November 18, 2016

Port of Los Angeles and GE Transportation test maritime information portal

Port of Los Angeles and GE Transportation test maritime information portal

Two-month pilot project could help service ultra-large container vessels by providing early notice of arrival.

By Ben Ames

Industrial giant General Electric Co. is continuing to invest in supply chain technology. The company announced Tuesday that it would partner with the Port of Los Angeles to test a port information portal that can securely share maritime shipping data between cargo owners and supply chain operators.

The two-month pilot project could help the port to service ultra-large container vessels by providing greater supply chain visibility and planning capabilities, potentially saving millions of dollars through improved transportation efficiency.

GE has been investing heavily in logistics software in recent months, buying the cloud-based collaboration firm ShipXpress in September, paying $599 million to purchase German 3-D printing company Concept Laser GmbH in October, and launching an Internet of Things partnership with SAP SE in November.

This new pilot project is a first step toward providing better coordination among the stakeholders involved in the conveyance of waterborne cargo containers, and could enhance supply chain performance by delivering fast, data-driven insights through a single portal to many partners, Boston-based GE said.

That would be an improvement over the brief window of just 48 to 72 hours that port operaters currently have before each shipment arrives, GE Transportation spokesperson Mailee Garcia said in an email.

"The Port of Los Angeles will have robust information on container count and container placement for some of the world's largest cargo ships coming into their docks 10 to 14 days before they arrive, as well as a breakdown of their destinations—to the Midwest via rail, for example, or to local retailers or inland warehouses to be unloaded," Garcia said.

With earlier notification about large shipments, ports could notify trucking companies of the glut of arriving containers and collaborate with rail carriers to position railcars weeks in advance to ensure the most efficient turnaround, said Garcia.

The long-term goal of the plan is to improve data flow among cargo owners, shipping lines, and other stakeholders so that port and terminal operators have an extended window of time to track inbound cargo. They could then more effectively service vessels, optimize cargo movement, and improve the predictability and reliability of the supply chain, said GE.

"To keep pace with the rapidly changing shipping landscape, operations at our ports must evolve," Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said in a release. "Digital solutions that enable supply chain partners to receive a ship's cargo information well in advance of arrival, like with the digital portal we are envisioning with GE Transportation, are a critical key to optimizing U.S. cargo efficiency and trade competitiveness."

About the Author

Ben Ames
Senior Editor
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.

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