Transportation Management at the Border
Q: How have trends in U.S./Mexico cross-border operations shaped today's supply chain?
A: There is a continuous rebalancing that occurs within the U.S./Mexico cross-border transportation services environment. For years now, there has been an imbalance of freight shipments moving north to the United States vs. freight moving south into Mexico. Some of this is attributable to the significant portion of southbound shipments consisting of raw materials and manufacturing components exported to Mexico in comparison to northbound shipments typically consisting of finished products for export back to the United States.
In other situations, freight will move into an area of Mexico to be distributed throughout that country. This eliminates a lane by which capacity can return their assets to the U.S. market, and produces a situation by which transportation management companies must create programs to optimize the available capacity in the market.
Transloading allows for optimization of tractor and trailer capacity. Transportation management providers can use their facilities to balance the needs of the customer with the shifts in available capacity to provide the best solution. These balance shifts, which can occur daily, must be managed accordingly to maximize each and every available
Q: Why are cross-dock facilities in high demand?
A: Cross-dock facilities allow for increased trailer asset and capacity utilization, which provides customers more options to get their products safely through the border and to the ultimate destination.
For the customer, there is a definite advantage in allowing transloading of its shipments due to increased capacity options, which ensures freight is moved in the most efficient and competitively priced method available. But it is important to note that while there is a significant number of small U.S. carriers that move freight to and from the U.S./Mexico border, most of these carriers do not have the infrastructure or assets to take advantage of the opportunity that exists without collaborating with a more robust company.
Q: What should customers look for when searching for a company to carry their freight across the U.S./Mexico border?
A: Customers should look for transportation management companies that have the ability to provide a full suite of cross-border service offerings.
The primary consideration when choosing a provider is that the capacity transporting the freight has a record of safe, reliable service, with damage-free performance.
In addition, a company should be a CTPAT-compliant carrier to transport goods, provide customs brokerage services, and have the appropriate resources to meet any transload requirements across several border crossing points.
Additionally, transportation management companies that offer multimodal solutions may provide customers with more efficient and economical transportation solutions.
Other services should include LTL consolidation and deconsolidation, expedite intermodal and ocean services.