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Los Angeles Port Unveils $1.3 Million Effort To Better Track Cargo
Kinghood International Logistics Inc | Updated: Nov 18, 2016

While consumers can shop online and track packages from the minute they leave the distribution center to their front door, some of the country’s biggest importers can’t get the same precise information about their own imports.

That’s because of an antiquated tracking system at the nation’s busiest seaports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – which handles nearly 40 percent of all imported goods to the United States.

The Port of Los Angeles introduced Thursday what it hopes will be a $1.3 million fix. The pilot project with GE Transportation will deliver cargo information to retailers and truckers weeks in advance, giving them more time to plan.

“Today the port typically receives (cargo) details only 48 to 72 hours before the vessel arrives,” said Jamie Miller, president and CEO of GE Transportation.

Now, rail cars can be positioned weeks in advance, and truckers will konw exactlywhere and when their cargo will be on dock.

The shipping and customs data will be released through a site that retailers and truckers can access through their iPads or computer.

Last month Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said the ports needed to up their game to be competitive globally. In a statement, she praised Los Angeles’ effort.

But there could be hurdles. The pilot program will test the theory that giving retailers, truckers and railroad companies more lead time will make the whole system more efficient.

For the program to truly work, it must be embraced across the twin port complex, where there are 12 other container terminals, each with their own information systems. That causes headaches among transportation companies trying to pick up and drop off steel boxes at the docks.

“This is a fantastic first step to see if in a highly controlled environment to get the system to work,” said Mark Hirzel, board chairman for Los Angeles Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association. “The bigger challenge will be can they roll this out in Los Angeles and then in the Port of Long Beach and then the whole San Pedro Bay.”

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