As a digital freight platform, a port community system can be an ad hoc entity built upon available opportunities and existing stakeholder relationships within a port community. These specific applications can be part of the system:
- Vessel call management. A carrier can issue a berth and anchorage request and receive authorization from the terminal operator. The firms involved in port services, such as pilotage, towage, and mooring, can also receive a service request. Simultaneously, related public authorities are notified, such as the port authority, customs, and the port police.
- Container handling management. Carriers (such as shipping companies or trucking firms) can interact with respective terminal operators through a standard interface, removing the issue of dealing with different terminal information systems. The cargo manifest is simultaneously provided to the carrier and the terminal operator as well as to regulatory agencies such as customs and the port authority. This enables an automatic cross-referencing with customs, clearing the cargo for import or export much faster.
- Gate management. THis invovles electronic management of inbound and outbound movements at the terminal gate, which predominantly concerns freight forwarders, shipping lines, trucking firms, and terminal operators. It is possible to cover all the inland logistical operations, such as transport contracts, release orders, and admittance orders, with a single electronic document. If the e-document is provided in advance, often by 24 hours, then all the processes can be pre-cleared, leaving only the physical movement of pick up or delivery to take place. This improves the throughput of existing gates, often more than doubling their capacity, without new infrastructures except for automatic gate processing equipment.
- Security and control. This covers strategies to automate the authorized and secure usage of the facilities, including access to cargo. A particular approach leans on the optical character recognition of license plates and container identification numbers. Real-time observation can be cross-checked with bills of lading with discrepancies, which are subject to manual verification. This can also include other scanning devices such as radiation detection or RFID. Again, this results in better usage of existing assets, and at the same time, it improves security procedures.
- Tracking. All of the above enables, through IT integration, the tracking of container loads throughout the port community, from the moment they have been unloaded from a containership, while they are clearing the terminal gate or when they have been delivered. This permits a better level of supply chain management and asset utilization within the port community.