The Dover branch of international freight forwarding and global logistics company Frans Maas is the first of the port's agents to benefit from a new digital link to the Dover DTI community, installed by Customs software specialist Impatex.
The new TCP/IP link is designed to be significantly faster than the original VT100-based analogue line which it replaces. For companies, such as Frans Maas, which are based in Dover's Lord Warden House (the port's main concentration of agents), the link operates over a direct dedicated broadband line to the Dover Harbour Board. Other locations will connect via a virtual private network.
Following modifications to Impatex's communications software, installation of the new link was performed by the company's staff within a single working day. Frans Maas Dover staff have reported greatly improved speed of transmission for the Advanced Cargo Advice (ACA), import and export entries, and the HCI screen - which is now available on every workstation. Impatex is now upgrading all of its other Dover customers.
Frans Maas has progressively migrated to the Impatex Customs Manager system since 2002; the Dover branch was the last to switch over. Phil Evans, Frans Maas' UK General Manager for Customs and Security, comments: "In 2001 we embarked on a programme of transition from local software installations of various Customs packages to a single central server package. We felt that this gave our business the best support opportunity to implement NES across locations throughout the UK in 2002 and this decision has again proven its worth during the introduction of multiple NCTS locations in 2004. The 'Customs Manager' system has enabled us to handle major changes in Customs procedures simply and effectively."
Adds Impatex MD Peter Day: "Because Frans Maas runs our Customs Manager software on a central server at its Great Yarmouth headquarters, the Dover staff - who operate on a 24/7 basis - can also clear goods through any other port or airport.
"This kind of operational flexibility provides agents with more efficient use of their resources, and can help them to enhance service standards by balancing workloads between offices. In the case of Dover - with the reduction in clearances since the creation of the single European market in 1993 - this ability to handle remote work could give the port's agents a new lease of life."
Concludes Day: "Although Dover is a small community, we remain committed to offering its agents all the benefits of the latest technology. Using our system in the way which Frans Maas does, the Dover agent can play a key role as an integral part of the overall UK agent community."
Impatex has supplied Customs processing systems since 1979, and pioneered 'Intelligent' DTI in 1983 to coincide with the introduction of FCP80 for the Felixstowe ocean community. Its multi-modal Customs Manager software uniquely interfaces with all the DTI Communities - CCS-UK, CNS, Dover and MCP. The system comprises 9 modules covering DTI, ERTS, NES, NCTS, CFSP, Warehousing, OPR, IPR and Intrastats, all automatically validated against the full HM Customs Tariff which is updated monthly. Customs Manager is in use by hundreds of UK multi-modal freight forwarding companies of all sizes - including 15 of the UK's IATA top 20 - together with many importers and exporters.