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U.S. Boosts Electric Cable Imports 28% to Over $19B on Strong Economic Recovery


U.S. Boosts Electric Cable Imports 28% to Over $19B on Strong Economic Recovery

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘U.S. – Insulated Wire And Cable – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights‘. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The U.S., being the leading importer in the global electric cable market, sharply increased purchases last year. In January-October 2021, cable shipments to America rose by 43% to 920M tonnes or by 28% to $19B in value terms compared to the same period of 2020.

From January to October 2021, the U.S. purchased 920M tonnes of cables, a 43% increase compared to the same period a year earlier. In value terms, supplies rose by 28% to over $19B. These figures reflect the total imports of aluminum, copper and other winding wires, insulated electric conductors, insulated ignition wiring sets and coaxial cables.

High demand for wires in the U.S. was induced by the recovery of industrial manufacturing and the delayed spillovers of the construction boom, such as equipping new residential areas with electricity and telecom networks. The average import price of electric wires and cables stood at $20,750 per tonne over the period under review, 11% less than in the same period in 2020. This also contributed to the market growth, making cables more affordable.

Mexico and China remain the largest providers of electric wires to the U.S. In Q1-Q3 2021, American imports from Mexico soared by 63% to 361M tonnes or by 30% to $8.6B in value terms against the figures for Q1-Q3 2020. During that time, the average price of insulated cables supplied from Mexico amounted to $23,872 per tonne, falling by 25% compared to the same period of the previous year. Meanwhile, purchases from China grew by 27% to 112M tonnes, or by 15% to $2.5B in value terms. The average price for cables imported from China dropped by 11% to $22,030 per tonne.

U.S. Imports of Electric Wires and Cables by Country

In 2020, wire and cable imports into the U.S. dropped dramatically to 962K tonnes, decreasing by -20.4% compared with the previous year’s figure. In value terms, supplies fell to $18.4B (IndexBox estimates).

Mexico (417K tonnes) constituted the largest supplier of wire and cable to the U.S., accounting for a 43% share of total imports. Moreover, wire and cable imports from Mexico exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest supplier, China (148K tonnes), threefold. Viet Nam (65K tonnes) ranked third in terms of total imports with a 6.8% share.

In value terms, Mexico ($9.4B) constituted the largest supplier of wire and cable to the U.S., comprising 51% of total imports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by China ($2.9B), with a 16% share of total imports. It was followed by Viet Nam, with a 6.1% share.

In 2020, supplies from Mexico dropped by -14.6% y-o-y. The remaining supplying countries recorded the following average annual rates of imports growth: China (-15.7% y-o-y) and Viet Nam (+20.6% y-o-y).

Source: IndexBox Platform


Metal Shortages Add Concerns to Global Economy

As the global economy continues to throw curveballs at various industries, raw materials and associated manufacturers, distributors, workers, and consumers are among those feeling the bulk of the pressure. So, how can these effects be mitigated without costing consumers and company’s unreasonable amounts? A global leader in all things tungsten, Almonty Industries focuses on the mining, processing, and shipping of tungsten across the world. The company’s CEO, Lewis Black, shares the challenges automotive and energy companies are currently navigating and how these industries can overcome them in this exclusive Q&A.

What are some of the most significant impacts of the steel and metal shortages and what industries are being hit the hardest?

Black: From Almonty’s point of view and what we are doing with the tungsten industry in South Korea, the construction industry is definitely feeling the brunt of the impact. Even though the material is available, the price is extraordinarily high, and we are witnessing a huge escalation in costs and delay in delivery times.

The industry is moving along and accepting these challenges, but things are now taking longer to build and it is costing more money to accomplish. The redeeming quality is that money is still unbelievably cheap which has helped in mitigating these cost escalations.

Problems arise when inflation keeps rising and governments continue to raise rates to counter it, which is another issue. Now, companies with projects are optimistically moving forward because they have no choice. The increase in time it takes to build and its impact on the costs for labor can predictably cause a movement within labor unions demanding compensation for their workers to counter inflation.

How are the semiconductor and automotive industries affected by this?

Black: The semiconductor industry is experiencing shortages due to demand far outweighing supply. It is interesting because it is commonly assumed that the industry is a relatively straightforward product to produce, when in fact, it’s anything but. Creating this type of product is technically advanced and takes around nine weeks to make one semiconductor. From a tungsten point of view, one must pump tungsten gas into every semiconductor, so increasing capacity becomes a huge undertaking for the factory.

Are there any specific initiatives that can be taken to mitigate these challenges?

Black: As a manufacturer, you are caught in a tricky situation. You will continue to see rising costs and how much of that cost you can push onto the consumer is yet to be evaluated. There is an inherent apprehension about how much to pass on to the consumer. Consumer indexes and inflation rises of 4-5 percent are not the same for raw materials, in fact, it is much higher than these figures. We are seeing extra caution from manufacturers regarding the consumer aspect of it.

At this point, it is just a matter of time before we start seeing price escalations. As the saying goes, “No one can hold back a rising tide.”

Companies are very reluctant to pass off some of these costs because of the price gouging headlines and hearsay that does not apply to them. In Spain, for instance, energy cost is 400 percent higher than previously recorded, impoverishing millions of people. The response of the central government was to accuse the energy companies of price gouging and say they were going to introduce legislation to seize their profits and distribute them to the people. Of course, they have not done that because in a democracy you cannot just do that. It was an absurd proposition to even state because it had nothing to do with the energy companies – the market sets the price, not the companies.

That is exactly what manufacturers are reluctant to do – get caught in the crosshairs of this type of situation when passing costs off to consumers.

Any last thoughts you would like to add?

Black: Inflation is inevitably going to get worse before it gets better. You can analyze a market and forecast all day, but what you cannot do is control what the government is going to implement. If a government continues to spend money, the problem is compounded. Inflation is not a mysterious economic concept.

To learn more about Almonty Industries, visit



Texas continues to add successful projects to its economic development portfolio, and Global Site Location Industries (GSLI) continues to spearhead efforts supporting businesses gearing up to expand or relocate operations.

GSLI’s Choose Texas program focuses solely on connecting these expanding or relocating businesses with Texas-specific markets that best meet their project needs and goals without the costs and hassle of traditional site locators. 

The following 11 Texas communities represent GSLI’s latest roundup of Choose Texas partners that offer companies unique opportunities for business – from competitive locations to robust infrastructure and skilled workers.

TexAmericas Center

Known for being a Top Ranked Business Facilities Location in 2021, the Texarkana region’s mixed-used industrial parks offer 3.5 million square feet and 12,000 acres of commercial and industrial property to expanding businesses. From its low operational costs, flexible facility options and access to Texas’ primary freight corridor (Interstate 30), TexAmericas Center brings 150 years of solid economic development experience to support the needs of its current and prospective tenants.

Most recently, TexAmericas Center announced efforts to combat the trucker shortage through a truck training partnership with Texarkana College. Through this partnership, space is offered to support the initiative to beef up the labor pool and continue to meet the increasing demand for drivers. Thanks to TexAmericas Center’s ideal location, students can benefit from the area’s space to practice and access multiple interstates and rail lines. 

“We have tenants who need commercial truck drivers directly or need to make sure raw materials can be brought in and shipped out for finished products,” Scott Norton, CEO and executive director of TexAmericas Center, said recently. “We want to do everything we can to support a trained workforce.”

To learn more, visit


Located in the Texas panhandle, Dumas has a reputation for being one of the busiest and most historical small towns in the Lone Star State. In fact, Dumas was an essential production point for wartime products (including the largest helium deposit in the world) during World War II.

The city’s industrial park, located along the Ports to Plains International Trade Corridor, represents variety and opportunities. Current companies found in Dumas include Frito Lay Area Distribution Center, Equipment Supply Company, Inc. and Specialized Dairy Services. 

Dumas offers expanding or relocating businesses a diverse range of industries to grow among, competitive transportation access points and a proactive approach to workforce development. 

Through its partnership with Amarillo College-Moore County Campus, the city prepares the labor pool with resources relevant to industry needs. The Career Skills & Technical Training Center offers custom-based training to further develop skills needed to support growing businesses. Most recently, Dumas Economic Development Corporation worked with Beach Coders Academy to create a program specifically designed for web development skills and certification.

To learn more, visit


Best known for its globally-minded business climate, Laredo is home to the No. 1 inland port along the U.S.-Mexico border, Port Laredo. The diverse city is about 150 miles from San Antonio and two hours from Monterrey, Mexico. Laredo represents the third position among the nation’s top five ports, after the Port of Los Angeles (No. 1) and runner-up Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

In terms of international trade, Port Laredo reported $205.88 billion of total global trade last year alone. Mexico, China and Japan are recognized as the top three trading partners of the city, with motor vehicle parts, gasoline/other fuels and diesel engines among top exports and motor vehicle parts, passenger vehicles and tractors among top imports. 

There is an alphabet of transportation options for businesses located in Laredo. From air, water, highways, motor freight, rail, bus, parcel services and trade handling services, the options are equally efficient as they are competitive. 

To learn more, visit

Sulphur Springs

Heading northeast, Sulphur Springs/Hopkins County offers a unique blend of small-town history and thriving business environment. The city is located just outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) region along Interstate 30. The name Sulphur Springs is self-explanatory of the city’s history. Among the city gems still found there is the city courthouse, originally built in 1895, adding to the area’s traditional flair.

Looking at the business side of things, Sulphur Springs offers a robust and diverse industry presence with companies including Ocean Spray, We Pack Logistics, Aero Space Aluminum and B.E.F. Foods. The city’s advantageous transportation options offer businesses short and main line rail, air and NAFTA corridor access via Interstate 30. Did we mention the city’s municipal airport was named airport of the year? 

Additionally, Sulphur Springs is known for its outstanding academic reputation, bragging state recognition every year since 1999, and preparing its workforce via the Sulphur Springs Higher Education Center. It is clear there is nothing “small” when it comes to doing business there. 

To learn more, visit


The “Shining Star of Texas” lives up to its name, particularly when talking business. In 2020, Lancaster took the No. 1 position on Dallas Business Journal’s list of highest value deals by Economic Development Agencies, with an impressive $1.41 billion secured. 

Expanding and relocating businesses can benefit from the city’s competitive job investment consisting of 1,000 jobs by 2023 offering wages between $30,000 and $76,000. Location is everything when deciding on where to grow your company, and Lancaster provides ideal access to rail and multiple interstates within a three-mile radius (including IH20, IH35E and IH45) in addition to Lancaster Regional Airport, Dallas Love Field and DFW International Airport all within a 35-minute drive or less. 

Distribution and manufacturing are two driving forces behind the city’s economy with opportunity for artificial intelligence companies, cold storage, food processing & manufacturing and motor vehicle parts. Among Lancaster’s top employers are AT&T, Quaker Oats, Brasscraft, Oncor, LGS Technologies and DSV Logistics. 

To learn more, visit


If you have ever wondered what a successful micropolitan region looks like, the City of Andrews is one of the best examples. Known for being among the fastest-growing micropolitan areas in the state, Andrews was recognized as the fastest-growing county in the nation between 2010 and 2015.

Business development is supported several ways, one of which focuses on advanced training and postsecondary education opportunities through the Andrews Business & Technology Center. A result of a partnership between Odessa College, University of Texas Permian Basin, College of the Southwest and the city and county governments of Andrews, this training center is a prime example of how the area commits to preparing its workers.

The small-but-mighty community is home to companies looking for long-term options. Andrews has been the home of The Kirby Co. since 1972 and currently employs 162 workers. Advance Cooling Towers is another example of longevity in the area, with 20 years of business in Andrews. Salazar Service & Trucking Corp. has more than two decades of business in Andrews while Chemical Service Co., which was originally established in 1967, expanded operations in 2014, adding 15 new jobs over five years.

To learn more, visit


Known for being the county seat of the oldest county in the state of Texas (Houston County), Crockett is between Tyler and Houston, east of Waco. Incorporated in 1837 and named after legendary folk hero Davy Crockett, the City of Crockett embodies small-town culture, big business opportunity and a collaborative approach to development. 

Industrial manufacturing is one of the primary economic drivers in Crockett. Among companies currently found there are Elastotech, Quantex, Alloy Polymers and Vulcraft. 

Thanks to the town’s advantageous location, Crockett provides a multimodal transportation channel via: the Union Pacific freight rail; Highways 7, 21, 19 and 287; and DFW International Airport, George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Crockett Municipal Airport.

To learn more, visit


Located in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley, Harlingen is known for its diverse business portfolio and highly competitive access to international markets. In fact, the Port of Harlingen generates $1 billion in economic activity via import and export activity alone.

And we must point out the robust infrastructure available for businesses. Multiple telecommunications and fiber optic services, 15 electricity providers, natural gas & propane, and high-quality water/sewer make a critical difference for businesses located here.

The city consists of 3,545 establishments and a labor force of 33,482. Among top employers, those in education, healthcare, technology and manufacturing take the lead in Harlingen. Companies such as L&F Distributors, Valley Baptist Medical Center, Penn Aluminum International LLC and United Launch Alliance are all found there.

To learn more, visit


Known for offering expanding and relocating companies a “business climate that shines,” Sunnyvale is east of Dallas, slightly northeast of Mesquite and within the DFW market, approximately 36 miles from DFW International Airport. 

Manufacturing, warehouse & distribution and healthcare sectors can all be found in Sunnyvale, with other sectors sprinkled in. Healthcare and social services, construction, administrative and support services and retail are the leading industries. Among the city’s major employers are Texas Regional Medical Center, Dal-Tile and FedEx Distribution. 

Sunnyvale’s labor force stands at 4,828 employees among 484 establishments

To learn more, visit


If you have not already caught on to the vast number of small towns driving business in Texas, the City of Clyde should do just that. This small and highly charming town started with the building of a log cabin sometime around 1876 before people from Fort Worth would become the first to officially settle in Clyde.

A mix of public-private employers make up the business roster. A unique aspect of the city is that it is the opposite of what one would find in an unpredictable business environment. This city takes pride in the stability of its major employers and a quality of life-focused approach to business development.

Air, highway and rail access provide ideal logistics for companies seeking immediate access to multiple transportation options. Additionally, Clyde’s workforce and low operating costs support businesses looking for a competitive edge.

To learn more, visit


Last, but certainly not least, is the City of Paris, a.k.a. “The Best Small Town in Texas.” Paris is where one can find that classic small town feel without compromising opportunities for business. 

Healthcare leads the industries in this town, with Paris Regional Medical Center and multiple outpatient facilities. The town’s 200-acre industrial park is another significant asset, offering several shovel-ready options. 

Served by the Kiamichi Short Line Railroad Co. and the host of Cox Field, Paris offers a variety of competitive transportation options, including multiple motor freight carriers. Looking for competitive wages and a skilled industrial labor shed? Paris has those, too.

To learn more, visit

micro fulfillment


It’s almost hard to believe that two years have passed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its merciless impacts on the supply chain, consumer behavior and how the world conducts business as usual. There is really nothing “usual” about conducting business nowadays, particularly for fulfillment operations in a myriad of sectors now saturating the e-commerce market. 

The fact of the matter is that e-commerce is no longer just thought of for a holiday list or bargain deal that cannot be found in traditional brick-and-mortar shops. E-commerce is becoming more of a first option for some and a permanent solution for others. Grocers, retailers, department stores and beyond are feeling the full effect of the e-commerce trend and despite the pandemic, it could very well be here to stay. 

So, how does this change the way fulfillment providers conduct operations? According to KPI Solutions’ Brittain Ladd, micro fulfillment is the key to capturing lost dollars and keeping up with demand.

“About 20% of all sales today are direct-to-consumer,” Ladd shares. “Prior to the pandemic, only about 3% of grocery sales were online. And only about 6% of all retail sales were online prior to the pandemic, so we’ve seen a massive shift. Grocery retailers and retailers of general merchandise had to change their business models to keep up with direct-to-consumer demand.”

Ladd serves as the chief supply chain and marketing officer with Kuecker Pulse Integration (KPI) in addition to his position as a Forbes Councils member. KPI Solutions is the result of an integrated partnership between Kuecker Logistics Group Inc., PULSE Integration and QC Software. Known best for bringing system integration and robotics automation to a variety of sectors, KPI Solutions approaches fulfillment operations uniquely by implementing and innovating their own software to meet demand.

“KPI Solutions has partnerships with leading robotics companies, and we can install basically any system that exists,” Ladd says. “We work with some of the largest global companies to help them automate their fulfillment and sharpen their strategy to identify more cost effective and innovative ways to meet customer demand. Consumers want more speed, especially now, and a lot of analysts are confused because they fail to realize that the goal isn’t to just deliver groceries in 10 to 15 minutes, it’s to deliver apparel, shoes, electronics and other products as well.”

So, where does micro fulfillment fit? And more importantly, how can it support fulfillment operations now and in the future? Let’s start by understanding how companies–such as grocers—a re struggling beyond the surge in e-commerce. Ladd shares that contrary to the widely held belief, grocers are suffering significantly with e-commerce, as they not only spend more to fulfill these orders, but they must keep up with the labor involved in third-party services, which further complicates the process.

Keep in mind, grocery retailers are now faced with a new wave of demand and speed. Ladd shares that companies in Europe that have entered the U.S. market, such as Buyk and Jokr, are now offering “rapid grocery delivery” in as little as 10 minutes.

“On average, grocery retailers lose anywhere from $7 to $15 on every online order they fulfill,” Ladd says. “And in some cases, they can lose as much as $25 on every online order they fulfill. Most retailers barely break even on any of their curbside pickup orders, except for the product since it’s a little higher value. 

“Imagine being a retailer who is now forced into a model where they’re having to change everything they do to meet the changing demands of consumers, but everything the consumer wants them to do the retailer loses money on. That’s the challenge.”

That’s also where micro fulfillment centers and technology can not only capture these costs but turnaround the way e-commerce fulfillment is streamlined. 

Geek+, Berkshire Grey, AutoStore, and Addverb Technologies are a few of the companies that are innovating fulfillment operations through automated robotic systems. These fully automated systems reduce the chances for human errors with mobility and capability of reaching inside inventory bins quite literally to fulfill orders. Ladd shares that most of these automated solutions cost around $1.2 million to $1.5 million with a return on investment realized within 18 to 24 months, paying for themselves while re-inventing fulfillment.

“The best way I can describe it is like holding a Rubik’s cube in front of you,” Ladd says. “Each of the cubes has some type of inventory inside and sitting on top of the Rubik’s cube are robots that go back and forth and side to side reaching down and picking up these cubes and moving them from one side to another, pulling out inventory. That’s exactly what they do as a robotic picking and fulfillment system.”

Embracing technology is what comes full circle for retailers attempting to overcome the e-commerce surge. And options such as these not only fully automate fulfillment processes but keep human involvement to a minimum. Retailers are catching on and the U.S. market is now starting to see what the European market has already adopted. In fact, Ladd shared that three European companies have recently entered New York City, and they are bringing exploding growth with them.

What makes these systems even more enticing (beyond the fact that they are fully automated) is the ability to operate after-hours–or in the dark when stores are closed. Micro fulfillment centers are intelligent enough to automate the fulfillment process, but small enough that grocery retailers can install them inside their stores–completing all of the fulfillment tasks and mileage usually completed by employees. 

“These systems are quite easy for retailers to embrace and adopt,” Ladd says. “Companies including Kroger, H-E-B, Albertson’s, Instacart and DoorDash are among the more recognized brands that are exploring these innovative options and either installing these systems or exploring how to use these systems. Make no mistake, the future of retail is robotics. Retailers that don’t embrace robotics will never be able to survive long term.”


Brittain Ladd, chief supply chain and marketing officer with KPI Solutions, is recognized as a leading expert in business strategy, supply chain management, logistics and last-mile delivery. He was one of the first individuals to research, design and recommend that retailers install micro-fulfillment centers in their stores and chains.

mckinley packaging

McKinley Packaging Chooses Texas: Lancaster Plant Expansion Underway

McKinley Packaging, a sustainably operated paper and packaging company, announced the addition of its seventh packaging plant. The 500,000 square-foot rail-served building in Lancaster, Texas will create 100 jobs in total when running at full capacity across three shifts, Monday through Friday.

“We started looking at properties back in July 2020 and decided, as a company, that Lancaster is a market we want to grow in,” explains Anthony Garcia, Vice President of Operations at McKinley Packaging.

The Lancaster expansion marks another significant milestone for the Bio Pappel subsidiary. Known as the largest manufacturer of paper and corrugated materials in Latin America, Bio Pappel launched expansion efforts in the United States seven years ago. Since then, McKinley Packaging has represented the company’s strategic growth success with its now seven plants, two paper mills, and five recycling centers across the U.S. markets.

Efforts to locate the ideal market for McKinley’s seventh packaging plant were spearheaded by Global Site Location Industries (GSLI), a Dallas-based site selection consultant and economic development marketing agency.

“GSLI’s process provided us with the opportunity to truly evaluate multiple markets that had the potential to support our company strategies, helping us identify the right location first,” Garcia adds. “In addition, GSLI was very valuable in helping us review incentive packages and navigating the negotiation process. The team providing insight on how different incentives compared across different communities as we determined location.”

Driven by its emphasis on sustainable operations and recycled materials, McKinley Packaging continues to aim for zero-discharge water operations upon reaching capacity. This is one example of how McKinley Packaging continues the “green” legacy of the company’s history.

“Mckinley Packaging has been great to assist in the finalization of their site and incentives,” adds Eric Kleinsorge, GSLI’s CEO and Chairman. “Lancaster wasn’t a “first-thought” choice, but after conducting our Road Show Tour and analysis they were definitely the right choice. Shane Shepard and his Lancaster Team were excellent and responsive when working with the city. This made a big impact for McKinley. We look forward to working with them on future expansions and are excited about the breaking ground of this new facility!”


About McKinley Packaging

McKinley Packaging is a world-class integrated paper and packaging company that is GREEN.

We operate two state-of-the-art businesses in the United States: Our first division is McKinley Paper, which has two paper-producing facilities in New Mexico and Washington. Our second division is McKinley Packaging, with facilities in California, Georgia, Indiana, and Baja California, Mexico.  McKinley Company is part of Bio Pappel which is the largest manufacturer of paper and paper products in Mexico and Latin America.

About Global Site Location Industries, GSLI

Global Site Location Industries, LLC (formerly known as the World Economic Development Alliance) is a site location firm founded in 1994. GSLI has helped over 1,200 companies identify economic development professionals that could assist them with their site location decisions. We have over 75 site location expert offices nationwide. We use Project Qualification Team to conduct our initial interviews with companies to identify the viability of a project. The balance of our staff is customer service, project managers, production, web designers, and finance.

For More information visit or contact



Shippers across the globe are sure to be confronted with new disruptions when navigating international markets–regardless of the shipping method put into place. Gone are the days when minimal compliance efforts are overlooked or passed off as acceptable. In the modern trade arena, compliance and accuracy are everything.

Tack on the pandemic, an ongoing trade war and what seems like a constantly shifting trade landscape, and compliance efforts can seem downright daunting and costly–especially to and from the U.S., according to Ben Bidwell, director of North America Customs and Compliance at C.H. Robinson.

“Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty once said, ‘If you think compliance is expensive, you should try non-compliance.’ When shippers make mistakes, it can become costly and not just in terms of freight delays, but it can lead to seizure of goods and even jail time for those who are involved,” explains Bidwell. 

The C.H. Robinson executive shares that not only do shippers have to be more careful now than ever when trading across borders, but simply understanding the evergreen trade landscape and various barriers is a critical part of successful operations.

“Challenges in today’s trade market include Section 301, punitive tariffs, forced labor concerns and more,” Bidwell says. “But shippers cannot afford to forget about basics such as the U.S. Customs List of Trade Priority Issues, for example. Customs has certainly not lost sight of that list, and the importing community can’t afford to lose sight of it either.”

Different challenges require unique, strategic approaches in management. The constant shifting of these challenges depends primarily on the country in question, the products being shipped and local customs regulations. This is where automation, advanced technology and access to critical information can serve as significant game-changers for your customers and operations.

Trade & Tariffs Insights, a page on the C.H. Robinson website, “brings the latest challenges, changes and more wrapped together for importers and exporters to utilize and understand,” Bidwell says. “This resource helps shippers get the information they need–not only to remain compliant but to also keep them updated on the latest changes and potential changes that could impact their business.”

Staying informed with rock solid information is becoming ever more important, Bidwell notes.

“Visibility, access to your data and data analytics are critical in running a compliant and successful supply chain,” he says. “It equals not only results in compliance, but also duty savings, duty mitigation opportunities and overall awareness.”

C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere platform does exactly that. The data analysis tools (Carrier, Insight and Vision) capture key elements in the importing and exporting process while providing a clear path of data-backed insights and next-step actions. Navisphere leaves the guessing out of the process and enables customers to make informed decisions and cost analysis. Additionally, the different Navisphere tools serve as an extension in predictive data allowing shippers to proactively plan their next move.

“Shippers can go in and see where they are paying the most in duties and taxes by country, by specific commodity, by shipper, etc.; they can see all of that data side-by-side,” Bidwell says. “This feature gives them the opportunity to make informed decisions and assist with weighing, should we look at alternative sourcing options, for example.”

Another trending issue within the importing and exporting landscape is forced labor compliance. Bidwell shares that the penalties for such compliance issues–regardless of whether the importer is aware—are costly and can lead to the ultimate seizure or destruction of the goods in addition to severe civil penalties.

“Anytime you are shipping across borders, it is important to have a compliance program in place and that your company has individuals or a team dedicated to reviewing and maintaining that program,” he adds. “C.H. Robinson has worked with thousands of companies related to this. At the end of the day, our role is to act as an extension of their team, to not only get them up to speed on what they need to be doing from a compliance perspective, but in the long-term acting as a reliable partner to ensure their ongoing compliance.”

Shippers must keep in mind that customs has eyes on their shipments and implementing proactive rather than reactive measures will greatly benefit the business in the long-term. Bidwell advises that to ensure compliance measures are met and maintained, costs are inevitable. It really boils down to when these costs are enforced.

“Compliance is an investment. It may cost more on the front-end but skipping out on that investment could cost you tenfold in the long term. As far as other supporting elements with compliance efforts, I recommend going back to the data analytics and visibility of your own data, because that information can be telling, and it allows you to identify anomalies as they occur.”

Investing in a solid compliance strategy is not just for shippers, it is a critical piece to the entire process, throughout the whole supply chain. With the labor shortage being felt in almost every industry, the logistics sector cannot afford to skip out on the creation and adherence to acceptable compliance efforts. When employees are professionally trained and informed on upcoming changes within the market, your business benefits.

“It’s about getting back to basics and not losing sight of all of the baseline compliance that comes with importing and exporting,” Bidwell says. “It is easy to get lost with all the changes that are happening with trade policy and a very volatile market. Companies must ensure that they do not lose sight of traditional basic compliance, because that stuff hasn’t gone away, and customs certainly hasn’t stopped.”

C.H. Robinson provides solutions for their customers at the local level and across the globe. Ensuring all bases are covered through customs and compliance experts enables the customer to rely on these resource experts to advise on how to ensure their supply chain is compliant. 

To learn more about C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere technology platform or other offerings, please visit


Ben Bidwell is the director of North America customs and compliance at C.H. Robinson. Ben joined C.H. Robinson in 2004 and became a Licensed Customs House Broker in 2007. Throughout his career at C.H. Robinson, he has consulted and resolved a wide range of customs disputes for clients involving classification, country of origin, marking violations, seizures and protests for products ranging from hospitality goods, automobile tires, apparel and textiles, toys and other consumer retail goods.



In the digital world, most of us are constantly immersed in protecting data while ensuring smooth operations that have become increasingly complex in recent years, particularly in the age of COVID-19 for manufacturers and e-commerce leaders. With concerns of maximizing cybersecurity compliance increasing almost as quickly as consumer demand, we decided to take a deeper look at how data protection ties into e-commerce and manufacturing and what companies can do to remain competitive, compliant and trustworthy in the eyes of their customers. 

To gain a better understanding, we looked to Bindu Sundaresan, director at AT&T Cybersecurity Consulting. With the firm for the past 12 years, Sundaresan and her organization offer planning and professional services to help customers in retail, healthcare, manufacturing, finance and more reduce cyber risks.


“You name the emerging technology irrespective of customer security maturity, we are there,” Sundaresan says. “We are starting to see some implications of rushed transformation efforts, putting companies at larger risk. They have to take stock of their altered risk profile as the threat surface grows and with the adoption of digital technologies in pursuit of new business models and enhanced customer experiences such as e-commerce in manufacturing.”

She adds that in the modern age, e-commerce is no longer just in sight for retailers or e-tailers. In fact, e-commerce has transformed the way major industries are conducting business from manufacturing, B2B and even shippers. 

“It’s a whole function, end-to-end in terms of when the ordering is placed to checking on what stocks are available, to shipping,” Sundaresan says. “This is all happening through front-end e-commerce websites. E-commerce in general is an attractive target for the malicious actor, because that’s where the money is.”

Data protection in the digital space requires a strategic and tedious process–two words some would never think to put in the same sentence when talking technology. For businesses to successfully secure consumer data, company data and overall cybersecurity, all moving parts must be considered, starting with the basics. Sundaresan emphasizes that just because digital applications have been simplified, it does not ensure a successful launch of data-secured applications.

“Follow the data, think about every connection, think about the data flow, think about every connection you are making for every asset within your organization. Web application security must be taken seriously. Application Security 101 is how you should secure your third-party and open-source code because approximately 96 percent of apps today use borrowed code. Sure, it is a great way of standing an application up, making it run fast, and saving development time and resources. But at the same time, it will introduce vulnerabilities into your infrastructure.” 

From its inception, web applications present competitive advantages—and significant vulnerabilities if not properly deployed. One must carefully consider the limitations and vulnerabilities of the selected tools over protected information to effectively secure and operate it. 

“It’s not just about fraud protection or credit card data behind these applications,” Sundaresan notes. “It is about the denial-of-service attacks that can happen, making your website unavailable. It is not somebody stealing, it is somebody getting availability. It is about using your website and your brand to craft another webpage that looks exactly like your brand, and then do SQL injection on it. E-commerce websites now have sophisticated tools with shielding applications and technologies available. These are all affordable and easily consumable, eliminating the need to go in and actually change the code.”

Whether we realize it or not, almost all of us are using some type of e-commerce platform, IoT device or another form of digital technology enabling connectivity between us and the outside world of products and goods.

“Everyone cares about privacy, and this is a common thread across industry verticals,” Sundaresan explains. “We all use internally built applications, APIs and take payment information. Anyone that takes credit card information needs to comply with the PCI standard. It covers a lot of web applications and e-commerce security controls that are a must. Compliance is not the end goal, but it’s a great starting point for your framework.”

Looking at manufacturing, we see a different story unfold. Data protection measures are approached from a different angle that does not consider coverage for sensitive consumer payment information or personal identification. After all, many manufacturers are not dealing directly with the consumer but still have a need for securing digital transformation in the sector.

“As a manufacturer, you have to think about what the attack surface looks like and what the protection surface looks like,” Sundaresan warns. “It is critical for manufacturers to think of each new connection as a potential vulnerability to their attack surface. Gone are the days where manufacturers are going to look at just safety and well-being as the only priorities–security is now top of mind, and it should be.” 

Along with basically every other industry sector across the globe, COVID-19 impacted and changed manufacturing. Sundaresan highlights the changes sparked by the pandemic and how manufacturers are now prioritizing data security. 

“COVID propelled smart manufacturing, showing us that security is more about risk and resilience rather than just providing a technological element to operations. We have enough tools out there, and it’s time to initiate the joining of forces and look at how data can be exploited because of unpatched systems in manufacturing.” 

Over the past 12 years, Sundaresan and her team at AT&T Cybersecurity Consulting have learned the adage, “you’re only as strong as your weakest link” was more than relevant during the pandemic for the supply chain, challenging the notion that just because a company is not focused on B2C operations does not eliminate risk for data breaches and threatened security.

“In the 20 years I have been working in the industry, there is not one thing that we don’t do at AT&T Cybersecurity. Some assume we might only do large projects or cater to those if they are connected to our network. That is not the case. In relation to the industry as a whole, an important takeaway is to remember that what manufacturing and healthcare are going through now, retail and finance went through this same thing about two, three years ago.” 

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Bindu’s experience, which spans more than 20 years, has been shaped by the opportunity to work with some of the world’s most innovative companies. She has worked with industry frameworks, including NIST/ISO/HITRUST, regulatory requirements including PCI, NERC, and HIPAA. Bindu has led dozens of cyber-risk engagements for Fortune 500 clients from strategy to technology implementation to breach response. She was tapped to lead a complex PCI and HIPAA compliance assessment for a leading global retailer, spearheaded a $1M security assessment, and worked on securing Criminal Justice Information Sharing Networks in NYC. Before AT&T, Bindu was a Senior Manager with Verisign. Before joining Verisign, she was a Senior Consultant with KPMG and a Senior Network engineer. Her love for teaching and mentoring started with her role as an Adjunct Faculty with the State University of New York (SUNY).


Arlington, Texas Welcomes Global Electric Vehicle Charging Company Wallbox

The Lone Star State now represents the very first U.S.-based manufacturing site for global electric vehicle charging solutions company, Wallbox. Headquartered in Barcelona, Wallbox announced the exciting expansion news earlier this week, citing Arlington’s central location, cross-country highway access, and proximity to some of Texas’ major cities. The Arlington facility is the fourth manufacturing site globally, with one currently in Europe and Chinese markets, and is projected to create 250 direct jobs in the region by 2030.

“This new factory will be an instrumental step in our expansion in the North American market, enabling us not only to meet the growing demand but also to accelerate the launch of new products and enter the business and public EV charging segments as we bring our production stateside,” said Enric Asunción, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wallbox.

The new 130,000 square foot high-tech plant will see production beginning as early as June 2022. Wallbox confirmed a total of 290,000 units are projected annually in this facility by 2027 and will reach full capacity of 500,000 units by 2030.

“The unique aspects of the project were the innovation that is driving the company’s mission and growth, as well as the trending electric vehicle industry that is reshaping the future of the world,” shared Marcus Young, Economic Development Specialist at the City of Arlington.” Additionally, the focus on advanced technology and engineering complemented the city’s vision, assets and mission as a smart, innovative and technologically advanced city in the Metroplex.

“Project Quick Charge” was the dedicated code name for the company at the launch of the project by site locations veteran Eric Kleinsorge of Global Site Location Industries (GSLI). The company hosted a dedicated webinar back in June announcing the initial project specs and RFP requirements.

“GSLI first introduced the City to this opportunity and was able to keep us connected with the prospect throughout the process,” added Young. “They facilitated the entire RFI process to ensure our submission made it to the decision-makers for consideration. GSLI also coordinated the site visits to the facilities of interest and kept city staff informed until we were able to meet with the company representatives.

“The Wallbox team was great to work with,” added Eric Kleinsorge, Chairman and CEO of Global Site Location Industries (GSLI). “The project was very fast-tracked and took a tremendous amount of focused attention. The Wallbox and GSLI teams really stepped up together for a very successful location decision. We are excited to see their first US Manufacturing Plant off to such a great start.”

Plans for additional expansion in the U.S. over the next decade were also cited in the announcement, with plans to further support the North American market presently being pushed for the electrification of automobiles.

“Between the highly successful launch of our residential charger Pulsar Plus and our recently announced strategic alliance with SunPower to offer packaged EV charger and solar installations across the U.S. market, Wallbox has made great strides in establishing and growing its brand in the country this year,” said Douglas Alfaro, GM of North America at Wallbox.



Dubai Customs continues to position itself as a leader in countering illicit product transport, with regular reports showcasing the efforts and successes throughout each year. Dubai Customs remains one of the leading organizations in halting counterfeit imports in the supply chain. Additionally, the organization continues to lead efforts in sustainable solutions for discarding seized products. In 2020, the organization recycled 1,906 counterfeit items ranging from computers to athletic shoes and mobile headphones.

In this exclusive Q&A with His Excellency (HE) Ahmed Mahboob Musabih, director general of Dubai Customs, we get a behind-the-scenes peek at how the organization continues protecting consumers and the environment from counterfeit products and the international supply chain from illicit trade.

Global Trade (GT): Please discuss how Dubai Customs has successfully stopped counterfeit products from entering the supply chain.

HE Musabih: Dubai Customs works to perform all UAE obligations under international trade regulations and agreements and pays great attention to the protection of intellectual property [IP] rights. These efforts have led the United States to a decision to remove the UAE from the Watch List for Intellectual Property, according to the annual report of the Office of the United States Trade Representative [USTR], an affiliate of the U.S. federal government, on the Intellectual Property Protection. 

The total number of IP disputes resolved by the department in the first quarter of 2021 was around 81 disputes, with an estimated value of AED [Emirati dirham] 11.3 million. In 2020, 255 IP disputes were resolved, with an estimated value of AED 62.2 million.

One of the most prominent seizures carried out by the department was the foiling of the smuggling of 58 counterfeit goods of oil and gas pipes based on a complaint received by the department from [Middle Eastern IP consultancy] Cedar White Bradley regarding counterfeit goods loaded in four containers coming from an Asian country to Dubai. The goods were to be brought to the UAE as original goods of oil transport pipes bearing the Vallourec trademark. These pipes posed significant risks to the environment as they were not capable of withstanding high pressure that the original pipes of that trademark were designed to withstand. This could have caused serious environmental damage if the counterfeit pipes reached the country of origin and were used for oil and gas projects.

Our efforts to combat counterfeit goods have resulted in the application of a series of measures and steps adopted by the department to resolve IP disputes relating to trademark counterfeiting goods. These measures and three steps are as follows:

1. Customs inspectors in our customs checkpoints suspect counterfeit goods through inspection activities.

2. Counterfeit goods are pre-monitored by the Smart Risk Engine System developed by the department to identify risks in commercial shipments prior to their arrival to our customs checkpoints.

3. A trademark infringement complaint is filed by the trademark owner or its legal representative.

GT: What role does technology play in halting counterfeit trade? 

HE Musabih: Advanced electronic systems and applications effectively contribute to countering attempts to smuggle counterfeit goods through pre-monitoring of risks in commercial shipments. Dubai Customs has developed the Smart Risk Engine System to manage and analyze customs risks efficiently to determine risk levels in future shipments and track prohibited, restricted goods and counterfeit goods before they reach customs posts of Dubai. This process is completed by inspection and detection by highly skilled customs inspectors. 

Last year, the department organized 10 workshops that were attended by 309 participants to familiarize customs inspectors and officials with how to distinguish between counterfeit and original goods. In the first quarter of 2021, two workshops were organized, which were attended by 68 participants.

The technology used in risk management has enabled us to control counterfeit goods. For example, the Customs Intelligence Department and Air Customs checkpoints management inspectors worked in coordination with the IPR Department to successfully thwart an attempt to bring a shipment bearing the “Vaseline” counterfeit trademark in the quantity of 17,280 packages coming from an Asian country via air freight, with a market value of about AED 400,000. 

GT: What are some best practices Dubai Customs recommends for preventing counterfeit/illicit trade?

HE Musabih: Prevention of illicit trade of counterfeit goods is an integrated process that should include thwarting the smuggling of goods across borders through cooperation between customs departments, border control and partnerships with the private sector represented by trademark owners. This requires development of the technologies used in inspection activities and improvement of the performance of customs inspectors through continuous training while raising awareness among consumers of the dangers of counterfeit goods.

The IPR Department, through the Awareness and Education Division, contributes to raising awareness about the importance of implementing the IPR Policy internally and externally, so that internal awareness activities target customs officials and inspectors while external awareness events organized by the department target all groups of society. The number of awareness events organized by the department in the first quarter of 2021 to inform customers, partners and the public of the importance of protecting intellectual property rights, reached 12 awareness events. There were 1,394 beneficiaries of these events, including inspectors, government department staff and school students. In 2020, about 46 awareness events were organized with 2,358 beneficiaries from these categories.

The department applies environmental sustainability standards in combating counterfeit goods to achieve the UAE Agenda for Sustainable Development by stopping shipments containing counterfeit goods while avoiding environmental damage resulting from their destruction, through recycling of counterfeit goods. Through these operations, Dubai Customs prohibits the re-export of counterfeit goods to limit the trade of these goods in the world. The department has recycled about 510, 000 pieces of counterfeit goods of 26 trademarks during the first quarter of 2021. In 2020, about 161,800 counterfeit goods of 60 trademarks were recycled.

GT: How does Dubai Customs ensure the security of the supply chain?

HE Musabih: Dubai Customs is making its best efforts to prevent counterfeit goods, having allocated substantial budget to develop its system of procedures through smart devices and innovations launched by the department with a view to improving its ability to counter smuggling attempts, most notably high-capacity scanners [X-ray]. Goods within containers are detected with six scanners operating under the Advanced Container Scanning System in Jebel Ali, with a capacity of scanning 900 containers per hour. These are supported by the operating room, which follows up on operations in customs checkpoints in addition to the Early Trademark Information System and the Smart Risk Engine System targeting risk shipments.

We have an intelligence-led approach to preventing illicit trade, which relies on effective data collection and analysis, risk profiling and targeting. The comprehensive system uses technology to support public awareness, detection, enforcement and sector-specific intelligence around illicit trade and smuggling activities that pose risk for the economy and the society. But when it comes to tackling illicit trade in counterfeits, we believe that improved IP enforcement and regulatory compliance are key, but this alone will not be enough without engaging all stakeholders and consumers through enhanced consumer protection and public awareness initiatives to ensure demand for counterfeit products is reduced. 

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Gaps in operations are not biased. Whether you are a warehouse manager navigating scheduling oversights or a fleet manager solving the next best approach to reducing costs, gaps in operations within the global logistics arena are inevitable. The real concern is how the modern-day 3PL provider can successfully mitigate risks while minimizing common gaps before they become a critical problem. 

Until one can jump to the list of solutions ranging from technology applications to hybrid work models, the most common (and possibly least talked about) gaps must be identified. Taking it a step further, 3PL providers should have a solid understanding of the why behind the what. In other words, they should ask themselves: Why are these gaps present within our operations and can they be resolved? Are these gaps common within the industry or are they unique to my company?

“One of the bigger gaps in the industry is the availability of timely and accurate data back to the shippers and to the community,” states Jason Carl, vice president of 4PL Solutions at BridgeNet Solutions. “3PLs are sitting on a wealth of data and information, and the ability to harness that effectively has always been a gap from my perspective. Delivering standardized timely information and data makes all the difference for a shipper in today’s environment.”

Carl has more than 15 years of experience in the logistics arena, ranging from ocean exports to operations. He originally started his career with Evergreen Line before moving on to BDP International for 13 years, managing operations for several multinational clients. He moved to BridgeNet two years ago to head the 4PL product.

BridgeNet Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of BDP, provides sourcing, outsource sourcing procurement and managed transportation services focusing primarily on data analytics for more effective supply chain management.

BridgeNet’s cloud-based data solution, Xonar, is the company’s analytics and execution platform based on a foundation of accurate data collection combined with a robust analytics layer. Xonar enables BridgeNet to effectively collect and share critical information from shipper ERP systems, 3PL providers and freight payment companies. Carl cites this solution and the above capabilities as a game-changer for the company among competitors.

“Oftentimes what you find is that providers offering these solutions could be largely just software as a service or a technology company,” he explains. “At BridgeNet, we extend both the technology and the execution components to our customers, ensuring they can rely on an excellent integration hub paired with customizable technology based on the customer’s needs. We also offer a network of control tower operations based in Asia, Europe and the Americas to oversee that and to orchestrate the flow of information that’s moving through Xonar on a day-to-day basis.”

To be successful at identifying and eliminating common gaps in processes, the provider must consider the quality of the information coming in and going out. It is critical the provider understands where this information could be compromised–or even worse, completely missed. 

“3PLs need to understand the why,” Carl says. “Not just at the strategic level but also down to the desk level. It enables better decision-making on a day-to-day basis that really benefits shippers in ways that are often overlooked. The quality of the data can be a game-changer for planning processes and for decision-making overall. There is an increased recognition of that at least in the conversations I’m having.”

Beyond closing gaps in operations and day-to-day processes, Carl emphasizes the importance of looking at the big picture rather than just the result, citing innovative technology as a distraction for what is really going on layers deep within a data solution. 

“If the underlying data is not high quality, not standardized, not tightly controlled, then it’s not going to yield the results that providers want to achieve from that piece of technology. The value of that underlying information cannot be discounted. Before you go on the tech journey, providers should focus on the information that is going to fuel operations. This is where 4PLs can step in.”

As for the role of the 4PL provider, they are part of the bigger picture of where your data is coming from and what it all means. Data translation is equally as important as data collection. If a provider cannot identify the value from the data, the role of analytics becomes a moot point. That’s why Carl emphasizes the need to look and think outside of the box for solutions that are not only more cost-effective but add significant value to client needs. 

“4PLs can act as a translator or the intermediary to help provide data-driven insights to shippers by standardizing information from a multitude of 3PLs and then translate shipper’s needs and strategies for actionable change from the 3PL,” he says. “This bridge between the two entities can be a great help but it is not always the right fit for every shipper or for every supply chain. There are many situations where, now more than ever, a 4PL provider can provide a lot of value and support for 3PL operations and processes.”

Whether it is a pandemic or random disruption (think Suez Canal), the conversation of eliminating gaps in operations would be incomplete without addressing how the logistics industry has shifted looking back at the last year and a half. Buzzwords such as “agile” and “adaptable” might very well be accurate, but in what ways are 3PL providers being challenged to maximize their position in a competitive market? Carl points to letting go of the past as many companies still utilize lessons learned to affirm the success of the future.

“Gone are the days where the 3PL can rest on proverbial laurels and be complacent based on past success and relationships,” he warns. “The past 18 months have proven this. The existing network that 3PLs may have been operating for a customer for many years may no longer be sufficient in 2021. The needs are going to change, and it’s important that 3PLs are responding effectively to compete and be good partners for the shipping community.”


Jason Carl is vice president of 4PL Solutions at BridgeNet, a BDP International company, where he oversees the development, performance and operations of the 4PL product and global control tower teams. He has more than 15 years’ experience helping customers improve and optimize complex supply chains through technology and process optimization. Carl holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from Austin College in Sherman, Texas, and an MBA in Strategy from Temple University’s Fox School of Business. He can be reached at