Efforts to develop international standards for the sharing and use of digital information throughout the supply chain took a significant step forward at a joint meeting of the Supply Chain Optimization and Resilience (SCORe) Coalition and global standards organization ASTM International in Long Beach, Calif.
“I’m very pleased with industry’s willingness to partner, share data, and develop new information that will help the goods movement chain operate more efficiently,” said John D. Porcari, Port Envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force. “I encourage the private sector to continue moving toward consensus around data sharing needs. Industry can concurrently advance data standards work while working closely with the Department of Transportation and Federal Maritime Commission.”
A group of public and private sector stakeholders – including Porcari, FMC Commissioner Carl Bentzel, the U.S. Department of Commerce, MARAD, senior leadership of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and representatives of beneficial cargo owners, truckers, retailers, convenience stores, medical supplies and equipment manufacturers, and supply chain transportation, logistics, and engineering providers – agreed that there was a strong market and governmental need for performance-based and technology neutral international standards for the exchange and use of digital information in the supply chain.
Such standards would serve as building blocks for a National Freight Data Portal that would enable global supply chain data exchange, relieving port and supply chain congestion and improving trade competitiveness. In its recently released Supply Chain Assessment of the Transportation Industrial Base: Freight and Logistics, the U.S. Department of Transportation recommended creation of such a portal, noting the importance of greater standardization and interoperability of data for improving end-to-end visibility and increasing effective throughput capacity of the supply chain.
“The growth of global container shipping exploded in the 1960s after public and private sector stakeholders came together through a consensus standards process to develop standardized container sizes,” said Jeff Weiss, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, DC and chief counsel to the SCORe Coalition. “Our predecessors standardized the physical container to improve efficiency and throughput. Today we have reached a second pivot point, in which we have agreed to come together in a public-private partnership to standardize the exchange and use of digital information in the supply chain. In time, we believe this step will unleash a new wave of innovation that will radically improve supply chain efficiency, agility, and resilience.”
International standards developed at ASTM can underpin a National Freight Data Portal, while also having relevance and applicability for global supply chains. Based on the results of this event, a meeting will be called to officially organize the committee and recommend to the ASTM Board the establishment of a new Technical Committee to develop these standards.
Len Morrissey, Director of Global Business Development and Strategy for ASTM International commented, “We are very excited to be part of this important effort to help address this global challenge. Bringing together all of the diverse stakeholders that comprise the global supply chain to address the issues that we discussed is a complex undertaking but one that plays to ASTM’s strengths as a neutral consensus builder.”
Quotes from SCORe Coalition members
“Coordination of everyone throughout the supply chain needs to catch up with twenty-first century technology,” said Lyle Beckwith, Senior Vice President Government Relations for the National Association of Convenience Stores. “This effort will do just that and help reduce the disruptions we have seen over the past couple of years.”
“One way our industry can rise to meet future supply chain challenges and the economic disruptions they cause is if we join to collaborate on innovative digital solutions,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “Our customers and their customers are ready for a new era of data visibility that maximizes efficiency and minimizes delay in goods movement.”
“One of the biggest challenges facing the movement of goods through our nation’s ports is the lack of standardized data and transparency among stakeholders that would allow for better forecasting, planning and operations,” National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “There is a great need for all stakeholders to communicate with each other to properly plan for the safe and efficient movement of cargo. A private-sector, voluntary, national freight portal would help stakeholders plan accordingly.”
“Retailers, as major users of the global supply chain, are ready to see end-to-end visibility and data sharing developed and implemented,” said Michael Hanson, senior executive vice president, public affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. “Modernizing today’s supply chain will enable better decision-making capabilities, and bolster the country’s competitiveness. Creating more transparency, capacity, efficiency, and resiliency will allow retailers to innovate and build more nimble and responsive supply chains, which benefits workers, the environment, and consumers. RILA, on behalf of our nation’s largest retailers, is excited to be actively participating in building world-class, data-enabled supply chains for our future.”
“For three decades, Stress has been helping food and beverage producers and distributors reduce supply chain costs and carbon footprint, as well as improve safety and security, noted Clint Haynes, Vice President of Stress Engineering Services (Mason, Ohio). “The Portal is the missing piece, not just to address the congestion at ports but to have a positive impact from the moment containers are filled to when they are unloaded, wherever that may be. We look forward to helping lead development of technology neutral, international standards at ASTM International, to be used as essential building blocks for the Portal framework. Our clients are thrilled that we are on the steering committee, creating the future of supply chain excellence, agility, and resilience.”
“The visibility, situational awareness and connectivity enabled through a national freight data portal and secure, third-party exchange stands to fundamentally transform supply chains and dramatically strengthen U.S. supply chain competitiveness and resiliency,” said Thomas Madrecki, vice president of supply chain and logistics at the Consumer Brands Association. “This represents an unprecedented opportunity for the private sector and government to collaborate, develop world-leading standards and embark on a new era of supply chain performance.”
“We were pleased to see our fast pass concept for medical supplies included in a recent DOT report,” said HIDA President & CEO Matthew J. Rowan. “We look forward to working with SCORe and our government partners to establish the data standards and process needed for prioritizing critical medical supplies through the transportation system.”
“Nationwide port data interconnectivity is essential for our nation's competitiveness in global trade and continued economic recovery after COVID-19,” said Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles. “Uniform standards will enable nationwide and global information sharing, empowering cargo owners to make informed decisions and better execute their supply chains.”
“The U.S. dairy industry is central to our nation’s economic and food security. Companies throughout the dairy supply chain have countless stories about having to track down misplaced containers or determine the status of goods when a vessel unloads in an unexpected location. The work of the SCORe coalition will be critical in not only correcting those issues on behalf of our members but also strategically building a future supply chain that can withstand unusual disruptions like the pandemic or other global events with greater resilience,” said Becky Rasdall, Vice President of Trade Policy and International Affairs at the International Dairy Foods Association. “We are pleased to be a part of this visionary work.”
Background on the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are the two largest container ports in the nation, first and second respectively, and combined are the ninth-largest port complex in the world. Trade that flows through the San Pedro Bay port complex generates more than 3 million jobs nationwide.
Background on ASTM International
In operation for 120 years, ASTM International offers global access to fully transparent standards development. Committed to serving global societal needs, ASTM International positively impacts public health and safety, consumer confidence, and overall quality of life. We integrate consensus standards – developed with our international membership of volunteer technical experts – and innovative services to improve lives… Helping our world work better. ASTM’s more than 30,000 volunteer members from 140+ participating countries have developed over 12,000 ASTM standards that are operating globally.
About the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA)
RILA is the US trade association for leading retailers. We convene decision-makers, advocate for the industry, and promote operational excellence and innovation. Our aim is to reimagine and transform the retail ecosystem - and equip leading retailers to succeed in it. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad. www.rila.org
Background on the SCORe Coalition
The SCORe Coalition represents some of the largest Beneficial Cargo Owners in the United States – including with respect to retail, consumer brands, health care and safety equipment and supplies, convenience stores, and dairy foods – the two largest U.S. container ports, and leaders in supply chain transportation and logistics, digitization, and engineering. The Coalition has been advocating with the White House, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Transportation, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Surface Transportation Board, and other agencies on the importance of leveraging digital tools and international standards to enhance supply chain transparency, efficiency, resilience, agility, and competitiveness, in particular through deployment of a national freight data portal. The Portal would be voluntary, non-regulatory, technology neutral, and private sector-driven, and would ensure the interoperability of different supply chain stakeholder IT systems, in order to allow for appropriate data sharing, end-to-end visibility for specific shipments in real time, and more robust predictive analytics for long-term planning.
The Coalition is led by two former, long-time U.S. government officials: Jeff Weiss, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP and lead of the firm’s Supply Chain Team, who served at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Commerce; and Rebecca Fenneman, a principal at Jeffrey Fenneman Law + Strategy, PLLC, who served at the Federal Maritime Commission, including as General Counsel.
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For more information on the SCORe Coalition, please contact Jacqi Dempsey at jdempsey@Steptoe.com.
Transportation and Infrastructure