Lack of visibility delays US-Mexico truck freight


William B. Cassidy,

Oct 02, 2019


Truck freight is flowing more smoothly across the United States-Mexico border, but delays caused by the complicated nature of cross-border trucking are still a concern for shippers, especially as freight volumes rise and the delivery demands of US customers become more exacting.


The leading concern is a lack of visibility at the border. Trucks can be tracked on either side of the boundary, but once freight is moving through Mexican and US customs and being transferred from truckload carriers to drayage drivers to a warehouse, visibility goes dark.


“One of our biggest problems is when we have drivers arriving to pick up freight in Laredo and we don’t even know if that freight has crossed the border,” said Ari Stern, logistics director at Sherwood Food Distributors, an independent meat distributor based in Detroit.


Sherwood ships more than 20 million pounds of food weekly through a network of US distribution centers in Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, and Orlando. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of that product is Mexican beef shipped to the United States through Laredo, Texas.


Most of the beef is frozen, Stern said, but strict deliver-by dates apply to most shipments, and inability to quickly locate a shipment or put it on a northbound truck on the date promised puts Sherwood’s sales and customer relationships in jeopardy.


“We’re not a paper or plastics company where you can deliver a load a day late,” said Stern. “We’re a meat and produce company, so late deliveries are a big deal. We’re in the business to make our customers happy and make sure they’re getting their products on time.”


Sherwood has partnered with Fr8Hub, an online marketplace dedicated to cross-border trucking and distribution within Mexico, to speed northbound freight from Laredo, and is discussing giving the logistics technology provider a greater role in managing cross-border shipments.


“We want them to handle the freight from origin in Mexico to destination,” said Stern. “We don’t want to have the problem of not knowing when that freight will cross the border, get inspected, and then be ready for us. The biggest problem for us is not knowing where that freight is.”


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