COMPANY: Frio Express, Aguascalientes, Mexico. OPERATION: Mexico-based refrigerated carrier providing trans-border door-to-door service via trailer-interline agreement with Prime Inc. of Springfield, Mo.; Jose Ramon Medrano Ibarra, director-general
How can a Mexican fleet provide trailer-position tracking and load-temperature monitoring of refrigerated cargo in reefers dropped by a U.S. carrier for final delivery in Mexico?
Frio Express is no stranger to innovation. According to Jose Ramon Medrano Ibarra, director-general of the family-owned firm, the carrier was founded in 1980 to provide refrigerated transportation geared to international trade.
"Our company offers door-to-door service, through EIA (Equipment Interchange Agreements), between any point in the U.S., all Canadian provinces, and Mexico," explains Medrano. He says Frio runs 71 tractors, operated by company drivers, as well as a trailer fleet that handles border-consolidation and domestic-delivery duties.
Frio tractors are equipped with Qualcomm OmniTRACS mobile-communications systems that relay vehicle data and positioning within Mexico.
Unfortunately, the onboard OmniTRACS computers in Frio cabs were not originally set up to interface with the newer Qualcomm TrailerTRACS system, which was first rolled out in the U.S.
Medrano wanted the capability of transmitting location and load-temperature data captured by TrailerTRACS systems on trailers interlined from Prime Inc., which he calls Frio's "core U.S. partner" in crossborder operations.
Medrano has begun testing the hardware needed to transmit TrailerTRACS data from Prime trailers over the Qualcomm units on board Frio tractors. He says this capability will allow him to check the location and condition of loads on Prime trailers right up to final delivery in Mexico.
While Medrano expects Qualcomm to offer complete trailer-data service in Mexico within a few months, he reports that Frio's early findings are favorable. "Already, we're seeing results from being able to monitor the load temperatures of Prime trailers in transit," he says. "We plan to install the necessary hardware in all our tractors so reefer temperatures can be tracked from original to final destination.
"Once we have TrailerTRACS capability in all our tractors, we will be able to transmit the data developed for unit-position and operating-temperature reports that Prime can access," Medrano continues.
Since transmissions from Frio tractors are currently sent through a Qualcomm operation in Mexico City, not the San Diego base assigned to U.S. carriers, Prime will initially access the trailer data generated by Frio in Mexico by using the Internet.
A more direct link may not be long in coming. This spring Qualcomm announced it had acquired a 49% equity stake in CNR (Corporacion Nacional de Radiodeterminacion), which has been the exclusive distributor and operator of the OmniTRACS satellite system in Mexico since 1992.
According to Medrano, Frio Express is excited about the added value the new technology will bring to serving customers with crossborder reefer shipments. Indeed, he asserts that "95% of what Frio does" is related to international trade.