Port understands its role as core element of supply chain

The Port of Montreal understands that it is a core element of the supply chain, and that its role as a facilitator of supply chain performance will only increase into the future.

“The era of a pure maritime perspective on ports has to be rethought,” says Daniel Olivier of the Montreal Port Authority. “Ports are no longer just about vessels, trucks and trains. Today, it’s really about managing inventory and making decisions on routing and transit time. When I see a vessel, I don’t just see a vessel. I see moving inventory. How can we facilitate supply chain performance with our partners who use the port is the question that is really going to drive our decisions into the future.”

Ports have also become more independent “following the global commercialization process,” says Claude Comtois, a professor at the University of Montreal and member of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Enterprise Networks, Logistics and Transportation. “Port authorities have become more proactive and involved in hands-on operations,” he said.

Looking towards the future and this new era of port management, the Montreal Port Authority appointed Mr. Olivier to the newly created position of Manager of Business Intelligence and Innovation last September.

Mr. Olivier has a PhD in maritime transport from Hong Kong University where his thesis examined the emergence of multinational companies in container terminal operations. He then worked for Transport Canada for five years where his core experience was with supply chain research. Among other things, he led a project to implement key performance indicators (KPIs) at Canada’s ports and to measure the competiveness and reliability of Canadian supply chains.

Mr. Olivier brings to the port authority a supply chain perspective on port activity. “In the past, a container was no longer viewed the responsibility of a port once it left the gate,” Mr. Olivier said. “But when you take the end-to-end perspective, we play a very important role, from the time the vessel leaves a port overseas until the container arrives at its final destination.

“For example, a port may have the best container dwell time in the industry, but if its partners are not providing the right level of service, then the port is no longer a viable option. That’s why we really have to bring all partners together in an end-to-end perspective.”

Mr. Olivier also brings to the port authority an international vision that fits in perfectly with the port’s ‘Trading with the World’ theme as well as a comprehensive understanding of industry trends and developments.

“The port understands that sound business decisions have to be based on sound data,” he said. “Business intelligence in a way is all about being more proactive and better understanding the trends and developments that are affecting the industry today.

“Our customer base is more and more sophisticated. They are expecting hard data and a continuous improvement culture that I hope to be able to foster and support.”

One of Mr. Olivier’s core mandates at the port authority will be to survey best practices and innovative practices.

“This is where the theme of ‘Trading with the World’ comes in,” Mr. Olivier said. “If you want to innovate, you have to understand where the needs are, here first, but also elsewhere. You have to understand the transferability and feasibility of these new practices to be able to make a critical judgment on whether these solutions are fit for Montreal.”

Mr. Olivier also wants to develop tools, such as a dashboard or scorecard, that can support management and marketing teams in their duties.