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Smart Bonding Mar 2003
Towards a European Customs Blueprint Feb 2003
Langdon Goes On-Line Jan 2003
SEA Waits in the Wings Jan 2003
Partnership with Manhattan Associates Jun 2002
Not just a Compliance Issue Nov 2001
So far, so good - Elliott Turbomachinery Oct 2001
SEA is a realisable solution... Aug 2001

Smart Bonding Mar 2003

Logistics Business, March 2003

Customs IT Solutions

Security and customs clearance are currently major political concerns as well as supply chain ones. David Priestman met with two companies that specialises in IT solutions for customs and security and overviews the global issue.

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Towards a European Customs Blueprint Feb 2003

Containerisation International, Q1 2003

Ahead of the European Commission (EC), Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (HMCE) in the UK has published its 42-page document ‘International Trade - a blueprint for the future Customs environment’. The Blueprint outlines UK Customs’ goal of creating a paperless regime, in which all of its services are available electronically by 2005, and in which its requirements are integrated, as far as possible, into the international trading process. The Blueprint’s proposals, developed in tandem with UK business, offer a partnership between Customs and UK exporters and importers, where improved compliance is rewarded with greater opportunities for simplified procedures. This will allow Customs’ resources to be concentrated on the implementation of more effective controls for areas of poor compliance, including fraud, and illicit goods.

Meanwhile, the EC has adopted a Proposal, still to be converted into a Decision by the European Parliament and Council, for its own blueprint, called ‘Customs 2007’. This aims to reduce compliance costs, and bring other benefits, for exporters and importers by the development of a pan-European paperless Customs system, where the maximum amount of data is transferred and accessible electronically. ‘Customs 2007’ is also designed to help Member States work more closely together, with a view to preventing fraud, through improving electronic information exchange systems between national administrations. The candidate countries for accession to the European Union (EU) will participate in the programme, to help both them and the Member States prepare for enlargement. The cost of the programme, shared between the EC and the participating countries, will be Euros 133 million, and runs from January 2003 until December 2007.

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Langdon Goes On-Line Jan 2003

International Freight Weekly - January 2003

Langdon has been providing Duty Management software since 1984, often with high levels of customisation, and boasts an impressive base of large customers, including Danzas, Reebok, British Aerospace and Panasonic.

Now Langdon has adopted the Application Service Provider (ASP) model and is offering e-CFSP, aimed mainly at SMEs. The idea is straightforward: SMEs want a Customs reporting solution that is simple to use, quick to set up and requires low investment.

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This article was reproduced from International Freight Weekly with their kind permission

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SEA Waits in the Wings Jan 2003

Trade International Digest - Vol 46 / Issue 1, January 2003

Once the trials are complete, Single European Authorisation could simplify Customs reporting for companies trading in more than one EU state. Chris Lewis (Trade International Digest) talks to Langdon Systems about their experience of this exciting development.

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This article was reproduced from the January 2003 issue of Trade International Digest magazine with the kind permission of Croner:

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Partnership with Manhattan Associates Jun 2002

Langdon Systems and Manhattan Associates Partner to Combine Duty Management with Extended Supply Chain Execution

London, Utrecht, June 18, 2002 - Manhattan Associates, the global leader in providing extended supply chain execution (x-SCE™) solutions, and Langdon Systems, the European leader in duty management systems, announced today, at this year's International Trade Forum in London, the launch of a partnership between the two companies.

The partnership has come into being following the increased market demand that both companies have seen for a solution that combines their respective product offerings - duty management and extended supply chain execution. The combination of the two companies' products will enable global shippers, their product suppliers, their logistics services providers and their customers to work collaboratively to optimise supply chain execution in an international context.

The partnership announcement was a natural extension of the relationship between the two companies who have been servicing mutual clients - including Boots, Debenhams, Tibbett & Britten Group and World Duty Free - for several years. Although both companies' started their European operations out of the UK, they are now both firmly established in Continental European markets and have between them over a hundred installations throughout Europe. Manhattan & Langdon's shared domain expertise, in such key industries as retail and direct-to-consumer, third party logistics, consumer goods, food, healthcare, industrial, and high-tech & electronics, ensures customers are implementing systems that meet the business challenges of their respective industries. Customers will also benefit from the two companies' shared platforms and complementary underlying technologies. Existing infrastructure - training, help desk, implementation and research and development - will support the regional alliance agreement.

"We are pleased to be formalising the partnership with Langdon," says Jeff Baum, Manhattan Associates' Senior Vice President, International. "The partnership arrangement complements our extended supply chain execution solution. It will benefit our customers by allowing them to make additional savings in the way they manage the international component of their supply chains, and by allowing them to better integrate their duty management processes with their other supply chain execution activities."

Mike Dixon, Langdon Systems' Managing Director, commented, "While our many customers can continue to depend on Langdon Systems to help them meet their duty management and customs compliance obligations, the partnership will enable us to meet our clients' demands for business partner collaboration and sophisticated warehousing and distribution optimisation. We will be leveraging highly complementary, best-of-class supply chain execution solutions to deploy an application suite with tremendous breadth and depth. The result is technology that will deliver superior control, predictability and responsiveness for transportation providers and enterprise shippers across the global supply chain."

About Langdon Systems: Through their modular Duty Management System, Langdon Systems have delivered sophisticated and innovative software solutions to the international trade community since 1984. The Duty Management System allows companies operating in many different industries to adhere to a diverse range of customs regimes involved in the import, warehouse, manufacture and export of internationally traded products.

About Manhattan Associates: Manhattan Associates, Inc. is the global leader in providing extended supply chain execution solutions. We enable operational excellence through real-time collaboration, execution and optimisation. Our solutions leverage state-of-the-art technologies, innovative practices and our domain expertise to enhance performance, profitability and competitive advantage. Manhattan Associates has licensed more than 800 customers representing 1,100 facilities worldwide, which include some of the world's leading manufacturers, distributors and retailers. For more information about Manhattan Associates visit www.manh.com.

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Not just a Compliance Issue Nov 2001

Mike Dixon

Mike Dixon
Mike Dixon

"We learnt a long time ago that you cannot shrink-wrap a product and take it out and expect it to meet all needs. Experience tells us that doesn't work. Being able to offer bespoke and functionally rich software solutions introduces significant flexibility into our product offering."

No one at LANGDON is going to forget 2001 in a hurry. Having 60% of the market in period entry systems may have been something to support LANGDON's positioning as UK market leaders but as this July's deadline for moving over to CFSP grew closer, the scale of the job facing the company took on awesome proportions.

MD Mike Dixon says that their planning started over two years ago and involved mapping each client's migration path with almost military precision. 'It has been an enormous job and I am very happy to say that every one of our clients met the deadline. I cannot think of a better demonstration of our commitment to clients, than the huge effort that the whole team has put into this project.

'I think that is an astonishing success because inevitably, when a client faces a major change such as this, it is an opportunity to revisit what they are doing and to evaluate other systems that are available. There are cheaper CFSP solutions on the market and I think the fact that they chose to stay with us is testament to our ability to provide them with proven business solutions.'

For LANGDON, providing business solutions generally means being able to bespoke applications. No two companies, says Mike Dixon, work in the same way. 'We learnt a long time ago that you cannot shrink-wrap a product and take it out and expect it to meet all needs. Experience tells us that doesn't work. Being able to offer bespoke and functionally rich software solutions introduces significant flexibility into our product offering.'

Although the focus of the last two years has been on supporting existing clients making the difficult transition to CFSP, product development, far from being on the back burner, has continued to be a high priority for the company. 'We take product development very seriously. An enormous amount of resource goes into it, and the fact that we are very good at bringing new products to market in a short period of time demonstrates the strength of our product development team. He adds that it also shows skills that LANGDON in recognising shifts in the market and the changes in customs legislation.'

In fact 2001 saw several significant developments. 'We've launched our web-based system, e-CFSP. This has been a very exciting and successful development that supports the production of both the SDI and SDW. We are currently working very closely with a company putting together a SEA solution, which will enable them to use e-CFSP to capture data for the Netherlands and the UK reporting through CHIEF. We are pleasantly surprised at the speed at which the system is evolving in this way and the level of interest that has now been raised with the 3PL market.'

The next stage, he says, is to add NES functionality and Intrastat and describes it as a 'lighter weight' version of the duty management system. 'There are many corporates, in particular in the electronics sector at one end of the market, which essentially are only having to use these systems for VAT and stats. At the other end you have companies involved in Duty, Excise and CAP goods for which e-CFSP offers a flexible solution with all the hardware and software costs managed by Langdon but still able to cater for sophisticated procedures such as SEA.'

Work is also under way with a major retailer on how to incorporate the SFD, simplified frontier declaration, into the CFSP system. 'What we are trying to do is take some of the paper out of this procedure. At the moment there are faxes flying back and forth between the client and forwarder and a lot of keying of data. We've been working closely with one of the Community Service Providers to put together a really innovative solution that will enable the client to capture this data electronically and direct into their duty management system. There's no value to us but it will give massive added value to the client.'

Langdon have also migrated three clients onto NES which involved significant development work to a very tight deadline. 'We are pretty confident that we had the first NES authorisation but what really matters to our clients is that we were able to pull the stops out and come up with a solution that met their needs.'

Another retail customer has already been authorised to make electronic applications for import and export licences. People ask, he says, why Langdon are developing a solution for online licence applications when the import licensing system is due to be dismantled in 2005. 'Our client is handling in the region of 700 licences a month - when you work out how many months there are until 2005 you see the scale of the problem. Our job is to help our clients solve problems now - that is how we deliver value to our customers.'

And that really, is the point he wants to make. 'Over the last year or so we've been talking about delivery, and now we have delivered and our clients are seeing the benefits.' These are benefits that are there for the taking for many other companies. He genuinely believes, he says, that so far as CFSP goes, there are many companies who, either because they have not recognised the potential benefits or through a reluctance to engage with customs, still have not taken the message on board. 'Outsourcing the problem to a third party may have been the only solution open to these companies in the past. But things are changing very quickly. This is a very dynamic environment and CFSP and NES, and the development of new low cost communication channels, really do make the in-house option cost efficient for many more companies. This is not just a customs compliance issue, it is about managing the whole supply chain process.'

He points to the 6000 or so companies who are involved at some point in the inward processing chain, and therefore entitled to claim IPR, but who currently fail to benefit from this concession. 'The recent changes to the legislation make IPR much more accessible to companies. With a good package integrated into their manufacturing software, these companies could see significant business benefits.

'We see enormous potential in the market for our systems and now that the CFSP migration is successfully behind us, we are actively looking to bring on new customers who can benefit from our experience.'

Reproduced by kind permission of International Trade Today

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So far, so good - Elliott Turbomachinery Oct 2001

International Trade Today - October 2001

Pam Smith looks after the import/export activities of Elliott Turbomachinery. An indirect taxation specialist with responsibility for Customs and VAT for the UK and offices in Switzerland and Italy, she says she'd known for some time that her Period Entry Exports system was going to be phased out. 'Ever since CFSP was brought in it had been on the cards that exports would go the same way. We had about a year's warning that the system would be turned off on July 1st this year.'

Elliott Turbomachinery supplies centrifugal compressors and steam turbines to petro-chemical and related industries. Although owned ultimately by the Japanese company Ebara Corporation, the company's immediate parent is in the States. The UK office, which is responsible for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, deals mainly in the after market - spares and repairs - with weekly shipments of stock parts arriving from the States, along with specials, custom-made items, coming in from Japan and the US. There is a constant flow of equipment in and out of the UK.

Pam Smith says that they decided to move to Period Entry Exports about five years ago. 'We've never used Period Entry Imports, our imports go direct into a customs warehouse. Before PE exports, the C88 was done by a freight forwarder and quite naturally there was a charge. We saw an opportunity to reduce costs. We only have a small department here and resources are tight so bringing exports in house was very much about saving time and money.'

In 1999 Elliott moved to CFSP which was essential for continued use of the customs warehouse. Langdon put in the system and that has gone very well. As far as the new export system (NES) is concerned, a year to make system changes sounds like a reasonable lead in time. In practice it turned out to be much less than a year. Sam Hardy who led the project team from Langdon Systems, says that the final specification only became available in March. 'We'd had specs through before but there were a lot of amendments and additions. So we were left with a very tight deadline to meet.'

Meet it they did and Pam Smith now finds herself in very exclusive company. Only a handful of companies used Period Entry Exports, and not all of these have successfully made the transfer. Elliott Turbomachinery is an NES guinea pig so the big question is, how is it going?

So far, so good, is her cautious verdict. The reason for her caution is that in the end, Customs decided to go for a partial implementation, and in her opinion the most difficult element has yet to come.

Sam Hardy explains what happened. 'In period entry exports, the company was sending data to customs every fourteen days using a diskette. We have transferred the transmission from diskette into EDI format so that their NES reporting can use their existing CFSP communication links. And there were other changes to make in terms of mandatory fields, and changes to the CPCs which came in at the same time. That is all working well and we haven't had any errors back.'

What hasn't happened though, but which is now scheduled to cut in at the end of January, is the need to communicate with Customs before the goods depart, on a transaction by transaction basis, in order to get authorisation to ship. Pam Smith is worried about how this is going to work. 'We have been assured that CHIEF never breaks down and that we will get the authorisation number within seconds. Well, I know from experience that there have been times when I have been trying to get a reply for imports and it can take a lot longer than seconds. And if we have goods ready to ship, to meet tight deadlines, and we cannot get that authorisation, then there are going to be problems.'

It may work well, she says. 'As a company we are fully committed to using electronic systems where possible. We are in the process of replacing our operating system and that will be integrated with our Langdon software. So generally speaking we are supportive of this move. I think there will be great benefits to us as a company to have a fully automated system operating in house where we can control it.

'And I can see that NES could speed up goods through the port. If the authorisation number is issued as part of the despatch note and this is married up with the port inventory so that the goods go straight through, that could save time. I do want to see it work but so far, we've only done the easy bit.'

And even that was very hard work. 'I am full of praise for the Langdon team. They really pulled out the stops and worked very hard. I think it was asking a lot of them to have to tackle a completely new system at the same time as they were handling the period entry migration for their other customers.'

Nor does she expect the next stage to be any easier. 'We are now looking at a deadline of the end of January. It seems to have come upon us very quickly.' A sentiment that Sam Hardy at Langdons shares.

We'll be talking to Pam again closer to cut over.

Reproduced by kind permission of International Trade Today

Company Website Elliott Turbomachinery homepage
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SEA is a realisable solution... Aug 2001

International Trade Today


Jan Akkermans

Customs & International Trade
Jan Akkermans Jan Akkermans

"Any business that is involved in international trade has to deal with bureaucracy. If you import, export or move goods across borders, then you will have to comply with the varying requirements of Customs & Excise, VAT authorities, statistical authorities and various economic departments."

Within the European Community these requirements are, on paper at least, identical. In practice things are very different. Different cultures and the different economic interests of individual trading trading nations mean that what in theory is a level playing field, is in fact a very bumpy ride for many players.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the detail of Customs compliance.

LANGDON have witnessed this first hand. Six years ago they developed a Duty Management System for a major Japanese company in Belgium, followed some 18 months later by an Import and Customs Warehouse System for a major international corporate in The Netherlands.

What struck LANGDON, having now successfully deployed 16 systems within continental Europe, was how diverse the reporting requirements to Customs were for companies essentially operating the same Customs regimes. This even applied within the same country!

Jan Akkermans, LANGDON’s Director of Customs & International Trade says, ‘One of the biggest pitfalls is the assumption that what is permissible in the UK, will be allowable in other European Countries. More often than not, this is not the case, even more so since CFSP.’

This presents many challenges to UK based companies with European Distribution Centres within the Benelux regions. Particularly so when these are also authorised Customs Warehouses.

Such scenarios can represent quite significant investments for these companies. ‘First and foremost’, says Jan, ‘getting good Customs managers in these regions is very difficult and can be expensive. There are of course other factors such as implementing systems to support the Customs infrastructure that will be different in each country and then interfacing these systems to major ERP or Warehouse Management Systems. You begin to see straight away that costs can mount quite considerably!’

There is however, a solution available to companies like this through the emergence of the Single European Authorisation (SEA). There has been much talk and hype about SEA, but the fact remains it is becoming a realisable solution to what is becoming a major issue for a lot of companies.

SEA presents opportunities for UK based companies prepared to take the initiative whilst at the same time recognising some of the threats.

Firstly, is enables companies to set up a centre of excellence and in so doing consolidating its Customs expertise at one central location. This means that relationships with your local Customs and CAU Officer are maintained.

Many multi-nationals have seen the advantages of e-commerce and e-business and see it as a way of reducing costs, increasing efficiency of their operations and the speed at which business takes place.

The UK Government and Customs are at the same time fully committed to e-commerce and e-trading as evidenced through CFSP, and therefore there is a natural match.

CFSP offers far more in the move towards paperless trading and reporting than is currently available in many other European Countries, including the Netherlands. This makes the UK a natural host.

UK industry should not be complacent and should act now to take advantage of this gap. A capability to trade electronically whilst not a pre-requisite for SEA, is certainly a major facilitator in achieving that status.

SEA of course has its own part to play in the supply chain process. The reality of the supply chain is that all too often it consists of loose systems of operation working within a narrow vertical focus. Global e-commerce cannot be achieved through technological attempts to string together the multiple and diverse processes and in-house computer systems which currently exist. A more aligned approach coupled with a shared information pipeline would radically improve performance for many companies.

Jan Akkermans agrees. ‘This concept of Customs reporting and centralisation very much compliments the direction in which supply chain management is moving. It’s about consolidating the link to one entity as a source of information and communication, instead of forming hundreds of separate direct links between each other. This network becomes more efficient and powerful as more supply chain members participate, creating a powerful "network effect”.’

He adds that SEA offers a workaround to perhaps one of the greatest ironies of European harmonisation. No single solution exists that meets the diverse interpretations of the Customs Community Code that co-exist within Europe. SEA bridges that gap. Whilst it is fair to suggest that there still remains much to be done, it is a workable solution available to the trade now.

LANGDON have practical experience of how to negotiate to a successful conclusion for these authorisations with both Dutch and UK Customs.

Jan says, ‘This is just one of the many advantages clients are seeing when working with LANGDON. Together with my UK colleague Dave Bradbury, we put together a proposal that Customs were able to accept. This could only have happened because we recognised, based on first hand knowledge, what the concerns of Customs were on both sides and what our client wanted to achieve.’

But SEA is not just about consolidating internal Customs administrations into a centre of excellence, utilising one Customs reporting point.

Mike Dixon, LANGDON’s MD suggests that the opportunities are endless. ‘At the moment we are delivering solutions to a number of clients to support this initiative, but our direction is becoming more focused in terms of how we meet the requirements on a much more global scale. This is the real challenge. We see ourselves as a valuable contributor to the supply chain process. This is essentially the concept behind our web based solution e-CFSP. It is a product that can evolve to meet this challenge, regardless of how it’s deployed.’

He adds that LANGDON are very strongly positioned to meet these new initiatives. Key to their success in this very specialist and niche vertical market is not just the software solutions themselves, but the real depth of Customs knowledge and expertise that supports them.

‘LANGDON have traditionally taken a fairly low profile in the market place’, says Mike. ‘However this should not be confused with lack of development or activity! We have very strong views of the direction in which we see the market going. I do not believe our role is to influence this direction, but to recognise it and develop the solutions to support the market needs. Over the last few years, the world of Customs, certainly from a software development perspective, has been dynamic to say the least! Consequently we have probably the strongest product development team in the industry. Their terms of reference are to analyse potential areas of the market and develop sophisticated and innovative solutions to support it’.

So what is the threat offered by SEA? LANGDON say it’s quite simple. If the UK-based company doesn’t pick up on it fast enough, how do they know their European counterpart isn’t already investigating SEA and a centre of excellence in his own country?

For a proactive analysis, information and support on how SEA can assist your company, call LANGDON at 01942 202202. Alternatively e-mail sales@langdonsystems.com

Reproduced by kind permission of International Trade Today

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