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In Mexico, as in many other countries, road transport is the most widely-used freight infrastructure, given the flexibility it provides in terms of being able to accommodate large shipments, enable door-to-door deliveries and provide a dependable capacity for shippers. Extending 408,000 kilometers (about 254,000 miles), the country’s road network includes
integrated freeways, highways, roads and trails that allow connectivity between almost all locations in the country.
Currently experiencing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 10%, Mexico’s freight and logistics market plays a crucial role in transporting goods back and forth over the Mexico-US border. As one of the US’ largest trading partners, Mexico conducted about $615 billion in bilateral/two-way trade in 2019—a number that continues to grow year-over-year. At last count, around 80% of Mexican exports were destined for the US.
Supporting this activity is a trucking sector that’s facing some key challenges right now. Tight capacity, the need for better freight security and changes in the way a bill of lading (BOL) or “Complemento Carta Porte” is created and submitted are all impacting the sector.
“Mexico is a producer country that makes a lot of finished goods and exports them to the US,” said Miguel Salado, Director, Land Freight at DB Schenker Mexico. “Capacity is getting tight due to high demand for trucks intra USA, plus many of the Tier 1 and 2 original equipment manufacturers and high-tech companies are setting up new factories in Mexico and taking up much of the trucking capacity.”
Thwarting Cargo Theft
Cargo theft is another challenge that shippers, logistics providers, carriers and the government continue to deal with. The Sensitech® Supply Chain Intelligence Center (SCIC) recorded a total of 21,145 incidents of cargo theft in Mexico in 2020—a 9% decrease compared to 2019, with the drop being attributed to the “pandemic’s effects on economic activity in the country and consequently on the volume of cargo available in transit.”
To thwart the criminals, Salado said shippers will often invest in “escorts” that accompany the truck as it moves from one point to the next throughout the country. This can get expensive, he added, and may even double the cost of moving a load (the cost of an escort is roughly equivalent to the cost of transporting the freight itself).
DB Schenker also emphasizes the value of shippers having their own freight insurance coverage in place, connects them with security escorts (as requested) and uses technology to provide high levels of visibility for shipments as they move throughout the country.
DB Schenker Steps in to Help
A third challenge on many shippers’ minds right now is Mexico’s new BOL system, which requires a QR code be placed on the documents and that it be linked to the carrier’s billing system. The new requirement was supposed to go into effect October 1, 2021, but has since been delayed. Salado said DB Schenker has already developed a solution for ensuring that its customers are compliant and ready to use the new BOLs when asked to do so.
Understanding that shippers worldwide are dealing with many different supply chain, transportation, logistics and freight management challenges right now, Salado said DB Schenker is stepping in to help its customers work through those roadblocks and get their freight from point A to point B on time and within budget.
To help reduce empty or “deadhead” miles, for example, the global logistics provider works to ensure that trucks leaving Mexico for the US are filled—or, as close to filled as possible—both on their outbound and return legs. This not only increases capacity for shippers, but it also supports supply chain sustainability (i.e., fewer empty trucks on the highways). DB Schenker also helps shippers find the best possible routes at the least cost—something that’s not always easy to find in today’s capacity-constrained transportation market.
“Many US truckload carriers are busy enough and dealing with tons of freight, so not as many are coming to Mexico,” said Salado, whose team has had to find creative ways to find available capacity and align it with its own customers’ needs. “We have succeeded in creating round trips with our business partners,” he explained. “That’s one way we´ve found to mitigate the situation.”
Reducing Shipping Times into the US
To further support customers as they navigate the current freight complexities, DB Schenker introduced a new initiative focused on moving ocean containers out of Asia and through Mexico’s ports as they are en route to the US.
Congested West Coast US ports are causing delays of ocean container products delivering inland. Shippers can route their ocean containers to less congested Mexican ports, transfer the cargo to trucks, and truck from Mexico to the US final destination.
“From any Asian port to Los Angeles right now, the total trip is taking up to 20-24 days, plus another two-to-three weeks to dispatch the freight from the port once the containers arrive,” said Salado. “That’s a new challenge that’s not going to stop until next year, so we’re working to come up with other options for shippers that want to be able to deliver their products on time.”