New Initiative to Improve Supply Chain, Increase Data Sharing Launches
On March 15, the Biden-Harris Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation announced the launch of a major supply chain initiative, Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), to help speed up delivery times and reduce consumer costs.
FLOW is an information-sharing initiative to pilot key freight information exchange between parts of the goods movement supply chain. It includes eighteen initial participants that represent diverse perspectives across the supply chain, including private businesses, trucking, warehousing, and logistics companies, ports, and more — with the hope and expectation to include more partners going forward. Initial partners in FLOW include:
- Port of Long Beach
- Port of Los Angeles
- Georgia Ports Authority
- CMA CGM
- Fenix Marine Terminal
- Global Container Terminals
- Gemini Shippers
- Land O’ Lakes
- True Value
Logistics and Warehousing:
- CH Robinson
These key stakeholders will work together with the Administration to develop an information exchange to ease supply chain congestion, speed up the movement of goods, and ultimately cut costs for Americans.
During the launch event, participants discussed the progress made to date in working collaboratively across private sector stakeholders and with federal and state governments to address supply chain bottlenecks at ports including the decline in long-term dwelling containers (by 60% at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach since November), a reduction in empty containers (by more than 30% at the Port of Los Angeles since the beginning of the year), and the creation of pop-up sites for containers around the Port of Savannah. In particular, participants discussed the success of pop-up sites at restoring fluidity over the past year and how they will be needed in the future.
They also underscored the value of greater data transparency across the supply chain and how this would benefit not only their respective companies but also the system more broadly, cutting waste and reducing costs for consumers. Participants acknowledged the current system is underperforming and needs greater investment and more collaboration in creating ship-to-shelf visibility into the primarily private-sector-owned supply chain. A more reliable, predictable, and accurate information exchange about goods movement is the hallmark of a globally competitive 21st-century goods movement chain and is especially important for small- and medium-sized businesses who lack visibility into the current system. Participants highlighted that this type of digital infrastructure was more important than ever in the face of supply chain disruptions caused by global events like the pandemic and Russia’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine.
While starting with a limited pilot, DOT wants to hear from others who are interested in engaging as part of FLOW as a participant as the initiative grows. Within one month of the FLOW launch, DOT will launch a web page to gauge industry interest in participation and data sharing for a potential long-term FLOW effort.