Nearly nine out of ten port calls at Esbjerg are booked via new digital portal

Just six months after it went live, more than 85 per cent of all port calls are now booked via the newly developed customer portal ‘CustomerPort’. The digital platform simplifies the process involved when calling at Esbjerg, declaring cargo and much more. “It makes our job so much easier – and it can be better still,” says Søren Clemmensen from Niels Winther Maritime.

Administratively, it has become easier to call at and depart from the port of Esbjerg.

Until recently, it required a great deal of correspondence to register, manage and complete a port call at the port of Esbjerg. You had to email with various people at the harbour, in accounts and the harbour master’s office. The copious correspondence with a number of different individuals in several email threads was inconvenient and increased the risk of error.

Now, a customer can organise a port call by logging in at the online portal ‘CustomerPort’ and entering a few details. That is all.

“It’s such a good idea to get this process simplified and establish just one point of access. We just enter vessel size, cargo declaration and the like, and then that’s it,” says Søren Clemmensen, head of marine services at Niels Winther Maritime. He is one of the many happy customers, delighted with the new digital portal.

Port Esbjerg is also very pleased with the reception of CustomerPort since the system was introduced in the spring.

“It’s gone without a hitch. We hoped and dreamt that, in time, some 75–80 per cent of our customers would use the online system, but already 85 per cent of our port calls are arranged in that way,” says Flemming Aarhus Pedersen, CFO at Port Esbjerg.

 Screendump of the new portal 'Customer Port'. Photo: Port Esbjerg.
 

Greater data security

From Port Esbjerg’s point of view, it is a huge advantage to gather all the information in one place. With 6,500 port calls a year, Aarhus Pedersen believes that getting the system up and running “can’t happen fast enough”.

However, customers will also notice a number of advantages. The system provides far greater transparency and greater speed in the exchange of information. This also means, for example, that it is easier to request a special berth with instructions that the ship must lie in the harbour with her starboard side against the quay. This information is now accessible to everyone.

“And customers can also book in the middle of the night or whenever suits them best. Furthermore, all the details are registered in one place, reducing the risk of error,” says Aarhus Pedersen.

The portal originates in a collaboration between five port authorities: Odense/Lindø, Fredericia, Hirtshals, Køge and Esbjerg, and the entire development process was indeed a collaborative effort. Collaboration and ease of use are key features of the system, as agents, shipping companies and brokers need only one log-in which they use for any of the five ports where they want to book. The portal is free of charge to customers who also have the option of connecting their own administrative systems to the portal via a so-called API.

The portal is in the “Cloud” which means that other Danish ports can join the collaboration and connect to the system, whatever ERP system they may use.

Another module will be added

Customers will find that the portal will work increasingly smoothly as more and more ships are registered in the system.

“When a ship is already in the database, the customer will spend much less time keying in details,” says Clemmensen. 

He is also really pleased with the uniformity of the process:

“With the portal, we get a smaller margin of error and we can see all the data. We also call at other ports in Denmark. It would be really handy if all the ports used the same system. In this way, we would have the entire communication thread available in one system, regardless of port,” he says.

Aarhus Pedersen agrees:

“The more, the merrier! The system will improve the greater the number of stakeholders using it. That includes customers, other ports and, in time, providers of other services at the ports. It is a very strong joint system, enabling us to exchange data quickly and safely, which is why we expect that it’ll grow further in the time to come.”

“It’s such a good idea to get this process simplified and establish just one point of access. We just enter vessel size, cargo declaration and the like, and then that’s it,” says Søren Clemmensen, head of marine services at Niels Winther Maritime. He is one of the many happy customers, delighted with the new digital portal. Photo: Niels Winther Maritime.
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