Supply chain initiative achieves first milestone

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On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that the Freight Logistics Optimizations Works (FLOW) Initiative had reached a data publishing milestone.

Officials said the FLOW platform had begun publishing data about inland freight hubs, including rail terminal and warehouse end destination data – that will allow FLOW members to have an enhanced view of future container import volumes and traffic. Officials said the data will help FLOW participants lower costs for consumers through better informed capacity decisions and fewer supply chain challenges.

The milestone comes on the two-year anniversary of the initiative’s launch, officials said.

“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,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said. “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 is a first-of-its-kind private-public partnership led by the DOT that creates a wider picture of the U.S. supply chain for its members, including the busiest container ports in the country, major ocean carriers and some of the largest rail importers.

Through FLOW, the DOT collects shared data from participants on inbound containerized freight, and aligns future demand volumes against current regional capacity. Participants can then access secure data through a shared online portal. DOT works with industry members to continue to improve and build use cases with FLOW data. Participants are able to use the data to better inform supply chain planning.

“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,” Jim McCullen, Chief Information Officer with Century Supply Chain Solutions, said. “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.”