The Port of Miami is conducting a test program for real-time delivery of perishables cargo.

The pilot program is designed to speed U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspections so shipments can leave the Miami port sooner.

Miami port project speeds inspectionsHandheld electronic devices are used instead clipboards, said Eric Olafson, Port of Miami’s manager of intergovernmental affairs and cargo development.

Before implementation of the program, product would arrive at the port at 8:30 a.m. and require up to four hours for release.

Using clipboards, inspectors would note which containers were cleared and finish inspections by 11:30 a.m. when inspectors would release the cargo, making truckers wait up to four hours, Olafson said.

With the pilot program, however, as soon as cargo is cleared, an inspector can press a button alerting the trucker, brokers and others.

The process allows containers to be cleared in time for the 10 a.m. train to Jacksonville, Fla., instead of the evening train, allowing for shipment north to Atlanta by the second day, saving up to 1.5 days, Olafson said.

“All our customers are saying it’s saving them time and money,” he said. “The biggest complaint is from the inspectors. As everyone gets the release information the same time, truckers almost run over the customs agents because the agents haven’t moved away from the containers and here’s the truck already trying to hook up.

“Talk about efficient,” Olafson said. “This helps it get on the road and to the market and on someone’s dinner table quicker.”

Sophie Soudai, president of Miami-based Alternative Global Logistics, said importers are pleased with the program, which has been tested for more than a year.

“The trucks are happier as the trucks aren’t waiting anymore and everyone’s running on ad as the sales guys have presold the cargo, like at last minute,” she said. “Because of fixed costs, the produce guys can’t save money on farming. The only place they can really start to recover money is in logistics. By speeding product to the market, you increase your bottom line.”

Olafson said the biggest import markets include Peru, Chile, Costa Rica and Honduras for bananas, grapes, pineapples, mangoes, avocadoes and kiwifruit.