The White House recently launched a plan that intends to ease the supply chain bottlenecks in the country. This new initiative primarily hinges on data sharing by all the stakeholders in the supply chain industry. This new project called FLOW (Freight Logistics Optimization Works) is a data-sharing drive that seeks to connect all the stakeholders in the transportation and logistics sector. This includes port authorities, logistics companies, shippers, truckers, manufacturers, retailers and other businesses. In today’s post, we are going to provide you with a comprehensive report on this new supply chain endeavour of the US government.
Explaining the FLOW
The Freight Logistics Optimization Works intends to mitigate the bottlenecks stretching from USA’s largest gateway for international imports in Southern California to the warehouses and distribution centres scattered all over the country. To date, the cargo used to move between several freight forwarding companies before reaching the stores. Moreover, these freight and logistics companies hardly shared any information regarding the whereabouts of the cargoes. The FLOW is an information-sharing endeavour connecting all the operators in the supply chain industry. Its purpose is to ensure greater visibility of info by making data sharing mandatory for all the participants.
How it will help to solve the current supply chain issues?
The US Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg has explained that the newly created data-sharing portal will possibly run via a website. From this portal, the exporters will get to know the number of days they have to load a container before shipping. Similarly, it will allow truckers to check for warehousing space and so on. Exporters, importers, and logistics managers often face several issues while planning because of the lack of data sharing by most supply chain operators. This is one important reason why warehouses, ports, truckers, and railways fail to cope with the spikes and lulls in shipment volume. Additionally, lack of data sharing affects the retailers who are left to spend heavily for managing the massive volume of inventory stuck in transit.
Even though the logistics companies have enhanced the visibility into their own operations, most companies are still hesitant about data sharing with others. The creation of this national portal will foster voluntary data exchange. All participants who share data will be able to access this information. This portal will make use of tech-neutral and performance-based standards for the use and sharing of information. As stated in the fact sheet, the FLOW “will test the idea that cooperation on foundational freight digital infrastructure is in the interest of both public and private parties.” Most importantly, this project will end the supply chain industry’s reliance on spreadsheets and phone calls for planning and tracking.
The participating companies
Eighteen organizations representing several segments of the supply chain industry have participated in the FLOW. These segments include logistics companies, trucking, warehousing, ports, and private enterprises. The pilot members of this project are the Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles and Georgia, terminal operators – Global Container Terminals and Fenix Marine Terminal, and carriers CMA CGM and MSC. Logistics and warehousing companies like Prologis, UPS, FedEx and CH Robinson and chassis providers like DCLI and FlexiVan are also participating in this project. Lastly, the project also includes business houses like Gemini Shippers, Land O’ Lakes, Target, and True Value.
The views of the participants
Gene Seroka, the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Port has stated that this visibility endeavour will boost supply chain visibility, resulting in greater flexibility. He added that the FLOW will also enhance competitiveness allowing American companies to send their products to the market quickly and at a more affordable rate.
According to Udo Lange, the CEO of FedEx, the accessibility to information in the supply chain and in the container shipping sector will lead to enhanced optimization of data. It will ensure easier data flow and better use of info from the origin till delivery.
To quote Gary Anderson, the CEO of Prologis, “Considering that the flow of goods through Prologis buildings represents 2.5% of global GDP, we play a unique role in the global supply chain…We are pleased to be part of this effort to use data to improve the systems that support the movement of goods in this nation. We’re hopeful this public-private effort will help create a stronger, more resilient supply chain.”
In conclusion, we can say that the data-sharing initiative will ensure a better flow of digitized data across the end-to-end supply chain. This will help to eliminate all the blind spots along the journey of a cargo. This in turn will allow for better predictability, resilience and reliability. Simply put, FLOW will help to establish a standards-based, interactive infrastructure that will ensure seamless operation of the supply chain industry in the USA.