The Panama Canal is an internationally known transit system for commercial shipping vessels. Operated by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the organization is a financially autonomous entity that was looking for ways to enhance revenue. Due to the logistics of having large cargo ships make a transit through the canal, there are a limited number of transit slots for vessels of a given type and/or size per day and operational cycle time. Since canal transit access is a limited capacity resource, it is a prime candidate for on-demand based pricing and the ACP decided that an online auction was an ideal way to implement and take advantage of this. In 2006, the ACP contracted with XCENT to implement the Panama Canal Transit Slot Auction
ACP was concerned with how to implement an online auction system which could be utilized effectively by the wide range of end users. End users could potentially be located in offices both locally and around the globe, or could actually be located on-board vessels working over wireless satellite connections. A solution had to work on as wide of a range of devices as possible using only a web browser. XCENT was able to deliver a custom tailored auction solution to meet all of their specific needs.
The Transit Slot Auction allows an interested party the opportunity to jump ahead in queue if their vessel is available to transit the canal. While transit fees are based on a variety of criteria, the typical fees for an average shipping vessel or cruise ship can be in the mid five figures for a single transit. The Transit Slot Auction allows the fees on a priority slot to be boosted on average of eighty (80) percent or more. With a historic record high exceeding a $390,000 premium paid on top of normal transit fees for a single transit slot, the Transit Slot Auction has allowed ACP to extract a very significant source of additional revenue from an existing resource with no additional infrasturcture.
The eCommerce Auction platform built by XCENT for ACP allows the Transit Slot Auction to be operated with an investment of only several hours per month. The Transit Slot Auction was completed successfully for ACP both in terms of time and budget. The administrator from ACP in charge of the implementation, Marcia de Ortega (Supervisor, Unidad de Recursos Informáticos) said:
"We greatly appreciate all your team effort and dedication to have the ACP Auction WEB Sites alive at the requested date & time."