By Matthew Southwell
A leading logistics firm is using an online initiative from the Dubai Health Department to slash costs.
|~||~||~|Dubai Municipality Health Department has unveiled its online services offering and signed MMI Logistics up as its first user. Through the service, the logistics company will use the Internet to apply for various health certificates and receive the results of laboratory tests. Currently, applications for food health certificates, clinic services and veterinary certificates are completed offline and delivered to the municipality by drivers. The forms then enter the department’s internal process, which can take up to 72 hours to complete.Mike Lee, manager at MMI Logistics, explains that this is expensive, as drivers have to shuttle between Jebel Ali and the municipality to collect certificates that may or may not be ready at the appointed time. “To go from Jebel Ali to the municipality is a long drive. If there is a mistake then we have to go back. This ends up costing us both time and money,” adds Ramzi Zarouni, liaison officer, MMI Logistics.However, by automating the process and streamlining the workflow between the municipality and MMI Logistics, the company will be able to reduce the overall cost of the 12,000 transactions it makes per year.Although MMI Logistics is already feeling the benefits of the system, it is only partially automated as the municipality still processes the online applications offline.“The system gives us confirmation and allows us to track applications. As it evolves, the process should condense from 72 hours to five or six hours… which means that our clients will be happier because the shipment will go faster,” he says.In addition to accelerating the application process, data accuracy has increased as information is entered only once. Lee explains that data quality is currently a common problem because low paid clerks are typing something they do not understand and then sending it to an Arabic speaker to replicate in their second language. “The value of this system for us is that human error disappears so it lessens the probability of a mistake on clearance,” he says.The processing of applications online will also facilitate better record keeping. As a result, lab results for certain foods will be easily accessible and test samples from each batch will no longer have to be sent to the municipality. “All food has to pass through the municipality’s labs to check that it is fit for human consumption. We used to have to transfer food in ice boxes from each shipment to the lab but now we need only do this every six months,” explains Lee.This in turn will speed the shipment of goods as customs officials will be able to check the municipality’s records online in real-time.Although the actual launch date for the service has yet to be set, Lee predicts that it should go live sometime in the next few months if the trial continues to be a success. When it does, MMI Logistics will be employed by the municipality to train other users on the system.||**||