Q: How important is automotive trade for SSA México?
A: About 10 percent of the cargo we handle is cars, while 30 percent is auto parts and other material for the automotive industry. We operate at seven ports nationwide, including Lazaro Cardenas that has the only automobile-dedicated terminal in Mexico. Last year, we handled a total of 950,000 cars. The sector has grown considerably, and we want to continue expanding in it. We could do this by providing services not just at ports but throughout the entire transportation network.
We handle both import and export cargo; we load it off and onto ships. When cars arrive at the port, we store them at specialized patios where we also provide additional services such as accessorizing, car washing and painting to repair any small damages that may have occurred during the trip. We can also apply grease to the vehicles’ undercarriages to protect metal parts. Our storage spaces also provide weather protection.
Our main clients are large car companies like Volkswagen, Audi, Nissan, General Motors, Chrysler, BMW, Daimler Benz, Toyota, Suzuki and Mazda. We also work with truck, bus and heavy machinery manufacturers. We provide different combinations of services depending on the client’s needs. Some companies, for instance, prefer to have their cargo directly distributed to their client without previous storage.
Q: What are the main benefits of working with SSA México and how has that attracted OEMs like Volkswagen and Nissan?
A: We have a varied and customized service portfolio and our port terminals teams are flexible enough to meet our clients’ needs. Furthermore, we maintain constant contact with them. During the rainy season, for example, there may be hail. Some clients will want to take their cars out of the patio and into a roofed storage location outside the port. We provide the logistics to make this possible.
We want to be a strategic partner. When a new customer approaches us, we learn their requirements and build a tailored solution. Training is also key to maintain the level of quality we provide, especially with automotive operations where certifications are normally required. Our clients have tested our processes and are satisfied.
Q: What is the extent of your cooperation with customs authorities and where do you see opportunities for protocols to improve?
A: There have been several changes in customs. The biggest issue is the lack of personnel to process cargo applications. In Manzanillo, we have experienced serious delays in our ability to offload containers due to this issue. This does not just impact us but the whole port and its capability to generate revenue. More customs personnel should be brought in and the port should be working toward a 24/7 service model. There have been announcements of more customs personnel but these have not materialized yet.
The new government administration has announced it is going to support the logistics sector with decisive measures. One of these could be strategic fiscal regulations that make it possible to process and inspect cargo before it reaches the port. This could greatly increase efficiency in offloading processes. Further improvement could be achieved by making all customs processes electronic.
Q: What are your main growth projections for 2019 in terms of capacity to handle vehicles and infrastructure expansion?
A: We expect to handle more than 1 million units by the end of 2019. We should always work toward more efficiency and fewer accidents. We want to remain at the forefront of technology, offering software that allows our clients to see in real time where their cars are. Furthermore, we want to expand our logistics operations beyond ports and further into our clients’ supply and distribution chains. Some clients are looking to move their cars from the Bajio region to the Veracruz port. We are able to solve this need by offering integrated logistics services.