As Canada continues to tighten its customs and border controls in an increasingly security-conscious era, as of April 19 any company shipping cargo by ship into Canada must submit a cargo manifest electronically to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) 24 hours before the goods are loaded in the

foreign port.

While many larger companies may already have electronic data interchange solutions in place to comply with the new regulations by virtue of their existing legacy infrastructures, the Chamber of Shipping of British Columbia was concerned many smaller companies may not have the technical expertise or resources to find the right solution.

With that in mind, membership coordinator Caroline Simster said the Chamber decided to form a committee and research the software and solutions available to help its members comply with the new requirements, which are part of the federal government’s Advance Commercial Information regulations.

“”Some of the smaller agents certainly wouldn’t have the capabilities or the resources to go out and research a company that could provide that service, so we did that on their behalf,”” said Simster. “”We asked 12 companies that were on CBSA’s approved-vendor list for RFPs.””

After wading through the proposals they received, Simster said they decided TradePalette from CrimsonLogic offered the most flexibility, and the best pricing, security and ease of use, and has recommended the company’s solution to its members.

Based in Singapore with its North American headquarters in Toronto, CrimsonLogic is an Application Service Provider (ASP) focusing on the trade, logistics, legal and healthcare sectors. TradePalette is aimed at the SME market, with a number of modules for e-commerce, trade documentation and supply-chain management.

Simster said the goal was to find a solution that was easy-to use, since most of the Chamber’s members aren’t well versed in technology. With TradePalette allowing users to enter information through a Web-based form and submit the information securely, Simster said they felt the ease of use was there.

When it comes to complying with the new regulations though, Simster said cost was probably the top concern of their members.

“”It always comes down to money — how much is this going to cost me?”” said Simster. “”That’s usually the concern. Changing the rules, how much more is it going to cost be to operate my business?””

Peter Owsiany, vice-president and general manager of CrimsonLogic North America, said customs clearance is just part of TradePalette. There are also modules for procurement, virtual inventory and freight that can connect into existing legacy systems.

“”TradePalette is a Web-based portal that is scaleable and has various modules in it,”” said Owsiany. “”It allows companies to collaborate with their trading partners over the Internet in a secure manner.””

The customs module allows Canadian companies to self-clear goods coming into Canada, submitting the data directly to CBSA. Owsiany said CrimsonLogic has similar arrangements with a number of Asian countries, including Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, China, Korea and Japan, allowing an agent to clear both importing and exporting requirements through TradePalette.

The modules for inventory and supply chain management are designed to tie into the larger high-end systems suppliers may be using, like Oracle or SAP, and communicate between them. So, Owsiany said, Mom and Pop in their PC can tie into Wal-Mart’s system.

“”It’s not there to replace enterprise systems; it’s there to collaborate with them,”” said Owsiany. “”It ties businesses and governments together so they can pass information effectively through the Internet without having to re-key that information on various legacy systems.””

Since TradePalette is an ASP solution, Owsiany said all that a user needs is a PC with high-speed Internet access. For more advanced users, some customization can be done around workflows and processes, but for the average SME Owsiany said little customization will be necessary.

Owsiany said there is a nominal one-time sign-on fee, a monthly subscription fee, and a fee per transaction, and Chamber members will be given preferred pricing.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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