All freight forwarders nowadays gradually transform their freight service to a total logistics solution. The process involves changes in internal business process and external communication with customers and vendors. Information technology in no doubts plays a key role. However, most people think that IT Logistics is just a term for marketing and its effectiveness is in doubt. CargoRAM Limited, Subsidiary of Paradigm Corporation Limited (PCL) a Hong Kong base software company demonstrates how the right IT strategy improves the ROI of a company.
“We always believe that technology itself did not bring value to freight forwarders,” comments by Mr. Frankie Lam, the founder of CargoRAM Limited. “How to apply the right technology in the right business process is the key to success”. Having more than 10 years in providing IT solutions for international freight forwarders and in response to the Hong Kong Government’s policy to establish Hong Kong as logistics hub for international trade community, Mr. Frankie Lam has established CargoRAM Limited to develop the next generation IT solution for the industry. The company is now incubated under the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park Corporation (HKSTP).
Unique Logistics Limited (ULI), one of the fast growing international freight forwarders has implemented CargoRAM’s solution since year 2001. “We are growing rapidly and we need a good management system.” the Operation Director of ULI Hong Kong says. “We have hundred over staff working here in Hong Kong, China, and UK offices. The solution can fit well our staff’s requirement.”
“All IT strategy links to the business strategy of the company.” Mr. Frankie Lam comments. “Cost leadership is the key to improve ROI. Our first objective is to help them to build up a good IT infrastructure where they can grow rapidly and flexibly with minimal hardware investment. The tricky part is to combine the traditional technology with the latest internet technology.” Mr. Frankie Lam says. Freight Management 2000 ( FM2000 ) a well known application system is being implemented as the corporate internal system of ULI Group. The product provides a seamless integration among all departments, from Marketing to Air and Sea Operation and the Accounting process. It helps the ULI management to standardize the workflow procedure in all offices. The product runs on Linux server where the operation cost is low. Moreover, the product provides “Dual User Interfaces”. For users with old personal computers or poor internet access, they can use a character base front end for data entry. For users with high end machines, they can use browser to access the system. This is flexible for freight forwarders where some of their offices may be located in developing countries and the internet bandwidth resource is limited.
“The immediate benefit is we link up all offices together and speed up the whole internal process. Export shipment information directly flows to the Import station. Forwarders can inform the customer on shipment status on time and every time. The whole service cycle is shortened and we expect the ROI of our customer can be improved over 15%.” Mr. Frankie Lam further explains.
“The true revenue booster is getting more business. ULI has built up a good IT infrastructure for internal operation; they are well prepared to kick off any value added modules without changes in internal processes.” Two Web Base products, the Purchase Order Number System ( PONS ) and Cargo Track and Trace System. ( CTT ), are introduced to ULI Group in 2003. “Our customers love it!” Director of ULI UK said. “Customer can submit their PO information to our internet server according to their desired format directly. The system will automatically alert their vendors about the shipment schedule via email according to the timeline. Vendors should confirm their shipment status by replying emails. Customer and we, as well as our export station will receive the confirmation notice. Therefore, we can always prepare the pick up and delivery without delay. If there are any exceptions, everybody will be notified. All events and discrepancies will be recorded onto database and customer can run reports and use as KPI to evaluate their vendor’s performance.”
“We see the trend to provide “Focused” service.” Mr. Frankie Lam
follows up. “The logistics movement of customers varies. The next focus is to implement Virtual Warehousing System. Buyers shall have full picture of its inventories and so as their vendors. We hope that we can achieve a thorough visibility on the supply chain and added value on it.