Mexico is continuously developing its reputation as a hub of innovation, with the states of Mérida, Aguascalientes, and Baja California breaking through as the country’s emerging tech locations. But it’s important to remember that it’s not just the new players that are innovating, as long-established Mexican enterprises are also flexing their forward-looking muscles to develop new IT solutions.

Ferrovalle (officially Ferrocarril y Terminal del Valle de México) is one such enterprise, breaking free of the status quo thanks to the visionary leadership of its CIO, Ruben Castillo.

Ferrovalle manages and operates the largest railroad logistics territory in Latin America on the northern border of Distrito Federal, Mexico’s capital state, and the State of Mexico. The territory is comprised of around 200 hectares, serving clients such as Hapag-Lloyd, Hamburg Sud, Cemex, Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company, Ford Motors, Kansas City Southern, Ferromex, and Ferrosur, all of which use the facility to deliver goods to Mexico City and beyond.

In the heart of the facility, Ruben’s team of Mexican software engineers and mathematicians have been developing (among other solutions) Ferrovalle’s Central Traffic Control system (CCT for its acronym in Spanish) since 2006: a mission-critical solution that helps maintain the security of train traffic in Mexico City’s northern metropolitan area. Ferrovalle is continuously working on updates as technologies and the logistics industry evolve.

The system merges sophisticated database software with real-time communications between the tracks and the control center in order to manage the hundreds of cargo containers entering the complex on a daily basis. CCT has helped Ferrovalle detect and diagnose 75-80% of failures since its implementation.

Ferrovalle’s intermodal tracking software combines RFID scanning with geolocation, IoT, and mobile smart devices to give the company and its clients real-time information on all cargo passing through the facility. The company was also the first to develop tracking software for intermodal clients in Latin America, presented as a free, dedicated mobile app that operates under the concept of Zero Distance to Client, which provides real-time information on logistic or financial events.

Ferrovalle's traffic control software was fully developed in house and foregoes any necessity for third-party alternatives.

Ferrovalle’s traffic control software was fully developed in house and foregoes any necessity for third-party alternatives.

“We are proud of our software as it allowed us to achieve independence from our previous software providers, such as GE,” Ruben told Nearshore Americas during a site visit. Since scrapping their third-party systems, the company has reduced costs by around US$20 million, and has opened a new department dedicated to the sale of its own software. “While we originally had to justify developing the software to stakeholders to get it approved, we’re now in a position where we are generating a new revenue stream, which is pretty good justification.”

The most important thing for Castillo now is to consolidate Ferrovalle’s applications in order to continues selling them, changing the role of CIO and the company itself. Around 70% of all applications in the company were developed in-house by Castillo and his team, but he also employs other Mexican companies to create source codes and other programs, which are then integrated under his own designs.

While CIOs are commonly underfunded in today’s business climate, Castillo is convinced that further companies could be brought into the fold for future projects. “We have an open mind for hiring additional Latin American companies to assist with this process,” he said. “We are looking to create a special standard that will allow our software to be used on all railroads in Mexico City. This is my dream.”

You can read the full article by visiting the Nearshore Americas website here.