Importers are well aware of the ever increasing regulations surrounding the import process. Ever since the events of 9/11, regulations have increased in an effort to improve security around goods coming into the U.S. A recent expansion of the regulatory landscape is the Importer Security Filing (ISF), commonly known as the “10+2” initiative. It is a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulation that requires importers and vessel operating carriers to provide additional advance trade data to CBP.
If they want to import goods into the U.S., companies have no choice but to conform to the government reporting requirements. However, when you look past the regulatory obligations, there is also an opportunity for companies to improve their business practices by leveraging the same information that they are providing to the government. Since much of the data provided to the government involves contents of shipments and status of shipments at key points in the journey, companies can benefit from exploiting this information to increase visibility in their own supply chain.
For example, one of the requirements within the “10+2” initiative is that importers must provide Carrier Status Messages, which are used to track the physical movement of cargo containers as they move through the supply chain. These messages can be generated as EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) transactions that could easily be replicated and sent to your own enterprise systems and to those of your trading partners. Quick aside—the EDI transaction for an ocean shipment status detail message is a 315. Do you get it now—“10+2” = 315?—okay, perhaps a stretch but at least you read this far to find out the answer.
The point is, why should the government only benefit from this capture of data? Doesn’t it make sense to pull it into your own systems so that you have better visibility to where goods are in the supply chain? If you run a distribution operation, imagine what you could do with this added visibility in your warehouse management system (WMS) and transportation management system (TMS). If you are able to pinpoint delivery dates for inbound shipments you would be able to better plan your own resources (labor, warehouse space, fleet usage, etc) to handle the receipt and subsequent shipment to your customers.
Perhaps even more important, when that key customer calls and wants to know when to expect their order, you will have more precise information. You can then make more informed decisions such as selecting the right shipment mode, saving money while still meeting your customer service level requirements. Furthermore, having this information enables companies to examine trends and better evaluate which suppliers and carriers are the strongest performers.
Bottom line—stop letting the government have all of the fun with your valuable data. Leverage it in your own supply chain to drive operational excellence. Your trading partners will thank you for it.