Walmart and Costco have joined the Biden administration’s supply chain data exchange.

Walmart and Costco have joined the Biden administration's supply chain data exchange.

The Department of Transportation's Freight Logistics Optimization Works initiative currently includes 53 companies representing the entire supply chain.

The Biden administration is expanding a program aimed at providing a real-time view of US supply chains through the exchange of company data.

The Department of Transportation’s Freight Logistics Optimization Works now includes 53 organizations representing the entire supply chain. On a daily or weekly basis, FLOW members submit cargo data, which is subsequently utilized to develop a tool for assessing container demand and fluidity.

Retailing behemoths Costco and Walmart, as well as railroad Union Pacific, have joined FLOW. Celeste Drake, deputy director of the White House National Economic Council, said at a seminar last week that the program is planned to expand to more ports.

FLOW’s mission, according to Drake, has expanded from “answering the very simple question of ‘Where’s my stuff?’ to ‘How do we create a forward-looking integrated picture of the supply chain condition in the US?'”
The application collects anonymized data from members, which can include information on terminal slots, chassis, warehouse space, and even shipper purchase orders or bookings, depending on the organization. As a result, FLOW participants may identify “which shipments are coming into which ports as much as three months ahead of time,” according to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who spoke at last week’s symposium.

The program is set to expand even further, with the Biden administration requesting $5.3 million in fiscal 2024 to scale the tool and respond to industry interest. 

FLOW, which was first unveiled in March, was developed in reaction to the pandemic-fueled supply chain collapse, in which a lack of visibility into operations caused to shortages, ship backups, and other delays. While traffic congestion has largely subsided, Buttigieg believes FLOW will be critical in navigating the next major interruption.

“Hopefully, COVID is the last pandemic of its kind that we will see in our lifetimes,” Buttigieg added. “However, we know that this will not be the last major supply chain shock.”¬†