Like many aspects of the supply chain ecosystem, Container Freight Stations, facilities where containerised cargo is processed for consolidation and deconsolidation, have been transformed by any number of technological improvements over recent years. Up until now, much of this transformative innovation has centred around equipment and infrastructure improvements e.g., automated container loading systems. 

Although these changes have helped simplify and accelerate the processing of cargo, there are still a number of opportunities for efficiency gains. One area already identified for improvement would be through the widespread introduction of a CFS-specific technology with a mobile app component. The mobile app is a key component of Origin’s CFS-specific technology which helps simplify and streamline the container handling process. This article examines four specific use cases where Origin’s mobile app is a game changer at CFS facilities.


1. Compliance and customs clearance

Clearance of customs and compliance checks present a constant headache for CFS operators. A lack of clear visibility around compliance statuses can mean that the operation lacks timely information about whether Containers and Cargo have cleared customs or biosecurity requirements and can be processed. This can result in time-consuming manual processes, lack of visibility for clients, and even costly mistakes which can be damaging to an operation's reputation and also their bottom line.

Origin’s CFS easily integrates with relevant Customs / Compliance Authority systems, providing timely, rich, contextualised data for CFS operators to work with. Aggregating this data is an important first step, but making the data readily available on mobile devices takes things to the next level, by making it much easier for yard staff to quickly gauge the container status before unpacking it. This means they can spend less time hunting down physical paperwork and more time on container management.  

For containers with holds, staff can simply process these once they see that customs protocols have been resolved in the app e.g., after receiving push notifications in the app when customs and compliance holds have been cleared. This results in much more efficient use of time, primarily because yard staff don’t have to constantly shuttle back and forth between the yard and office to confirm and re-confirm compliance status, and prevents the frustrating situation where containers are partially deconsolidated only to get word that unpacking is not yet authorised. 

The real-time compliance information provided by the mobile app is a life saver for yard staff and helps mitigate the risk of unpacking containers that have not yet been authorised for release. 


2. Instant access to job status and cargo information

Typically, order and delivery information is received through multiple 3rd party systems and methods. For example, drivers arriving to pick up packed containers for Export Orders often need to physically hand the paperwork over to the administrative staff who then distribute this information via various methods to the relevant store personnel. This means that office and administrative staff have to collate data from multiple sources and print it out for store staff before the packing/unpacking of containers can proceed.

Origin’s mobile app does this collation for you. Think of the Origin system as a portal that pushes real time job status information to the mobile app. Staff are able to access this data from wherever they are in the facility, regardless of role. This not only allows yard staff to manage jobs packing / unpacking in the most logical order, it also provides an opportunity to proactively plan for upcoming jobs as well, rather than reacting to jobs as they arrive. 

This clarity around data not only means a cleaner and more integrated vertical workflow but also makes updating customers that much more straightforward. 


3. Relieving the congestion bottleneck

When transport companies experience congestion and delays at CFS facilities, their waiting time is generally charged back to the Operators who manage the facilities where the congestion is occurring. Relieving this on-site congestion is a continual battle for CFS facilities.  

Origin’s app relieves a significant portion of this congestion by making all of the current information from internal and 3rd party systems, easily available via the app. This enables quicker identification of inbound and outbound containers including container type, location and status, and means less time physically chasing down information across the yard. 

Another key capability of the Origin mobile app is barcode scanning and printing. This is a massive time-saver as it allows barcode printing to happen in more organic alignment with the timing of delivery and pick-up. This is a simple but effective shortcut that activates a much more streamlined cargo transaction process.   

As a result, not only can staff always access the information they need, when they need it, the barcoded cargo can also be scanned at any point throughout the process. These two functions not only lead to more efficient coordination of container drop-off and pick-up, it also provides more visibility and orchestration to the entire delivery process, thereby alleviating congestion and improving the flow of outbound and inbound shipments. 


4. Simplifying the Import and Export process

The inbound and outbound dispatch of cargo at a CFS facility can often be overly time consuming due to manual processing and the need to create and manage physical paperwork. 

For the Import of Cargo, Origin’s mobile app replaces these stacks of paperwork by giving yard staff the ability to photograph and document import cargo as it is received. There are multiple benefits to this: 

Not only do these functions save time, they also initiate the creation of a visual picture of the cargo and associated delivery processes that can be distributed to both internal and external stakeholders via connected and integrated systems.

For the Export process, an even more crucial advantage is that weight and dimension data for cargo can be quickly collected via the app, alleviating the need for staff to manually capture this information when the container is received. Once collected, this weight and dimension data can be updated within Origin, providing more accurate data throughout the entire process, allowing for a more accurate container requirement forecast. 

In addition, crucial Verified Gross Mass information, a key compliance requirement, is more accurate, providing another key time-saver on the compliance front prior to export.

Container Cargo photo upload feature


Moving Container Freight Stations forward

Many areas of the Supply Chain universe have a wealth of options when it comes to software technology. For one reason or another, CFS facilities have not had the same coverage and have had to shoehorn existing aspects from a larger system (like a TMS) in an attempt to fulfil most of their needs. 

This lack of a CFS-specific solution has meant that workarounds with available CFS technologies are commonplace. 

Equipping CFS operators with a mobile-enhanced solution like Origin that is designed specifically for CFS operations will not only provide relief on the items outlined above, but move CFS facilities into a more strategic and less reactive way of doing business.