Supply Chain competence is key to business survival by Howard Knott: Featured in the Autumn edition of Handling Network

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) Supply Chain event series, held at venues throughout Ireland are a mix of large scale seminars, which include working groups on specific aspects of the Supply Chain, and smaller, roundtable events in which participation is restricted to manufacturing exporters located within the local area, rounding off with monthly webinars with expert speakers.

The Irish Exporters Association (IEA) Supply Chain event series, held at venues throughout Ireland are a mix of large scale seminars, which include working groups on specific aspects of the Supply Chain, and smaller, roundtable events in which participation is restricted to manufacturing exporters located within the local area, rounding off with monthly webinars with expert speakers.

Organized and hosted by the IEA, the meetings are open to members and non-members alike, is sponsored and supported by, Ulster Bank, Rhenus Logistics, Irish Rail and Fleet Transport magazine.

Alongside this programme and based on inputs from participants in earlier events the IEA has developed a suite of Training Courses in specific aspects of Supply Chain. With Brexit potentially looming in the very near future a major focus is on giving the exporter and the importer of raw material and part-manufactured products the tools to enable the company meet these new challenges with a minimum of disruption and cost.

One very specific tool here is the winning by the company of the status of Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). The Revenue Commissioners, which manage the programme in Ireland define an ‘AEO’ as follows: “An AEO is an “economic operator” who is authorised by Revenue because the operator is considered reliable in its Customs-related operations and is therefore entitled to enjoy certain benefits throughout the European Union”.

The benefits of AEO status, which has a focus on Customs Simplification are linked closely to the trader’s responsibilities under the terms of the European Union Customs Code (UCC) which is in the final stages of implementation throughout the Community and include:

  • Easier admittance to Customs simplifications as defining in the UCC
  • Fewer physical and documentary-based controls
  • Priority treatment is selected for control
  • The possibility to request a specific place for any physical controls to be carried out

In a trading environment, which will be new to many firms whose activities have, up to now been within the EU only, in which Customs Duties, Bonds etc., will become facts of life, the companies with the AEO status will be able to secure favourable treatment in these matters. This applies not only within the EU but also with Authorities in other States that have fundamentally similar validation systems in place.

Needless to say, securing AEO status from a standing start is neither quick nor easy but, nor is it particularly expensive. The next AEO training Course in the IEA series takes place on 10 September and details are on the IEA website.

Speaking at the Half-Year Multimodal update webinar in July, Declan Sinnott from series sponsor, Rhenus Ireland demonstrated that, for loads to and from continental Europe, shipment by Lo-Lo container can be timely and relatively inexpensive. Key for an exporter looking at this matter, is to establish the exact delivery needs of the customer. In many instances importers may only be in a position to discharge cargo on five days of the week so that, for example, there would be no point in a load arriving at the premises late on Friday afternoon and serious extra costs would be incurred. Howard Knott spoke about the intermodal route planner, development of which continues under an EU Intelligent transport System project which seeks to guide the trader to all current transport options for shipments.

Over the last number of months, the IEA has had a series of meetings with representatives of French Ports, including the Port of Dunkirk, to examine new supply chain possibilities using available and soon to constructed facilities. In the case of the latter port, Yvan Gomel spoke about the current development of a number of Distribution Centres on the Port Estate in anticipation of the likely disruption to Distribution patterns by Brexit.

On 28 September, the IEA will hold large scale seminar in Cork and this is followed by two roundtable events, 9 October, in Rosslare Europort and 24 October in Athlone. The annual ‘wrap-up’ event will be hosted by Ulster Bank in late November.