The Coalition for Reimagined Mobility (ReMo), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, has launched an initiative to encourage widespread adoption of standardized data-sharing in the freight sector, in order to improve the sustainability and reliability of the global supply chain.
A report released by ReMo includes research from the International Transport Forum (ITF), which it said shows that the adoption of an open freight-data exchange standard would not only improve operational efficiencies across the supply chain, it would also result in an estimated 22% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and cut consumption of oil by 2.5 billion barrels per year.
While the group acknowledged that several private and public entities in the supply chain, such as port authorities and logistics data platform providers, have already sought to achieve universal standards and connectivity for critical supply chain data, they claim extra pressure needs to be brought to bear. “Incentives are not enough. We need a mandate,” said Marla Westervelt, vice president of policy at ReMo, last week during a press conference. She described contrasting examples of the Ports of Los Angeles and Hamburg. The Port of LA offers only incentives to standardize and that “didn’t do the job,” she said. But in the Port of Hamburg, there’s a mandate for all port users to use a common data platform and that has resulted in nearly 100% compliance.
It's not exactly a new idea. Private logistics technology companies have been preaching standardization and seamless integrations of disparate data systems for decades. But only governments and other bodies with the authority to enforce a mandate will shift the situation where it needs to go, Westervelt said. “Today there are a number of standards out there that communicate components of what we’re talking about, but none are comprehensive, and there are proprietary and bespoke integrations which don’t meet our goals,” she said.
ReMo has been working with some companies in the private sector, including APL Logistics and Qualcomm Technologies, in order to support the research that has led to this initiative, and now they hope to shift to actual development and implementation of standards. “We’re excited about a number of initiatives around the world,” Westervelt said. “But we don’t see a comprehensive set of standards necessary to communicate near real-time data across the SC.”
The benefits of achieving this goal are impressive, if ReMo and ITF’s projections hold water. These include a reduction of sea freight emissions by 280 million tons of carbon per year and road freight emissions by 360 million tons of carbon per year; along with a 6% cost savings per ton-kilometer.
The Coalition for Reimagined Mobility calls on policymakers to take the immediate steps that include requiring the use of freight data exchange standards as a condition for accessing ports, allocating authority to national governments and ports to require the use of freight data exchange standards, and funding data exchange standard pilots, targeted intermodal exchanges and smart-steaming programs.
“The world’s largest shippers and major supply chain players must work together to forge a new path to decarbonization and resilience by embracing digitalization and a globally accepted freight data exchange standard,” said Michael Hynekamp, chief operating officer at Wallenius Wilhelmsen ASA, which participated in the research. “We, alongside members of the Coalition, are committed to reimagining the freight system in collaboration with private and public organizations around the world. Digital transformation is the way towards our sustainable future.”
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