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Don’t Let Trade Uncertainty Hang You Up at the Ports

Time is money, as the saying goes, and this could be no truer than during today’s age of lightning-quick market changes.

Being agile is now the name of the game, and with it speed to market has evolved to become Priority No. 1 for apparel and textile manufacturers and brands. As a result, port activity has taken on a new urgency, with any bit of unexpected congestion capable of wreaking havoc on tight turnarounds and razor-thin margins.

Congestion at the ports can result from equipment shortages, increased dwell time due to U.S. Customs and Border Protection exams, holds related to intellectual property rights questions for importers, and valuation issues in light of the Section 301 duties (a.k.a. List 3 Tariffs).

To help alleviate these challenges, Alba Wheels Up International, a logistics company, has not only developed a Container Tracking Module to increase efficiency and accuracy, but it also works with companies to properly navigate the 301 duties and develop strategies that are specific to a company’s challenges. Both of these solutions combine to increase speed to market while simultaneously reducing costs.

“Speed to market, even through retail brick-and-mortar distribution channels, is still very time sensitive in the apparel and textile industries,” Vincent Iacopella, executive vice president of growth and strategy at Alba Wheels Up International, said  “Our proactive dialogue with government agencies permits us to mitigate customs holds by providing advanced data on IPR and valuation. Speed to market challenges due to late production are out of our control, but tracking using advanced data can mitigate the damage.”

Capable of tracking over 98 percent of ocean bill of ladings worldwide without prior setups or customer registration processes, the company’s Container Tracking Module pulls data directly from ocean carriers, railways, terminals, facilities and AIS vessel-tracking satellites. It integrates with transportation management systems, ERP systems and warehouse management systems, as well as API and EDI integrations for customers and third parties to integrate.

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One accommodation is the ability to track shipments for which Alba does or doesn’t handle the freight (as line direct contracts) for their clients. This sets the system apart from other logistic providers whose systems require use of their services, said Salvatore J. Stile II, president of Alba.

Furthermore, the automation uses private blockchain technology to reconcile conflicting information from multiple data providers. Doing so ensures the data and certifications can’t be changed, Stile said. The company soon plans to use public blockchains and make the API for its private blockchain public to the trade.

“Depending on the client, we have seen the reduction in monitoring containers to exception-based reporting by 85 percent,” he added. “Thousands of containers can be tracked, and those that have delays or issues can be identified in minutes.”

To help importers navigate the often-thorny China 301 duties, Alba combines tactical and strategic advice for companies managing their “Stay in China” strategies, as well as those sourcing in Vietnam, Bangladesh and elsewhere.

“As customs brokers, we help our customers be compliant on valuation and country of origin issues,” Iacopella said . “We also scrub our own database for the HTS numbers and our customers who are affected and proactively dialogue with them on duty obligations, as well as tracking the approved exclusions to the products and articles subject to the duties.”

Proper tracking and duty management can result in a substantial reduction in labor costs. “Preventing charges associated with shipping delays and managing the return of containers to terminals can be tens of thousands of dollars for medium-size importers and hundreds of thousands of dollars for larger importers,” noted Stile. Additionally, it saves the costs associated with order cancellations if goods are late.

Click to learn more about Alba Wheels Up International.