Borders between the United States and Canada and the United States and Mexico have been strongly secured since the events of September 11, 2001. The increased security will cause wait times to increase at the borders. Small and medium size businesses that transport goods across borders must realize the effects of the strengthened border security.
In today’s global business environment, on-time shipments are critical to business success. Security wait time at a border crossing could mean the difference between an on-time delivery or a late delivery. If that delivery is critical to a customer’s operations and is late, that customer may cancel all future orders. The supplier could have avoided this late delivery by analyzing border wait times.
Businesses must analyze the average total time to transport a product from point of loading to point of unloading. Businesses must also consider the average amount of inventory in the transportation pipeline at any one time. The analysis includes considering products that are held at customs or waiting at border security checkpoints.
The wait times at the borders should be analyzed to determine the best border crossing to transport goods though. Shipping an item through a different border crossing may reduce the chance of a long wait time. Border wait times may be longer during certain parts of the day and shorter in others. A small or medium size business entity could analyze this information to determine what time of day and at which border crossing to send its products though. Distance from the shipping point to the border must also be considered since travel time to a border with shorter wait times may negate the shorter wait time.
Public information is available to assist businesses in this analysis. The United States Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and the Canadian Border Services Agency both have websites that update inbound and outbound wait times at each border on an hourly basis.
US Customs and Border Patrol
This site displays the inbound wait times for commercial and passenger vehicle traffic traveling into the United States. Alternate inspection inbound wait times for those involved in programs such as NEXUS, SENTRI, and FAST is also included. The border wait times are usually updated at least every hour.
Canadian Border Services Agency
This site displays the inbound and outbound wait times for commercial and passenger vehicle traffic into and out of Canada. The border wait times are updated at least once per hour.
With real-time information on the internet, companies are able to monitor border traffic and wait times 24 hours per day. If a company is shipping an item from North Carolina to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, the company could look up wait times at three different border crossings in Minnesota, North Dakota, or Montana. If there was a significant delay at any of these sites, the driver could be informed to take a different route through a different border crossing into Canada and could still arrive on-time. The availability and proper use of the real-time border wait time information would mean the difference between an on-time or late shipment.