Moving Forward with EFM

Design for the EFM deployment test began in January 2006, and FHWA expects to begin building out the design by the fall of 2006. Deployment is expected to start in January 2007 and will be completed by the summer of 2007. An independent evaluation conducted in parallel with the test will be completed by the summer of 2007. Pending the results of this test, supply chains involving other modes, for example, truck-rail and truck-ship, also could be included in future deployment tests.

First, however, it is critical that EFM concepts and best practices reach airfreight stakeholders in order to realize maximum benefits and to continue on without direct Government collaboration. "Without a doubt, the success of the project is measured by the Government's ability to facilitate the adoption of EFM best practices and the airfreight industry's implementation of them," says Tony Furst, director of FHWA's Office of Freight Management and Operations.

FHWA officials believe that it is critical to collaborate with industry to move toward the goal of adopting EFM concepts and best practices, even before the test is concluded and the results are in. Waiting to publish measured benefits before discussing why market leaders should already be involved in the test may unnecessarily delay adoption for other industries. Therefore, in parallel to the EFM test, FHWA's Office of Freight Management and Operations is developing a phased marketing plan to promote adoption of EFM candidate best practices.

Critical to this marketing plan is raising awareness within segments of the industry that may have an interest in adopting EFM concepts and best practices to allow them sufficient time to prepare business plans and organize partners. Another FHWA goal is to facilitate adoption of best practices and to guide implementation. FHWA will gauge interest based on the awareness campaign and the number of companies signing up for guidance. If the interest is positive, which would indicate the potential for significant market penetration, then the next deployment test would involve maritime and rail interests. This collaboration between government and industry could then signify a sea change in how intermodal freight is handled domestically and globally in the future.