Managing a supply chain can be very complex. If you run a multi-site operation, you will need to align control and management of these sites in different districts. One way to make things easier from a Customs perspective, is to apply to become an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO). Your organisation will be able to fast-track shipments using simplified Customs procedures. Plus, the main benefit of becoming an AEO is that you will be seen as “supply chain compliant” by your customers, giving your business more credibility.
One of the main risks associated with running a multi-site operation is the lack of in-house knowledge and training. Do you have designated people documenting your operating procedures? Are you aware of your compliance record with government agencies? When it comes to Customs compliance, does your Manager understand what’s needed from your employees in terms of systems and processes, professional competence, and an understanding of transactions, audit and verification procedures? Are your customers and your suppliers aware of your Customs procedures and operations?
Another consideration is security. This includes physical site security for loading and unloading goods for storage and carriage, specific transport for certain goods, logistics safety and the overall security of your supply chain. Again, your Manager or team need to be well aware of these areas, so they can vet and recruit the right people for your organisation.
Lastly, there is a financial impact of getting things wrong – don’t take this risk. If you are working with an AEO, you may need to invest in an AEO expert in the short term to guide your business on key focus areas for compliance. Use in-house resources to analyse the variances and weaknesses between your site procedures. You may spot some synergies between the AEO and your organisation, agreeing on new internal procedures, and then implementing these accordingly. Often, long term financial gains are realised when an enterprise-wide standard procedure has been implemented for an AEO. This creates an upside for the organisation as a side benefit – e.g. staff can transfer across sites at peak times and be immediately useful due to aligned processes.
Organise staff training and development on a company-wide basis. Your management structure can be streamlined with company-wide managers, rather than being site specific. Any future strategic changes will be smoother if all your sites are aligned. Ultimately, your customers will receive a more consistent, seamless service if they are served from multiple sites working in alignment, rather than local variances due to different areas. Whether you decide to become an AEO or you choose to follow an AEO’s way of working, it’s a worthwhile business objective.