A headshot picture of Corinna Petry smiling
From the Editor
By Corinna Petry
Optimizing Freight

rom semiconductor chip shortages to pandemic shutdowns, The Great Resignation, war in Ukraine and yet another earthquake in Japan, the supply chain has been under severe strain, dealing with one issue after another for the better part of three years.

The White House announced an information-sharing initiative March 15 to try to help address the persistent problems throughout the U.S. and international supply chain.

The Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) is conceived as a way to pilot key freight information exchanges between parts of the goods movement supply chain. FLOW includes 18 initial participants that represent private companies, trucking, warehousing and logistics firms, ports, and others. This group is working with the administration to develop a proof-of-concept information exchange to ease supply chain congestion, speed up the movement of goods and ultimately cut costs for American consumers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading this effort, helping to bring stakeholders together to solve problems and overcome coordination challenges. A proof-of-concept freight information exchange should be developed by the end of summer.

develop a proof-of-concept information exchange to ease congestion, speed up the movement of goods and cut costs for american consumers.

Participants in the supply chain, including the manufacturing sector, want reliable, predictable and accurate information about goods movement. FLOW will test the idea that cooperation on foundational freight digital infrastructure is in the interest of both public and private parties, according to the White House.

“The lack of digital infrastructure and transparency makes our supply chains brittle and unable to adapt when faced with a shock,” the administration said in a statement. “The goods movement chain is almost entirely privately operated and spans shipping lines, ports, terminal operators, truckers, railroads, warehouses and cargo owners. These different actors have made great strides in digitizing their own internal operations, but they do not always exchange information with each other. This lack of information exchange can cause delays as cargo moves from one part of the supply chain to another, driving up costs and increasing goods movement fragility.”

Initial partners in FLOW include the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the Georgia Ports Authority, ocean carriers, terminal operators, CH Robinson (trucking), large-volume agricultural and retail shippers, and logistics and warehousing giants.

Among other tasks, FLOW will measure more accurate chassis availability and assess aggregate dwell time throughout the supply chain. DOT is inviting companies to participate in FLOW even during its development phase. More information on how to do that will be revealed soon.

The global supply chain is connected in many ways, but there are myriad ways to strengthen that connection and improve the flow of goods. Let’s hope this effort will make a marked difference domestically.

Speaking of connection, our cover feature this month discusses the network of committed people who make NIM Group (formerly Norfolk Iron and Metal) coalesce in ways that help vendors, customers, employees and the community. It begins on Page 28.

Finally, welcome to spring!