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DHL Deploys Web-based Trade Management Service

Open Harbor, a San Carlos, Calif.-based, independent software vendor (ISV) and ASP today announced that DHL Worldwide Express will use its Web-based, real-time global trade management service to power its Worldwide Clearance System (WCS).

Open Harbor describes the deal as "a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract" in which DHL will implement Open Harbor 4.0 (also announced today) to facilitate customs clearance for approximately 25 million packages a year. Previously, according to Dan Lofgren, Open Harbor's vice president of product management, DHL was entering and maintaining the information manually.

"WCS will allow every DHL location to access the latest regulatory information, and enable us to adjust quickly to changing trade conditions worldwide," said Jeffrey Bass, DHL's WCS program director.

Open Harbor operates as both a business process service and a content provider. Lofgren said that a third of Open Harbor's 70 employees are dedicated to updating regulatory information. Open Harbor's databases holds more than 8 million trade rules for 60 countries.

Open Harbor's service addresses three areas of importance to companies involved in global trade, according to Lofgren:

  • Landed costs — Customers get up-to-date information on, for example, sales and harbor taxes, government fees, and other expenses. This helps companies determine "What it's going to cost."
  • Compliance — Open Harbor provides information on packaging requirements, embargoes and other data that helps companies avoid potential fines and delays by answering the question, "Is it legal?", Lofgren said.
  • Documentation — Lofgren said Open Harbor provides hundreds of forms to ensure that shipments are properly documented.

"Open Harbor's real-time platform allowed us to make concrete commitments to DHL," said Open Harbor's CEO, Chris Erickson. "We're so confident in our ability to keep DHL and its customers in compliance that we've contractually committed to 99+ percent accuracy."

"No other company we evaluated had the technology or expertise to make this kind of promise," DHL's Bass said.

The first country to deploy DHL's WCS is Malaysia. By the end of the year, DHL's operations in Brazil and Ireland are expected join Malaysia. DHL reports that by mid-2003 it plans to have more countries in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas online.

In addition to providing trade content, Open Harbor's workflow engine is mapped to DHL's clearance processes, which is designed to help the company automate operations more effectively worldwide. "Even in our first WCS pilot implementation in Malaysia we're seeing productivity gains. We expect these to accumulate substantially as we roll out," said Bass.

Open Harbor was founded in 1999 and to date has raised $29 million in three rounds of funding. The company's plans call for another round of financing in the future, according to Linda Ciabatoni, the company's chief marketing officer. Other customers include Hewlett-Packard (via Compaq), Sun Microsystems, Mitsubushi and Allegheny Technologies.


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