The Tuscan Port Community System (TPCS) is the free platform for port operators to process and manage information on freight transit (both import and export) in
The TPCS stems from the need of real time, paperless and smooth communication among port operators in dealing with freight operations. At the very beginning, information among terminals, customs agencies, shipping agencies, freight forwarders and haulers was made through hardcopy documentation, along with phone call. Nowadays, through logging-in the platform, users can check the status of cargo, the gate-in, gate out, thus speeding up port operations and reliability of data.
More than 500 users operate daily in the PCS, which is provided for free by the Port Authority. More than 1.5 million euros have been invested in implementing this platform since 2008. A round-the-clock helpdesk service assist port users in daily routine management, solving problems when needed. What can be considered as good practice of TPCS is not only its IT functioning, but the governance that steers the PCS development. The Port Authority has set up a technical Committee for sharing with port stakeholders (Control Authorities, Port Terminals, hauliers, freight Forwarders representatives, shipping agencies) the development pattern, the upgrades and services which are mostly needed by port community. In so doing, the making of the TPCS is not a top-down, but it is rather a bottom-up process. These meetings, that are held on a regular basis, have both targeted more strategic decisions (i.e., shaping of new functionalities, testing), as well as more operational issues.
The PCS management engages two staff units on a permanent basis. Since its launch, the Port Authority has committed some 1.712 million euros for its maintenance and development. of which 362 thousands euros from EU programmes ' sources (TEN-T, CEF, Interreg IT-FR).
Evidence of success
In 2016, the Port of Livorno has been subsequently awarded a prize (SMAU), for its innovation activities. Albeit difficult to estimate, time savings have benefit the traffic flows affected by queues and overall operations, by reducing time spent in processing documents and checks documents in port terminals. If we look at 2019 figures of CO2 emissions at port gates 1146 tons, due to lorries, we got a potential benefit of 3000 CO2 tons yearly if the TPCS was not operational.
A PCS, per se, cannot be a stand alone exercise. An effort for coordination with national IT systems is needed, without losing the specific services and standards provided to the port community. Upgrading the TPCS in accordance with national and European standards is therefore a top priority.
Potential for learning or transfer
A PCS has to be tailored and customized for the needs of each port. Nonetheless, the management of innovation process, the PCS general structure and needs, along with experimentations and trials, are something common to most ports. The governance of innovation, with the shared bottom-up process, is also something valuable as lessons for other regions when developing or upgrading this important service. At the same time, even if the EU port governance’s models differ greatly across Member States, there is a basic common ground of inter-national legislation come into force (i.e. VGM functionality), which calls for joint solutions for all seaports. In this respect, the TPCS can be an useful lesson, especially for middle-sized or small ports, with a wide variety of traffic flows, which are eager to provide the local port community with a comprehensive ICT tool to support logistic process. The way the Port Authority has established a long-standing cooperation with other public bodies.