Mexico presents a number of challenges for shippers attempting to move their product by road or rail, Hamson says. On the trucking side, the lack of national coverage by carriers means that a given shipment often must be handled by multiple entities in the course of its journey. In addition, the country suffers from a shortfall of equipment, especially for shipments moving northbound.
Rail service in Mexico is improving gradually, with intermodal gaining in quality and importance. Meanwhile, shippers are doing a better job of amassing multiple partners into broader transportation networks. And trucking companies are upgrading their equipment in order to gain access to U.S. roads, under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Tracking and tracing of goods in transit is available within Mexico, with most trucking companies relying on global positioning system (GPS) devices on their vehicles. Where the country is lacking in technology, says Hamson, is in the area of modern-day transportation-management systems. Fleet managers often find it difficult to coordinate the placement of drivers and equipment in line with customer needs.
Some shippers continue to experience problems crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S. They are grappling with customs delays and difficulties in processing the right paperwork. As a result, they're paying extra demurrage charges, not to mention being burdened by excess buffer inventory and lost sales due to late or missed shipments.
Companies that plan ahead can avoid many of those problems, says Hamson, provided they work closely with carriers on both sides of the border, as well as U.S. and Mexican customs brokers. Delays are preventable, he says, “but it takes a lot of effort.” He advised shippers to take advantage of the ability to pre-clear goods before they arrive at the border.
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