CN border-clearance system wins IT award

MONTREAL (Nov. 29, 1999) — Canadian National has won a prestigious information technology award for its development of an electronic system that has cut CN’s average waiting time for Canada-U.S. border customs clearance to 10 minutes from more than two hours.

CN’s transborder system was recognized for enterprise-wide excellence in the 1999 Canadian Information Productivity Awards, which reward visionary individuals and organizations making the most innovative and effective use of information technology.

The award marks the second time CN has been recognized by the CIPA. In 1997, CN won an information productivity prize for innovative processes and technologies involved in the development of CN’s Winnipeg Customer Support Center.

CN’s transborder system, implemented in 1998, allows the railroad to process traffic automatically for customs clearance purposes long in advance of its arrival at border points between Canada and the U.S.

“The transborder system has streamlined CN’s Canada-U.S. trade flows, ” said Emma Korucuoglu, CN’s transborder system project leader. “This is key to CN customers. North-south North American trade is growing at about 11 per cent annually, and the recent acquisition of Illinois Central positions CN to serve its customers better with extended market reach now touching the continent’s three coasts.

“Being allowed to pre-process transborder traffic has allowed CN to notify its customers’ customs brokers many days in advance of the movement of rail cars,” Korucuoglu said. “A broker can pre-file customs entries up to 10 days before arrival at the border. CN reports the train to customs one hour before arrival at the border, and it receives all of the release/inspection notifications.”

Pre-processing of traffic for customs purposes has generated real advantages for CN and its customers.

The new system has significantly reduced freight car dwell times at the border, from an average of two hours and thirty minutes to less than 10 minutes. Less than one per cent of freight cars are now held for inspection, compared with 100 per cent previously, CN said.

Customers have benefited from faster delivery of product, and significant reductions in brokerage charges for paper and demurrage bills caused by customs delays.

The speed with which CN now moves freight traffic over the border has freed up yard space, switching crews and freight cars capable of handling some 7000 additional loads per year, the railroad said.

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