Digital Transformation at Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata

Debasish Chattopadhyay

Adoption of digital tools to transform the operations, processes and organizational culture is growing in Indian businesses. Logistics industry is no stranger to the development and several digital initiatives across the industry have helped improve Ease of Doing Business Ranking and Logistics Performance Index of India. 
Under the guidance of Ministry of Shipping, Govt. of India, Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata (SMP, Kolkata) is driving the digital transformation across the verticals to improve the operational efficiency, productivity and transparency, said Vinit Kumar, Chairman, Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata.
Kumar, Chairman, SMP, Kolkata stated that an RFID based Port Access Control System (PACS) has been functioning at Kolkata Dock System and Haldia Dock Complex, bolstering security and addressing traffic congestion at gates. The PACS provides single window module to the port users for obtaining permit/ passes through 100% cashless transaction. In order to eliminate the paper-based information exchange, the port coordinated with various stakeholders to streamline the process for adoption of Electronic Delivery Order (eDO) under PCS 1x for import containers. Today, Kolkata dock ranks second among the major ports of India in issuance of eDOs.
With the onset of Covid-19 pandemic, SMP Kolkata moved with great alacrity and rolled out various digital initiatives considering the lockdown and social distancing measures. Among the major ones, online payments of shed/yard license fee, wharfage (other than containers) and Stevedoring/ Shore handling royalty were started immediately. Acceptance of online application for renewal of jetty sircar license was also facilitated for the port users.  Going a step further, complete digitization of export container documentation process was also launched at Kolkata dock. Similarly, an integrated system consisting PACS and Weighbridges was developed at Haldia dock for online processing of loading orders for delivery of import dry bulk cargo by road. Digitization of import container documentation process at Kolkata Dock and receiving of export dry bulk cargo at Haldia dock is under implementation stage and expected to start soon.
In addition to above, SMP Kolkata started a dedicated Covid-19 web portal for users disseminating port’s, GoWB’s and GoI’s circulars clearly and providing latest updates related to port’s operations and initiatives. A separate web portal for employees and pensioners was also developed to facilitate the online information exchange.
SMP Kolkata is also steering the transformation within the organization. Implementation of an Enterprise Business System (EBS) is under progress and is expected to be operational soon. The EBS adopts a set of best practices for carrying out all business processes through business process re-engineering. Re-engineering exercise has already reduced more than thousand processes to few hundred processes only. The EBS is expected to enable faster delivery of services, provide simplified and accelerated procedures, reduce manual intervention, cost and time and enhance transparency across systems. The port is also adopting a digital workplace solution, eOffice, paving the way for an efficient and open governance by streamlining workflow of internal processes and making them paperless.
 Vinit Kumar, Chairman, SMP, Kolkata further stated that in recent future, SMP Kolkata plans to launch digital projects to reduce road/ yard congestion and facilitate coastal shipping. The Port has collaborated with a digital platform provider to increase the backloading of trailers in and around the dock. The platform connects the users (demand) and transporters (supply) on a real time basis which improves the asset utilization and reduces the process time, congestion and logistics cost. The Port also plans to rope in a digital solution provider for real time tracking of containers inside the dock. This solution aims to reduce the yard congestion, improve the yard planning and reduce the container dwell time. To facilitate the coastal shipping, SMP Kolkata is undertaking an ambitious project to develop an integrated e-Marketplace for the coastal shipping stakeholders. The e-Marketplace will be a single window system for all coastal shipments and will facilitate an integrated end-to-end, transparent and hassle-free online system.
Modernization of ports, especially in the context of digitalization is of paramount importance in logistics sector. Recognizing this need, SMP Kolkata is steadily adopting the digital and automated solutions to induce better coordination with logistics stakeholders, thereby, resulting in increased operational efficiencies and better utilization of existing assets.