The eManifest US initiative is in full swing, and all carriers crossing the border are now required to file advance electronic shipment data and other information to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) before arriving at the border or port. ACE serves as the Single Window through which the trading community and customs exchange electronic messages.
What is ACE e-Manifest?
ACE eManifest aims to simplify cross border trade and facilitate the movement of legitimate goods while ensuring the safety and security of Americans. CBP has worked with the White House and other agencies to set an ACE transition timeline aligned with the December 2016 full implementation deadline of ACE as a Single Window for communication exchange. On May 1, 2015, the use of ACE for electronic manifest data transmission became mandatory in all modes of transport (air, marine, rail and highway/truck).
eManifests contain details of the cargo, conveyance, shipper and recipient. All electronic manifest information must be submitted to CBP via ACE. Carriers, forwarders, brokers and importers can exchange electronic messages with CBP via ACE using a variety of methods. The first and most common option is through Electronic Data Interchange or EDI, which directly connects one computer system to another. Trucks and highway carriers can also submit eManifest data to CBP using the ACE Secure Data Portal or ACE Portal. The ACE Portal is a free, web-based tool that is easy to use.
Another data transmission option is an ACE solution provided by a CBP-approved third party ACE service provider. Common ACE solutions from third parties are eManifest tools for air, marine, highway and rail clients and ACE Automated Broker Interface (ABI) service. A third-party solution also works great or high-volume eManifest filing and clients who transmit data to CBP on a regular basis.
Transitioning to eManifest US
CBP has advised all trucks entering the U.S. to file manifest data electronically since 2007, although the mandatory use of ACE for electronic filings was implemented only recently (June 7, 2015). Soon, electronic entry and entry summary filings via ACE will also become mandatory. CBP encourages the trade community to use electronic filing as early as possible. CBP has given the cargo industry time to prepare for ACE implementation, but some companies may be struggling to transition to the new system.
Third party ACE service providers such as CrimsonLogic’s Global eTrade Services (GeTS) offer flexible solutions that make electronic filing simple and straightforward. If you are considering working with a third-party ACE service provider, it is absolutely crucial to select the right vendor. A reputable and trustworthy company will not only provide great service, but also help you save money and grow your business.
Third Party ACE Electronic Manifest Providers
Many third-party ACE providers are experienced logistics solutions providers or 3PLs that provide comprehensive logistics solutions. Logistics providers offer their expertise, technology and best practices that can be integrated into supply chain processes to reduce costs, improve efficiency and improve business competitiveness. ACE providers may specialize in eManifest solutions or offer a wide range of logistics services.
Choosing the Right ACE Service Provider
By working with a trustworthy ACE provider, your business can benefit from a wide network of carrier relationships, the latest technology, and a deep understanding of ACE and industry regulations. Third party ACE solutions can help grow your business, optimize processes and improve the customer experience.
It can be challenging to select an ACE service provider because of the options available and the many factors to be considered during the vetting process. Here’s a guide to help you find the right ACE solution provider:
1. Evaluate capabilities.
Before you even begin looking for a solutions provider, you must build a solid case for outsourcing. This entails an evaluation of your capabilities and weaknesses or areas of the supply chain process that needs improvement. Your decision to hire a third-party ACE service provider should be based on hard data. Here are some questions to ask when you are evaluating internal capabilities:
· What type of ACE service do you need?
· Do you need other e-cargo services?
· How long do you intend to use the service/s?
· What is your weekly or monthly eManifest filing volume?
· Do you expect business growth or expansion in the future?
· Do you plan to upgrade your technology for ACE filing in the future?
· What is your budget for the ACE service?
· What are your expectations from the third-party ACE service provider?
Other things to consider are current e-cargo services, IT costs, accounting performance, existing carrier partnerships and improvements or upgrades that can be made to existing processes.
2. Consider long-term objectives.
When outsourcing any service, it helps to consider both short-term and long-term goals. What electronic trade services do you need right now and in three to five years? Focusing only on the present can keep you from making the most of the service provider partnership. If you plan to expand to new routes, handle more cargo or bump up your workforce in the future, you may want to consider a flexible subscription plan or a more comprehensive solution.
3. Create a list of potential service providers.
CBP has a list of approved IT partners and ACE service providers. You can narrow that list by asking for recommendations from friends and colleagues and doing your own research. It can be taxing and time consuming to evaluate each provider on a very long list. Evaluate the provider based on selection factors that are aligned with your specific goals for the project. If you are unable to find a good match, you can always expand your list and evaluate other vendors.
4. Gather an evaluation team.
It’s important to get support from executives, stakeholders and all affected parties before sending any service to a third party. Explain the benefits of using an ACE provider versus performing the service in-house or upgrading IT systems. Make sure to stress the potential savings to be gained from the partnership. Enlist the help of your logistics department manager, as well as people from IT, accounting, legal and senior management, to evaluate service providers and help with negotiations.
Evaluate each shortlisted candidate based on the following:
Reputation. What do clients say about their experience with the service provider? How did the provider handle disagreements or differences of opinion? Can the vendor be trusted to deliver what was promised and follow through?
Track record. What is the vendor’s track record? Are they new to the industry or have they been operating for many years? New providers aren’t necessarily less competent than experienced providers, but an experienced company brings a lot of things to the table: partnerships with carriers, brokers and government agencies, deep understanding of the industry and regulations, and ACE solutions that have been tried and tested for years.
Customer service and ease of doing business. The logistics industry does not sleep, and it’s great to have someone to rely on when needed. Does the company offer 24/7 support? Is the vendor customer-centric? The ideal service provider should be able to accommodate scheduling, services and exceptions. You want to work with someone who is as invested in your success as you are.
Cost. You should certainly stick to your budget, but avoid focusing too much on getting the cheapest service. What you want is value for money and flexible plans. You should be able to add another service or unbundle a package deal when needed.
IT capabilities. Reputable service providers invest in the latest technology so you wouldn’t have to. Their US eManifest solutions should be sophisticated but also easy-to-use and implement. If you already have an existing system, integration of the ACE software should be simple and straightforward. For example, the vendor’s EDI, XML or Web tools should be responsive to changes to your IT structure and operating platform.
Sales impact. Ultimately, it’s not only about cost reduction, but about growing your business. The ACE eManifest service provider should be able to demonstrate how they can improve sales and profitability.
GeTS ACE eManifest Solutions
CrimsonLogic’s Global eTrade Services (GeTS) is a CBP-approved ACE service provider. GeTS include ACE for air, marine, rail and highway, and ABI ACE. For more than 25 years, CrimsonLogic GeTS has helped clients in North America and other regions accelerate cross-border trade with best-in-class, e-cargo services. Clients benefit from CrimsonLogic GeTS’ deep domain knowledge in trade compliance, Single Window implementation in 14 countries, and exceptional customer service. For Crimsonlogic GeTS client’s productivity, profitability and service satisfaction is number one priority, that’s why we have been able to successfully serve variety of clients from small to large enterprises for many years. Visit our website to learn more about ACE ABI, ACE Highway, ACE Air and ACE Ocean or to register for 30-day free trial.