Visibility Technology and Ports a Major Focus at JOC’s TPM Conference

Earlier this month, logistics and supply chain professionals attended JOC’s TPM Conference in Long Beach, CA. One of the largest annual events of its kind, TPM covers a wide range of topics relevant to all sectors of transportation and logistics. project44’s team was in attendance, and brought home some key takeaways.

Technology is a Game Changer

From the moment DB Schenker CEO Jochen Thewes delivered his keynote, it was clear that technology would take center stage at TPM, “The days when 3PLs did everything on their own, in their own systems are over,” he said, alluding to the fact that an increased speed to market now dictates that companies must leverage the expertise of third party providers, and collaborate to ensure that they’re using the best technology available, which isn’t easy to do in-house.

Many of the week’s other sessions echoed Thewes’ sentiments. Main themes across the board included modern visibility technology, and less understood things like blockchain. Among the attendees were quite a few technology startups, many of whose solutions are already having an impact industry-wide. It is clear that utilizing API-based data connectivity to enable the best and most seamless collaboration is becoming the industry’s de facto method. In agreement with the keynote, even some of the industry’s largest players are already collaborating with startups in order to revolutionize the way the industry operates.

Port-to-Door Visibility is Expanding

One of the most interesting events at TPM came in the form of a technology forum: Preparing The Port of Los Angeles-GE Transportation Information Portal for Prime Time. The forum was moderated by Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor at JOC, and featured Gene Seroka – Executive Director at Port of Los Angeles, Jennifer Schopfer – Vice President, Transport Logistics at GE Transportation Digital Solutions, Deborah Ryan – Vice President, Global Transportation and Logistics at Ascena Retail Group, Weston LaBar – Founding Partner at PEAR Strategies, Shankar Sengupta – Vice President, Engineering and Transport Logistics, GE Transportation, Dr. Noel Hacegaba – Managing Director, Commercial Operations and CCO at Port of Long Beach, James Swanston, Founder and CEO at Voyage Control, and project44 President, Tommy Barnes.

The conversation centered around the impressive work that GE Transportation is doing with the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach. The complexity of maritime shipping has made it somewhat more difficult to bring visibility to the forefront than it has been for other modes. Much of the most important data—Customs documentation, inventory management, shipment arrival forecasting, and enhanced asset utilization—isn’t shared with relevant supply chain partners until the cargo leaves the ship at its given port, despite being available weeks before the ship even arrives. Add to that the legacy systems still being used at many ports worldwide, and you’re looking at quite a lot of inefficiency. As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Schopfer, Vice President and General Manager of GE Transportation Transport Logistics stated, “Until everyone is getting that information, you’re going to run into a friction point.” Systems and technologies that can agnostically share date and integrate across all supply chain participants in a secure environment win in today’s landscape.

GE Transportation and the Port of Los Angeles set out to solve these inefficiencies in 2017 with a pilot program that brings seamless and real-time data connectivity to the port, and provides useful data to all supply chain partners when they need it throughout the shipping process from port-to-door. The pilot was a massive success, and the solutions are expanding to the Port of Long Beach and additional ports, using project44’s platform to augment and link GE Transportation’s Railroad and Shipper product suites.

True visibility goes well beyond just tracking a truck or rail car. True visibility and all of the relevant shipment data from pricing to delivery starts before a shipment arrives at a port, and integrating modern solutions for ports is a major part of the visibility puzzle. If TPM is any indication, the industry is well on its way.