Singapore port operator PSA and logistics software developer CrimsonLogic used TOC Asia to announce the release of a new trade platform for shippers and their 3PLs.

It will enable them to manage and monitor the physical, regulatory and financial flow of goods passing through PSA’s network of terminals.

In its quest to get deeper into the supply chain, PSA spent a lot of time with shippers, 3PLs and other supply chain stakeholders, Group Chief Executive Tan Chong Meng told delegates at the TOC Asia Container Supply Chain Conference, which was once again part of Singapore Maritime Week.

As we focused on innovating physical transport solutions, we encountered a lot of non-physical problems.

“Many of the pain points are known about, but we have been unable to deal with them, despite the fact there have been numerous efforts to solve them over the last few years.

“Fundamentally, through extensive mapping of logistics, we have come to the conclusion that it is a 3D flow problem – there are physical, regulatory and financial flows – and ideally we should deal with all three in a single platform,” he said.

The result is Cargo Logistics, Inventory Streamlining and Trade Aggregation (Calista), an open-source digital supply chain orchestration platform that is attempting to combine the physical flow of goods through port and container terminal facilities with regulatory documentation and trade finance flows that have become digital.

The pilot phase will see an investment of S$20m (US$15.12) and will principally allow electronic documentation to be reused to avoid repeated manual processes – and although it is backed by PSA, Calista is intended to be an open and global platform which other port and logistics players are invited to participate in, eventually covering the flow of goods in supply chains across different regions, countries, logistics providers and ports.

The initiative comes about following an extended strategic review undertaken by PSA, as it sought to formulate a response to the changing nature of the global economy.

Mr Tan explained: “Cargo will change, and this is quite a revolution for PSA. Previously, we only moved boxes but we came to realise that it’s not just about the number of boxes we move but the purpose we fulfil to supply chains.

“Consumer demand is changing. There is higher demand for reliability and faster product cycle times, and all the stuff that is currently affecting B2C last-mile supply chains will also come to affect the middle mile, where we operate.

“Technology will both enable and disrupt: e-commerce sales are doubling every four years and people aren’t just buying stuff online, but buying offshore. 60% of Singapore’s e-commerce sales are cross-border.”

He added that the growth of 3D printing and the widespread shift towards electric vehicles were other factors likely to significantly alter the face of global supply chains, as well as a process of cross-sector integration, “which means there is a blurring of the boundaries between established players that is redefining our value curve”.

He told delegates: “In each of these cases we have to work out how to respond. There is still a lack of connectivity in supply chains and we have started to look more closely at things beyond the traditional port parameters.”

This has led PSA to create its “port-plus” initiative which aims to add value to manufacturing through the provision of a greater range of supply chain services than port operators traditionally offer.

“We want to enable advanced manufacturing,” he said, pointing to UK firm’s Dyson’s recent opening of a £330m R&D centre in Singapore.

The discussions around Digitalization and Disruption in the supply chain will continue at the next TOC event: TOC Europe, 12 – 14 June 2018, Rotterdam which has Keynote presentations from the World Economic Forum and APM Terminals as well as representation from Shippers and their container supply chain partners.

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