Mario Veraldo
Director General Middle America
Maersk Line
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View from the Top

A Call for Intermodal Port Solutions

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 09:11

Q: From the viewpoint of a shipping company like Maersk Line, what benefits arise from well-developed infrastructure?

A: Mexico must diversify and amplify its reach to find unexplored opportunities. For this to take place adequate infrastructure is important. Businesses will not flourish if the infrastructure gap remains. Interconnecting businesses and logistics infrastructure would allow commerce to grow and generate more jobs. An inland network is important because if the network does not exist, the country is left with just a huge, crowded port with cargo that fails to flow due to bottlenecks.

Q: What role will ports play in the development of Special Economic Zones (ZEE)?

A: Mexico has access to both oceans, which is a huge competitive advantage. The country’s inland networks are close to the ports but have not yet reached these special economic zones. Mexico needs to accelerate development between ports and these zones. Since port infrastructure already exists the country needs to invest in efficiency and expansion. It is important that the inland network is multimodal, incorporating road, rail, ports and other infrastructure. Mexico’s position makes it the ideal place for commerce and the country must develop its infrastructure to take full advantage of its position.

Q: How can Mexico improve and optimize its existing ports?

A: Like many ports in Mexico, the new terminal in Lazaro Cardenas has great potential but if the appropriate road and rail infrastructure is not developed to connect it with other regions in Mexico, there will be inevitable bottlenecks. The port in Manzanillo is extremely congested and is in need of expansion.

Mexico urgently needs to evaluate the supporting infrastructure, such as roads, rails and airports, before it begins developing new seaports. The port of Veracruz is located in the middle of the city, meaning it is difficult to expand capacity in any direction. The importance of conjunctive planning for efficient logistics infrastructure is crucial but if the system fails, the supply chain loses reliability and credibility. Over time, an automated or semi-automated port like TEC2 in Lazaro Cardenas will
consistently boost efficiency. By tweaking operations, bottlenecks and other areas of opportunities will surface
and the efficiency of the port will be more evident. If the ports lack efficiency, then the value of using large ships, 213 such as Maersk’s Triple-E, will decrease significantly.

Q: What are the benefits of using Maersk Line’s container shipping versus land transportation?

A: Today, container shipping is perceived as highly commoditized. In Mexico, the capillarity of the inland system allows us to provide our customers with end-to- end visibility, as well as the chance to generate strategic partnerships. Visibility is important to clients, especially if Mexico is part of their global supply chain. Maersk Line places a great deal of importance on security. For instance if a container is stolen, we offer our clients the ability to react rapidly. This year, the company had 18 robberies but we recovered everything. We offer our clients the security of knowing where the container is at all times, as well as a fast reaction time to recover stolen goods. Maersk Line has developed a unique technological infrastructure system to keep track of all containers and boats.

Q: How does Maersk Line deal with industry trends?

A: The most prominent trend in Mexico is the need for reliability. In the automotive industry, for example, companies want not only “Just-in-Time” but also “Just-in- Sequence” solutions. With flexible production, they need to have not only parts in stock but the right parts that are needed to build each particular car at that time. We can analyze the bottlenecks that companies are experiencing within their processes, allowing us to develop short and long-term solutions.

When looking at the minerals market, there are various countries that are no longer consuming as much as they did years ago. Trade to Asia has reduced significantly over the last several years, for example, so we are rapidly expanding our customer base and have begun tapping into new sectors. An industry that has intensified is the cotton industry, one of the country’s leading products.