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Get ahead of international trade challenges with X-Border, innovative one-stop global shipping management platform


Johannesburg, 07 Oct 2021
Read time 5min 00sec
  • The pandemic has highlighted long-standing operational inefficiencies in the global shipping sector.
  • Increased complexity and thin margins encourage companies to avoid modernisation, but ultimately to their detriment.
  • Previous digital systems used to manage shipping are ill-fitted, expensive and not effective enough.
  • X-Border, developed by SITC, leveraged the latest digital technology to offer a single management platform that integrates with shipping value chains, reduces cost and complexity and offers unprecedented visibility.

The global shipping and logistics industry has an opportunity to modernise its processes, unlocking efficiencies and cost-savings hidden behind outdated systems and processes. This opportunity arises from the confluence of several factors. Siyakhanda International Trade Concepts (SITC) has combined these factors into a flexible platform called X-Border – the end-to-end digital answer to modernising and improving the shipping logistics chain.

Herman de Bruin, SITC's CEO.
Herman de Bruin, SITC's CEO.

Shipping a container is considerably more expensive than it was a year ago. A 20-foot container that cost $2 100 in 2020 now charges $3 700. According to Time Magazine, shipping a 40-foot container from Shanghai to Rotterdam costs $10 522. That is 547% higher than the average price in 2016.

There are several reasons for such jumps in price. But the fundamental problem is one of complexity: Different parts of shipping value chains use different systems and hold different levels of technology maturity. In the complex and low-margin world of international trade, this fracturing causes knock-on effects. It has been a growing problem for many years, and as far back as 2005, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) started testing ways to improve the sector.

Responses to COVID-19 compounded these structural shortcomings to their breaking point. But it also demonstrates where there are gains to be made, says Herman de Bruin, SITC's CEO: "The pandemic has changed the industry forever. Companies have realised that they need to prioritise keeping their business running effectively when faced with barriers such as staff working from home and in isolation. Mandatory lockdowns have demonstrated that teams can operate remotely and independently, and companies are seeking ways to use these changes in working patterns to save costs and improve efficiencies by using integrated software. Systems such as X-Border create the visibility that enables staff to reliably identify critical issues and make informed decisions using a single web-based platform that is accessible from anywhere."

X-Border is chief among a new breed of platform services that enable international trade through digital technology. Unlike a more traditional shipment management system, X-Border harnesses modern developments in digital technology to give every part of the shipping value chain precisely what it needs to be effective, reduce costs and create visibility:

  • One portal to manage and enable the entire shipment value chain.
  • A customs self-filing solution that provides businesses with a full clearing and forwarding function.
  • Track and trace shipments at each point in the process.
  • A cloud-based platform that can be securely reached via an internet connection, vastly simplifying deployment and maintenance requirements.
  • Interactive and customisable dashboards to monitor and manage every aspect of the shipment value chain.
  • Automate time-consuming processes such as checking of documentation against a letter of credit (L/C).
  • Integration with existing operational systems inside a company.
  • Integration with customs authorities.
  • No wasted costs due to unused features: Selectively use modules to assign the right features to the right parts of an operation.
  • Start with a small or big deployment, and scale as required.
  • Maintain documentary requirements for moving cargo across borders and ensure full regulatory compliance.
  • Draw shipment logistics data for smarter planning and avoiding pitfalls.

Stop switching between multiple portals to manage international shipments. X-Border is a single digital platform to manage, transform and optimise shipping operations across the shipping value chain from enquiries, quotes and cargo booking to customs clearing and invoicing.

"Africa has been resistant to change and slow to adopt the legal frameworks needed to support digitisation of customs and shipping operations," says De Bruin. "However, new WCO frameworks and standards are promoting automation and the standardisation of data requirements across international supply chains. In South Africa, the Customs Modernisation Programme and proposed Customs Bill will greatly facilitate modernisation and incentivise businesses to take control of their data and compliance processes by using appropriate systems and technologies."

X-Border is fully integrated with customs authorities and empowers companies to confidently prepare and file complete, accurate and timely customs declarations without using third parties. It creates the visibility that enables staff to reliably identify critical issues and make informed decisions using a single web-based platform accessible from anywhere.

Whether one looks at the staggering recent jump in costs for a shipping container, considers the many container ships idling outside congested ports, or recalls how one ship jamming up a canal had global ramifications, the message is clear: International shipping must modernise. It's a competitive imperative.

Fortunately, with X-Border, any company within a shipping value chain can realise that ambition without the excessive costs and complexity generally associated with new technologies. Contact SITC and start guiding your shipping value chain into a new era.

We also have a sister company, Automated Customs Outsourcing Solutions (ACOS), that assists clients to review their customs and system compliance in preparation of X-Border implementations. ACOS will be able to advise you on the best practices and methods to accomplish this. In addition, ACOS can also advise on all customs and excise matters and offer a full outsourcing service, including the processing of import and export transactions. ACOS has the same contact details as SITC.

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