USDOT, Supply Chain Companies Launch New Data Exchange to Strengthen Supply Chains
Washington, DC – This week, on Monday May 1st at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Secretary Pete Buttigieg and National Economic Council (NEC) Deputy Director Celeste Drake hosted the Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) Spring Meeting, making critical progress on the initiative while welcoming new and interested members. The convening marks an important milestone as the FLOW team has developed a data exchange to pool information on goods movement, including incoming container volumes and available logistics equipment. Data sharing like this, across the supply chain industry and alongside the federal government, has never been done before and has vast potential for increased collaboration that will help improve our supply chain and bring down costs for Americans in the long term.
FLOW, which was launched in March 2022, is a first-of-its-kind effort by the Biden-Harris Administration and supply chain companies to develop new shared data infrastructure to give companies information to proactively address supply chain challenges via a forward-looking, integrated view of container volumes and equipment in the US. This effort can help speed up the movement of goods and reduce costs for the American public. At the convening, FLOW participants engaged in three working sessions for onboarding of new members, detailing data analysis use cases, and shaping the vision for FLOW’s next steps.
"We are proud to launch FLOW, the first-ever nationwide multimodal freight data exchange, to increase the speed and reduce the costs of shipping goods, in a partnership between the Biden-Harris administration and dozens of supply chain companies," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "This has never existed before, but now that it is here we will see benefits nationwide as goods move more quickly and efficiently through our supply chains."
Induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply and demand imbalances of the past two years, and the resulting bullwhip effect, made it challenging to maintain a fluid supply chain and keep costs down for American families. To better manage these challenges, USDOT is establishing a baseline data infrastructure available to industry partners who move our country’s goods. Currently, the lack of transparency across supply chain networks makes our supply chain brittle and unable to adapt when faced with an anomaly.
Through FLOW, USDOT is serving as an independent data steward for participants to exchange supply and demand information to be aggregated, anonymized, and returned for a holistic view of freight movement. Depending on the participant, data exchange may involve total incoming container demand or available supply-side assets, as measured by the availability of different assets to move goods including terminal slots, tractors, chassis, and warehouse space. Current FLOW participants have access to this shared aggregate view, which will continue to be developed further with participants in the coming months.
Through FLOW, the Biden-Harris Administration is focusing on addressing the structural weaknesses in the goods movement chain that the pandemic exposed and improving supply chain resilience. This, paired with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s generational investment in our ports, highways, and other parts of our physical infrastructure, will tackle decades of underinvestment in the strength, sustainability, and resiliency of the American freight system.
FLOW currently has 53 member companies and started with just 18 founding members. To learn more about FLOW, including how to join, please visit bts.gov/flow.
Remarks from Secretary Buttigieg and Deputy Director Drake can be found here.