In the world of digital technology, exporters prefer to conduct most of their activities online. It involves everything, from preparing various export documents to booking freight and managing the entire supply chain. Consequently, they enjoy numerous advantages like improved efficiency to reduced penalties and better compliance with international trade norms. Likewise, various government bodies have been abolishing the traditional practices and procedures to replace them with electronic ones.
For instance, every exporter needed to contact cargo terminal operators manually in order to obtain cargo acceptance. For this, they would fill the form called Export Receival Advice (ERA) and submit the same manually. It was a tedious task as it consumed a lot of time and had coordination issues. It was in the year 2004 that pre-receival advice (ERA) replaced ERA to address a lot of issues.
So, what is pre-receival advice or PRA? In simple words, it is a message from an exporter (or his or her agent) to stevedore, informing the latter about the cargo which is ready for dispatch to the cargo terminal. In response to this message, the stevedore grants cargo acceptance. It is only after the successful cargo acceptance message that the exporter sends the consignment to the terminal.
Now, there are many questions one may ask:
- First, why ERA proved to be an inefficient way to achieve cargo acceptance?
- Second, how PRA achieves the required efficiency?
- Third, how does this switch affect the overall trade supply chain?
- Most importantly, how ERA would have been a misfit in today’s world?
Let’s understand answers to these questions through the following points that are absolutely valid.
Manual Errors Are Unacceptable
Needless to say, no exporter can afford human errors in this era of extreme competition. To clarify, let’s take an example of including a wrong Customs Authority Number (CAN) in the information form submitted to a cargo terminal operator. Obviously, this leads to rejection of the form which further requires re-submission of the form. As a result, a lot of valuable time gets wasted which may result in shipping delays.
On the other hand, using a software to prepare and submit a PRA automates the entire process. It means that human participation is less and so are the chances of human errors.
Decentralised Data Reduces Productivity
Imagine how cumbersome it would be to refer to different paper files and scattered sources of information to prepare an ERA. You can expect many issues like misinformation, data inconsistency, loss of time and a huge amount of labour. As compared to this, preparing a PRA electronically using a centrally-controlled system can make the task much easier.
Moreover, existence of cloud data storage and processing systems, data centralisation has indeed become a boon. It is unbelievably faster and a convenient way to access data from any place, at any time and using any device. Hence, manual ERA submission is completely inappropriate in this scenario.
No Scope for Extra Time and Costs
The export businesses have always been worried about their bottom lines. However, communicating with terminal operators using ERA always led to wastage of time as well as money in many ways. On the other hand, submitting PRA using a suitable electronic system can help you in:
- Simultaneously sending the PRAs in bulk for all the containers in a consignment
- Communicating with different cargo terminals across Australia
- Responding quickly to any queries from the stevedores
- Fast-tracking to remain up-to-date about the PRA status
- Eliminating errors and mistakes and thereby, avoiding the possible penalties
Unsynchronised Export Documentation Can Bring in Inefficiency
Finally, you need to think about the complete process of export documentation and not just the manually-done ERA. Investing in one platform or system to maintain sync in preparing, sharing and storing various export documents can dramatically reduce the possibilities of any loophole.
For example, an exporter needs to share information included in a PRA with the shipping company as well. The terminal operator compares the information he or she receives from the exporter with that he or she receives from the shipping line. Due to this, it is essential that all details match accurately and it is possible only through synchronised documentation.
To conclude, PRA replaces ERA at the right time to meet the modern day trade requirements. Make sure that you make the best out of this transition using the best technology and tools.