It took queues and queues of ships stuck outside global ports driven by surging consumer demand in the US, driven by a global pandemic for the US Government to sit up and take notice of the behemoth called Supply Chain.
The pressures that supply chains faced since 2020 impacted all levels of businesses making supply chain a household name and making billionaires and millionaires out of tech companies and ocean carriers.
Understanding these pressures and with a view to avoid recurrence, the Biden-Harris administration has been taking several steps and initiatives to address these issues.
In its latest initiative, the Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg met with key stakeholders to launch a new initiative that will help to “speed up the movement of goods, reducing delays and costs for American consumers”.
The initiative called Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW), is an information sharing initiative to pilot key freight information exchange between the various segments of the supply chain aimed at moving the transportation logistics system into 21st century digitization.
The stakeholders who included Ports, Shippers Associations, Ocean Carriers, Freight Forwarders and Chassis operators discussed the progress made to date in working collaboratively across public and private sectors 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.
The success of pop-up sites at restoring fluidity in the supply chain and its necessity in the future is reported to have been a major topic of discussion.
“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 White House release said.
“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.” the release added.
It seems the government agencies are realizing more about the importance of digitalizing the American supply chain and understanding whether the government and businesses are prepared to handle the next supply chain disruption.
There has been widespread acceptance and praise from the industry about this critical initiative to improve supply chain and freight information flows.