March 6, 2018

GE Transportation expands online cargo tracking portal to Port of Long Beach

Firm to launch two-month pilot program in July and expand existing program at Port of Los Angeles.

By Ben Ames

GE Transportation will expand the coverage of its online cargo tracking portal at California seaports in July, launching a two-month pilot program at the Port of Long Beach and extending its existing program at the Port of Los Angeles to cover all that site's terminals and shipping lines, the company said today.

The installation will help improve cargo flow at the Port of Long Beach by increasing visibility, enhancing real-time decision-making, and optimizing cargo movement through the Port, which is the nation's second-busiest after neighboring Los Angeles, GE Transportation said.

GE Transportation, a unit of Boston-based General Electric Co., will install its Port Optimizer solution at several Long Beach marine terminals including Total Terminals International and Long Beach Container Terminal for a two- to three-month pilot. The firm took a similar approach in 2016 when it launched the Los Angeles trial of its portal, into a $12 million, five-year program in 2017.

The product works by offering a common, web-based portal that allows a range of supply chain stakeholders to make scheduling, planning, and payment decisions prior to cargo arrival, the company said. At the Port of Los Angeles, that effort has helped to increase visibility of incoming cargo from two days to two weeks, GE Transportation said.

Beginning in July, GE will add new functionality to the Port Optimizer platform, with features that will improve chassis inventory accuracy, share inbound cargo information with the railroads that serve both ports, and support cross-terminal scheduling for truckers, Jennifer Schopfer, vice president and general manager of transport logistics for GE Transportation, said in a phone interview.

"The more of the community that participates in the portal, the greater the functionality and the benefits," Schopfer said. So the installation at Long Beach will cover more terminals than the original Los Angeles project did-two or three terminals compared to just one-and provide the additional functionality from the start, she said.

For example, the cross-terminal scheduling function will allow the portal to compare a variety of independent truck scheduling tools within the port. "Currently, if a trucker misses an appointment window because of heavy traffic, they might get re-booked the next day or even a few days later," she said. "So we want to look across the different terminals' appointment applications and see if he could be re-routed to another terminal right away."

The upgraded portal will also share more data about inbound cargo visibility with the ports' railroads, allowing them to apply more sophistication to how they assemble rail assets to carry freight, and helping them share improved information about the outbound cargo they're delivering to the port, she said.

Officials with the Port of Long Beach are eager to take advantage of these tools as they work to handle rising volumes of imports and exports, including an 11 percent rise last year that made 2017 the port's busiest year ever, with 7.54 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) handled.

"This partnership with [GE Transportation] is providing an important trial for us as cargo and competition grow," Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said in a statement. "We need new and innovative ways to ensure our customers can move their containers from water to land quickly, reliably, and at a cost that makes sense for their business."

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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