Terminals are businesses, and, like any business, they face competition in the marketplace. A terminal that can turn vessels around more quickly provides added value to customers who in turn can use that extra time to create more value in their own businesses. So, to stay competitive, today’s terminals must maximize their throughput capacity and efficiency.
However, today’s terminals are more complex than ever, just as they are staffed by fewer expert personnel than ever. While this may seem like an insurmountable obstacle, Emerson’s Kevin Niles and Sandy Tiu, in their recent article in Tanks & Terminals (pages 19-22), posit that it is anything but. Effective terminals, they explain, are using order-to-cash software to capitalize on this paradigm, dramatically enhancing their capabilities and capturing competitive advantage.
The most advanced order-to-cash software solutions on the market are designed to improve terminal efficiency by eliminating downtime and slow time. Solutions like Emerson’s Synthesis™ software digitalize terminal operations by collecting all information about a customer’s order for movement of product into, out of, or even within the terminal. This lays the foundation for further digitalization of the process, Niles and Tiu explain,
“As the movements occur, the software automatically creates a movement ticket, providing visibility of the entire process, while tracking customer inventory by terminal, tank, or product. Following the completion of the movement, the software updates the contractual service charges, including leasing of tanks, the throughput itself, and even ancillary services, such as heating tanks and line flushes.”
Eliminating manual planning empowers personnel
Terminal teams using order-to-cash software find they no longer waste copious amounts of time planning movement of product within the facility. Instead of tracking via complex spreadsheets that are intimidating to use and error prone, teams have instant, real-time visibility of how product is moving through the complex network of pipes, valves, and tanks across the terminal. They also increase safety and quality, avoiding mixing where necessary and automatically mixing where desirable. And when everything is complete, operators automatically have a complete paper trail for auditing.
Teams also use order-to-cash software to navigate the complexity of international operations. Instead of keeping vessels stranded as teams scramble to process customs paperwork, the process can be automatically managed in the software. Tiu and Niles explain,
“Order-to-cash solutions streamline the customs process through business-to-business connections with the customs authority. As a batch is processed through a terminal, order-to-cash software can process the customs application and automatically submit the data to the proper customs authority.”
“Customs can then digitally return clearance, at which point the order-to-cash software automatically updates status and documentation, allowing the vessel to depart whether clearance was granted in the middle of the afternoon or the dead of night.”
Value beyond the financial
Though the financial benefits of moving customers through the terminal more quickly are obvious, the investment pays off in other ways as well. Because terminals employing digital solutions to better manage their operations regularly outperform their competitors, they see benefits in improved goodwill and loyalty from customers as well. Such benefits can bring return on investment for decades.
You can learn more about the advantages of order-to-cash software, including seeing some real-world examples of the benefits, by reading the article in full at Tanks & Terminals.