A third-party logistics provider and truckload carrier are working together to solve problems of equipment balance and availability in Mexico.
The 3PL, Transportation Management Associates Inc. (TMA) of Mocksville, N.C., relies on the trailer-pool and haulage services of Joplin, Mo.-based Contract Freighters Inc. to move product between Mexico and the U.S.
They operate in a trade that has been marked by equipment shortages, cargo theft, political strife, red tape, and chronic congestion at the border. Even with passage of NAFTA, shippers still face severe challenges in getting goods to market on time. Delays are common in the handoff between U.S. and Mexican carriers at the border.
The situation was worse back in early 1996, when the consumer products division of Lucent Technologies Inc. chose to distribute telephones and answering machines directly from its plant in Guadalajara, instead of moving them through distribution centers in California and North Carolina first.
TMA was given the job of shifting all existing inventories to Mexico. For transportation, it turned to truckload carrier CFI, a specialist in cross-border business. The trucker utilized vans and flatbeds to complete the one-time job.
More work was to come. TMA soon was given responsibility for managing Lucent's outbound program of finished product back to the U.S. It was a critical time for Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent, the former Bell Laboratories, which had just been spun off by AT&T Corp. and needed to prove itself as an independent company.
TMA had told Lucent it could do a better job of servicing outbound traffic from Mexico than the previous provider. Now it had to make good on the promise. Essential to the plan were a steady stream of quality equipment and a means of crossing the border with minimal delays.
To ensure the continuous movement of Lucent's northbound business, CFI established a dedicated pool of trailers with a select number of Mexican carriers. Freight would be carried to the U.S. terminals of less-than-truckload carriers or parcel handlers, for next-day delivery to major retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and Office Max.
For the first leg of the journey, CFI chose Mexican carriers with whom it had close ties, says Gary Nichols, director of dedicated fleet services. It helped TMA to select operators with a reputation for punctuality and well-maintained equipment. Further expediting Lucent's freight was a pre-clearance program with U.S. Customs for high-volume goods of a repetitious nature.
|Lucent had just been spun off by AT&T Corp. and needed to prove itself as an|
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