Time-Critical Logistics for Energy ProjectsWed, 02/22/2017 - 16:08
Like many other companies, TIBA expects 2017 to be the year when renewable energy projects in Mexico take off. Even after an increase in the demand for PV panels logistics management and shipping, they are confident the trend will not only continue, it will also spread into other types of energy technologies. “Right now we are being contacted by PV and wind power companies seeking to develop projects and looking for advice on storage and management,” says Justin Facey, TIBA’s CEO for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The logistics, customs and transportation company has great expectations forabout the upcoming years in the Mexican market. “As Mexico evolves, TIBA evolves. We can handle any type of logistics management in energy, automotive, liquids and other specific divisions that require a high degree of specialization,” Facey adds. TIBA expects to open an additional eight to 10 offices in the coming 12 to 24 months, which will be added to the 11 offices they already have in Mexico, so as to be closer to their customers.
As the country opens up to new opportunities in the power market and renewables rise in the Mexican energy matrix, these technologies face diverse challenges. Facey explains that the lack of options in experienced logistics operators in Mexico is one of the biggest problems for project developers. “Mexico has not traditionally been a country with a large amount of solar panels or wind turbines, so subsequently the experience of logistics operators in these fields is limited,” he says. TIBA is a logistics operator specialized in sea, air and land freight with almost 20 years of experience in Mexico and previous successes in similar projects in countries such as Spain and Chile, making them one of the few logistics operators with the expertise to address new energy projects. TIBA’s expertise allows them to choose any project in the energy market, but Facey notes that their focus is on wind and solar projects. “Those are the two areas we have the most experience within our renewable projects division. In wind power generation, for example, there are oversized blades, so the experience we have in dealing with these materials becomes very valuable for our customers in Mexico.” The company relies on its team of experts to comply with the strict timetables these projects face. “We have the human resources, experience, specific divisions and most importantly, we handle the whole logistics chain so we do not depend on third parties to guarantee our services,” he says.
A major challenge for these technologies involves geographic location. Besides often being located in remote locations with difficult access, some of these projects’ locations are unsafe. “Security is an issue in some parts of the country where these projects are developed such as Sinaloa, Baja California and the north of Mexico,” Facey comments. Through TIBA’s current presence and ambitious expansion plans for the country, the executive says the company has acquired enough local expertise regarding local conditions and terrain to help with any road transportation issues companies might face. Customs bureaucracy is another area where companies can find obstacles for renewable energy projects’ development, as restrictive procedures can slow the flow and increase expenses.
As for upcoming projects being developed following the power auctions, Facey says they could also run into problems related to insufficient infrastructure. “Mexico has a problem with its ports and roads infrastructure. There is a general saturation in ports such as Manzanillo and Veracruz.” Facey believes this is one of the reasons why logistics and transportation are so important in a time- sensitive context. “When you have 300 containers coming in, you have to be sure how your logistics are going to work out, how fast you can get them through customs and how many trucks you are going to need to move them.”
TIBA has proven experience with energy projects with companies such as Gas Natural Fenosa. Their most recent accomplishment was the logistics management of a 126- ton gas turbine from Tuxpan to Atlanta as part of a very time-sensitive maintenance project, which they managed to keep ahead of schedule, to their client’s satisfaction.