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Borderlands: KlearNow aims to speed up cross-border customs clearance using AI

Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of United States-Mexico cross-border trucking and trade. This week: KlearNow aims to solve cross-border customs challenges using AI; Link EV Electric Vehicles will build a $265 million factory in Mexico; Loup Logistics acquires a Phoenix transload facility; and a new cold storage facility is set for San Antonio.

KlearNow aims to solve cross-border customs challenges using AI

KlearNow aims to speed up and simplify cross-border customs clearance compliance using artificial intelligence.

The Santa Clara, California-based logistics-as-a-service (LaaS) provider takes critical documents needed for the movement of a container and uses AI to digitize them to automate workflows and reduce manual errors. 

Sam Tyagi, founder and CEO, KlearNow

“We started KlearNow with the idea that technology needed to be used to automate and simplify portions of supply chains that have frankly been ignored,” Sam Tyagi, founder and CEO of KlearNow, told FreightWaves.

KlearNow, which was founded in 2018, recently nabbed $50 million in series B funding, led by Kayne Partners Fund. KlearNow previously raised $16 million in series A funding in January 2020.

All international shipments have to clear customs with federal agencies at every border they cross, with documents such as invoices, packing lists, bills of lading and more. In the past, these documents were often handled by customs brokerage companies through manual entries.

Tyagi said shippers use enterprise supply chain management software that automated customs processes within certain ecosystems.

“The moment you get outside that ecosystem, whether it’s your supply chain partner overseas or your transportation partners, all of a sudden that linkage is broken,” Tyagi said. “The communication that happens within partners beyond your enterprise is a PDF, PNG, Excel, Microsoft Word, you name it, it’s shared on emails, they are not structured.” 

KlearNow uses AI to replace manually typing in compliance documents required for cross-border shipments. 

“Our system digitizes those documents, extracts all the relevant information and we fill out the entire form, put them to a customs broker before they get on the platform, the documents have been verified and checked to make sure they’re accurate and complete,” Tyagi said. “Now we’re able to do a two-hour job in less than five minutes for a broker and the broker is able to get higher compliance, which is what they’re getting paid for.” 

Since 2020, KlearNow has expanded into Canada and launched its United Kingdom service in January 2021 to support U.K. and European Union businesses operating in the post-Brexit landscape. 

KlearNow also recently added a drayage marketplace to its LaaS platform to support drayage companies facing planning and scheduling challenges and importers demanding extended visibility.

Tyagi said they will use the series B funding to expand into new countries as well as create marketing and branding strategies to promote KlearNow’s LaaS capabilities. The company plans to expand into 10 countries over the next two years.

“I think the logistics-as-as-service industry needs to be mainstream and we are leading that,” Tyagi said. “The funding is going to be used for two types of growth — growth in the countries that we already are established, the U.S., Canada and U.K., and new geography growth.”

Tyagi said it is already doing a lot of business from Mexico to the U.S., which could be one of the countries it expands into in the near future. 

“For cross-border, Mexico is on the road map,” Tyagi said. “In fact, we may accelerate our growth into Mexico. One of our customers is a very large importer into Mexico and then they distribute from there.”

Watch: FreightWaves’ shipper update for Jan. 28, 2022

Link EV Electric Vehicles to build $265M factory in Mexico

Link EV Electric Vehicles recently announced plans to build an assembly plant in the central Mexican city of Modelo.

The $265 million factory will produce up to 1,200 units annually of electric vehicles (EV) such as passenger buses and minibuses, as well as cargo and passenger vans, for the domestic and export to global markets.

The factory, which will create 400 direct jobs, is scheduled to begin production by the end of 2022.

Modelo is located in the Mexican state of Puebla, which is also home to assembly plants from Volkswagen and Audi.

Link EV Electric Vehicles is a unit of U.S. energy company Citizens Resources, which is based in Boston.

Loup Logistics acquires Phoenix transload facility

Loup Logistics Co., a subsidiary of Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP), recently acquired the Precision Components (PCI Reload) transload facility in Phoenix.

PCI Reload is a 100-are transload facility that includes 125,000 square feet of covered storage and 3 miles of rail capacity served by Union Pacific. The facility processes more than 8,000 rail cars and 38,000 trucks annually.

The PCI Reload transload facility in Phoenix. (Photo: Loup Logistics Co.)

The facility offers customers shipping solutions into and out of the Phoenix market, said Hal Owens, president of PCI Reload.

“PCI Reload helped fuel Arizona’s economic growth by offering transloading, inventory management and final-destination shipping for a variety of industries,” Owens said in a statement. 

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. 

300,000-square-foot cold storage facility set for San Antonio

Fort Worth, Texas-based developer Cold Creek Solutions (CCS) recently began construction of a 305,000-square-foot cold storage warehouse in San Antonio.

The cold storage facility will feature over 294,500 square feet of temperature-controlled space, providing storage for 45,000 pallets of frozen or refrigerated products. Additional features include 48 dock positions, two drive-in ramps and 48-foot clearance heights for trucks.

The San Antonio facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022. 

CCS is also constructing a 374,560-square-foot cold storage facility in Denton, Texas, near Dallas scheduled for completion in August.

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Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact nmahoney@freightwaves.com