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Mexico Logistics and Transportation: Tecma Talk Podcast with Toby Spoon

Mexico Logistics and Transportation: Tecma Talk Podcast with Toby Spoon

Mexico logistics and transportation podcast on the subject of shipping goods across the Mexican border quickly in both directions with Toby Spoon, president of Secure Origins, Inc.

Tecma Group of Companies:

Hello, whatever time of the day it happens to be where you are listening to this Podcast. What we are beginning or are to embark on, is what’s going to be, hopefully the first of many informational podcasts that will be on Mexico manufacturing, Mexico logistics and transportation and related topics, brought to you by the Tecma Group of Companies of El Paso, Texas.

Today we have one of the management team of Tecma with us. His name is Toby Spoon. Toby we’ll just let you explain to those that are listening what your role within the organization is. Welcome by the way.

Toby Spoon:
Sure thank you. My name is Toby Spoon and I am the Executive Vice President of the Tecma Group of Companies and the President of a company called Secure Origins, Inc. that we purchased last October. Basically Secure Origins is what would fall into the topic of related to manufacturing, as well as to Mexico logistics and transportation.
Wouldn’t you say that that would be an accurate statement?

The Tecma Group of Companies:
Yes, yes.

Toby Spoon:
Secure Origins essentially is trying to provide a service that is related to Mexico logistics and transportation. We are calling it preemptive intelligence. That enables to get us to get the goods transported across the U.S. – Mexico border in either direction, in any direction in an efficient and expeditious manner. There are a lot of things that can tie up the operation.

We are trying to just give both companies and US Customs and Border Protection and Mexican customs a leg up on efficient processing and transportation of goods across the border.

Obviously, as a general rule of thumb ,we’re going to say that means quicker is faster, but in the case of speeding up the transaction of the commercial flow in and out of Mexico or in the commercial border crossing specifically, you are working at this point, with Ciudad Juarez.

Tecma Group of Companies:
What are the benefits that accrue to the manufacturer, the community and its economy as well as to the broader economy that result from using Secure Origins’ services? Also, could you give us a sense as to what the benefits of speeding commercial transactions over the bridge are?

Toby Spoon:
Sure, well first of all, the big challenge that we here is that most of the focused on the border these days has to do with immigration reform. The United States government is pouring a lot of dollars and assets, as well as time, into this initiative. However, trade is very important. Jobs and trade are critical to our economy and so the challenge now has to do with is how we get all the security that we need after 9/11 in light of the concerns about illegal immigration? But we also need to determine how do we make trade and Mexico logistics and transportation efficient? At present, those questions seem to be represent opposing forces.

However, what we , at Secure Origin’s Inc., have been able to do is by utilizing technology is to actually increase security and increase efficiency. Those things are not mutually exclusive.

Commerce between the United States and Mexico is projected to double over the next decade. That’s 10% a year growth in trade between the U.S and Mexico. As of now, all of our border facilities are very outdated to handle U.S. and Mexico logistics and transportation. They were built for the economy of the 50’s and 60’s. Whatever money has been spent for trade infrastructure on the borders has not gone to the bridges and the infrastructure, or even staffing to help that expedite that work.

Tecma Group of Companies:
So is what we see then is an increasing demand for facilities that can accommodate more traffic but not the infrastructure that under best of circumstances would have to be in place to accompany it? Would that be a correct statement?

Toby Spoon:
That’s absolutely correct. That’s the problem, that’s the conundrum. We’ve got increasing trade flows here in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. The value of trade increased $9 million dollars last year along, but we still have the same infrastructure as before to handle cross border U.S. and Mexico logistics and transportation.

Tecma Group of Companies:
Could you, specifically in manufacturing point out the impediments, and other things that slow down the movement of goods back and forth across the border? Can you pin point the certain choke points there that you will find Secure Origins can target as areas of opportunity with its technology?

Toby Spoon:
What we found when began to investigate is that in regarding the El Paso, Zaragoza/Ysleta port of entry, the northbound choke point was located just before Mexican Customs.

There is a certification that was established probably about 10-15 years ago, around I’m going to say around time of 9/11, that was created to help to move things along quicker. It is called C-TPAT. However, it is first an foremost a counter terrorism certification, but it was put in place to try to help manufacturers and shippers adhere to a certain number of practices that would ensure that their loads were secures and not tampered with, and would, possibly, move quicker. It was “sold” to the U.S. – Mexico border trade community as something that would make traffic across the border more expeditious. The result was that a problem of things piling up in the Customs area was created. Shipments that were non-certified were grouped along with the ones that were, for instance. In response, Secure Origins, Inc. embarked on a project to implement lane segmentation to speed up U.S. – Mexico logistics and transportation. We began separating certified shipments from the non-certified ones. This may sound pretty pretty basic, but taking this common sense action made a huge difference. By working directly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on the U.S. side and Mexican customs on their side, we are able to provide them with what we like to call “preemptive intelligence.” Governmental agencies on both sides of the border can actually see the behavior of a shipment as it leaves the plant in Mexico and comes towards the border. If there are any anomalies, then that shipment gets flagged and must go in for inspection. As a result the U.S. – Mexico logistics and transportation process at the border is quicker and more efficient. Government agents are only inspecting shipments that deserve to be reviewed and they are letting the other lower risk ones come through more quickly.

The Tecma Group of Companies:
When you say that officials on both sides of the border can see any anomalies in movement, they would be governmental users of the services that Secure Origins offer? I’m also assuming that transportation companies and manufacturers themselves could put these technologies to work.? Would they be other users?

Toby Spoon:
Yes, other users might be the customs brokerages, as well. We have put together and here is the term for you: It’s called the Common Operating Picture. It means that one can zero in and look at a shipment. Anybody that is a stakeholder, or user in the system, can literally click on the window that we have and see what the status of a shipment is. So when I say they, all the participants and stakeholders all have that visibility.

Tecma Group of Companies:
Well that sounds like something that at the end of the day is going to serve a lot of positive purposes for the entities both in the public and the private sector that you are dealing with.

Toby Spoon:
It is. On one hand, in terms of economics, companies save money. On the other hand, public security related to U.S. – Mexico logistics and transportation on the border increases.

It results in enhanced security on several levels. It’s greater security of all commercial traffic coming in and out of the two countries. U.S. Custom’s mandate is to protect and defend the borders of the United States. Our services aid in the protection against the terrorist threat , as well as protects against tampering with shipments. It gets identified. Any change in behavior identifies a specific vehicle. Any time a truck stops, the risk level goes up, and as long as the truck is able to continue to move, the risk level goes down. The risk level for CBP (on the safe trucks) is lessened by identifying the people that are abiding by the rules, if you will. There are other benefits as well. There are a cascading series of positives. By the trucks moving through quickly, we find a significant fuel savings. How does that translate into real dollars? We have determined that it actually saves six dollars in fuel per shipment. That’s pretty significant. Additionally, trucks idling on the bridge without moving are spouting contaminants into the air. In our tests, we were are able to reduce pollution by stationary trucks by twenty-seven percent, per truck. This achievement is a significant one, as well. By using trucks more efficiently companies are actually able to get more turns, meaning loops across the border. The average per conveyance before we started the program was about two turns. Afterward implementing our technologies, we are at three turns. Transportation companies that participate can get thirty-three percent more yield out of their equipment than they did before There are even more benefits that the program offers participants For instance, drivers were able to do these many turns in less hours, so safety on the roads improved. There were just consistent wins all across the board on this.

Tecma Group of Companies:
Well, that sounds extremely interesting on many different levels but what I was wondering at the moment as you were speaking, these are things that in the minds on most individuals are applicable to getting things from Mexico into the United States. What kind of things does Secure Origins do to address issues with shipments going the other way? From the U.S. into Mexico, or trucks from the U.S. into Mexico. Is there anything happening there? Does Mexico have concerns that might be different than what the U.S. officials would have? Well you know in both directions contraband is a concern, so we are concerned about to be honest, just to frank we are concerned about contaminated shipments, when I say contaminated like maybe drugs or some such activity. Southbound Mexico in the drug war, Mexico’s complaint is that the shipments of firearms, southbound has been almost unmitigated and so they have a great interest in this program because they will be able to track the behavior of a truck if its coming southbound. They have the equipment that they’ve installed in the last year that does gamma ray kind of like x rays on the trucks as they are coming through. But it all is about resource management. They have trucks that come through that do not show any anomalies why waist time on those if they can actually spend their time on the trucks that deserve greater inspection so its something that really helpful in both directions.

Tecma Group of Companies:
Would you be able to explain specifically what is the infrastructure like for the service that Secure Origins provides to its customers? Whether it’s for the private or public sector , I would assume that the transportation conveyances must be outfitted with certain equipment, and assume that there is a place that you have set up from which this equipment can be used to monitor the trucks of those parties with whom you are doing business?

Toby Spoon:
Certainly. As we develop this program we wanted to make it the entry point as easy and basic as possible. So, to participate in this program you don’t have to buy a special widget in order for the program to work. Essentially it uses GPS technology and GO special software. The minimum level of service is a tractor a truck that pulls the trailer that is fitted with a GPS unit. We recommend that, for the border crossing services, using equipment that sends out signal every five minutes. Secure Origins, Inc. has a command center that is manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and three hundred and sixty-five days a year. We monitor these shipments, ,and we establish a Geo Fence around the shipper’s facility. We also have a Geo Fence along the authorized route. The monitoring software that we use is made up of algorithms that record and monitor the behavior of the shipments.

Furthermore, we know how long it takes to get from plant A to the border , so we track that. Anything that is aberration or anomaly that’s an exception, then it comes up on our radar. That message has been sent to the shipper, it is sent to the transportation company, and sent to CBP. Under the CTPAT certification that I referred to earlier, if companies self report there’s not any punitive action taken against the company until an investigation is completed. the self reporting thing just allows CBP to get a whole lot more information so we monitor all of that. We inform all the stakeholders in the process. Secure Origins provides data that allows an individual company, a transportation company, and even CBP or agencies of the government (local, state or federal) to make decisions because we are tracking traffic patterns and able to make decisions.
Tecma Group of Companies:
Just a couple of final questions to wrap things up: There is interest obviously in the El Paso/Juarez area at putting this technology to greater use. Do you find that at any of the other points along with the U.S. – Mexico border with similar types of problems, that there’s been an interest expressed for what it is that you are offering?
Toby Spoon:
Absolutely, and you know, when we started this, we were selected to form a partnership between the city of El Paso, Customs and Border Protection and Secure Origins. We wanted to prove the model, which we did at one port of entry here in El Paso. It was always with a vision of this been a solution that can be applied up and down the border. We are today working in the San Diego/Tijuana area, but our next roll out is happening down in the Reynosa/McAllen area. We anticipate going to the Laredo port of crossing next. This actual will work anywhere in the world.

Tecma Group of Companies:
Well that being said if somebody listening to this brief conversation on U.S. – Mexico logistics and transportation security how might they get into contact with you?
Toby Spoon:
Well ,if somebody wants to learn more about this, there is a web site they can view: www.secureorigins.com. We’ve got our information up on that website. Secure Origins is a subsidiary of Tecma and our phone number is 915-534-4252.

Tecma Group of Companies:
And they should ask for Toby, is that correct?

Toby Spoon:
Ask for Toby Spoon or John Rippee who is our vice-president of operations.
Tecma Group of Companies:
Thank you for joining us today, Toby,

Photo credit: vl8189

 

 

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