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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Milestone in First-of-its-Kind Supply Chain Initiative

Recent analysis shows that supply chain improvements and reduced shipping costs have resulted in more than 80 percent of reduction in inflation in the U.S. economy 

WASHINGTON – On the second anniversary of the launch of the Freight Logistics Optimizations Works (FLOW) initiative, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced that the FLOW platform has begun to publish data on inland freight hubs, including rail terminal and warehouse end destination data, that will enable FLOW members to have an enhanced view of future container import volumes and traffic. This data will help inform capacity decisions and avoid supply chain challenges, such as delays, for FLOW participants that will ultimately help lower costs for consumers. FLOW is a first-of-its-kind private-public partnership created and led by DOT that creates a more complete, shared picture of the U.S. supply chain for members, which include the nation’s busiest container ports, major ocean carriers, and some of the largest retail importers. 

In February 2021, President Biden ordered a whole-of-government approach to tackle supply chain disruptions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Administration’s steady efforts to improve supply chains in the short-, medium-, and long-term have lowered costs for consumers and lowered inflation across the economy. A recent analysis from the White House Council of Economic Advisors found that supply chains normalizing in some form explain more than 80% of the disinflation the U.S. has experienced since 2022. 

“Two years ago, we launched FLOW, the first public-private platform of its kind to share data on supply chains in order to help goods move quickly and cheaply,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “The Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to strengthen American supply chains have helped reduce inflation from pandemic peaks – and today, with the expansion of FLOW, we expect to see even greater benefits to American families and businesses.” 

FLOW complements work happening across DOT to invest in supply chains through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Earlier this month, the U.S. Maritime Administration announced that $450 million from BIL is available through the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), part of the historic $17 billion included in the infrastructure law specifically to strengthen coastal and inland waterway ports. In January, DOT announced nearly $5 billion in grants to build or repair infrastructure projects that will ease trucking bottlenecks and improve the movement of freight across the country. 

DOT and supply chain stakeholders are applying lessons learned from the pandemic-caused disruptions as it helps manage changes in freight traffic resulting from the reckless Houthi attacks against vessels in the Red Sea, as well as the reduction of traffic in the Panama Canal due to drought conditions. Secretary Buttigieg has met with mariners, ocean carriers, ports, and other industry leaders to discuss the ongoing situation in the Red Sea and its impact on shipping and the freedom of navigation. The Department has held regular listening sessions with the freight industry and mariners since the Houthi attacks began last year and have worked with FLOW participants to leverage data on shifting traffic caused by the ensuing disruptions. Earlier this year, Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg traveled to Panama to underscore the importance of building resilient global supply chains and discuss the impact of the drought in the Panama Canal on international commerce.  

How FLOW Works 

Through the FLOW initiative, DOT collects, aggregates, and anonymizes key information shared by participants on inbound containerized freight, starting with importer purchase orders, and aligns future demand volumes against current regional capacity to move ocean containers. FLOW now includes the five largest U.S. container ports, seven of the largest ocean carriers, and nine of the twenty largest retailers by imports, and has over sixty companies in the onboarding process. 

Industry members who join FLOW can access secure data through a shared online portal or API hosted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS). DOT actively works with industry members to continue to improve and build use cases with FLOW data. Today, FLOW Members are work with USDOT to utilize FLOW data to better estimate port and inland network congestion and monitor cargo shifts due to the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea.  

Participants are using FLOW data as an input into existing company processes to better inform supply chain planning. These efforts work to smooth out supply chain volatility and support commercial needs. As FLOW continues to grow, DOT will continue to work with its industry partners to further develop and achieve our shared goal of improving America’s supply chain, including at the upcoming FLOW Annual Meeting at DOT Headquarters for FLOW members and interested parties. 

What Participants Are Saying About the FLOW Initiative 

Jim McCullen, Chief Information Officer with Century Supply Chain Solutions: “The U.S. DOT team has done an amazing job in designing and delivering a platform and a movement that will have a direct impact on the visibility and control companies have when managing US imports. I am grateful our company is a participant and that I have been involved since the early days. The U.S. supply chain infrastructure consists of myriad players that create either the supply or demand components. For the first time in history, we have a common channel, a single source of truth that collects, organizes, and presents information that can help each of those players deliver a higher quality of service to their customers.” 

Jennifer McNeill, Senior Vice President, Supply Chain with TrueValue: “We are representing local, independent businesses across America that serve their communities every day. Our retailers depend on us for supply chain expertise that enables a consistent movement of goods to their business, and FLOW helps us deliver on that.” 

Yone Dewberry, Chief Supply Chain Officer with Land O’Lakes, Inc.: “As we approach the two-year anniversary of the FLOW initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Transportation, I am incredibly proud of how this groundbreaking public-private partnership is ushering in a new era of data-driven, responsive, and agile decision-making to strengthen the supply chain ecosystem. The FLOW initiative is a testament to the power of collaboration, where the public and private sectors have converged to equip stakeholders with the insights and tools to solve the supply chain issues of tomorrow. As we celebrate our accomplishments thus far, I look forward to the influx of new companies joining our ranks, recognizing that their participation not only enriches the perspectives and expertise driving FLOW forward but also enhances the depth and accuracy of the data informing our decisions.” 

Ken O’Brien, President and CEO with Gemini Shippers Association: “The FLOW project is a perfect example of how a public, private partnerships can work for the betterment of the industry and nation. As a convening authority FLOW has brought together industry leaders and stakeholders to discuss how data can be used to predict and alleviate supply chain challenges of the future anchored on the aggregation and analysis of diverse stakeholder datasets to provide actionable business intelligence.” 

Mike Wells, DCLI EVP & Chief Operating Officer: “DCLI believes improved data sharing can serve as a critical step in improving the resiliency of our supply chain and the FLOW Initiative carries significant promise in helping industry leaders work together to respond to potential disruptions.  The USDOT team has made important progress in this area, especially as it relates to forecasted demand using ocean carrier booking/BCO purchase order data, and we are excited about the initiative’s future potential.” 

Bud Darr, Executive Vice President, MSC Group: “As we celebrate the two-year milestone of FLOW, MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company is proud to have been a founding member of this groundbreaking initiative.  It is an excellent example of how government can make a genuine difference in collaboration with industry, without imposing compulsory measures. Emerging during a period of historic disruption to supply chains, FLOW is intended to provide an invaluable platform for collaboration to facilitate data-driven decision making to help stakeholders improve and streamline the entire supply chain. MSC looks forward to continued partnership and cooperation with the U.S. Department of Transportation and FLOW partners as we work to continue driving sustainable growth and resilience in global supply chains for years to come.” 

Gene Seroka, Executive Director with Port of Los Angeles: “FLOW provides participants with unprecedented access to supply chain data, empowering our port users with the ability to anticipate potential bouts of congestion. FLOW has become an invaluable tool to cargo owners seeking to manage their supply chains, and importantly, FLOW has become a safe and trusted repository of supply chain data, opening up possibilities for additional applications to support supply chain resiliency. As one of the nation’s early pioneers in supply chain digitalization, the Port of Los Angeles has been encouraged by the widespread acceptance of supply chain data sharing that Project FLOW has enabled. We see opportunities to leverage FLOW to make our port community system – the Port Optimizer – become a more powerful tool for our port customers. Under the leadership of Secretary Buttigieg and the staff at USDOT, FLOW has built a unique public-private partnership that addresses one of the core vulnerabilities of our nation’s supply chains – lack of sufficient data sharing.” 

Jesse Whitfield, Director of Global Ocean Freight with UPS: “FLOW members are getting more granular views of their supply chain allowing them to consider not only alternate routings but also potential shifts in their distribution networks. That directional insight is invaluable when it comes to being able to pivot during times of disruption. Since this project began the USDOT staff has been committed to creating a platform that brings visibility to the US supply chain from every view. Consistently listening to the needs and concerns of the members from day one they have developed views that help members make the right decisions when it comes to maintaining an efficient flow within their supply chain. Additionally the USDOT leadership has added to their staff to accommodate the growing membership and the needs of this project. It hasn’t just been commitment, it has been the delivery of what matters. The FLOW program can continue to evolve under the USDOT establishing itself as a trusted index not only for US business but also for the supply chain needs of other departments within the US Federal government.” 

Hapag-Lloyd: “FLOW data has been helpful in shaping our understanding of incoming volumes and bookings, and will enable us to make informed decisions and adapt to changing conditions. Working with the USDOT team has been a collaborative experience, fostering innovation and progress. As we celebrate the two-year milestone, we remain optimistic about the continued growth of membership and coverage, and eagerly anticipate the future developments of FLOW.” 

Don Taylor, Executive Vice President with RoadOne: “As one of the original members of the FLOW program, RoadOne’s partnership with the group has been productive and insightful.  The creation of FLOW provides an in depth look throughout the supply chain that portrays the challenges from all of our partners.  It has been a pleasure to get acquainted with the USDOT staff and see the immense amount of work they have put into finding solutions for the industry as a whole.  I look forward to the continued partnership and see a bright future in how we as a collective can bring solutions to the overall supply chain throughout the country.” 

Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Chief Operating Officer with Port of Long Beach: “FLOW facilitates a secure and seamless process for supply chain stakeholders to share data that provides members with a forward-look on supply chain conditions and the ability to anticipate and adjust to avoid delays.  The Port of Long Beach is proud to be a founding member of FLOW.  It is complementary to our own efforts to enable end-to-end visibility through our Supply Chain Information Highway digital initiative.  We commend USDOT for its vision and thank the staff for their leadership in bringing the supply chain community together to holistically and collaboratively close the gap on one of the industry’s most glaring challenges – the lack of visibility.  FLOW is a game-changer.” 

Marcia Brey, Vice President, Logistics with GE Appliances: “FLOW improves visibility of total freight movement through key supply chain nodes across the U.S. indicating system health. FLOW also provides networking opportunities for supply chain companies to discuss freight movement concerns and to collaborate on solutions that avoid interruption in the flow of critical components and consumer goods.”  

Peter Levesque, President and CEO with CMA CGM (America) LLC: “CMA CGM was among the first Ocean Carriers to participate in the FLOW program.  The collaboration and experience with FLOW has been extremely positive and valuable. Specifically, FLOW not only provides us visibility into different segments of the supply chain but also increases opportunities to cooperate among various stakeholders. We have evolved our interactions from focusing on the technicalities of data transmission to engaging with the Department’s FLOW team to explore how we can more strategically utilize FLOW to improve our processes and become more efficient and effective. We appreciate the FLOW team’s leadership. They possess exceptional technical qualifications and the supply chain expertise that is essential to assisting industry implement the most effective solutions to improve the overall logistics network.”- 

David Vaisberg, Managing Director, Data Science with Elion Partners: “After learning of the FLOW initiative, we instantly recognized its potential and aspired to be part of the team tasked to enhance the U.S. supply chain. Our experience to date has been extraordinary. The FLOW team and its members have been outstanding, embodying a unified team with drive and motivation toward achieving a shared goal. We look forward to the initiative’s ongoing expansion and its critical contribution to refining supply chain efficiencies. Being part of the organization has been immensely beneficial. We’ve connected with numerous partners, forged strong relationships with the FLOW Team, exchanged pivotal knowledge that informs our investment strategies, and gained a deeper understanding of the various elements of the supply chain. The FLOW Team has truly exceeded our expectations. We’ve been particularly impressed by their depth of knowledge and expertise, and their eagerness to seek our input and ideas has made us feel deeply involved in the product-shaping process, a welcome surprise that we didn’t expect.”  

Official news published at https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/biden-harris-administration-announces-new-milestone-first-its-kind-supply-chain

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