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Commissioner Bentzel Travels to Utah, meets with Inland Port, Intermodal Stakeholders

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Commissioner Carl W. Bentzel travelled to Utah in November for meetings with shipping and supply chain executives to evaluate shipping technology and consider how to address supply chain challenges precipitated by the ongoing port congestion at U.S. ports.

During the trip, Commissioner Bentzel met with executives from the Inland Port of Utah, the shipping company OOCL, and the Visible Ship Management Company.  He also addressed a board meeting of the World Trade Center Utah (WTCU), which represents both large and small businesses and whose membership includes many importers and exporters.

“Utah is a great example of an inland state that not only recognizes the importance of the maritime industry but is reliant on the maritime industry to keep their local economy strong,” said Commissioner Bentzel, “I am a big fan of inland ports, and their importance is growing within our supply chain.   We cannot build enough space at our large coastal gateway ports, and I believe the wave of the future will be to directly expedite cargo through gateway ports to interior destinations like Salt Lake City.”

Commissioner Bentzel was briefed by local industry leaders in conjunction with the WTCU on the impacts of ongoing supply chain disruptions.  Home builders relayed the complexity of coordinating dozens of supply chain participants to build houses in a high growth locality that must address a housing shortage. “I was concerned that in a thriving housing market, that builders had to reduce potential construction by close to 1/3rd of what they could have built given shortages of different components used in construction.”

While in Utah, Commissioner Bentzel also visited OOCL’s operational center and was briefed on how the carrier coordinates, plans, and executes shipments.  “I continue to be very impressed by OOCL’s operations. They really emphasize communication and cargo visibility,” said Commissioner Bentzel.

Commissioner Bentzel recently launched the Maritime Transportation Data Initiative (MTDI) and launched industry meetings on December 14.

“The MTDI meetings really inform the need to standardize data and how it communicates within the entire supply chain. The industry needs to do better in this area in the long term to avoid continuing national economic disruption. The industry is incredibly complex and interdependent on multiple actors, ultimately will have to maximize efficiencies that can be achieved by uniform application of data exchange standards” said Commissioner Bentzel.

The next meeting of the MTDI is scheduled to take place on January 11, 2022, and will focus on the data needs of the warehouse and distribution center sector.

Carl W. Bentzel is a Commissioner with the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission. The thoughts and comments expressed here are his own and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.