How the Port of Long Beach addresses supply chain challenges with AWS
In today’s global economy, managing the flow of goods and services worldwide increases in complexity by the day. The Port of Long Beach, California is the second busiest port in the United States and needs to effectively process and oversee more than $200 billion worth of cargo each year. In addition to keeping track of items and effectively communicating with stakeholders, the Port in recent times has had to contend with shipping delays and other supply chain issues exacerbated by the pandemic. To increase visibility and efficiency of cargo movement, the Port turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS) to pioneer an innovative solution in the cloud.
The Port of Long Beach created its Supply Chain Information Highway to host cargo data with AWS in a central platform. This solution bridges a major gap in today’s complex and siloed supply chain environment by providing secure end-to-end visibility to the thousands of customers and stakeholders who are responsible for the movement of cargo through various transportation systems. The digital infrastructure aggregates supply chain data and makes it available to authorized users, such as ocean carriers or trucking companies, to create their own actionable insights. The goal is that the data will eventually be available to participants across the entire national supply chain.
“The Supply Chain Information Highway is transformative, with a goal of enabling users to make scheduling, planning, and payment decisions prior to cargo arrival, reducing delays on the way to customers,” said Port Executive Director Mario Cordero. “We’re happy to collaborate with AWS to supercharge this endeavor.”
Before developing their solution, the Port conferred with industry stakeholders and discovered that their customers needed a secure platform that collected and published up-to-date cargo information. With the flexibility and scalability of AWS, the Port was able to design a platform that provides relevant data in real time to stakeholders at every level of the supply chain—from Fortune 500 cargo owners to small businesses.
“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.”
They also collaborated with an AWS Partner, UNCOMN, a St. Louis-based technology firm, to develop the Supply Chain Information Highway. They use Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store the cargo data quickly and securely, since this is a cloud service that offers industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. The data stored in Amazon S3 is then queued in Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) before going through an AWS Lambda data pipeline that translates and transforms the data. Once the data is in a homogenous state, it’s placed back in Amazon S3 for storage and simultaneously aggregated, indexed, and made searchable by Amazon OpenSearch Service.
The Supply Chain Information Highway creates transparency and predictability in cargo movement through the Port of Long Beach—as well as for related steps throughout the supply chain. By using the solution on AWS, stakeholders can gain actionable insights from the Port’s data to help with planning, scheduling, and improving their own interactions with the Port. This helps the Port reduce delays during each handoff, as products move through the Port to reach customers.
The Port did a Working Backwards session with the AWS digital innovation team, selected a partner, and spun up a proof of concept all within a couple of months. The Port is listening to its customers, evaluating where investments should be made to improve operations, and leveraging best-in-class technology to develop resources and tools for supply chain leaders to deliver their cargo faster and more efficiently. The Port is driving its mission forward and delivering pioneering innovation for state and local government, with the help of AWS.
At the recent AWS Summit Washington, DC, Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Deputy Executive Director of Administration and Operations for the Port of Long Beach, and Nick Powers, the Chief Operating Officer of UNCOMN, provided an in-depth view on the Port’s Supply Chain Information Highway. Watch the session on-demand here.
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