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How a pain point in Egypt spurred the timber industry towards efficiency and cooperation

A dramatic increase in the prevalence of supply chain pain points has presented an opportunity for innovation and collaboration, whilst underscoring the importance of digital solutions in the timber logistics sector.

Timber companies used the term “pain point” to refer to an inefficient port or a particularly cumbersome customs authority.

These pain points stood out because they were isolated pockets of inefficiency, delaying an otherwise well-functioning network that carried everything from raw materials to finished goods from one corner of the world to the other.

Over the last year, that has all changed. Pain points became endemic.

The networks that we all depend on have been pushed close to the breaking point, with pain points proliferating and volatility increasing.

While many timber industry stakeholders are rightfully unhappy about these conditions, there is a silver lining.

Efforts to streamline pain points have forced the industry to move beyond the “tried-and-true,” and adopt technology solutions that will continue to deliver cost savings long after the pandemic is in our rear-view mirror.

To illustrate this trend, let us unpack a solution implemented by Centersource Technologies in partnership with CargoX, which we believe is the sort of solution that this moment calls for.

We have increased cooperation and eliminated redundancies using blockchain technology to create an efficient, secure means of navigating a geographic and bureaucratic pain point – importing timber, in this case, into Egypt.

Egypt established NAFEZA, a portal to connect customs and governmental authorities in Egypt with trade parties: importers, exporters, shipping lines & brokers.

To this end, an Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system was created to achieve Egypt’s goals of conducting early assessments of goods imported before shipments arrived at Egyptian ports, and to expedite the customs clearance procedures.

Centersource - Timber pain point

While Egypt’s new system is ostensibly about speeding up customs procedures and improving border security, we have used this opportunity to partner with CargoX, allowing exporters to upload documents from our platform using blockchain technology that ensures transparency and accountability between people and organizations.

We are integrating with Egypt’s customs authority, via CargoX, to make the process truly seamless across documents issued by chambers of commerce, vessel shipment tracking and schedules, and much more, in a streamlined format where the importer can collaborate in Arabic and has clear warnings and milestones of the process

This automated transmission of documents creates a seamless integration of the timber supply chain with a national customs body.

We’ve transformed what used to be siloed processes and created a space where customers can engage in the transactional side of the business (tender ocean freight, negotiate offers, draft documents, and much more) and at the same time navigate the bureaucracy of international trade.

This latest addition to the suite of tools that we offer our customers is part of a growing toolbox created to mitigate supply chain risks for the forestry industry. It builds on a holistic effort to establish accountability, efficiency, transparency, and integration as industry norms.

At Timber Exchange, we believe that the challenges we face require a combination of cooperation and technology. This means automating actionable notifications, automating manual tasks, making information available to companies in their languages, and integrating players across the supply chain.

In pursuit of this, we have incorporated more than 80 smart tools to increase supply chain efficiency, and save time and money via automated processes and information flows.

Our platform lets users track their shipments and couriers, send tasks to colleagues and trade partners, and track responsibilities and milestones in the deal process.

Centersource sends alerts in the event of any deviations. Users can upload, edit and approve documents. This means that they can both add existing contracts and explore new business opportunities in an open marketplace. This consolidation and automation is key to eliminating pain points.

New pain points will emerge in the months and years ahead, because this is the new normal. We’re in new territory.

But as agents of cooperation and results, our technology and communications-driven approach make us ready for the challenge.

We’re building a supply chain collaboration platform, working with our partners, customers, and stakeholders to ensure that everything that happens, from the first business inquiry by an exporter until the goods arrive at destination, is free of pain points.

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