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Compliance software for dangerous goods transport by sea

Exis Technologies works with top container lines on restrictions portal initiative, 18 July 2013

As with most shipping trades, container ship operators charter space in their vessels to 'partner' lines to offer customers a wider delivery network than that serviced by their own vessels. Many lines have vessel sharing agreements with upwards of five partner lines on some routes, and the system is essential for economic slot utilization.   

For a ship operator accepting a partner line booking on his ship, the process of checks is more or less the same as with a direct customer booking. All the usual information is processed for each container or load. But it quickly gets more complicated when the containers are carrying dangerous goods (DG). Around 10 percent of containers on deep sea container ships, upwards of a thousand containers on any of the larger container ships, contain DG. There are critical checks to be made against the particular voyage legs (voyage segments between ports) for the DG being shipped. Checks include; does a particular line restrict or prohibit certain classes of DG, is there a suitable stowage position for the DG consignment on the vessel and what are the DG restrictions for the ports of call.    

Several major lines that use Hazcheck DG systems have been discussing an initiative with Exis Technologies that will help to simplify the management of the partner line DG booking process.  In response, Exis is building an internet portal (Hazcheck Portal), into which participating lines will enter (or upload) and maintain the operator, vessel and port restrictions for their operations. Each line controls its own data and authorises password-controlled access for partner lines who can then check for DG compliance and accept a provisional booking. Lines will also be able to download the complete set of partner restrictions into their own systems and check the provisional booking there. 

Participating lines will have instant access to continually updated partner line restrictions, searchable by UN Class, UN Number or Proper Shipping Name. There will be an IMDG Code lookup to check classification, packaging or other criteria. Further Hazcheck options include validation of mixed DG within the container for compliance with IMDG Code compatibility criteria and 49 CFR checks for US shipments made under IMDG Code requirements.   

Captain Tey Kok Joo of NYK Line sums up the potential benefits. "Under today's liner business pressures, in order for each line to remain competitive there are increasingly more joint services and slot swaps. In a single loop there could be a partnership that involves five or six shipping lines. And there is a tremendous amount of resource and effort required to keep track of each partner line's DG house rules, mostly a manual process and hard copy checking. Thus a portal such as this, where one can immediately know if DG is loadable on a partner service, must surely shorten customer inquiry time and benefit all participating lines".   

The portal will interface with the lines' systems via upload/download features and will be available as an extension of Hazcheck Gateway, the global DG web booking facility. Hazcheck Portal will be piloted this year with a line user group and will be rolled out progressively. Stage one will concentrate on operator restrictions only, with further stages coming online as system usage and feedback grows.