Sea ports play a vital role in the Exim trade and thereby in the economic development of a country. To become globally competitive, due importance needs to be given to the development of infrastructure in general and port sector in particular, as ports play vital role in the overall economic development of the country. In India, more than 90% in terms of volume and 70% in terms of value of foreign trade involve sea leg. Therefore, the ports ought to be efficient and effective to enhance the competitive edge of India’s foreign trade.
In India, at present, there are 12 major ports, six on the west and six on the east coast each and about 69 operational non-major ports/private ports contributing to the maritime trade. These ports are spread along the country’s long coastline of around 7517 km on the western and eastern shelves of the mainland and also along the islands.
Understanding the key importance of technology, the Indian Ports Association, has already taken a series of initiatives to transform Indian ports. It has leveraged ERP to connect all the major ports to decrease the turnaround time, and bring about ease of doing business.
Another major initiative taken by the Indian Ports Association is the Port Community System (PCS), which aims to be the centralized hub for the electronic flow of trade related information for all ports and ports related entities.
Explains Sudhir Kanvinde, Executive Director-IT, Indian Ports Association, “As a part of Electronic Commerce/Electronic Data Interchange(EC/EDI) for Trade, Port Community System (PCS) project was envisaged, which intended the electronic flow of trade related information/document and function as the centralized hub for all the ports of India and other stake holders (like Shipping lines/Agents, Surveyors, Stevedores, Banks, Container Freight Stations, Customs House agents, Importers, Exporters, Railways/CONCOR, Government regulatory agencies, etc. for exchanging electronic messages in a secure manner. During the Covid -19 situation, the eBL solution, which works on Block chain (Ethereum) Technology, was integrated with PCS 1x in record time.“
The PCS is a centralized web application that acts as a single window for port community members and stakeholders to exchange messages electronically in a secure fashion. The objective is to achieve a paperless regime in the paper sector and reduce time and cost in the ports sector. There are also plans to implement an e-commerce portal for the port community.
Understanding the critical importance of the Port Community System (PCS) and its impact, the Government recently conferred the Digital India Award on December 30th 2020 under the ‘Exemplary Product’ category. The IPA received the award in the presence of the honourable president of India, Ram Nath Kovind
In addition to the above, the Executive Director (IT) Sudhir Kanvinde, under the leadership of the MD, IPA is also working on The Enterprise Business Solution (EBS) initiative. It aims to build capabilities across Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and software delivery platforms and promote IT skill sets. “The initiative targets to create digital infrastructure and ensure seamless integration and availability of services in real time from online and mobile platforms. An initiative of this size and complexity is a significant undertaking for any organization. EBS will be rolled out at the five major Indian Ports and eventually at other ports. The IPA IT team is also working on implementing Digital Twin and getting ready for Digitalisation of the port sector,” explains Sudhir.