U.S. DOT Announces FLOW Initiative Has Begun Publishing Data on Inland Freight Hubs

March 21, 2024
The initiative is meant to ease supply chain disruptions by creating a common channel with transparent information

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced on March 20 that the Freight Logistics Optimizations Works (FLOW) platform “has begun to publish data on inland freight hubs, including rail terminal and warehouse end destination data, that will enable FLOW members to have an enhanced view of future container import volumes and traffic.”

The Biden administration has made tackling supply chain disruptions a “whole-of-government” priority since February 2021. The White House Council of Economic Advisors reported that “supply chains normalizing in some form explain more than 80% of the disinflation the U.S. has experienced since 2022.”

FLOW “complements work happening across DOT to invest in supply chains through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).” Money from the law has been used recently to “strengthen coastal and inland waterway ports” and to “build or repair infrastructure projects that will ease trucking bottlenecks and improve the movement of freight across the country.”

The FLOW initiative allows DOT to “collect, aggregate, and anonymize key information shared by participants on inbound containerized freight, starting with improper purchase orders, and align future demand volumes against current regional capacity to move ocean containers.” The initiative includes the five largest U.S. container ports, seven of the largest ocean carriers, and nine of the twenty largest retailers by imports.

Those who join FLOW will have access to “secure data through a shared online portal or API hosted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS).” Jim McCullen, chief information officer with Century Supply Chain Solutions, touts the initiative as establishing a “common channel” for all of the players in the supply chain, a “single source of truth that collects, organizes, and presents information that can help each of these players deliver a higher quality of service to their customers.”

DOT’s website has the release.