Transparency, Technology: a Winning Logistics MixSat, 09/01/2018 - 10:30
Growing trade volumes and increasingly complex logistics processes in North America pose challenges for the region’s automotive industry. However, an operation based on transparency and cost optimization through effective relationship building and technology implementation can help clients maximize their resources and avoid delays in key shipments, says Arlette Lua, Director of the Automotive Industry Vertical - Mexico at Crane Worldwide Logistics.
“Being transparent with clients, explaining all logistics processes and teaching them how logistics operations are handled is how we earn their trust and improve operations,” says Lua. “Some logistics operators might not be transparent about their processes out of fear of losing clients, but Crane believes in transparency and accompanying clients step by step in their international logistics processes.” Founded in 2008, Crane Worldwide Logistics takes advantage of its global presence and consolidated weekly slots in cargo aircraft to compete in the Mexican market. Although the company’s Mexico operations have been traditionally oriented to the oil and gas industry, Lua says automotive grows in importance since 1Q17. “We are present anywhere there is automotive cargo to be transported,” says Lua.
Crane keeps its clients close to maximize the efficiency of logistics processes. When the company starts working with a new client or production line, Crane focuses on implementing its Standard Operating Process (SOPs) to make sure setbacks are reduced. Similarly, the company trains its clients in the use of Crane’s C-View software to track down shipments so they can fully harness the advantages of an advanced user interface with immediate tracking. “Crane offers a variety of logistics services paired with technology at a competitive price to curb costs and processing times,” says Lua.
The company also helps clients improve their operations by training their staff in key shipping such as labeling or route optimization. According to Lua, small services such as pallet wrapping and repalletizing can go a long way when it comes to preventing shipment losses or damage to merchandise. “Once clients understand these advantages, they adopt them and improve their operations,” she says.
In the case of international shipments, Crane’s strategy is twofold. On the one hand, the company prepares in advance to deal with customs procedures by sitting with both the client company and its customs agent to understand the applicable procedures to the client’s goods. This includes assessing how documents must be presented to reduce waiting times. Crane also sends the customs agent a pre-alert when a shipment is sent so the team is ready to process it. With some automotive clients, the company has integrated sea terminals, such as Contecon and SCA Manzanillo, to maximize efficiency.
The other side of the strategy consists of implementing digital technology to help clients track their cargo and speed up the customs process. “Our C-View digital interface makes logistics processes more transparent by showcasing information on shipments in a user-friendly way,” says Lua. This system offers clients visibility on the logistics solutions they bought and how operations are running. Among other features, the software shows when a shipment reaches a milestone, such as when it leaves port or is picked up. “C-View displays real-time information on how likely shipments are to be delivered on time,” says Lua. “Moreover, we make an effort to ensure our shipments are on time at least 95 percent of the time.”
According to Lua, while automotive companies share some demands in common with logistics operators such as punctuality and relationships with sea, land and airborne transportation companies, there are some areas where they differ. “The automotive industry generally demands Crane’s service suppliers to hold C-TPAT and BASC certifications,” she says. Availability is also a key decision-making element for Crane’s automotive clients that often call on a weekly basis to know whether the company has available slots for transportation. Lua says Crane’s alliances with sea carriers have been attractive for automotive companies. “They look for direct routes and spaces within shipments that guarantee their products will not stay still,” she says. Lua underlines that Crane’s relationships with different transportation companies enables the operator to offer the much sought-after levels of security and quality that automotive companies demand from their logistics partners.