Bolloré Transport & Logistics adopts Conex’s ZEN solution and transforms its working relationship with its customers

At Bolloré Transport & Logistics, 275 metropolitan declarants are employed to process customs and security declarations. Little by little, the increase in administrative processing brought about by Brexit has prompted customer collaboration work to be further digitalised: the exchange of information is now organised around a documentary platform which receives and stores all the information exchanged, makes it possible to visualise processing progress, gives alerts in the event of hot spots, and produces periodic reports.

Towards a complete digitalisation of shared work

On post-Brexit 1st January 2021, the Bolloré Logistics Customs department suggested that its customer NESTLE work on the Conex ZEN platform. This secure digital workspace receives, centralises and archives documents and correspondence between the registered customs representative-freight forwarder and its customers, making it possible to optimise the completion of customs formalities for import / export operations. ZEN via conex™, which organises exchanges in a methodical way, quickly proved its worth and other Bolloré customers followed suit and joined forces with the collaboration tool…

“The Nestlé Group was the first customer to switch to this new work organisation, first, 10 declarants used it for the exchanges with their correspondents in 7 or 8 factories. Today, 30 declarants are connected to the tool for 6 customers and the movement is speeding up, with 100 declarants and about 15 customers planned to make the move in the short term. In the deployment stage, 2 hours are enough to train new users,” explains Jean-François Ledun, Customs Director at Bolloré Logistics.

Greater processing visibility and speed

ZEN via conex™ offers users a timesaving, collaborative workspace. Through an IT link, ZEN automatically assigns data to the corresponding declaration fields in CUSTOMS via conex™, the customs declaration software. The mandatory documents are thus progressively pre-filled, the only human intervention being for the purposes of verification.

ZEN provides traceability of exchanges between Bolloré and its customers at this pre-declaration stage. The customer gradually uploads the necessary documents to the declarants, ZEN intelligently organises all the data flows while the customer can follow closely throughout the life of the declarative file. An alert notifies the declarant concerned of any action on the platform, and he/she can then access the transmitted documents. The exchanges in the pre-declaration phase are tracked and the platform centralises documents and information which in the past arrived via a variety of methods such as email, telephone, drive etc, depending on each person’s habits.

Jean-François Ledun explains: “We know, file by file, where we are at any given moment, thanks to a condensed overview; if data is missing to clear an entry, we see it immediately and can take care of it as a priority.”

When the declarant sends the declaration to the customs administration, the processing workflow is tracked, and the customer and the declarant are kept informed of progress in real time.

Report templates are customisable according to customer criteria, so no more wasted time searching for data to compile reports. Performance indicators, such as the average processing time per declaration, are calculated automatically, and financial management data are summarised (amounts of customs duties, VAT, etc.).

“As a registered customs representative, and therefore a service provider, we must periodically provide reports to our customers. In some cases, it could take man-days to compile the information and present the renderings to the customer; with ZEN, creating reports is made easy, with preformatted templates,” emphasises Jean-François Ledun.

Finally, document and declaration archiving in ZEN via conex™ is another advantage: it is operated at the request of a customer for up to 10 years for all declarations and documents. The opposability of the archiving is reinforced by the use of Blockchain technology which will certify and timestamp each document and action making up the file.

About ZEN via conex™: ZEN via conex™ is a collaborative platform for exchanging, centralising, tracking and archiving data, documents and electronic messages. The customer can thus log all the movement of entries throughout the import/export process, from the pre-declarative phase right through to filing. Multiple actors – customers, partners, collaborators, importers, exporters, carriers … -, intervene in turn to enrich the declaration, in a collaborative workflow.

About Bolloré Transport & Logistics

Bolloré Transport & Logistics is a major international transport and logistics operator with 35,000 employees in 109 countries on five continents. A specialist in multimodal transport, the group operates through four businesses: Bolloré PortsBolloré LogisticsBolloré Energy and Bolloré Railways.

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About Conex

Partner to large corporations and SMEs in all sectors of activity, CONEX develops and markets a range of collaborative tools for the management of customs and security declarations. Its customers, importing/exporting companies, carriers, RDE (Registered Customs Representatives), use its solutions and services to optimise and secure the entry, processing and electronic exchange of declarations for all their international trade in goods.

CONEX has been involved for nearly 40 years in developments in international trade and the supply chain, supporting economic operators in their customs operations, and collaborating with European and international customs administrations.

CONEX, whose historic headquarters are located near Lille (Orchies), has offices in Paris, and two subsidiaries in Belgium and the United Kingdom. An independent SME, created in 1985, CONEX has around sixty employees.

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Transports Mesguen chose Conex solutions to create a post-Brexit Customs activity

Since Brexit became a reality, Transports Mesguen, an SME located at the northern tip of Finistère, has been using Conex solutions for clearing goods en route or arriving from the United Kingdom. A highly strategic step in the Supply Chain, especially for food, live and ultra-fresh products.

A strategic challenge

To adapt to Brexit, the SME of 50 million euros at the head of a national fleet of 150 lorries created a whole new 6-declarant-strong department from scratch at the company headquarters in Saint-Pol-de-Léon. This new Customs department has been equipped and trained in the new regulatory obligations related to transporting goods to and from Great Britain, and in Conex's specialised software: the France and United Kingdom Customs solution, - Management of customs procedures on both sides of the Channel - and the EU ICS and S&S GB modules for processing security declarations.

This new declaration activity has become a profit justifyand a competitive asset for Transports Mesguen. But in reality, the project to internalize customs and security declarations was also strategic for the company: the United Kingdom's share of turnover is 25% of the 50-million-euro total. However, a significant part of the movements concern ultra-fresh food products, vegetables, poultry and seafood products. In this Supply Chain which delivers products on D+1 most of the time, outsourcing declarations to a third party could have penalised its reactivity.

Philip Gac, general manager in charge of financial and HR for the company, initiator of the project, explains:

“Entrusting customs declarations to a third party is possible on paper, but in practice, it multiplies the number intermediaries, communication difficulties, and the risk of delays…. In the world of ultra-fresh transport, when the goods must be delivered on D+1 (we are talking about live crustaceans, in particular), the Supply Chain cannot suffer the slightest delay, otherwise the goods may be lost! Above all, we did not want our lorries to be blocked at the borders upon arrival in England or France!”

It’s ancient history

Transports Mesguen has been developing transport services between the continent and the United Kingdom since the 1960s. But over the past thirty years, since 1993 with the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Union, import/export formalities had disappeared.

Until we heard talk of Brexit. As a result, on January 1st, 2021, a department resurrected the service on brand new foundations: new regulations, new process, new team, new software... The context of political indecision and regulatory uncertainties surrounding the implementation of Brexit forced the SME to adapt, a push on the brakes then rapid acceleration, both in building up skills for its staff and for the implementation of software.

Conex has supported this Brexit project since the start, two years ago, and it is with the same determinat

Collaboration with Conex

March 2019, the decision to commit to the organisation of an internal customs clearance service for movements to and from the United Kingdom is taken. They will need teams and software and Philip Gac, who has taken the initiative to run the project, approaches Conex: “Conex is the market leader, its reliability has been confirmed to me by several freight forwarders that I know. The overall project already included enough uncertainties, I wanted security with regard to the IT solution to be chosen. And the first contacts with the teams went well from the start. In addition, Conex had the clear advantage of offering the CUSTOMS via conex™ software which is connected to UK Customs (CHIEF, CDS). Thus, the information about the goods that we transport for our customers is entered and/or interfaced only once, either on the French side or on the UK side to be sent to customs on both sides of the Channel; they appear mirrored in the Conex solution on either side of the border without additional work.”

Philip Gac estimates the need for 6 or 7 people for his customs team; but hiring, while Brexit is not yet a certainty, is a challenge. He then offered all the administrative staff the possibility of joining the future Customs department, which clearly meant training his staff in the new profession of customs declarant and, therefore, in the Conex tools. 8 people are on the starting blocks, this is enough to cover the needs of a service open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 7 days a week. 3 people, including himself, start training in the spring of 2019, and will in turn train their future colleagues in the new department.

In parallel with the training, IT work is carried out to integrate the Conex tools into Mesguen's information system: this involves limiting manual entries by directly injecting the data already present in Mesguen's accounting and transactional tools into the heart of Conex interfaces. Philip Gac added: “This integration of Conex into our IT system went very well, and for our team it was really a condition for managing large volumes quickly and without the risk of error!

A thwarted launch schedule

Transports Mesguen is ready for Brexit and customs declarations. Except tha,t as we know, nothing is done on time, that one Brexit postponement follows another and that for the SME, they must remain on alert, careful not to forget anything that they had just learned but could not yet apply. So, they continue to train on fictitious datasets for two hours a week, while continuing their usual work as if nothing had happened...

Finally, September 2020, the approach of D-Day again becomes credible and imminent. They are back in pre-project mode: in September, two employees are seconded to the customs department on a half-time basis, then full-time in October. In mid-November, training sessions for processing customs declarations resume every day for all future declarants. The horizon line is getting closer. And on January 1st, 2021, the very first customs clearance declaration in the new post-Brexit customs system is completed successfully. “It was a lorryload of Scottish crabs that was to go to Spain. Live produce, of great value, a cargo of at least 100,000 euros to be processed urgently of course, which Transports Mesguen inherited almost at the very last minute.”

The first weeks will be busy... Customers have not anticipated the new customs complexity, and are discovering on the job that Brexit has changed handling arrangements, that lorries are no longer allowed to cross the borders of England if customs formalities have not been completely cleared… Not to mention that live produce must also obtain health certificates.

Mesguen and its teams are in charge, recovering missing invoices, making dozens of calls to obtain missing information urgently, inputting and clearing customs with all their might... The first week will remain memorable, working from 8 a.m. to 2 am… In the end, the service is fully operational, Mesguen has set up a new activity based on Conex software, and developed its turnover, its teams have proven their ability to take on a memorable challenge and deliver!

About Transports Mesguen

For 70 years, the company has specialised in the road transport of foodstuffs (fruit, vegetables, seafood, etc.), fresh or frozen. It has a fleet of 85 refrigerated semi-trailer lorries. Among other things, Transports Mesguen ensures the transport of industrial products, with more than 75 semi-trailers. It also has several temperature-controlled storage warehouses. With multiple outgoing lines, it can respond quickly to calls in France and England.


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Eurotunnel partnership - Conex video

Customs and security formalities

New implementation dates

CONEX has the software solution
to meet all these formalities.

In partnership with EUROTUNNEL, CONEX, a major player in customs dematerialisation, offers carriers all the software solutions they need for their post-Brexit customs formality management. A range of specialised customs software connected to customs systems on both sides of the Channel.
ICS/ENS Import Control System The European Union advance security declaration - Imports into EU from the United Kingdom (since January 2021)
GB S&S/ENS Safety & Security The British advance security declaration – Imports into GB from the EU (from 1st July 2022)
EXS Exit Summary Declaration  The GB Export declaration for goods heading to the EU and that are not covered by a full customs exportation declaration.
Dematerialised folder grouping together the reference numbers of previously registered declarations meeting the customs formalities required according to the goods carried on board a means of transport crossing the United Kingdom border. (from 1st January 2022)

One of the largest freight forwarders in the world has opted for the Conex solution to ensure its customs clearance in France of nearly 70,000 declarations per year. An expert tool and a strong partnership that now allow Panalpina France to optimise customs clearance and to plan for the development of new services.
Secure customs declaration input
Panalpina has 9 profit centres in France employing 373 staff, for a 2017 turnover of more than 232 million euros. It has transport and logistics operations in every continent. To perform these, in France the company employs 23 declarants spread over 5 sites: Le Havre and Roissy mainly, but also in Nantes, Lyon and Strasbourg.
At the end of 2017, the team of declarants were provided with the flagship Conex tool, the DELTApass software suite for electronic customs clearance and the “Encyclopédie Douanière” (Customs Encyclopedia), a collection of databases for its declarants’ daily regulatory monitoring.
The implementation took place without difficulty, accompanied by training on the tool, and new work habits were adopted to secure customs declaration transmission while maintaining a necessary level of productivity to absorb the treatment of some 70,000 declarations per year.
With the arrival of a new director in France who pressed for the choice of Conex, the Customs service is taking a fresh look at the future: “We are going to be able to develop more far-reaching and in-depth customs consulting services for our clients, thanks to help of Conex, a software editor who is always very reactive and whose support is constantly at our side if we need it”, explains Doriane GUERY, Panalpina Country Head of Customs, France. “Our declarants are now able to not only improve their productivity but also enhance the quality of their service by using this expert tool”.
A SaaS mode solution
The Panalpina declarations are input on DELTApass via conex, software for the treatment of DELTA G (C/D), X and T customs procedures and are transmitted in SaaS mode to the ultra-secure CONEX servers.
The SaaS mode makes it possible to obtain an overall view of the activity, even though the data input was performed in different geographical sites. Doriane GUERY from Panalpina commends herself on having a solution with “truly adapted ergonomics, functionalities enabling automation, numerous settings which allow us to save time and guarantee quality.”
The skills and reactivity of an expert IT service provider
At a time when customs regulations are becoming increasingly complex and demand constant knowledge upgrading, end clients need advice and security: Panalpina is perfectly positioned in its consultant vocation in developing a more in-depth customs accompaniment.
“What we could not do in the past, including optimising and adding value to the customs clearance service, the special procedures, mainly because of the rigidity of our previous tool when faced with special requests, has been made possible with Conex”, continues Doriane GUERY. “This boosts our development and encourages new challenges, because we know that we can rely on our expert partner. We know in advance that we can count on rapid concrete operational answers from Conex!” Alban GRUSON, Conex CEO, adds “We are really happy to be one of Panalpina’s referenced suppliers. It compensates our development and support teams’ efforts when a client of this stature and reputation chooses us.”
About Panalpina
Panalpina France represents one of the world leaders in transport and logistics. Panalpina France counts 9 profit centres and employs 375 collaborators, for a 2017 turnover of more than 232 million euros. The group has operations on all continents.
Panalpina offers services in the following domains: Air transport, Maritime transport, Logistics, Energy solutions. On a global level, the company employs 14,500 people for a turnover of CHF196 billion (Swiss francs)
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