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Long Beach port announces supply chain data management ‘information highway’

LA Daily News logo LA Daily News 5/25/2022 Kristy Hutchings, Los Angeles Daily News

Cargo delays at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have plagued the nation’s goods movement for about two years, with the coronavirus pandemic bringing long-held concerns about the supply chain’s vulnerabilities into the spotlight.

But a new partnership, which the Port of Long Beach announced on Tuesday, May 24, may make the supply chain more efficient: The nation’s second-busiest port will use a new data management technology from the Amazon subsidiary Amazon Web Services for its “Supply Chain Information Highway,” meant to help put an end to stagnated goods movement in the region.

The Long Beach port’s Supply Chain Information Highway is a new digital infrastructure initiative that will provide cargo companies with a streamlined hub to aggregate and manage data across industries.

The information highway, which Amazon Web Services will operate, “aspires to maximize visibility and efficiency of cargo movement at the Port and throughout the supply chain,” according to a Port of Long Beach press release. “The new system will allow supply chain stakeholders to obtain actionable insights to help with planning, scheduling, and improving their systems.”

POLB and the Amazon subsidiary’s leaders announced the new information highway at the AWS Summit in Washington, D.C. — an event that convenes public sector leaders to learn how cloud computing can drive innovation in various industries, including government and health care, according to the press release.

Only the neighboring Port of Los Angeles outpaces the Long Beach container hub’s output nationwide, with POLB handling $200 billion worth of containers annually.

Amazon Web Services is no stranger to high-traffic work, though: The company is a cloud-management service that provides website hosting, content delivery, application hosting, backup and storage for hundreds of thousands of businesses across 190 different countries, according to the company’s website.

The company brought in $14.8 billion in net sales in the second quarter of 2021 — accounting for slightly more than 13% of Amazon’s total sales, according to Investopedia.

“The Supply Chain Information Highway is transformative, with a goal of enabling users to make scheduling, planning and payment decisions prior to cargo arrival,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero, “reducing delays during each handoff on the way to customers.”

Cordero said at a Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting last month that longer cargo dwell times — caused by a lack of rail equipment and chassis — could indicate a return of congestion in the San Pedro Bay Complex, following months of work to reduce the backlog.

Efforts to reduce the backlog have plateaued in recent weeks.

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Port leaders, prior to partnering with AWS, conducted outreach with its industry and business partners to ensure all stakeholders — from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses — would have access to the data.

“The difference between our data solution and others that are used to track cargo is that we talked to industry stakeholders before we started to develop it,” harbor commission President Steven Neal said in a statement. “Our business partners told us they wanted access to a platform that securely collected, curated and published cargo information.”

The AWS deal, Neal said, makes that possible.

“Port of Long Beach has been a leader in listening to its customers, evaluating where investments should be made to improve operations,” Kim Majerus, AWS’s vice president of  U.S. education, state and local government,  “and leveraging best-in-class technology to develop resources and tools for supply chain leaders to deliver their cargo faster and more efficiently.”

UNCOMN, a St. Louis technology firm that has partnered with AWS, is also working with the port to develop the Supply Chain Information Highway software. Port officials have yet to announce when the system will be up-and-running.

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