- The Federal Maritime Commission launched a new initiative to examine shipping data and determine existing constraints to help the flow of cargo through the international supply chain, according to an FMC statement on Nov. 15.
- Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel is leading the effort with two phases that consist of examining what data is used across supply chains and looking into information sharing that is already available to the public. Although the information collected will be presented at the Maritime Data Summit in Spring 2022, the first public meeting with Bentzel will be held next month.
- Bentzel will gather input from the Commission’s National Shipper Advisory Committee and use it to create a "data inventory" and standards recommendations.
The lack of reliable and actionable shipping information to help cargo move efficiently is a topic of concern for the FMC and industry leaders. The FMC aims to address this pain point with its new initiative to improve the use of data and information sharing.
The focus is on the ways data is stored and shared in ocean shipping, as well as identifying which supply chain party uses which types of data. Bentzel will conduct research, interviews, round tables and public meetings with ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, truckers, railroad and government agencies.
There are instances where an exporter shows up at the port with refrigerated cargo, ready to unload. But last-minute changes to loading schedules are not always reflected in real-time online, Bentzel said in an interview. That creates issues and delays for the exporter.
"We don't have the same transparency in ocean shipping as we do with airlines," Bentzel said.
The data initiative is the latest from the FMC to address supply chain issues such as delayed cargo and congestion at the ports. Other FMC actions to address these inefficiencies include Fact Finding 29, VOCC audit program, investigating certain ocean carriers and the latest effort from Commissioner Rebecca Dye to convene six supply chain innovation teams.
Data sharing has also been on the mind of the Biden-Harris administration during the development of the infrastructure bill. The White House released a series of action steps to help invest in ports, waterways and freight networks. One of the actions steps is for the Department of Transportation to work with the FMC "to publish a request for information on standardized data exchange requirements for goods movement in the transportation supply chain."
The shipping industry has a few existing programs that use data to help cargo move efficiently. The Digital Container Shipping Association published just-in-time standards for the main parts of port calls, including berth arrivals, the start of cargo operations and port departures. Port Optimizer, from the Port of Los Angeles in partnership with Wabtec, uses real-time data on container moves, status changes and asset management to help cargo owners and supply chain stakeholders plan operations.