Capitol Building Photo 118912254 © Ernitz

Federal Maritime Commissioner (FMC) Carl Bentzel has released his long-awaited Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI).

It’s a report aimed at improving communications within the maritime sector, setting it the goal of passing “the pizza test”.

Mr Bentzel developed the MTDI following the confusion around freight movements during and immediately after the pandemic, which saw congestion and significant disruption across the US.

He said: “What happens when I order a $10 dollar pizza to be delivered is that my local restaurant provides me an order confirmation, lets me know when my pizza is being cooked, tells me when it goes out for delivery, its status while in transit (often via GPS), when the driver is approaching my house and, sometimes, I even receive a picture confirming delivery.”

Mr Bentzel says the discrepancy between pizza delivery systems and maritime supply chains is “remarkable”.

At last month’s TPM conference he told The Loadstar during the pandemic it had been obvious that shipment information was available, but it was not being communicated in the right way.

He explained: “So we took a comprehensive assessment of what sort of information was out there, from all segments of the industry, what information they wanted to receive in order to do their jobs better and got a comprehensive report with reccomendations from the industry.”

The FMC held 18 meetings with around 80 supply chain expertsm who told the commission that the efficiency of supply chains depended on the consistency of how information was shared and communicated.

The MTDI seeks to address in particular the difficulties experienced through intermodal supply chains, including freight arrival times and the status of cargo in storage at ports and terminals.

Confusion and a lack of information and coordination during the surge of cargo during the pandemic led to many detention and demurrage claims from shippers and forwarders claiming to be unable to navigate the system to pick up cargo.

According to Mr Bentzel, the MTDI recommendations do not require any change of individual business practices, or new information services or systems. He said: “The recommendations are aimed at harnessing existing information systems to maximise the value that can be provided by achieving real-time information and harmonising content.”

Mr Bentzel stressed that cargo surges will be seen again, but said: “It is my goal, and the intent of this report is, to have a better information-sharing process in place that provides better advanced notification of incoming cargo and much better coordination between the different transportation modes and stakeholders.”

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