U.S. Department of Transportation Establishes National Freight Data Platform to Share Supply Chain Data

15 Aug 2022

By Eric Huang.    Photo : Athanasios Papazacharias


In the past two years, due to the impact of the epidemic, the global supply chain has suffered great damage. Moreover, due to the confidentiality of relevant data by all parties in the supply chain, it has become more complicated and difficult to solve the chaotic supply chain. To address this, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to develop its industry partnership, the so-called Freight Logistics Optimization Works, to hold its first supply chain stakeholder meeting, which will include shipping companies, terminals, intermodal operators, and cargo owners, among others, will discuss topics related to participation in the new national freight data platform, aimed at improving supply chain transparency and efficiency.


The Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), launched as early as March this year, is an initiative of the Biden government and related supply chain companies, with an eye toward developing a new digital tool that provides related companies with information about supply chain nodes or regional conditions, so that goods can be shipped faster and cheaper, ultimately reducing costs for the customers. A total of 36 entities and companies are currently participating in the FLOW programme, including major shipping companies MSC, Maersk, CMA CGM and Hapag-Lloyd, as well as terminal operators, port authorities, intermodal shippers, as well as retailers and manufacturers. More players are expected to be added in the coming months. The U.S. Department of Transportation also plans to hold listening sessions with small businesses, technologists and others to get more people to learn about and participate in the project.


U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the new White House Special Envoy for Ports, Gen. Stephen Lyons, will moderate this upcoming meeting, where FLOW partners will discuss the results of the initial data sharing and how the platform can help address the next challenges in the supply chain. Minister Buttigieg said, “The Biden government is proud to bring companies across the supply chain together in this first-of-its-kind initiative to share information and help move goods faster and cheaper. To keep the supply chain going and lower prices, we have to invest not only in physical infrastructure, but also in digital infrastructure, and FLOW is an important part of that work. General Stephen Lyons added that “the beginning of data sharing between supply chain related industries and the U.S. Department of Transportation is a major milestone for FLOW. We look forward to continuing to work with these industries to develop this tool, enabling them to make more informed decisions that improve the flow of goods in our supply chain. "


Currently, the lack of transparency in the supply chain network makes the U.S. supply chain vulnerable and unable to adapt quickly in the face of anomalies. Through the FLOW pilot, the U.S. Department of Transportation became an independent steward of key supply chain data from private companies including shipping lines, ports, terminal operators, truck drivers, railroads, warehouses, and cargo owners. By providing a shared view of the nation's logistics system, including supply and demand assets, participants can gain a greater understanding of the nation's supply chain capabilities. Ryan Petersen, CEO of Flexport, believes that "By bringing together the public and private sectors, FLOW will reduce inefficiencies and enable businesses of all sizes to make better decisions amid ongoing uncertainty."


Since taking office, the Biden government has been severely constrained by the crisis of unstable supply chains and has been under pressure from major chambers of commerce and voters. Therefore, it is very committed to solving problems such as supply chain congestion, speeding up the flow of goods, and reducing costs for customers. They are also concerned about the structural weaknesses in the domestic cargo transport chain exposed by the pandemic, which are the result of decades of serious under-investment in transport-related infrastructure, lack of long-term planning, and a preference for an offshoring system. result. How to solve these problems will be the most important policy direction of the Biden government in this term!


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