The Port of LA is the largest container port by volume in the US.
That kind of scale makes it extremely difficult to keep track of how the containers are moving throughout the port.
All the different parties involved, such as the supply-chain managers, truckers, and port operators, are given access to data around cargo ships just two days before they hit the port. On top of that, each of the eight terminal operators at the Port of LA uses eight different operating systems, making it almost impossible to gain full visibility into all the transactions.
That could change.
On Tuesday, GE announced a pilot program with the Port of LA to launch a first-of-its-kind port information portal. The three-month pilot program, set to begin in early 2017, will bring the flow of information into one place, while giving better visibility into all the movements occuring at the port. And with the new portal, all parties involved will get to see cargo data two weeks in advance.
“This is groundbreaking. Never before have we had the ability to find and share information like we’re aspiring to do today,” Gene Seroka, Executive Director of Port of Los Angeles, told Business Insider. “The rest of the world is very excited to see where this can go. It’s very scalable to solve problems in other parts of the world.”
The pilot program will start with one shipping terminal, but if successful it could expand to the entire port. “Ports are convening points. The vision is to create one common place where there can be data transparency across all parties,” GE Transportation CEO Jamie Miller told us.
The industrial internet
GE’s partnership with the Port of LA is one many projects GE is pursuing as it pivots its business to enable the digital transformation of major industries.
GE has coined the term “industrial internet” as a key part of its strategy to transform eight large industrial sectors, including energy, healthcare and transportation. The company has launched a new division called GE Digital and opened a new office in Silicon Valley that employs 1,700 people. GE CEO Jeff Immelt added GE’s spent nearly $2 billion in acquisitions as part of this plan, including ServiceMax, which it bought for $915 million on Monday.
“It’s very early, but GE’s clearly been making a very aggressive push in digital,” Gartner’s research director Chet Geschikter said.