Logistics Moving at Wharf Speed
Shanghai has served as one of China’s major trading ports for about one hundred years. China has aspired to build Shanghai into an international financial and recognized shipping center since the country launched economic reforms and announced an opening-up policy.
Shanghai International Port Group Co., Ltd. or SIPG, founded in June 2005, is one of the largest port operators around the globe and the biggest in China. In 2016, SIPG reported a container throughput of more than 37 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), ranking first in the world for the seventh year in a row. During the first half of 2017, SIPG already handled a record high of approximately 19.604 million TEUs. Additionally, SIPG went public in 2015, becoming one of the constituents of the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) 50 Index. In 2017, SIPG became one of the first barometer stocks included on the Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) Index. Further, SIPG has expanded its business into other sectors; for example, investing in the famous Shanghai SIPG Football Club that has a favorable reputation similar to Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao Football Club.
Shanghai Harbor E-Logistics Software Co., Ltd. is a high-tech company owned by SIPG. Shanghai Harbor E-Logistics stands out for its port Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and logistics software, and other products that rank among the top in the domestic market. The company’s new product lines specialize in port management software and improving port automation. The Chinese ports built upon Shanghai Harbor E-Logistics are among the first ports where China owns the indigenous intellectual property rights.
Shanghai Harbor E-Logistics constructed an extensive shipping tracking platform (http://www.hb56.com/) with Huawei’s cloud technologies by the end of 2016. This platform helps resolve two main issues in the shipping industry:
• The data generated by daily operations at ports and wharfs rapidly expands so data queries were difficult in the past. However, utilization of the new shipping tracking platform greatly facilitates data queries and is highly accepted among industry users. With the platform, users can accurately and quickly query the location of each container and understand subsequent operations.
• The platform also solves the data communication issues existing between many enterprises and users in the industry. Currently, this platform has consolidated all data of 17 midsize and large wharfs along the backbone and trunk lines of the Yangtze River, and implemented standardized data exchanges. The latest version — 2.0 — of this platform has added a new function of proactively pushing the shipping information to registered users, in contrast to the traditional approach where users had to log in to perform data queries. This convenient function has been highly commended by users to improve operations.
During the early stages of platform development, the project team at Shanghai Harbor E-Logistics faced great pressures. After in-depth communications with the project survey team and software development team, three main issues emerged when defining platform requirements:
• How could we cope with mass access requests? Our original data query system was for internal use only, and the volumes of access and data bursts were controllable. However, after the platform goes live on the Internet, outsiders can also access the platform and the access requests are going to increase dramatically.
• Infrastructure set-up must be completed within one month, which is a great challenge.
• How could we determine the initial size of basic systems in the design phase? Would we have to build a small data center or invest in only a single device at the very beginning?
With these three main issues in mind, we conducted many rounds of internal discussions and assessments, and finally selected a cloud solution proposed and recommended by Huawei. With the support of Huawei cloud services, the platform currently supports the following six main functions:
• Sailing schedule query: Provides the departure plan for outbound containers, the sailing schedule applied for by the shipping agent, as well as berthing and unberthing plan for containers at the wharfs for the Port of Shanghai.
• Container and cargo query: Allows users to query information about containers, cargo, permitted release, pre-recorded information, plans, and others; provides information about containers at the wharfs along the Yangtze River enabled by the Port of Shanghai; and implements a complete tracking process.
• Verified Gross Mass (VGM) weighing information: Allows users to download the weight records of the Outbound Full (OF) containers at the wharfs of Shanghai’s port.
• Permitted release information: Allows users to query the customs-permitting-release information sent through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
• Packing list pre-recording: Allows users to query the EDI pre-recording information about the packing list for OF containers.
• Links to other major websites: Provides links to Shanghai E&P International Inc., the customs clearance portal for Shanghai Customs, various wharf systems from different operators, and official websites of various shipping enterprises.
Huawei’s cloud technologies and products are mature and meet our requirements in various aspects. Specifically, these technologies and products offer high flexibility and allow for customized network bandwidth, to best fulfill Internet services. Testing, service rollout, and Operations and Maintenance (O&M) are more convenient. Huawei’s pre-sales and after-sales teams are highly skilled professionals who provide powerful support and implemented a detailed solution within just one week. As a result, system deployment and team training were completed within 18 days. Regarding future system capacity expansion, Huawei’s approaches also meet our requirements: From the initial phase of this project, the overall budget was manageable, and there is a very clear price system for future phases.
The platform continues to streamline operations since its completion in late 2016. During this period of time, the system has been continuously upgraded and optimized. Huawei always provides unmatched professional services. In addition to a dedicated after-sales service manager for this project, Huawei engineers are reachable around the clock and help to quickly solve problems. To date, Huawei has improved system performance by more than 10 times, not to mention the resolution of many tiny issues. In particular, Huawei’s service teams have patiently assisted us in analyzing and resolving the inherent issues of our own products.
For cloud technology advancement, Huawei has been continuously innovating and launching a series of novel products and solutions, paving the way for future needs. After long-term cooperation, we have established a clear division of responsibilities: Huawei is responsible for the design and implementation of infrastructure, and we take charge of the development and deployment of the entire set of software applications. In doing so, the two companies assure win-win outcomes, which is the key to collaboration between both parties.
As Cloud continues to transform the shipping industry, at Shanghai Harbor e-Logistics, we are clear about our responsibilities and positioning. Our vision is to connect scattered resources into an open, win-win industry ecosystem. This aspiration will be a long, constant journey. Our plan is deeper cooperation with Huawei to ease this journey and make our vision a reality.