The program follows a similar test-run at the neighboring Port of Los Angeles, the nation’s top container port, which launched in late 2016. Los Angeles expanded that pilot last summer and said it expects an 8 – 12% improvement in overall supply chain efficiency once the program rolls out across the entire port this summer.
Last year, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled a combined 16.9 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, a standard measure for container cargo), making it the busiest on record.
The Port of Long Beach has teamed up with GE Transportation to test a digital solution to enable real-time information sharing among terminal operators, logistics companies and customers so cargo can move quickly through the port and onto distribution centers.
Today, operators including trucking companies and distribution centers often don’t know where their shipments are in the middle of complex freight systems or when they will arrive at a terminal, leading to supply chain inefficiencies.
GE Transportation’s solution – Port Optimizer – addresses that issue.
It brings together data from shipping companies, port terminal operators, freight railroads and other supply chain players into a single portal, and makes the information available two weeks before a cargo ship arrives. GE Transportation also is working with software provider project44 to make all the data available in real time.
With information in one place, carriers and service providers can line up equipment and labor, fix appointments for container pickup and drop-off, plan where containers will be stowed on the docks and make other arrangements, according to Jennifer Schopfer, Vice President and General Manager of GE Transportation Transport Logistics.
“Given the successful pilot at the Port of Los Angeles, where we’ve increased visibility of inbound cargo from 2 days to 2 weeks and anticipate efficiency gains of 8-12%, there is a lot of interest from both domestic and international ports,” Schopfer said.
“We’re in active discussions with a number of ports that would benefit from Port Optimizer, both domestic and international, and hope to announce additional collaborations soon,” she added.
GE Transportation is a division of General Electric.
At least three Long Beach container terminals this summer will participate in the two- to three-month pilot program aimed at speeding up the flow of goods from the container terminals to warehouses, stores and factories by giving companies a clearer idea of when and where to place the trucks, railcars and other equipment that carry shipments through distribution channels.
This program comes on the heels of record volumes in 2017 at the Port of Long Beach, with an 11% increase to 2.54 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units, a standard measure for container cargo) – making last year its busiest on record.
“What drew us to GE is that it already developed a product with the Port of Los Angeles; we share one bay with the Port of Los Angeles and saw the value of having a common system in all our container terminals,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Managing Director of Commercial Operations at the Port of Long Beach.
“We decided to do this pilot with GE with the hope to build on what they accomplished at LA, and explore additional features,” Hacegaba said.
For example, he said the pilot program would explore integrating the Port Optimizer solution with disparate appointment systems across the terminals in order to facilitate the terminal operators, truckers, and companies book appointments seamlessly.
Without the software, many of the firms involved don’t know what’s coming until as little as two days before it arrives; even when shipping information is provided to the cargo owner, it doesn’t always reach the freight haulers that pull containers from the port.
“Maritime supply chain is highly inter-dependent, but also siloed,” Hacegaba added.
“There is a consensus among our operators, customers, and logistics companies that if Port Optimizer can make available data that everyone can use to make decisions, then it will inject visibility, predictability, and efficiency across the supply chain.”