Customs Support Belgium

A digital superpower in the customs industry

Following the rebrand of the Belgian company Portmade, Managing Director Jef Hermans discusses digitalisation in customs and the next steps for Customs Support Belgium in this article.

Tell us about digitalisation at Customs Support Belgium

Most customs clearance agents only have one software that they use, which is better than doing manual declarations but it doesn’t make you a digital company. Even companies that are digital often only run at about 20-25% digitalisation.

We [the acquired Portmade Group] have been running at around 70% for some time now, because we have invested heavily into IT and software integrations. It’s not one, two, or even three connected systems, but an entire network of complementary modules.

The data is very clean, and allows us to automate a lot of what goes into a declaration. More than that, though, is that it all feeds into the other parts of the process, such as invoicing, audits, and customer messaging.

Although Brexit is long-gone now, it’s a proud achievement of ours that our systems meant we only needed to hire four more staff to manage the work generated by the UK leaving the EU, even with our service becoming 24/7 at the same time.

Without our digital infrastructure in place, we would have needed 65 additional people to cover the same amount of declarations.

What is next for Belgium?

We have just migrated our branches surrounding Antwerp into a single office. Now that we are all in one place, we can really get our heads together and advance our systems even further.

For the clients we have brought over from Portmade, we can provide them with so much better coverage across Europe as part of the Customs Support Group, so we are keen to optimise our processes even further so that we can continue to deliver the quality they are used to, at scale.

Across the organisation, we are also working with some of the other offices in the Benelux area to help them improve their automations and increase their digitalisation.

Looking forwards, we are continuing to work on our data mapping for end-to-end clearances and cross-community customs functionality. Although the European Union is working on EU centralised clearances, this could be in the building and testing phase for some time. We have the resources and the know-how to almost create that function ahead of time for our clients.

Want to know more about how digitalisation can benefit your supply chain?

Customs Support provide digital customs services across the EU and UK. If you would like to know more about how our digital solutions can improve your compliance, efficiency, and margins, contact one of our experts today.