Enhanced Supply Chain Regulation in the US will require Enhanced (and Objective) Data.

Examining what the newly revised “Ocean Shipping Reform Act” means for Carriers, Ports and Shippers.

The Ocean Shipping Reform Act represents the first major update of U.S. international ocean-shipping laws in more than two decades.  The bill passed the House of Representatives in December by a convincing 364-60 vote.  On February 3rd, it was introduced in the Senate, where it is expected to pass and be signed into law.  

The objective of the bill is to make the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) a more effective federal regulator.  Much of it focuses on establishing reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports, by ensuring that cargo ships leaving U.S. ports are not empty – but rather, full of agricultural products and other U.S. exports.

Other parts of the bill seek to regulate shipping lines – to ensure that ocean carriers (who have been reporting record profits for the last several quarters) are not price-gouging their customers.  Some interesting parts of the pending legislation include:

  • A requirement for ocean carriers or marine terminal operators to certify that detention and demurrage charges comply with federal regulations (or they can face penalties);
  • The bill shifts the burden of proof regarding the reasonableness of “detention or demurrage” charges from the invoiced party to the ocean carrier;
  • And the bill requires ocean carriers to report to the FMC each calendar quarter on total import/export tonnage and twenty-foot equivalent units (loaded/empty) for every vessel that makes port in the United States.

In theory, this regulation seems admirable.  In practice, it will most likely require a new level of tracking, reporting, auditing, comparing – and potentially arguing - one set of data versus another.  Every ocean carrier and every port has its own data and tracking systems.

One of the key benefits of the API-based Terminal49 software is that it isn’t just a container tracker - it’s a powerful software platform that brings visibility, collaboration and automation to the shipping process.  Terminal49 aggregates data from more than 97% of all global container traffic.  It provides a simple & efficient way to keep track of containers on cargo vessels, and containers that have arrived in U.S. ports.

Shippers have used Terminal49 for years because it standardizes data from different sources, and cleans up the data to provide quick & easy identification for where containers are, and how long they’ve been there.  Perhaps the new Ocean Shipping Reform Act will provide an incentive for carriers, ports, service providers, freight forwarders, 3PLs and anyone else involved in the supply chain to “get on the same page” when it comes to their data.  If so, then the value of information aggregators like Terminal49 will be even greater.  To learn more or to start tracking containers today, visit: https://app.terminal49.com/register.