ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has partnered with the National Grain and Feed Digital Solutions (NGFDS) to progress its goal of digitizing barge trading documents.

The NGFDS will oversee the new Barge Digital Transformation (BDT) platform. 

“This is truly a momentous development projected to save those of us using barge transportation significant costs now being incurred while greatly improving efficiency,” said Brittany Schaefer, chairman of the NGFDS. “My hope is that launching this innovative, secure platform for transmitting barge-related paperwork is just one step toward a future of efficient data transmission throughout the agricultural supply chain.”

The BDT project is working to simplify the current paperwork processes common in the barge trade with a new platform that is expected to digitize the approximately 70,000 to 100,000 negotiable barge bills of lading that NGFA members process each year.  

“The establishment of NGFDS and the ensuing implementation of this electronic platform is yet another example of NGFA members working together to drive change and develop a solution that meets the business needs of the collective industry,” said Randy Gordon, president and chief executive officer of the NGFA. “All those who use or benefit from barge transportation owe a tremendous thanks to the Steering Committee, and particularly Brittany Schaefer, for the countless hours of time and intensive, detailed effort that has brought us to this threshold. NGFA is excited to be partnering with and supporting NGFDS in bringing this solution to the marketplace, and NGFA remains open to exploring additional opportunities for providing technological solutions to enhance industry operations.”

In January 2020, the NGFA announced a partnership with essDOCS to implement a project that will digitize barge trading documents, such as bills of lading, so that they may be transmitted electronically. The solution or platform is based on a customized version of essDOCS' CargoDocs DocEx platform. User testing is now underway, with the goal of deploying the digital platform and training industry members on its use scheduled to begin by the end of this summer.

To oversee and administer the new platform, NGFDS was formed and officially certified as a Washington, DC, US-based 501(c)(6) non-profit corporation earlier this year.

In July, the NGFA and the NGFDS formalized their partnership wherein the NGFA will continue to provide management and administrative support functions for the NGFDS in its operations and activities related to the new BDT platform.