“The tank container industry is a highly competitive low margin business that is competing with multiple modes of transport. In such an environment costs need to be controlled”, comments Heike Clausen, President of the International Tank Container Organisation. “Therefore there was a strong interest among ITCO members to develop and publish a Code of Practice for Depot-Client Management that digs into the processes and identifies best practice procedures that result in smoother processes and lower costs. This is the first of its kind in the industry and we welcome any feedback and discussion on this sensitive depot-client issue in order to achieve a way forward that is best for clients and depots.”

Depot repairs and maintenance are significant cost factors in the tank container transport process. On the one hand, depot capacity is growing, controlled IT systems are being installed and health and safety regulations are becoming more rigid, along with formal quality processes; and, on the other hand, depots are also being asked to handle non-standard requirements. Between these two poles, a fragmented approach towards the depot management processes has developed over the past, whereby tank container operators and leasing companies have differing requirements - that in many cases depots are finding increasingly difficult to service economically.

The standardisation of multiple steps and elements of depot repairs and maintenance would increase the efficiency of depots substantially and is therefore a key to smoother processes as well as better cost control. Therefore the Code of Practice for Depot-Client Management recommends proven best practice procedures that could eventually become standards in the depot-client management. Early planning, transparent information and communication processes, consistent and clear instructions and contracts as well as pre-agreements on possible irregularities, such as unexpected small repairs covered in repair-package deals, are among the elements recommended in the guidelines.

Furthermore, the document explains in a comprehensive, but easy-to-understand, way the processes and procedures in depots as well as the multiple requirements that are addressed in the depots. A joint understanding of all those details is the basis for further discussion towards standardized procedures in the depot-client management.

The “Code of Practice: Guiding Principles of Tank Container Depot-Client Management” can be downloaded under http://itco.be/download/CodePractice-GuidingPrinciplesDepot-ClientManagement-v1-March14.pdf.  Feedback and discussion are welcome. ITCO seeks to develop the guidelines in line with the feedback received.

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