Borderlands is a weekly rundown of developments in the world of cross-border trade. This week: Slync.io launches integrated strategy for ocean containers; chip shortage continues to impact Mexico’s commercial truck industry; automotive parts supplier invests $102M in Mexico expansion; and Aeronet Worldwide opens operations in San Antonio.
Slync.io launches integrated strategy with ocean container booking tool
Slync.io recently introduced a booking and allocation tool aimed at easing the process of acquiring ocean container capacity for logistics service providers (LSPs).
The Booking and Allocation Management (BAM) solution was a response to long-standing weaknesses in ocean logistics processes and communications, Slync officials said.
“Given the current market climate right now with the capacity constraints, the challenges with securing space and the price of freight going through the roof, customers are really looking at their LSPs to find solutions,” Corey Bertsch, Slync.io’s vice president of solutions consulting, told FreightWaves.
“For LSPs, it’s really about having these types of tools that can really be a differentiator for winning new business and then obviously retaining existing business as well.”
Slync.io is a Dallas-based company that offers automated orchestration operating platforms for global shippers and LSPs.
BAM comes at a time when freight rates continue to skyrocket and capacity can be tough to acquire for many shipping companies.
Container shipping rates from China to the east coast of North America have surged over 208% since July 27 to $20,586 per forty-foot equivalent unit as of Friday, according to the Freightos Baltic Index daily assessment. The rate per FEU for China to the west coast of North America was $22,172.
Slync.io has been working on BAM for about 18 months, with the supply chain issues caused by the pandemic adding to the need for more streamlined workflows, officials said.
“BAM is the practice of putting technology on top of some of these outdated processes in the industry. Shippers are expecting their LSPs to have some of these answers so that they can at least get insight to what’s happening on the ground,” Bertsch said.
Outdated processes in the shipping industry include use of email, PDFs and other person-to-person interactions for booking confirmations, booking amendments, cancellations and rebookings, according to Slync.
BAM allows LSPs to stop managing global value chains (GVCs) by email, PDFs and spreadsheet, accelerating, streamlining and automating processes within a single system of record. GVC refers to international production sharing, where production is often broken into activities and tasks carried out in different countries.
BAM works by streamlining ocean booking processes, such as matching vendor demand to carrier supply, while delivering a comprehensive view of carrier performance.
“On the front side, a lot of shippers still make their bookings with the LSPs in manual ways, through spreadsheets and things like that,” Bertsch said. “We have tools where we can automate historically manual-based processes, Excel-based processes, email-based processes — that helps the LSP on that side.
Bertsch said automating those front-side processes eliminates the daily requirement of people having to repeat something or comprehend that data manually.
“On the back side, all of that manual paper-based, PDF-based processing, we digitize that as on the way in as well. [BAM] is able to consume that data, that structured data, contextualize it, augment it sometimes with other data sources and really put a lot of power behind it in terms of being able to use that data to manage exceptions,” Bertsch said.
An example could be if a booking gets rejected at the last minute, but the shipment still needs to move immediately.
“Can I reallocate a different booking to that hot shipment? Having that kind of standard platform, that the LSP can live in and look across geographies, across customers, really gives them an advantage,” Bertsch said. “Before this, [LSPs] were kind of held captive by email and an individual operator, having to manage an individual booking rather than look at the universe as a whole.”
Chip shortage continues to impact Mexico’s commercial truck industry
Truck makers in Mexico registered the lowest volume of exports in more than four years during August, according to the National Institute of Geography and Statistics (INEGI).
Exports of heavy-duty trucks fell 6% year over year in August to 10,491, compared to 11,160 during the same month in 2020.
Miguel Elizalde, president of the National Association of Heavy Vehicle Producers, said the decrease was due to the lack of semiconductor chips, which has slowed global supply chains.
“We are a sector that had not been impacted by the semiconductor problem before, but as the chip shortage continues over a length of time, the impact is now visible, which will continue at least until the first half of 2022,” Elizalde said during a Thursday video press conference.
The biggest producer/exporter of trucks was Daimler/Freightliner, which exported 7,377 units in August, a 1.4% decline compared to the same period last year, according to INEGI.
Other top heavy-duty truck producers/exporters in Mexico during August were International Trucks Inc., which shipped 2,509 units, a 19.7% decline compared to last year, and Kenworth, which exported 604, a 15.5% drop.
The U.S. was the main export market for Mexican-made trucks, with 94% of total exports in May. Canada (2.3%) and Colombia (1.9%) were second and third.
Automotive parts supplier invests $102M in Mexico expansion
Austria-based ZKW Group recently announced it will expand operations in the Mexican city of Silao.
The $102 million expansion will add 226,042 square feet to an existing facility and will add 600 new jobs by 2023.
With the expansion, the facility will total 376,376 square feet, with 1,600 employees.
The factory produces front headlamps and auxiliary lamps for clients such as BMW, Ford Lincoln, Freightliner, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Navistar and Volvo.
Aeronet Worldwide opens cross-border operations in San Antonio
Aeronet Worldwide has opened South Texas and Mexico transborder operations, which will be based in San Antonio.
Aeronet San Antonio will provide logistics and freight services for maquiladoras, which are factories from global companies with manufacturing operations in Mexico.
The San Antonio operation will be led by Jim L. Wallace, who has been in the logistics industry since 1997. Wallace has held leadership and business development positions at several logistics companies, most recently at Mainfreight U.S.A.
Aeronet, which was founded in 1982, is a provider of air, ground and ocean freight services. The company is based in Irvine, California.
More articles by Noi Mahoney