Connecting the World: The Growth of Visibility in Latin America

Over the past several months, FourKites has brought together professionals, executives and thought leaders from all over the world for our ongoing series on solving the challenges of different regions and geographies using real-time visibility. In the latest edition of this series, we focused on Latin America. Earlier this month, I had the privilege of sitting down with leaders from Nestlé, Constellation Brands, Dow Chemical and Ingredion — as well as hundreds of attendees from all corners of the supply chain — to discuss the nuances of real-time visibility in the region.

During our two-hour summit, we discussed the challenges unique to Latin America, as well as the various strategies shippers are using to overcome those challenges and maximize ROI throughout the supply chain. The presentations were incredible and touched on so many different success stories within the Latin American supply chain. In this post, I’ve pulled together a few of the biggest themes that stood out to me as I had the privilege of moderating among these outstanding speakers.

Top Objectives for Latin American Supply Chains

During our summit, we asked each of our audience members to weigh in on the issues they consider top priorities and objectives for their organizations. Supply chain efficiency and cost reduction ranked far ahead of the competition in terms of what our audience wanted to focus on, claiming 41% and 29% of respondents, respectively.

For many companies, cost reduction and efficiency tend to go hand in hand. All of our presenters mentioned detention costs, as this is one of the fastest areas to see a return on your investment with supply chain visibility. When you have a discrete geofence set up around a destination, for example, you can get a much more accurate idea of not only when carriers arrive at that destination, but how long they remain there as well. Juan David Duarte, Supply Chain Specialist at Dow Chemical, mentioned that it used to be as if his team was wearing a blindfold: They could not know whether their team was inside the geofence or not. Now, using FourKites they can automatically generate a dwell time, and immediately know how long a driver is staying at a customer facility.

Safety of loads in transit was also a key concern for our audience members, as security throughout Latin America is highly complex. Using notifications to narrow your focus to just the loads that are at-risk, rather than trying to keep tabs on everything at once, helps to ensure that goods arrive safely at their destination in a timely manner. Both Constellation Brands and Dow Chemical mentioned this in their presentations, as ensuring the security of shipments in transit is key to keeping costs down and improving efficiency throughout the supply chain.

LATAM’s Unique Challenges

One of the biggest challenges of developing a visibility solution in Latin America is the fact that GPS connectivity varies so wildly across the continent.

Take, for example, Brazil, where risk management companies set very high premiums on loads being carried without GPS equipment onboard. These agreements are common enough to essentially guarantee that trucks will be equipped with state-of-the art GPS equipment, making it considerably easier to track in Brazil than in other Latin American countries. Similarly, in Mexico, concerns around security and hijacking prompt most carriers to install GPS equipment.

In many other countries, however, there hasn’t been a similar drive to install GPS across the board, which results in a patchwork of different carriers — some of whom have GPS-enabled vehicles, while many more do not. In some countries in Central America, for instance, you may find that 50% or more of the trucks on the road do not have GPS equipment in their vehicles. These numbers vary considerably from country to country, but the trend is definitely going in the direction of enabling more GPS capabilities throughout the continent. This means that shippers need the ability to track all carriers, regardless of their ELD setup.

Nestle’s Tips for Visibility Success:

During their portion of the presentation, Nestlé’s Aldo Ramirez, Transportation Process Improvement Coordinator, and Luis Assad, Supply Chain Manager, shared some of the lessons they have gleaned over the course of their visibility journey.

  • Ensure that carriers are equipped with GPS: The company can track a shipment without an onboard GPS unit in the vehicle, however the data they can get from a dedicated GPS is much better than what they would get from other options. This, in turn, allows carriers to make better decisions using the data that Nestlé returns.
  • Include KPIs in your contracts: Because visibility solutions like FourKites require information from multiple stakeholders throughout the organization and beyond, it is very important to make sure that all parties are on the same page in terms of responsibilities and what is expected of each of them.
  • Master data cleansing: It doesn’t matter how quickly your visibility provider can bring carriers onboard — or how many carriers they claim to have onboard already — if they don’t maintain the highest standards of data quality in their carrier integrations.

Connecting Latin America to the Global Logistics Network

Visibility is slowly transforming the shipping realities that have held true for decades throughout Latin America, making possible the resolution of challenges that many supply chain professionals assumed were simply just a part of doing business.

Visibility, as a concept, is newer in Latin America than it is in North America, but even so there are quite a few companies offering this service. Most of those companies are domestic and only offer their services for one country or a handful of countries. FourKites currently tracks shipments in 17 countries throughout Latin America, with seamless cross-border tracking into North America, and maritime tracking to other parts of the world. We service all modes, including over-the-road, ocean, air and rail; and we’re integrated with hundreds of major carriers and more than 100 different GPS providers throughout the continent.

Borders are a big issue in Latin America. When a shipment crosses over from Brazil into Bolivia, many providers are unable to track it seamlessly. FourKites can. What’s more, FourKites can track a load from a port in Chile or Peru all the way to its destination in Southeast Asia or China. During our webinar, Juan from Dow Chemical spent a good deal of time talking about this particular aspect of FourKites’ capabilities. He mentioned teamwork and cross-functional collaboration as a key benefit of having greater digital capabilities throughout the supply chain. This is a particularly important point for Dow, as the company utilizes FourKites to help its teams communicate not only in Latin America, but on other continents, as well.

Integral to this cross-border and cross-continental collaboration is having all of your loads in one single system of record. In FourKites, that information is then supplemented with advanced ETA and analytics capabilities, which allow you to not only know the location of your shipments, but to truly assess and measure your company’s performance over time and plot a course to improving various segments of your operation.

To learn more about visibility in Latin America, and to hear more customer use cases, please watch our Visibility in Latin America Supply Chain Virtual Summit on demand here! And please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me with any questions.

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