CSX Lines to automate invoices

Management Dynamics Inc. and Horizon Services Group LLC, the transportation management division of CSX Corp., have teamed up to deliver “auto rating” to ocean carrier CSX Lines LLC.

Auto rating streamlines the process of getting rates onto bills and bills out to customers, according to Rick Kessler, Horizon’s chief operating officer.

CSX Lines’ auto rating capability integrates rate and tariff information into a management system using Rate Explorer, Management Dynamics’ content management product, Kessler said.

Implementation of auto rating has enabled Charlotte, N.C.-based CSX Lines to more accurately and efficiently manage its service contracts, eliminating rating errors and improving cash flow, according to Kessler.

Kessler said CSX Lines currently produces five and a half invoices, called bills of lading in the industry, per hour. He said auto rating will allow CSX to produce eight per hour.

John Preuninger, president and chief operating officer of East Rutherford, N.J.-based Management Dynamics, said CSX Lines has been using Rate Explorer for more than a year to calculate correct charges for each transaction. Rate Explorer usually does it in less than a minute and 15 seconds, as opposed to the 20 to 25 minutes it took before the contract process was automated.

“Our client’s error rates are now less than 1 percent,” Preuninger said.

He said the auto rating function allows customers like CSX Lines to interface their back-office applications, or liner management systems, with Management Dynamics systems, in order to automatically rate the carriers’ bills of lading.

In addition, to helping CSX Lines produce higher-quality invoices, Kessler said, auto rating will allow the company to meet new federal port security guidelines.

In the past, U.S. Customs gave carriers up to two weeks after a ship left a foreign port to file their cargo manifests. However, under the Container Security Initiative, carriers will have to electronically file their shipping manifests 24 hours before cargo can be loaded in a foreign port. That new rule went into effect Dec. 2, although sea carriers have a 60-day grace period to comply.

Last week, CSX Corp. said it was selling CSX Lines, its ocean shipping unit, to a venture formed with The Carlyle Group for approximately US$300 million in cash and securities. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals. Closing is expected to take place in the first quarter of 2003.