Sam Whelan, Asia correspondent, has written an interesting piece about a new port communication and collaboration system that is revolutionizing how Indian p[orts operate. It’s called PC51x, and it connects port users via secure messaging to exchange paperwork, financial info, and other messages. In trials, it reduced cost and time for interaction drastically.
And it did NOT involve blockchain. In fact, it uses only technology developed years ago and tested severely by those years of practice. It seems that for the user it operates like one of those doctor portals we have all become accustomed to in the US; annoying, but much faster and less annoying than waiting for her to call back (!@?^%$#!). And capable of much faster integration if those communicating have a desire to make it better and faster.
They have announced a portal type interface. This type of function is like what we used to call ‘middleware’, connecting systems with different data specifications and requirements, and letting them work out how to use the data. It makes a lot of sense to me.
I think any port could copy this with a little hard nose bargaining with those it collaborates with. Getting truckers on board might be more difficult without a good look at the systems they use every day. But for many others it makes sense.
But should the port be the driver? I think there is potential for 3PLs to usurp the role for their cargoes. Then we’d have to link in their systems. Hard, but not impractical, and easier than forcing all their shippers to use the port’s message portal. Everyone would benefit. And more players such as banks and customs could participate as well. Better that this should be driven by a lot of smaller players (if ports can be thought of as smaller) than by a national or global standards initiative, especially one from a single source. Let it evolve, I say.