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FMC to study how data can speed container delivery

Commissioner Bentzel spearheading initiative seeking input from ocean carriers, truckers, railroads

The Federal Maritime Commission will attempt to pinpoint how data can help speed the flow of containers through the supply chain in an initiative to be spearheaded by Commissioner Carl Bentzel.

The multi-phased effort, announced on Monday, “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,” according to the FMC.

Initial findings are expected to be presented at a maritime data summit next spring.

“Events of the past year have proven the need for the United States to achieve more capacity from our cargo delivery system,” said FMC Chairman Dan Maffei. “Information sharing and additional transparency in how containers move is one way we can move more containers more efficiently. I am confident [Bentzel’s] work will lead to beneficial and implementable recommendations.”

The initiative marks the latest effort by the FMC to address supply chain efficiency and congestion. The agency also has an ongoing investigation into demurrage and detention charged by ocean carriers, as well as an inquiry into carrier billing practices.

Bentzel plans to hold the first public meeting on the data project in December. Speakers will include Biden administration officials, data experts, standards-setting specialists and members of the FMC’s newly created National Shipper Advisory Committee.

“When you go through a U.S. airport … 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,” Bentzel said.

“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.”

Bentzel said the agency will work with the transportation industry to boost transparency around international freight systems. “Our port gateway corridors are limited by physical constraints and the best options for efficiencies lie with the greater utilization of information technologies and coordination between the different modes in the supply chain,” he said.

Click for more FreightWaves articles by John Gallagher.

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John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.