During 2020, intermodal transport was impacted by the health crisis caused by COVID-19, however, so far in 2021 it has shown signs of recovery, but it still has to face major challenges such as improving times and offering sufficient capacity.
In the first edition of the year of the Logistics Business Dialogues program, entitled Intermodal and its 2021 perspective, Eduardo Asperó, vice president for Mexico at the Hub Group, said that there is a general recovery in volumes that began since last August, although the demand presents a variation in the cross border service due to the fact that consumer preferences in the United States have changed due to confinement.
This, he explained, has generated an increase in the household appliances sector, causing exports in Bajío and Monterrey to multiply, while in ports it continues to be "sensitive", particularly in Lázaro Cárdenas due to the effects on the operation.
Diego Anchustegui, Deputy General Director of EASO Transport, explained that unlike the 17.2% drop in intermodal transport to said country that was registered during February and March 2020, so far this year there has been an increase of 12.8 percent.
“This means that it is growing a lot. Confidence is being restored and it is being consumed at high volumes, but it also affects us because intermodal service providers have the equipment captive in that country, which does not allow it to be used in Mexico. The lack of containers will continue to affect us, the low import does not allow us to have more equipment to offer the service ”, he said.
In this sense, Eduardo Asperó explained that the main challenge in 2021 in addition to the demand continuing its growth is to maintain the balance, since imports decreased in general terms, consequently, there are fewer containers coming to Mexico causing the export capacity go down, and therefore empty equipment has to be moved.
"The change in transport conditions in this country means that the demand for trucks has been restricted, therefore many customers are looking for intermodal options and this is a very good opportunity to complement the optimal use of trucks and railways and generate a product. attractive intermodal with concrete savings in its logistics distribution system, ”he said.
In this sense, David Villicaña, Grupo Bimbo Freight & Logistics negotiator, said that there are opportunities in this mode of transport where synergies with different companies can help optimize empty trips and impact the rate, which are key to having a successful supply chain.
Ana María Velo, Manager of International Trade at Grupo Bafar, commented that although they have struggled with the intermodal service, it is necessary for their operation due to the increase in the company's cargo import volumes.
"I consider it to be an excellent alternative and we are looking for how to use it and look for logistics with the railroad, with our transport companies and suppliers that somehow already have and know about this system. We are looking for intermodal alternatives as an excellent option to meet our needs in our plants ”, she explained.
She mentioned that they have long routes where they would be looking to introduce this transport, but it would depend on time and costs, "we want to have a range of options in terms of transport."
In this sense, Eduardo Asperó commented that by knowing the specific plans of the clients in terms of origin-destination, volumes and frequencies, precise solutions can be offered, as well as competitive rates for a comprehensive logistics alternative.
He just mentioned that the company is developing new options for the industry, for example, a warehouse in Laredo for the client to move their cargo, carry out the necessary procedures and use the same box where they transport their product to enter Mexico.
Diego Anchustegui agreed that it is necessary to know the needs of customers, to provide them with routes and costs that translate into savings, but pointed out that work must also be done to reduce loading times and make intermodal transport more competitive. and improve infrastructure.
“Many are not looking at intermodal because of transit times, other paradigms that we have had for a long time, and in reality it is already changing. We are working with 3 railways that are trying to innovate and do things better. There are already cross-border routes and services that are improving times and competing with the truck, ”he explained.
Regarding infrastructure, Asperó commented that the country has basic and adequate intermodal terminals, without having invested in more in the last 10 years, although there is an opportunity in the south of Mexico City. In addition, important advances have been made in ports such as Lázaro Cárdenas and with the expansion in Veracruz. Routes have also been increased both nationally and internationally, only in 2020 Union Pacific began with the Mexico-Florida service.
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