Port of Oakland to create new digital platform for its stakeholders

The move aligns with an industry migration toward digitalization of international supply chains for the sake of efficiency.

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Port of Oakland officials today promised a digital shipping platform by mid-year to speed up global trade flows.

According to port spokesmen, Oakland is building an online portal for transactions that range from tracking to transporting containerized cargo. The move aligns with an industry migration toward digitalization of international supply chains for the sake of efficiency. 

The port previewed its portal - called a digital collaboration platform - at an American Association of Port Authorities meeting in Oakland yesterday. Port officials said it would provide a single window for cargo owners or freight haulers who want to:

Get personalized cargo status updates;
Check ocean vessel schedules;
Pay freight-handling fees; or
Make appointments to pick up containerized cargo.

“This is the next big thing in global trade,” said Oakland Senior Project Administrator Eric Napralla. "It’s a common platform – one place where everyone can go to more easily view and direct their shipments.”

Development of the portal is already underway and it will roll out in phases, the port said. It projected a third-quarter 2018 launch date for the site.

Oakland is working with New Jersey-based logistics software provider Advent Intermodal Solutions LLC to create the portal. The firm’s eModal port community system is already used by every marine terminal operator at the port.

That will make it easier to roll out a common platform, the port explained.

Terminals are the “pivot point” of containerized trade, ocean vessels, trucks and trains converge to transport cargo. According to the port, Advent will aggregate information from Oakland’s four terminals to create a harbor-wide community portal. 

Speculation that more “uber-like” drayage models might take advantage of this development has yet to to be addressed, however.

“Not hearing much discussion about that here,” said the port’s communications director, Mike Zampa.  “But a digital information platform across the entire Port of Oakland will make supply chain management more efficient.  There’ll be greater predictability in cargo flow and less wasted time for those who transport cargo.”

Ports nationwide are considering digital portals to accelerate freight transport.  Oakland said it intends to be one of the first to go live with the new technology. It could also be one of the few with an online portal that’s used by every terminal operating within a port.

The port said shippers would be better able to manage international supply chains once its portal is in place.

For example, cargo owners would know with greater precision when to expect merchandise. Trucking companies would know exactly when and where to dispatch drivers for container pick-up. Marine terminals would benefit from more efficient movement of cargo in and out of the port.

“They’ll only log in to the portal once,” Napralla explained. “Then they can navigate the entire port with a few simple clicks.”

About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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