The Pros and Cons of Paperless Customs processing

The era of the paper form is coming to an end. While they have not disappeared entirely, there’s been a clear shift over the past few years as more and more businesses and government agencies are opting to go paperless.

And there are many reasons for this – with environmental concerns being a leading motivator, but so is all the time and effort that goes into processing and distribution of paper forms.

In the case of the import and export of cargo and the customs clearing process, however, the primary driver is efficiency. Time is money, and if you can save time, this is good news for everyone. Or is it?

“Sure, with paperless forms, all you need to do is go online, file your information at any hour of the day, and it’s all done,” says Omar Zambrano, chief operating officer of Prime Group Holdings, who also heads up the Prime Air & Ocean Cargo division.

But that’s only if you’ve done it right, he warns. “And thankfully, or customers know we only do it right.”

A leading global trade services company, Prime Air & Ocean Cargo provides complete customs, import, export, and related services for shippers worldwide. Partnering with some of the most seasoned licensed customs brokers and global trade experts in the business, PAOC prides itself on being able to provide prompt and efficient clearance of merchandise.

The pros of going paperless also include a more accurate and precise representation of data, better control of the information, and Customs personal having more time to check documentation.

But what happens if a shipper has a question or coding-entry concern that needs to be addressed onsite. Now, those questions often go unanswered and incorrect data makes its way into their tariff calculations.

The clear disadvantage of a paperless process is the lack of direct contact with Customs officers. Previously, they were widely available to lend assistance on such procedural matters. But that face-to-face advantage is a thing of the past. “Now, you basically have to talk with a machine,” Zambrano quips.

“Not everyone can provide this service and hope to do it correctly every time,” says Zambrano. “Sure, you take a test to show proficiency in entering data in the new paperless system, but one small mistake could end up costing you dearly.”

By transitioning to a paperless, the U.S. Customs is seeing the benefits of more efficient processing, but the new system seriously tests the skills and expertise of the customs brokers and shippers using it.

“We truly have to possess a deep understanding of the complex regulations around Customs Law to successfully navigate through this online process. This is why it is so important to have a seasoned customs broker working with you to ensure smooth delivery of product when it arrives in the U.S. – and to protect against costly mistakes.”

Still at the core of today’s system is the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System, also known as the Harmonized System (HS) of tariff nomenclature, an internationally standardized system of names and numbers used to classify traded products.

Problems arise when data entry errors go undetected for years after paperless forms are completed and submitted to the Customs Inspectors. In the process of auditing your data, and detecting any incorrect tariff codes, the agency will recalculate your taxes to see whether you underpaid – and now you owe.

By inputting just one wrong number and accepting delivery of the goods, shippers could face thousands of dollars in re-taxation years later when the form is ultimately reviewed and readjusted.

That’s because the HS is organized logically by economic activity or component material. For example, animals and animal products are found in one section of the HS, while flowers are found in another. The HS is organized into 21 sections, which are subdivided into 99 chapters. The 99 HS chapters are further subdivided into 1,244 headings and 5,224 subheadings. You could accidentally enter a number that corresponds to the delivery of live pigs when all you wanted was to denote the delivery fresh peonies.

“Customs is a very tricky business, and we have pros who have been at our side for years assisting with the export and import of fresh cut flowers – historically, our core business.” He noted that PAOC is also well versed in providing shipping support and customs clearance for many other perishables and merchandise for several other industries as well, including aerospace, chemical, consumer and retail, constructions, healthcare, and automotive.

“We can do this because we have the knowledge of our network of experts right at our fingertips,” says Omar Zambrano. In fact, in Miami, PAOC works directly with one of the most respected licensed customs-brokers in the entire U.S., with 35 years experience. “And our existing customers know they can count on us because we work with the best.”

At the end of the day, Zambrano says the lesson is, “Go with who you know is a pro.”

ABOUT PAOC
Prime Air & Ocean Cargo prides itself on its use of industry-leading technology and smart, experienced staff to deliver consistent, safe, and efficient delivery of goods for a wide range of customers. Whatever your industry, Prime Air & Ocean Cargo provides integrated and seamless service. They specialize in warehousing, transportation, crating, and packaging — and the all important documentation processing and customs clearing services.

By teaming with Prime Air & Ocean Cargo, customers avoid the need to juggle multiple service providers all over the world. Big or small – whether it’s one box, one pallet or a company-wide logistics management operation – Prime Air & Ocean Cargo does everything – in an easy, organized, and timely fashion.

For information, call 305-592-2044 or visit www.primeaircargo.com.

Prime Fresh Handling Casts a Big Net Over New York

Prime Fresh Handling is casting a bigger net over New York by expanding its perishables business to include the handling of fresh fish – but also by enhancing the customer experience with the rollout of exciting new software.

Since early 2019, when PFH decided to couple its core mission of handling fresh-cut flowers with the import of fresh fish, business has been growing exponentially. And now, a soon-to-be released tracking software is promising to make the company’s service product even more desirable.

“The strategy of introducing fresh fish into our New York service line is definitely paying off,” says Alex Paredes, PFH Sales Manager North America.

“It’s been just four months, but we’re growing at a very fast rate because of course were not only able to take immediate advantage of PFH’s existing cold-chain infrastructure here that supports our established flower business, but our vast know-how in shipping perishables in general. So expanding into fish was the next natural step.”

Not to suggest PFH isn’t facing competition in this enormous metropolitan market. But Paredes says other companies in New York focus predominantly on the trucking service, not on the handling end of the business, as PFH does so well.

“While we do have own dedicated fleet of refrigerated trucks to ship product, our primary focus is expert handling – and of course quality control.”

PFH currently serves most major distribution centers in New York including Fulton Market, and the New Fulton Market in the Bronx, as well as upstate New York and into New Jersey.

Let’s Get Fresh
Although timing is everything in the highly-specialized perishables business, understandably, fish require a lot more care and attention than flowers, for instance.

“Freshness is everything with fish. That’s why our customers demand that their product is recovered within less than three to four hours of landing at the airport, and that we adhere to the strictest standards of quality control all along the way,” says Paredes. “And this is where reliance on real-time technology steps in.”

New Technology
According to Omar Zambrano, Prime Group’s Chief Operations Officer, the new hand-held units they are deploying utilize similar software to what’s already in use to ship of flowers, dry cargo, and perishables.3

Integrally involved in the development and rollout of the new software and scanners, Zambrano says the officially rollout is on schedule for an August release.

The new software will be deployed in Los Angeles as well, where the company is also enjoying a booming presence in the fresh-fish business.

How it works:
• As soon as the precious cargo arrives at the PFH’s JFK warehouse, expert handlers are standing by to begin preparing the fish immediately, in order to meet strict delivery deadlines throughout the New York area and to connect with flights to down-line cities.
• From that moment of arrival, the imperative is to initiate direct, real-time communications with the end-point customers – the wholesale/retail distributors and restaurants.
• Using a mobile scanner, warehouse staff clicks on the pallet, triggering a message to the customer that their fish is here, it’s been offloaded from the aircraft, and it is now in the warehouse.
• As the process of breaking down the pallets begins, temperatures are continually monitored and the customer is now advised that their delicate cargo is being segregating by fish type.
• Because orders are custom-prepared based on customer need, on their end, they sign for what they want it, their order is boxed and iced, and is quickly dispatched for delivery.

All the while, this custom-designed software is also keeping PFH staff on point in order to minimize delays and eliminate human error.

“It is easy and smart – and benefits everyone,” says Zambrano. “The software was designed to be totally user friendly so all they have to do is click, click, and click – and there is nothing more to think about.”

Except, of course, enjoying amazingly fresh and delicious fresh fish.

For details, contact Alex Paredes, PFH Sales Manager-North America, via email at salesjfk@primegroup.aero or call PFH New York at 516-837-9777. For more information, visit www.primegroup.aero.

Flying High with Atlas Air

PrimeAir recently celebrated its second year of direct operations with Atlas Air in Bogota, with six frequencies per week between BOG and MIA.

One of the premier carriers in PrimeAir’s portfolio, Atlas Air is not only one of the most important and reliable cargo airlines in the world, it is the company’s longest lasting customer.

When Prime Group’s founding company started operations in 2001, the first flight they ever serviced was between Quito and Miami – an Atlas Air 747 freighter, full of flowers, of course.

All these years later, says Commercial Manager for Colombia José Luis Vargas, “We are still boasting about our GSA relationship with Atlas Air, because they truly epitomize what a professionally run and reliability air carrier operation should be.”

Due to the fact that Atlas Air is a top choice among shippers and freight forwarders worldwide, Vargas continued, “In turn, we are considered to have the best service and the best integrity in the markets where we represent Atlas Air.”

As one of four companies that comprise the Prime Group, today, it is PrimeAir that represents and services Atlas Air’s cargo operation in Colombia and Ecuador.

 

Atlas Air recently coordinated a quick video shoot of their freight operation at Quito’s Mariscal Sucre Airport to capture ramp action that takes place as part of PrimeAir’s role in providing ground operations here.

The Story of Atlas

So let’s get on board with what Atlas Air is all about – by starting in the beginning.

The word Atlas comes from the Titan god in Greek mythology that bore the sky aloft. He personified the quality of endurance because he carried the heavens upon his shoulders.

Flash forward about 2,700 years to the early 1990s, when Atlas Air founder Michael Chowdry saw an opportunity in the air cargo sector and founded his company. He began by leasing freighter aircraft to other airlines on an aircraft-, crew-, maintenance-, and insurance-contract basis (ACMI). Operations began with one aircraft, a Boeing 747-200.

Today, Atlas Air is setting higher standards for value and excellence by providing a wide range of long- and short-term cargo and passenger solutions, from shipping precious perishables and heavy construction equipment, to arranging passenger charters for celebrities or dignitaries.

Specifically, along its cargo spectrum of services, shippers, freight forwarders, manufacturers, sporting groups, and other organizations rely on Atlas Air to safely, efficiently, and cost-effectively carry their commercial cargo.

The demands of globalization require freight and passenger charter solutions from a company with the aircraft, technology, and infrastructure that helps its customers create their own global footprint.

Atlas Air has all this and more – including the traffic rights, regulatory expertise, in-country sales, and support and a 24-hour global control center needed to expand their customer operations.

In February 2001, Atlas Air Worldwide formed its current holding company structure with Atlas Air as a wholly owned subsidiary. Other subsidiaries include:

  • Polar Air Cargo, Inc., all-cargo, scheduled-service
  • Titan Aviation, dry leasing
  • Southern Air, intercontinental and domestic ACMI and CMI services

For the past several years, Atlas was voted “Leasing Provider of the Year” in an industry survey by the Payload Asia magazine. The survey added Atlas as “Charter Operator of the Year,” as well.

In May 2016, Atlas announced a strategic, long-term relationship with Amazon to provide and operate 20 Boeing 767-300 converted freighters in support of the continuing expansion of Amazon’s e-commerce business and the enhancement of its customer delivery capabilities.

Today, Atlas Air Worldwide is the leading global provider of outsourced aircraft and aviation operating services. They are proud to be the world’s largest operator of B747 freighter aircraft and the only outsource provider of Boeing’s 747-8F.

They are also proud to provide customers the broadest array of B747, 777, 767, 757 and 737 freighter and passenger aircraft for domestic, regional, and international ACMI, CMI, charter, and dry lease applications.

 

For information about Atlas Air, visit www.atlasair.com e-mail info@atlastair.com, or call or call 914-701-8000.

Who Ya Gonna Call…

When the flag carrier of Ecuador suddenly needed to get their hands on a spare $6 million engine, naturally they called Prime Air & Ocean Cargo.

Tame had a pesky AOG situation on their hands – an Embraer 190 sitting idle on the ramp at their base of operations in Quito. Time is money for airlines – big money. They had to get one to get their General Electric CFM34 engines moved from Miami to Mariscal Sucre International Airport swiftly, safely, and the right way.

There’s no margin for error in this business.

Prime Air & Ocean Cargo has been handling parts shipments for the carrier for years, so everything moved smoothly, of course. But whether it’s a single part or a several thousand-pound jet engine, it’s always urgent.

“Time is of the essence, but they know they can depend on us for shipments big and small,” said Prime Group Omar Zambrano.

As soon as they got the green light, the engine was immediately transported from the supplier to Prime Air & Ocean Cargo’s facility just west of MIA via a special air-ride suspension truck to avoid any impact damage. Here, the Prime Air & Ocean Cargo Operations team made sure it was in good condition and ready to ship out with all the proper haz-mat documentation and labeling in place.

“Airlines are going to have maintenance issues from time to time. It’s the nature of the business,” says Zambrano. “But these matters have to be rectified fast, because the ripple effect caused by an AOG or other delays can be crippling to a carrier’s entire operation.

“Everything is urgent, urgent, urgent, but we love the challenge.”