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Quiet revolution at work for MTMC maritime shipments. (Direct Booking).

For the first time, the Military Traffic Management Command is allowing a customer to book a shipment directly through an ocean carrier Web page.

As a consequence, the time required to book shipments has been slashed.

The first test of the direct booking began March 1.

"Fantastic--terrific," said Tom Hicks, project director.

"This is all about speed and accuracy," said Hicks. "We are simplifying processes and speeding along the entire Defense Transportation System."

The key players are CSX Lines and the MTMC Customer Defense Supply Center in Philadelphia, a component of the Defense Logistics Agency.

"We are reducing customer wait time and providing time-definite delivery to customers now," said Curtis Moore, who is coordinating the project in the MTMC Distribution Analysis Center.

Eventually, the concept will be expanded to all MTMC customers and ocean carriers. The next carriers to join will probably be Matson and APL. The next customer to join is expected to be Defense Depot San Joaquin, Joaquin, Calif.

"The big benefit is quick input and very fast results," said Anne Di Sciullo, Traffic Management Specialist, Distribution Section, operations. "We received our booking number immediately. That is the most wonderful thing about it."

Defense Supply Center Philadelphia asked for three bookings on March 1--for a total of six shipping containers--to be loaded in Oakland, Calif., for delivery to Guam.

"For three booking actions it took 15 minutes. I can pass this information to the vendor, who can see it is getting into the terminal."

Di Sciullo's reaction?

"A lot quicker and a lot smoother," said the 15-year transportation veteran. "We've gotten them back the same day, but we can't count on it. This is instant. We know it's what we wanted--the vessel we wanted, out of the port we wanted."

Should the program be expanded?

"Absolutely; it needs to grow," said Di Sciullo.

Defense Supply Center Philadelphia ships approximately 5,000 to 6,000 containers a year. The bulk of the cargoes are food and some industrial goods.

CSX Lines has been working on the project since October.

"We had to adapt our Web booking system to some of the unique requirements of the military, such as the fact we needed to include a military traffic control number," said Paul Vicinanzo, Director, Government Sales & Marketing, of CSX Lines, Elizabeth, N.J.

"Tests went very well," said Vicinanzo. "We see great advantages in time saved for both ourselves and MTMC and its customers."

"The booking time has been cut dramatically and there is a lot more accuracy and control," said Vicinanzo. "Now, the booking is created and submitted, and you have a solid response."

"A customer is drilling right into our system and has instant access to in-transit visibility. In the past there were delays and filters."

Future bookings will probably be faster than 15 minutes, said Vicinanzo.

"If you do it with regularity, it is two to five minutes per booking."

The CSX transition to direct booking was assisted by a sophisticated information management platform, said Duncan Wright, manager of CSX Lines' E-Business.

"MTMC has been a great customer to partner with because its requirements are well detailed and well documented," said Wright. "This allowed for quicker development."

One out of four CSX Lines customers today book online, he said.

"We see great potential in Web-based solutions to help customers streamline their processes in container shipping," said Wright.

An added benefit for military customers is the availability of CSX Lines' ShipStat reports.

"These reports will aid the military in tracking its live container inventory within the supply chain," said Wright.

MTMC transporters were enthusiastic about the new dimension in ocean shipping.

"It is a quiet revolution at work," said Frank Galluzzo, Director, Distribution Analysis Center.

"This is all part of the Strategic Distribution Management Initiative, which seeks to reduce shipping times--primarily by squeezing time out of the transshipment nodes."

The direct booking concept takes MTMC out of the middleman role. Currently, the command's ocean shipments are booked in the Integrated Booking System, MTMC-unique automated software. The bookings are handled by an office in the Deployment Support Command at Fort Eustis, Va.

"Their (carrier) systems are superior to our home-grown systems on our best day," said Galluzzo.
COPYRIGHT 2001 U.S. Military Traffic Management Command
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Title Annotation:Military Traffic Management Command
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2001
Previous Article:MTMC begins pilot program in three Southeastern states. (Third-party logistics).
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