Physical2Digital (P2D), a pioneering UK software company, has created digital solutions which will overcome most regulatory barriers to the swift movement of goods between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the European Union as a result of Brexit.
Additional checks at borders, since the introduction of regulatory requirements along with groupage challenges, have slowed deliveries, leading some suppliers to either reduce the range of products available to shoppers or halt deliveries entirely.
Figures from the Institute of Directors indicate that 30 percent of UK importers were “not at all prepared” for the changes that took effect in January 2022. Given that total imports to the UK from the EU rose 2.2 percent to £57.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021, this could prove to be an issue moving forward when further changes take effect.
Worryingly, a December 2021 report from the Office for National Statistics: “Business insights and impact on the UK economy’ highlighted that only 7.7 percent of import-exporters had made changes to their supply chains in light of the end of the EU transition period.”
P2D has developed a platform which enables suppliers to transport their products between Great Britain and the EU with minimal disruption, whilst meeting the regulatory requirements demanded by Brexit.
The company’s work has had a particular focus on the movement of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) goods and the need for Export Health Certificates (EHCs).
P2D’s system allows the aggregation of data from every stage in the supply chain. In the case of products of animal origin, this includes the abattoir, meat processing plant, manufacturer and exporter, with each adding their individual data to the system for use in product certification.
While hard copy certification is still legally required, P2D is ready to support the industry on its journey towards full digitalisation by giving firms the ability to electronically submit the required information into government systems.
As well as SPS goods, P2D – which is headquartered in Marlow, Buckinghamshire – has created a customs platform to support exporters with the movement of products.
The system provides significant time and labour savings by simplifying the data requirements and complexity required to create each declaration. Linked into CDS – HMRC’s new platform – the declarations are submitted in a fraction of the time previously required.
In addition to its work with retailers, P2D has presented the full capability of solutions to officials at DEFRA and DAERA to support their efforts in developing a solution for goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as a result of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The company has also entered into a consortium with partners to support the government’s ambition to develop the world’s most effective border through the 2025 UK Border Strategy.
P2D’s technology is fully operational, tried and tested, and has already supported the movement of millions of goods across borders.
Suresh Sadanandan, P2D chief information officer, said: “Brexit created a unique set of technological challenges which our team of experts have been determined to address.
“P2D’s bespoke platforms meet the certification requirements for goods to enter Northern Ireland and the EU from Great Britain and from the EU into Great Britain efficiently and in compliance with the rules.
“Working alongside Official Veterinarians (OVs), the platform has been developed to ensure the OV has the evidence required to sign off on products, easing the burden on an industry that is struggling with capacity by enabling EHCs to be generated and assured at speed.
“The extension of various grace periods has delayed their largescale deployment. However, we are talking to multiple retailers who export both into Northern Ireland and from the EU to Great Britain in readiness for any new arrangements that are agreed after the ongoing negotiations between the UK and EU have concluded.
“As a cloud-based platform, our products are completely agile and have global applications so are not limited to the UK and EU.
“We are confident that our Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions can make a real difference in easing burdensome trade barriers around the world, supporting businesses of all sizes to digitise processes and prepare for the future.”
Barrington Hilsley, P2D chief executive, said: “We have also created a digital seal that can be attached to any item, pallet or vehicle delivering full traceability throughout the product journey to support exporters who do not qualify for the STAMNI scheme, introduced to support trade into Northern Ireland.
“This provides proof of controlled movement of goods that are not at risk and records where a truck travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland or the Irish Republic has been opened.
“We have been working to support suppliers with groupage issues too, a problem that has come to the fore since Brexit and resulted in the reduced delivery of products from smaller suppliers who have been forced to stop exporting.
“Our groupage solution enables suppliers to resume the import and export of products where they have Less Than Truckload (LTL) shipments.”
P2D’s platforms have attracted strong support across the UK veterinary services sector.
Andrew Iveson, director, Amivet exports, said: “Amivet Exports have used the P2D digital platform since Brexit, when there has been huge surge in demand for export health certification by Official Veterinarians and a massive increase in the amount of data and traceability required to enable the EHCs to be signed.
“The platform enables supporting evidence from the entire supply chain to be kept in one digital location to give the certifying OVs oversight of the process and speed up the certification process, while maintaining accuracy.”
Charles Hartwell, chief executive, Eville & Jones, said: “The requirement for post-Brexit regulatory certification on agri-food movements places a new demand on veterinary certification resources.
“There are around 2,000 vacant roles in the veterinary sector every year but only 900 vets qualify from approved universities year on year.
“Usually, vets from within the EU have plugged the shortfall in the UK, but since Brexit, this number has dropped rapidly, and demand outstrips supply.
“The P2D TRACES platform collates all the necessary information we require to efficiently produce EHC certificates with all the required evidence on an innovative digital platform, helping reduce the strain on an industry that is already under considerable pressures.”
Diederick Opperman, director, HallMark Veterinary and Compliance Services, said: “The continuing uncertainty and changes around border checks has only served to deepen the crisis surrounding the national shortage of vets.
“However, we are impressed with P2D’s ground-breaking digital solutions and how they help the industry adapt to these new requirements and provide us as Official Vets the evidence we require to efficiently sign off products of animal origin for export.”