FMC to investigate data constraints holding back supply chain flows

FMC to investigate data constraints holding back supply chain flows
The first public meeting will take place in December

A new Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) effort will look to identify data constraints that impede the flow of ocean cargo and add to supply chain inefficiencies.

Spearheaded by Commissioner Carl Bentzel, the project hopes to pinpoint how data can contribute to the long-term reliability of the domestic cargo delivery system.

The initiative will propose recommendations for common data standards used by the international shipping supply chain, as well as access policies and protocols that would streamline information sharing across the ocean supply chain.

This multi-phase effort is being launched at the direction of FMC chairman Daniel Maffei with initial findings to be presented at a Maritime Data Summit in spring 2022.

Bentzel stated: “When you go through a US airport you know how and where to park your car, you know that you will be transported to the airport terminal, when you get to the terminal you will be provided information on your gate and information about when your plane will depart and land, adequate personnel are available to handle luggage and run it through security throughout this process, and it is repeated at landing.

“The maritime industry does not have a similar system in place. Given the immense national economic impact and our nation’s reliance on ocean shipping, sustained surges in cargo volumes and other operational impacts caused by COVID-19, it is clear to me that we need to develop a stronger system of information for the shipping public.”

During the project, Bentzel will conduct research, interviews, round tables, and hold public meetings to inform the “status quo” in maritime data.

He will explore what common ocean shipping data is created with each hand-off of a container through the supply chain, how that data is stored and shared, and identify what are the critical data elements used by each supply chain party.

Ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, truckers, railroads, and other government agencies are among those who will be invited to provide insight about data definitions, classification, and recommendations for improving interoperability of data records involving container shipping.

Input from the Commission’s National Shipper Advisory Committee may also be solicited as part of the project. Initial deliverables will include a data inventory and recommendations for common standards.

Bentzel added: “Our port gateway corridors are limited by physical constraints and the best options for efficiencies lie with the greater utilisation of information technologies and coordination between the different modes in the supply chain.”

The first public meeting is scheduled to take place next month in Washington, DC, with planned speakers including representatives from the Biden Administration, data experts, standards setting specialists, and representatives from FMC’s National Shippers Advisory Committee.