Premium Warehousing Ltd, a British warehousing and logistics handling provider, serves a wide range of clients from small businesses to blue chip companies including Carlsberg UK, John Lewis, Weetabix and BMW. Implementing AEB's software solution EMCS||XPRESS resulted in faster processing of excise goods under duty suspension, increased efficiencies and cost reductions.
Premium Warehousing Ltd manages a well-established warehousing facility and runs its operation from a clean and secure 300,000 sq. ft. site at Sywell. The facility is located three miles north of Northampton and was specifically designed for the management and control of palletised goods.
The company provides reworking and picking, container loading and unloading, as well as warehousing and distribution services. Premium Warehousing established itself as an expert in the field of cargo handling for all types of materials, but mainly specialises in the storage of foodstuffs.
Premium Warehousing also operates an approved HMRC bonded warehouse, and is licensed to store beers, wines and spirits. A major European transport, logistics and freight forwarding company, stores up to 23,000 pallets of Carlsberg UK products at Premium Warehousing's facility. From there, they are either delivered to end customers or shipped back to Carlsberg UK's distribution centres. On average, about 75 per cent of all wine, beer and spirit deliveries managed by Premium Warehousing are subject to EMCS declarations based on suspended duty payments and respective customs requirements.
UK traders, registered consignors and operators of bonded warehouses have been required to use EMCS – the Excise Movement and Control System - when receiving and dispatching duty suspended excise goods that are moving within the EU (including beers, wines and spirits) since January 2011. Designed to replace the previous paper-based system, EMCS is a computerised structure operated by EU governments to record the movements of excise goods between EU member states, which have not yet been released for consumption and for which excise duties have yet to be paid.
EMCS challenges prior to EMCS||XPRESS
Shipments from Premium Warehousing to the Carlsberg UK distribution centre usually took place at the end of the day, at around 4pm. During this rush of activity, manpower was required to load the trucks and submit EMCS declarations, resulting in delays and frustrations much later in the evening. With Premium Warehousing staff being tied up with EMCS submissions, other warehouse management tasks, such as stock counts and various system updates, could not be completed, leading to workload backlogs in a number of areas.
In addition, staff had to manually enter the full data requirement for each individual shipment and submit all EMCS declarations directly via the HMRC portal, a process that was inconvenient, time-consuming and error-prone. Overall, the submission for each shipment subject to excise movement control took about 10 minutes, which required a dedicated member of staff to manage daily volumes.
When Carlsberg UK's HMRC related transaction requirements increased by approximately 300 per cent in 2014, it became clear that manual processing was no longer manageable. Additional resources were required to cope with this increase and to maintain existing tasks. This was the time when Premium Warehousing started to look for an automated solution to support the EMCS processes. Rather than limiting the provider search to official listings and Internet searches, Premium Warehousing took advice from key business partners and their own EMCS users to best understand demand and supply, and get first-hand recommendations.
The path to efficiency improvement
In January 2014, Chris Lee, Managing Director of Premium Warehousing Ltd, attended a meeting between AEB and a mutual customer to discuss how to efficiently manage the increased customs requirements. Based on their overall feedback and that of actual users of AEB solutions, Chris Lee was impressed with AEB's team and the EMCS product as part of the company's comprehensive solution suite for supply chain management and global trade, ASSIST4.
Premium Warehousing placed its order on 1st April 2014, and the AEB project team started working on it immediately. AEB's EMCS||XPRESS is one of the "software-as-a-service" (SaaS) applications from the ASSIST4 solution portfolio, which are hosted in AEB's official ISO 27001 certified computer centre. It supports the secure and efficient transmission and processing of electronic customs messaging in compliance with applicable EU law. On 14th April 2014, EMCS||XPRESS went live at Premium Warehousing, and has since been used by its shipping and administration teams on a daily basis.
Chris Lee, Managing Director of Premium Warehousing, says: "The collaboration with the AEB teams during the initial decision process and actual project implementation was excellent. We felt our needs were understood and supported at all times, and the fast implementation was in line with our business goals and expectations."
Business benefits following EMCS||XPRESS
Premium Warehousing is pleased with the system capabilities and particularly with the significantly faster processing times for EMCS submissions: Prior to implementing EMCS||XPRESS, staff took between 7 and 10 minutes per declaration. Now the processing time has been reduced to about 10 seconds per declaration, which includes the actual submission as well as the automated printing of the EMCS EAD (Export Accompanying Document).
This means that the 300 per cent increase of customs requirements for Carlsberg UK shipments can now be managed without additional staff. Only one person processes the entire volume of EMCS submissions, without the need for assistance at peak times as before. This has enabled the Premium Warehousing staff to focus on their core tasks without distractions and support for EMCS.
While operational efficiency is key for Premium Warehousing in order to provide their clients with the best possible service, it is not the only benefit deriving from the deployment of the AEB solution: Central management and full transparency over all duty suspended excise goods movements including their current status are now provided for. This supports the operational side but also enables even better customer service and ensures customs compliance – two essential benefits for Premium Warehousing.
Chris Lee, Managing Director of Premium Warehousing, says: "In our business, especially dealing with perishable cargo, smooth operations and regulatory compliance are crucial to deliver first class customer service, keep a competitive edge and grow the business at the same time. If we had not implemented EMCS||XPRESS, we would not have been able to handle the major volumes increases without hiring additional staff or negative impacts on service levels."
Customs compliance in the area of EMCS not only refers to the correct processing of shipments and EMCS submissions, but of course also to the management and maintenance of all involved records until the goods have been released for consumption and excise duties have been paid. Even longer than that in fact, to ensure compliance with official archiving and record-keeping requirements. EMCS||XPRESS as part of the ASSIST4 solution suite from AEB provides Premium Warehousing with complete audit trails for every EMCS movement, and a clear overview of all receipts and transactions to ensure that missing receipts from final consignees can be promptly identified and conveniently requested from the relevant parties.
Fast, simple and ready for new volumes
From a user standpoint, using EMCS||XPRESS is fast and simple: dashboards, widgets, an assistant guiding the user through the system and intuitive user interfaces are just some of the factors that make using the AEB solution fast, efficient and in fact, actually fun. The system also provides pre-configured templates to re-use previously entered data for other shipments. This is highly convenient, as the product master files only need to be set up once, saving users significant amounts of manual data entry and resulting in reduced error-rates, improved data quality and much faster processing.
"Our users are very happy with the usability of the application, its features and how the solution supports their daily work. From a management point of view, we're pleased with the overall efficiency increase and the value we received for our investment. It's of additional benefit for us to use the same system as our customers, which further assists in meeting and exceeding their service expectations." explains Chris Lee.
In the 12 months up to May 2014, Premium Warehousing's shipment volume at their facility in Sywell totalled 6,700 pallets per week, the equivalent of 35 trailer loads per day on average. In the first week of May 2014, there was a peak of 10,719 pallets, the equivalent of 58 trailor loads per day. "Such peaks including excise goods under duty suspension would not be possible for us to process with existing teams and in accordance with fulfilment requirements without AEB's solution supporting the business. We're looking forward to future growth in excise goods distribution, supported by smooth EMCS processing with EMCS||XPRESS." Chris Lee concludes.