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Successful integration: how people and technology can make customs operations thrive – Bridge

Published on: 29th November 2023

Navigating the challenges posed by Brexit and the pandemic is no easy task but, as Nikki Sayer, Managing Director of Casper Customs, explains, with targeted investment and training there is a way to get ahead of the changing tides.

This article is taken from Bridge.

With challenges come opportunities. UK customs operations have faced a number of headwinds in recent years and the landscape remains ever-changing.

The roll-out of Brexit-related customs controls and the impact of Covid-19 and the Ukraine war on the rise and fall on demand for imports have all required changes both material and technical for businesses and individuals
involved in the movement of goods.

At Casper Shipping, we made the decision to take the initiative and handle these challenges through a strategic combination of upskilling both people and technology.

With more than 150 years of maritime heritage, Casper Shipping has the knowledge and experience to adapt and react to periods of upheaval.

Faced with a 2000 per cent increase in the number of customs declarations in the period since Brexit we took the decision to establish Casper Customs, based at our Middlesbrough head office, as a division focused on customs services and consultancy.

Offering efficient and effective customs clearances from all major ports in the UK and internationally, we’re on hand to provide guidance to businesses in the ever-shifting regulatory terrain.

We’re proud to be a Teesside company and we make it our mission to work with businesses in the region where possible, including Yarmbased HR Alchemy and HSE provider Kaizen Safety in Stockton.

When it came to tackling the rise in demand, we adopted a blended approach – we needed extra customs operators who could work in tandem with new, integrated customs clearance processes.

We teamed up with Sedgefield-based maritime recruitment specialists Elite Consult to source a new intake of staff from the local area with no previous customs experience and trained up a cohort who now offer a 24/7, 365-day customs service, ensuring business and trade continuity for our customers.

Our updated technology was created in collaboration with HMRC-trusted software suppliers ASM Sequoia, which allowed us to automate customs clearance processes, resulting in a consistent turnaround time of one hour.

Looking ahead, with further change on the horizon, we recognised the need for cross-functional collaboration between our team at Casper Customs and our wider organisation’s digital teams as a way to achieve further productivity and efficiency gains.

We identified a shift in the role of customs operatives from traditional customs agents to becoming more like data scientists and analysts and we’ve taken a pioneering approach that has created future job opportunities in the sector.

“We’ve taken a pioneering approach that has created future job opportunities in the sector.”

The development of automation within Casper Customs moved at such pace that it soon became obvious that a division focused on developing innovative solutions, tailored to the industry’s needs, was needed and so, Casper Digital was born.

By collaborating with partners such as SeerBI, another Teesside born company which is a specialist in maritime business intelligence and AI, Casper Customs has harnessed cuttingedge technologies to better understand the data we receive and produce and use the learning to streamline workflows.

We have deployed automated operational analytics and implemented machine learning and natural language processing to offer efficient customer solutions.

There are undoubted challenges ahead for all businesses and organisations involved in the movement of goods. But despite that, we at Casper Customs see opportunities for customs agents to collaborate with other stakeholders in the wider trade and technology ecosystem.

By staying informed, by collaborating effectively and by building solid relationships, customs agents can play a crucial role in ensuring the efficient movement of goods and compliance with changing regulations.

As a founding member of the North East School of Shipping, we’re committed to supporting and promoting this industry; seeing successful students pass through and gain employment is hugely rewarding and can only be a positive for the region and the wider maritime sector.

We are open to working in partnership with like-minded organisations, with a continuing commitment to digitisation and automations; improvements to process efficiencies and maintaining and improving service levels for
our customer base.

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