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Rapid take-up of Inttra platform as Solas VGM deadline looms

Rapid take-up of Inttra platform as Solas VGM deadline looms
As the 1 July deadline for implementation of new IMO Solas regulations on Verified Gross Mass (VGM) approaches, big international freight forwarders are the ones that appear to be at the vanguard in providing solutions.

According to Inttra Asia president Jim Whalen, the electronic transaction platform and information provider for the container industry has seen "a rapid accleration" in the number of sign-ups in the past few months with seven of the top 10 international freight forwarders set to sign up for its e-VGM platform.

Among these have been Keuhne & Nagel as well as top three line MSC. Meanwhile leading provider of innovative software for supply chain execution, Kewill is teaming up with Inttra to deliver the first freight forwarding software capable of helping shippers and forwarders comply with the new regulations.

The freight forwarders know that they need to handle cargo for customers and ensure "mininal disruption in their supply chain" and the big international ones in particular are keenly aware of this because of the global nature of their operations. They are going with Inttra because it provides a solution that is global and can be used around the world and will enable them to protect the interests of their customers, Whalen added.

On the carriers side, Whalen said that they "have always been ahead of the curve in thinking about Solas" and they are starting to realise that Inttra's platform is another viable channel besides their own systems to meet their customers' needs. Negotiations have progressed well and Inttra is seeing "an equivalent number of carriers" also signing up to their network.

There are still some pockets of the industry where implementation is being delayed for various reasons however. These include smaller national or regional-focussed freight forwarders and shippers that are awaiting instructions from national level authorities or their head offices, and from whom information is not as clear.

Of course, Whalen, who is in charge of the company's growth and expansion strategy in Asia and has responsibility for Inttra's operations in 11 countries across the region, admits that there are competitors with other systems such as port operators and the lines themselves. For example, leading port operators Hutchison Port Holdings and PSA have announced within the past few months that their network of terminals will be in full compliance of the new regulations while carriers such as Hong Kong's Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) have also announced guidelines and solutions.

"These provide options which are very useful to limit disruption in the supply chain and there is the opportunity for Inttra to partner with them," said Whalen. "It's about options and I believe there is no one way, whether it's going with Inttra or not; in e-commerce there has to be multiple ways in which shippers interact with business processes based on what makes sense, so for us providing the options and flexibility is success enough," he concluded.