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Freight Logistics Optimization Works

Container Ship


The Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) program collects Purchase Order (PO) information from importers in addition to logistics supply, demand, and throughput data from participants (e.g., beneficial cargo owners, ocean carriers, ports, terminals, railways) The Bureau of Transportation Statistics anonymizes, regionally segments, and aggregates the data. Participants can then receive or view FLOW data providing a broad, daily view of the current conditions of the overall logistics network, beyond what they may observe within their own operations.

The Benefits of FLOW Data

Participants use FLOW data to develop more responsive operations strategies to improve their supply chain throughput and resilience. Because importer POs drive the demand for logistics services, aggregating future demand data (e.g., purchase orders, incoming container volumes, origin and/or destination regions) coupled with regional supply and throughput data across different transportation modes (ocean, truck, rail) enables participants to forecast how current capacity and throughput will fare against the future demand. Participants then use this insight to optimize operations and ensure healthy throughput. The diagram below depicts the flow of a shipment of goods from origin to destination locations, items in bold color represent the information aggregated and shared by FLOW.

By sharing aggregated regional data from multiple participants, FLOW provides a broad and timely level of transparency beyond the visibility and scope of any single company’s operations. Participants can use this data to better understand how regional logistics capacity can service current and future demand, as well as how demand fluctuations may impact their own utilization of assets and logistics throughput. Because demand data is shared in advance of when respective logistics services would be required, supply-side optimizations such as modifying supply capacity levels, service level mixes, and service expectations can be made by participants in a more proactive and responsive manner. This in turn can help the industry mitigate bottlenecks and service-level volatility.