the Electronic Container Trucking System (eCTS) which aims to connect all container logistics companies through a common IT platform. The second initiative is the TR53:2016, a technical reference on container depot operations, which provides guidelines on the general layout, safety requirement and information exchange with back-end administration. Both initiatives will help ensure smooth operations between container trucking operators and container depot operators.

The eCTS will transform container logistics operations, improve container supply chain visibility and provide a single platform for future technology applications to be built on. Using a mobile application, eCTS will help link drivers to the different nodes in the supply chain, including the port, inland container depots and trucking offices. eCTS will also use geo-fencing technology to modernise depot operations, notifying container depot operators of incoming truck arrivals so that operators can make the necessary preparations. Through an electronic container equipment interchange receipt application, companies can also digitally perform the process of checking and logging of container conditions on the platform.

The eCTS can also provide a good foundation to potentially build a national logistics digital infrastructure by potentially linking up other logistics nodes i.e. warehouses, Changi Airfreight Centre, lorry companies and shippers in future phases. In addition, it could be a platform to support more innovation such as job-sharing and “Uberisation” (i.e. crowdsourcing) of trucking services.

The implementation of eCTS will help reduce congestion at container depots. As a common IT platform, eCTS also helps minimise work repetition and time wastage from the current disparate communication systems and devices, hence improving productivity for container logistics players.

CDAS, with the support of SPRING and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) under the Lean Enterprise Development Scheme, will roll out the eCTS. SPRING will support companies in the adoption of eCTS through its Local Enterprise and Association Development (LEAD) programme, and WDA will provide funding support for eCTS training through its Industry Catalyst Programme.

Mr Sharafdeen s/o A R, President of CDAS, said, “The eCTS system is a single mobile platform that leverages smart mobile technologies to connect prime mover drivers with different players in the container supply chain. eCTS will help streamline trucking and depot processes, hence achieving an expected 30% reduction in depot queuing time per day and a potential increase of 20% in daily delivery volume per driver. In future, this platform could potentially host applications that fuel innovative business models like job-sharing, and be connected to other industry systems to form the basis of a national digital infrastructure. We hope that companies in the container logistics industry will adopt this system to fully reap its benefits.”

Container depots handle about 15%1 of Singapore’s container throughput, which stood at over 30 million TEUs2 in 2015, and is projected to grow as capacity expands. To increase operational efficiency and safety within container depots, the Singapore Manufacturing Federation – Standards Development Organisation (SMF-SDO) and the working group under the Logistics Technical Committee3, supported by SPRING, developed the TR53:2016. This technical reference provides guidelines for the 13 container depot operators which manage empty container storage in over 20 locations in Singapore such as Tanjong Penjuru, Penjuru Close and Tuas Avenue.

The technical reference standardises process flows and delivery information, which helps to increase efficiency in managing the return and collection of empty containers to and from the container depots. This translates to faster turnaround time and more trips for the container trucking operators. In addition, enhanced safety guidelines within the technical reference will further improve workplace safety in the container depot industry for all stakeholders, including cars and pedestrians at the gates of container depots.

Mr Ricky Loo, Deputy Convener of the Working Group under the Logistics Technical Committee, and Honourary Secretary of CDAS, said, “TR53:2016 was developed to serve as a guideline for container depot operations based in Singapore. With the best practices for the management of the depot facilities, and standardised process flows in managing the return and collection of empty containers to and from the depots, industry players will ultimately achieve time and manpower savings.”

For effective implementation of TR53, SMF-SDO will be scheduling workshops to provide in-depth information to the industry. The workshops will also cover information on the implementation process of TR53.

Mr Poon Hong Yuen, Chief Executive of SPRING, said, “The container logistics industry provides critical support for many sectors here. We are glad that industry players have taken the lead to transform the industry so that it will stay resilient and competitive. New technologies and standards introduced in recent years have benefitted our industries significantly, and the two initiatives launched for the container logistics industry today are good examples. SPRING will continue working closely with industry partners and companies to adopt such systems and technical references.”

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