Freight forwarders are being offered massive cost savings using a new Internet-based document processing system developed by International Transport Information Systems (Itis), a specialist software company. The software, IN.Doc, combines incoming document images with auto-generated images and sends them on the Internet anywhere in the world. Launched two months ago, it is already being used by several freight forwarding firms including Ace Protrans Forwarding and Air-City. Satti Wong, Itis managing director, said firms could save up to 93 per cent of the cost of international telephone charges. Further savings were possible from reassigning staff to more productive jobs. 'One freight forwarder has four people dedicated to photocopying and faxing documents around the world,' she said. Not only could the firm save on fax charges, it would save about $40,000 a month in salary costs. The freight forwarder was considering whether to use the IN.Doc system. The major stumbling block was that the company was foreign-owned and there was a marked reluctance to use software developed in Hong Kong, Ms Wong said. 'International freight forwarders think local software is not as good as that developed by their own computer industries,' she said. Ms Wong said Itis software, which was specially developed for freight forwarders, was superior. Firms also believed local software companies were fly-by-night outfits and they would not get after-sales back-up. Ms Wong, who has 11 years experience of developing software for the freight-forwarding industry, said the prejudice had adversely affected Itis. 'It is extremely difficult to sell to international freight forwarding firms because of these political problems,' she said. Instead Itis was targeting the 800 locally operated companies. It has developed a full range of software for air and ocean freight applications. This covers air-freight operation and maintenance including cargo manifests, invoicing and scheduling, and ocean-freight operation and maintenance with similar facilities for sea-going cargo. There are software packages for a range of tasks involved in container depot management. Itis has also developed FRTlink, a Web site that lists sailing and flight schedules, job vacancies and a company directory, with China Internet Corp, a subsidiary of Xinhua (the New China News Agency). Ms Wong said the facility made freight forwarders more competitive by giving direct contact with potential customers. Existing customers can log in to find out where their cargo is en route. To remain competitive Itis is developing a cheaper version of some of its packages, with fewer features, which should be launched by the end of this year.