Swiss container shipping giant Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), has become the first carrier to fully adopt BIC Facility Codes (BFC) or standardized codes for all depots globally.

Just like airports worldwide have the three-letter IATA codes, all MSC’s depots are now identifiable with a 9-character BFC, moving one step further on the digitalisation journey.

The transition process was completed across 2021, in order to ensure that every MSC depot globally was included. MSC sees this as a vital step forward.

Today, there is a lack of a common language throughout the industry, adding extra steps to the already complex and fragmented shipment journeys from end to end. This leads to inefficiencies and time-wasting procedures, causing uncertainty or delays.

A standardised language brings simplicity, improves efficiency, and provides certainty for multimodal or multi-carrier transportation that allows for future growth opportunities. In day-to-day interactions, this will lead to smoother communication, increased data clarity and accuracy, and a simpler and more efficient process throughout, according to the company.

“MSC has been a vocal proponent of harmonising facility codes since the Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) was founded and has provided significant support to this project. Adopting the BIC Facility Codes is a great example of a variety of digital workstreams at MSC coming together to make strides for the digital future of shipping,” Andre Simha, Global Chief Digital and Information Officer for MSC, commented.

The BIC Facility Codes were created through a major harmonisation project conducted in November 2020 by the Bureau International des Containers (BIC) with the assistance of the DCSA.

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Active collaboration from DCSA member ocean carriers and several of the largest leasing companies means that more than 17,000 container facilities in 192 countries can now be easily identified for supply chain events without ambiguity, with enhanced addressing and latitude/longitude coordinates.

The BIC manages the database and offers an open API to allow trading partners to ensure their IT systems are kept up to date.

“We congratulate the MSC team, which has been laser-focused on ensuring 100% of its facilities worldwide have a BIC Facility Code assigned and that all MSC systems globally were updated to include the harmonised codes,” Douglas Owen, BIC Secretary General, said.

“The end result, for all the carriers now adopting the standard, will be improved efficiency with trading partners and more seamless flow of information between systems.”

“The digital transformation of the container shipping industry is underway,” Thomas Bagge, DCSA CEO, noted.

“DCSA and its members are creating the framework for it, and we invite all stakeholders to become part of this transformation. Adopting baseline standards such as location code standards is a mandatory step in establishing an interoperable digital foundation which will simplify current complexities. Ultimately, customers, stakeholders and the entire industry will benefit.”

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While all the participating carriers are in the process of adopting the codes, MSC is the first to achieve full implementation throughout all company systems globally. The move is expected to quicken adoption by vendors and other trading partners, all of whom are set to benefit from streamlined communication using the harmonised codes.

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