Our vehicles are arriving in the Gulf countries on time, and with no damage.

Taking cars right off the assembly line at Nissan’s Cuernavaca and Aguascalientes factories, WWL does everything needed to inspect the cars, get them ready for market, load them for inland transport and deliver them to dealers not only within Mexico, but to ports in Latin America, North America and Europe.

Recently, however, Nissan made the move to shift the supply of its popular Tiida (known in some markets as the Versa) car for Middle Eastern markets from factories in Japan to a lower-cost facility overseas. The decision was to use the high-volume, highly efficient Aguascalientes plant – and that meant a major opportunity for WWL as well.

“We signed a three-year contract with Nissan to move some 20,000 vehicles annually, taking them right from the factory to the port of Veracruz, and then directly to eight Middle East destinations – Jeddah, Jebel Ali, Kuwait, Dammam, Abu Dhabi, Doha, Bahrain and Muscat,” says Roberto Michel, Commercial Director for WWL in Mexico. Michel is in a good position to understand the business; he was WWL’s first employee in Mexico, and was integral in the first Ocean services business with Nissan in North America in 2002, moving Sentra sedans from Veracruz to Jacksonville, Florida.

“The new business is a very good example  of  integration of our Ocean business with Inland Logistics,” Michel explains. “We are running one or two sailings each month, using state-of-the-art PCTC (pure car truck carrier) vessels. We are trying to provide optimal service for Nissan, and minimise transshipments wherever possible. This means working closely with the customer to try and develop better forecasting, and to have good communications with all parties including our customs and trade colleagues.” This has been a successful process already; in the six months the service has been operational, WWL and Nissan have made a significant reduction in the number of transshipments required.

The Ocean segment may be the most visible part of the service, but WWL’s solution literally begins within the Aguascalientes factory. As soon as a Nissan Tiida leaves the assembly line it is put in WWL’s hands. First comes PDI – pre-delivery inspection – where WWL checks the car to make sure there is no damage or other problems. WWL workers may then (depending on the destination and service needed) add floor mats, insert manuals, check fluid levels, batteries and lights, then marshal the cars for movement to the port by truck and rail. 

“We get the cars onto trains or trucks, and track them all the way to Veracruz,” Michel says. “This lets us make sure that they arrive on time, and that we have accurate key performance indexes and other logistics measuring processes, so we can guarantee the quality of our services. Once there, we work with the local stevedores as they unload the cars, move them to the yard, then later alongside the ship, and finally load them onboard. Our colleagues later handle everything overseas in the eight ports as well.”

“This was a big tender for us,” says Eduaro Gamboa, Logistics Manager for Nissan Mexico. “Having won it was a major step for us, and I can now say that our vehicles are arriving in the Gulf countries on time, and with no damage. The quality of the port operations, the flexibility WWL provides in its schedules and the ports of call have all meant a very good relationship in this new business. We have had a great experience with WWL in the past in third-party logistics, and as an inland coordinator. Now this has been a very good opportunity for us to know more about the other logistics services that WWL can offer to Nissan.”

Any new project like this inevitably brings its challenges, but Gamboa says the partnership with WWL was a major factor in resolving them. “New destinations, and particularly countries which we have not previously served, always require some serious concentration to solve all the problems we face. That is why we feel that WWL was a very good selection for this business.”

For Michel, there were challenges requiring close monitoring, such as forecasting, volume fluctuations, as well as letters of credit and other customs-related matters – but all have been solved. “We are very proud that Nissan chose us, I believe because of our positive service history and proactive approach for this very important customer.”

“This contract means a lot for us in Mexico, because it’s the first time that we have been able to integrate all five of WWL’s services – terminal services, supply chain management, ocean transportation, inland distribution and technical services – for one customer.” 

But that success alone is not the end of the process, he stresses. “I think this is something that shows what we can do for other customers, in automobiles but also in rolling equipment  and breakbulk cargo. This segment can also be expanded not only because of our new ocean services to the Middle East, but also because of the new state-of-the-art PDC facility WWL has built in Dubai for processing rolling equipment.” 

WWL and Nissan in Mexico
Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics  began its work on the ocean side with Nissan in Mexico in 2002, when it first began a weekly service carrying Sentras from Veracruz to Jacksonville, Florida. In 2005, WWL acquired Distribution and Auto Services (DAS), formerly a subsidiary of Nissan North America, and began to provide inland and technical services as well. In 2006, WWL took over all of Nissan’s finished vehicle logistics in Mexico, both for the domestic market and exports. WWL improved its hubs in the following years, optimising transportation through a system that moved the majority of transportation from truck to train. With the new Middle East service, WWL is now able to provide the full range of its services to Nissan, optimising the total supply chain from factory to destinations in the Americas, in Europe and across the Atlantic.