Fleet Management

Mexican Trucking: More Professional Than You May Think

November 13, 2013

By Evan Lockridge

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MEXICO CITY -- For some people in the United States, say "Mexican trucking company" and they envision ramshackle trucks, drivers who are reckless and fleets that don’t care about safety.

They've likely never been south of the border to see what the operation of a Mexican trucking company really looks like.

Two of the new Volvo VNL trucks with the I-Shift transmission at Transportes Monroy Schiavon. Photo: Evan Lockridge
Two of the new Volvo VNL trucks with the I-Shift transmission at Transportes Monroy Schiavon. Photo: Evan Lockridge

A visit this week with the truckload carrier Transportes Monroy Schiavon, headquartered in Mexico City, revealed they are as professional as many of their U.S.-based counterparts -- and struggle with many of the same issues as carriers do north of the border.

Since its founding in 1979, TMS has grown from one truck and one driver to the 16th largest trucking operation in Mexico, with more than 500 power units. That's huge by Mexican standards, where only 100 trucking companies in the country have more than 100 power units.

Among its customers are household names such as Walmart, Proctor & Gamble, ExxonMobil and others. It works with several U.S.-based fleets in moving cargo between Mexico and the U.S., including Con-way, USA Truck, Landstar, Schneider and Celadon.

Driver Focused

TMS Director of Commercial Operations, Laura Mandujano Valdes, stressed in a meeting with reporters that one of the biggest challenges it is facing is one that U.S. carriers are dealing with: finding qualified drivers.

TMS Director of Commercial Operations, Laura Mandujano Valde. Photo: Evan Lockridge
TMS Director of Commercial Operations, Laura Mandujano Valde. Photo: Evan Lockridge

“We believe drivers are our main asset,” she explained. “Our goal is to find professional drivers, not someone who wants to be a rebel.”

She said TMS’ recipe for finding qualified drivers involves checking prospects’ backgrounds going back five years, which is also done at the request of many customers.

In addition to making sure they have the proper licensing, the company also monitors the health of drivers each and every time they leave out from a company yard by having a nurse give them a brief exam and signing off they are healthy to drive. TMS says it also has established a maintenance program, legal support for drivers and security measures.

“Drivers are bad about believing they are supermen and nothing bad will happen to them,” she said.

Equipment Strategy

The company says it is extending its driver-centered approach to using technology to aid drivers. This strategy includes upgrading equipment, including employing high security measures such as satellite tracking. It also includes using new technology on its trucks through its purchase of Volvo’s VNL models, with most every one coming with the company’s propriety I-Shift automated manual transmission.

In fact, TMS has gotten the first trucks in Mexico with Volvo’s I-Shift transmission. When the delivery is completed, it will make TMS 100% Volvo when it comes to fifth-wheel-equipped trucks. Currently TMS also runs about three dozen Class 8 straight trucks from other truck makers, which it plans to keep.

Valdes says the addition of the I-Shift automated manual transmission is being done for many reasons. One of the biggest is driver comfort. The company believes the more comfortable a driver is, the better he or she will perform on the roadway. It's also being done for the sake of efficiency, or more specifically fuel efficiency. TMS says automated manuals clearly outperform pure traditional manuals.

Such concerns about the driver have led TMS to have a turnover rate that would make any long-haul fleet in the U.S. jealous: 25%. The overall Mexican truck fleet turnover rate is 60% to 70%. Currently, the annual turnover rate is around 100% for big truckload carriers in the U.S.

Of course, things aren't perfect at TMS or other Mexican trucking operations. TMS has problems with cargo thefts and fuel thefts, but it said such incidents are lessening.

According to Valdes, TMS plans to stay focused on buying new technology to improve its bottom line, rather than resorting to paying drivers less in a competitive market.

Related Story:

Volvo's Take on the Mexican Truck Market

Comments

  1. 1. Herman [ November 13, 2013 @ 05:20PM ]

    Mexican-American trade?! Go back and read your history!!! Mexicans will drive down wages just to get the job away from US truck-drivers! BIG CORPORATIONS?! Don't care about US truck drivers just compare our wages to any other trade that has the same risks and sacrifices. Our own government wants to regulate HOS to the point we become liars just to earn the same living as a janitor in the IRS building...NO MORE MEXICAN or CANADIAN trucks or drivers...enough already!

  2. 2. Cliff Downing [ November 14, 2013 @ 08:01AM ]

    I have noticed that there is never any mention of driver compensation packages, adjusted in U.S. Dollars, Mexican carrier drivers. Then we could know for certain what the relational pay scales are instead of anecdotal, CB, truckers lounge nonsense. They must be getting somewhat of a fair compensation due to low turnover numbers.

  3. 3. James Alford [ November 14, 2013 @ 10:47AM ]

    Who ever wrote this article evidentily has not been to the border area such as Laredo. And looked at the Mexican trucks bringing stuck back and forth across the border. If they did they would not be talking about letting them come over here and drive. I have had a Mexican trucker pass me going up a hill on a two lane road. I stopped just sure someone would come over the hill and hit him head on.

  4. 4. Jab8283 [ November 14, 2013 @ 11:29AM ]

    I would like to see both borders closed. Reason, too many trucks on our highways specifically the State of Indiana where better than 50% are from Canada. The U.S. CABOTAGE LAW as I remember was foreign drivers would go straight from point A to B and back however this is not what is happening in the real world. I have spotted way too many Canadian carrier drivers picking up and delivering solely within the U.S. borders which is supposed to be against the law. For every load that is carried within the U.S. borders by foreign carrier drivers takes away from U.S. carrier drivers. Several U.S., Canadian, and Mexican truckload carriers with large fleets such as Celadon, and Challenger for example have their fleets registered in multiple countries. Carriers are using this registration loop-hole to allow their trucks with foreign drivers to operate illegally within the U.S. borders which IS against the law. Motor Carrier Inspectors and Police cannot do a thing to enforce Cabotage Laws because of the complicated issues involved. This level of competition is unfair and hurting U.S. based drivers and carriers. Since the federal and state level governments are powerless to enforce Cabotage Laws within the U.S., then I believe it best that both Canadian and Mexican borders be sealed and trans-load terminals installed at those locations for load transfers from a carrier based in one country to a carrier based in another. The question here is why are U.S. drivers and carriers systematically being replaced with their counterparts from Canada and Mexico in Interstate Commerce? It's getting worse every year and Washington D.C. isn't doing anything to fix the problem. Shut-down the borders and put American workers back to work in America.

  5. 5. Paul O. Haller [ November 15, 2013 @ 05:46PM ]

    Lets let the college people in america give america to MEXICO. Amen

  6. 6. skip Layne [ November 16, 2013 @ 08:57AM ]

    I drive for a company that is about 1/2 mile from the MX border, before I went OTR for them I was there yard dog ( got loads for the OTR drivers ) and one reciver that was near us called Mcallen cold would make you wait for the MX driver to get across the border check point and would unload them at the same time the were reloading you with the same load.. there yard was always full of illegals trying to hide/fine a ride north asked there manger about this and said he was getting extra money for allowing this to happen, He smiled and walked away !!!! MX drivers are payed $ 8 a day to drive and a lot are caught with drugs in there cabs as the are forced by the cartel or there familys are killed. there truck are trash with bald tires and broken parts hanging off....

  7. 7. Jeff Kaiser [ July 02, 2014 @ 08:31PM ]

    These people are all idiots. I would love to have a couple of Mexion truck drivers. My company is losing $1000's/day because we can't find any qualified class A drivers that actually want to work. All the American drivers want a Pay check but no one will work for it. It is pathetic. Also none of the drivers that we have interviewed even know anything about maintainence on a truck let alone how to shift any transmission that is not a 9 or 10 speed. Not one knows how to double clutch. Give me two Mexicans anytime and the rest of you shut up or put up.

  8. 8. Alex [ August 05, 2014 @ 06:49PM ]

    most of the American drivers they know only the basics about truck driving, only a few know what to do when they broke down or figure out to solve a problem in the truck. I will like to know how many of the American truck drivers know how to change a tire on the semi truck or trailer, lot of them they don't even have a clue how to change a headlight, and most, they don't even have a clue how to drive up hill or drive downhill, you will be surprised of the extensive knowledge of a Mexican driver, and yeah the language is a big barrier but they still are willing to take the challenge, I just wanted to know how many American drivers are willing to take the challenge to drive in Mexico, despite that all I have said........, is my American Dream, and yeah my company is losing $1000 dollars every day because we cannot find drivers either.

 

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