The electronic customs declaration process, which has been mandatory in the EU for over a year, will also apply to movements within Germany from 1 January 2012. Companies and logistics service providers will therefore have to electronically open and close even domestic movements of duty-suspended excisable goods using the "Excise Movement and Control System" (EMCS). This system is used for the IT-assisted control of excisable goods movements within the EU, and from the beginning of next year, within Germany. Goods affected include energy products, goods containing spirits, and tobacco products.
The companies that transport these goods across borders are already familiar with EMCS. Now, however, they face the challenge of having to expand their administrative systems and offices so that they can deal with domestic customers and goods, and this will cause a sharp rise in data volume. A time-consuming changeover from previous procedures for domestic movements is required. The current paper-based documentation will be replaced by the EMCS system, and from 2012, the Administrative Accompanying Document (AAD) will no longer be valid on German roads.
New directives implemented seamlessly
Less paperwork, simple and transparent processes – these are the aims of the new customs regulations. To make it as easy as possible for freight companies, the German customs authorities have approved a number of software solutions. The OpenTAS terminal management and automation system, developed by the consulting and software company Implico specifically for the oil and gas industry, has been certified by the customs authorities for use with EMCS. The integration of the EMCS processes in OpenTAS has made it possible to fully automate loading and shipping operations. Since receiving its certification in March 2010, Implico has implemented the EMCS system for numerous oil companies and tank farm operators, and is ready to apply this experience on behalf of customers affected by the new domestic customs regulations.
There are considerable benefits to having the EMCS application as part of a complete software solution like OpenTAS, compared with using the customs service's website. The required data can be sent to customs within seconds. Entering the data on the customs website, by contrast, takes considerably longer – and runs the risk of input errors. Because it is fully automatic, the EMCS solution integrated within OpenTAS is not only more efficient: it can also be used 24 hours a day.
OMV Germany GmbH, Bavaria's leading oil and gas company, has been using the EMCS solution built into OpenTAS for over a year and has also commissioned Implico to implement the electronic declaration system for domestic shipments of excisable products. Bernd Huber, head of IT for OMV Germany, confirms the benefits of the integrated solution: "Without the integration in OpenTAS, we would have found it almost impossible to implement the EMCS regulations." Thanks to the electronic interface, we can turn vehicles round more quickly and cut waiting times without creating any extra work for our terminal personnel. "
In addition to OMV Germany, Petroplus, TanQuid, Total Germany and Vopak have successfully integrated EMCS functionality into OpenTAS and are now equipped to handle the new German customs regulations. Implico is flexible enough to meet each individual customer's needs in terms of EMCS integration, which can vary depending on the company's location and the vehicles they own and operate. The situation is analogous to the requirements of the terminal management system and the EMCS processes. Conversion can either be carried out in one fell swoop or gradually over a period of time. A company with a number of different warehouses could choose to convert one site at a time.
Petroplus Raffinerie Ingolstadt GmbH chose the one-step-at-a-time approach. They integrated EMCS functionality for the railroad tank cars first and then for the tank trucks. "Thanks to our previous experience, integrating EMCS into OpenTAS took less time than the original implementation of EMCS for our European movements," says Erich Kuttenreich, head of the tank truck and railroad tank car loading operation at the Petroplus refinery in Ingolstadt. "For such a project to be successful, four factors must be satisfied: Functionality, quality, and on-time and on-budget implementation. Implico's deployment met all of these criteria and Petroplus is now fully prepared to deal with the new customs regulations.
Fast and reliable: the electronically controlled loading operation
The OpenTAS complete software solution with built-in EMCS enables any type of vehicle to be loaded easily and fully automatically at any depot. Here, speed and reliability go hand in hand. The process begins with a check of the company, driver and loading authorization as the tank truck drives into the tank terminal. The electronic customs declaration, including tax-relevant data, is made as soon as loading has taken place. Because a customs examination using this system takes no longer than a few minutes, the tank truck driver receives the electronic administrative document (e-AD), which clears the movement, as he drives out of the depot. This procedure avoids complex and error-prone data inputs.
Ready for the next development stage: EMCS 2.0
The EMCS movement and control procedure itself has not stood still and continues to be developed. The German customs authorities issued their latest EMCS Release 2.0 on 1 January 2012. This contains additional functions and improves communication between customer and customs. It includes, for example, more timely alerts and messages on the rejection of movements and provides details of shortfalls or excess quantities. Implico’s OpenTAS software is currently being certified for this new release. The software specialists have taken the opportunity to incorporate suggestions and ideas from customers. One of the many enhancements in the latest release is a more customer-friendly user interface. In addition, transport routes can be configured individually and statistical and excise duty codes can be easily retrieved. Companies who are already using EMCS with OpenTAS will not have to suffer downtime when they switch to ECMS 2.0, as Implico is currently putting it through a test phase. As the new system runs completely independently from its predecessor, normal operation will be unaffected. EMCS 2.0 will take over only when the test phase has been completed successfully. EMCS 2.0 is expected to be a mandatory requirement for customs declarations from October 2012 on.