By Brian Dunn

CargoM, the organization advocating for the Logistics and Transportation (LT) Cluster of Metropolitan Montreal, is one of several advocacy groups that have been developed to help the region achieve its full economic potential, and is now in its third year of operations.

To get an idea how important the LT sector is to the Greater Montreal Area (GMA), CargoM enlisted KPMG-SECOR to conduct a study last year, which revealed some of the challenges facing the sector. As previously reported, the sector contributes more than $4.2 billion to the GMA economy or 40 per cent of the total volume of transportation and logistics activities in the province. The marine shipping industry accounts for close to $300 million of the total. The study also revealed there are close to 1,200 local companies in the logistics and transportation sector in the GMA with five or more employees accounting for 53,000 related jobs.

“Obtaining the most accurate information available on our sector is key to CargoM’s mission. It makes it possible for our members to rally around common objectives and concerted actions,” said Madeleine Paquin, President and CEO of Logistec Corporation and Vice-Chair of CargoM’s Board of Directors.

To help the LT sector achieve its full potential, CargoM established six working group (C1-C6), some more advanced than others in their development. Each group has two co-Chairs.

The first working group is Logistics and Transportation Development Opportunities, co-chaired by Ms. Paquin and Laurent Tourigny, President, Trac-World Freight Services. The group invited the management of Port of Savannah to Montreal to share its successes in developing the Port as a logistics centre. “CargoM is looking to learn from the Savannah model as there’s no point in reinventing the wheel,” said Ms. Paquin. “The economies of Georgia and Quebec are similar in that they both have a lot of commodity exports but we have to find a way to increase imports.” Savannah has a regional development group, a public-private partnership that has been successful in attracting over 250 port-dependent distribution centres to the area, according to Ms. Paquin. They also have a website listing all available land for development and incentives to set up businesses in areas of high unemployment. “The entity acts as a facilitator for companies looking to set up a new business. For example, Walmart may need to be near a railroad or a highway, but may not need to be near the port. A client may like a site and they could be up and running within six months. They have even developed education programs to train people in logistics.”

One example of a company attracted to the region is Montreal-based Dorel Industries, a juvenile furniture and bike manufacturer which opened a distribution centre in Savannah in 2012. The company said it was attracted to the region for a number of reasons, including a combined public-private partnership, a strategically aligned municipal, state and federal organization, and engaged and active customer service teams. Ms. Paquin’s group plans to show the Savannah model to Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and Je Vois Montreal, a citizen initiative to revitalize the city. “Savannah’s success is such that not one shipping line doesn’t call there. They are the second-largest port on the east coast,” noted Ms. Paquin. “Montreal already has the five top lines. I don’t think this new initiative will attract new lines, but it should increase volumes.”

The second working group is Communication and Outreach, headed by Nicole Trépanier, President of SODES (St. Lawrence Economic Development Council) and Frédéric Chevallier, Regional Vice-President Eastern Canada, Kuehne + Nagel. One of the group’s first projects was an insert in a digital edition of the newspaper La Presse last November that reached over 350,000 people outlining the significance of the LT sector to the GMA in terms of employment, economic benefits and merchandise handled.

Another ongoing project is the production of a short video to explain the importance of Montreal as a transportation hub in North America. It will be used in relevant presentations as well as at Canadian Embassies overseas, explained Ms. Trépanier.

There is also a virtual library on the CargoM website that features an industry profile, performance indicators, best practices, information on manpower and training and economic impact studies. In short, CargoM is becoming a reference guide for the LT industries with all the information contained on its site, Ms. Trépanier pointed out. For example, there is a section called “Understanding the Free Trade Agreement” in reference to the officially named Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.

There is also a “Did You Know?” guide for truckers operating in the port of Montreal. It lists the hours of operation for each terminal, phone numbers and what entrance to use for each terminal. The guide also lists mandatory safety equipment among other requirements.

One of the biggest coups to date was landing the Cargo Logistics Canada Expo and Conference being held next February 17-18 at the Palais des Congrès (Montreal Convention Centre). Billed as Canada’s largest supply chain event, it is expected to feature over 100 speakers and attract some 3,000 attendees from across Canada and the U.S. “CargoM made a convincing presentation to Cargo Logistics, as a result of which Montreal was selected as the host city,” said Ms. Trépanier who added the conference will raise the profile nationally and internationally of Montreal’s transportation sector. It is the first time the show is being held in Montreal. It has been held in Vancouver for the last two years, said Show Director David Tyldesley of Vancouver-based Informa. “We plan to rotate it between Vancouver and Montreal. We identified Montreal as a good place to host the event as it is a port-centric location.”

Attendees will be from every sector of the supply chain, including air, rail, marine and road. Exhibitors will come from the materials handling and distribution sectors, in addition to transportation providers and third party logistics companies, said Mr. Tyldesley. While the program is still being developed, there will be sessions on global trade lanes and intermodal trends, along with profiles of sectors Montreal is known for, such as aerospace and pharmaceuticals.

The third and probably the most important group in terms of getting traffic flowing smoothly in and around the port is Access and Fluidity in Truck Transport for Greater Montreal. The co-chairs are Marc Cadieux, President and CEO, l’Association du camionnage du Québec (Quebec Trucking Association) and Michael Fratianni, President and CEO, Montreal Gateway Terminals.

“The transportation supply chain is a team sport with cargo transiting in a multimodal fashion. It is a mutually dependent relationship and CargoM acts as a facilitator to make sure the proper information is out there for the industry,” explained Mr. Fratianni whose group presided over a workshop on how to make moving cargo by road more efficient. A survey among the different groups concluded that something has to be done to improve the life of truckers.

One initiative was the launch of the OttoView program in collaboration with Transport Canada. It involved installing electronic devices in over 100 trucks to collect data to identify, among other things, bottlenecks and areas of recurring traffic congestion with the objective of recommending solutions to improve traffic flow. “We have a lot of stats on things like bridges, but we didn’t have an overall map of where congestion is and what time of day or days of the week it happens,” Mr. Cadieux pointed out. “This will help us develop a strategy with all the infrastructure work being done to organize different logistics and it will help companies organize truck movements better. If it takes two hours to get to the South Shore, it’s not a port problem, but a problem with the road structure.”

The next step is to determine what the group can do to improve fluidity and how CargoM can act as a catalyst. It also wants to buy its own OttoView devices to build a database on wait times, GHG emissions and to develop key performance indicators for the industry. “Accurate information is the most important part of the project, because it allows us to collaborate with the cities of Quebec and Montreal, and the railways on improvements that would yield improved fluidity. It’s an ongoing process,” said Mr. Cadieux. In addition, CargoM is working on a Fast-Lane pilot project to reduce wait times for truckers at the port by implementing a pre-approved process for containers. The group is also in discussions with City of Montreal to introduce an advanced traffic management system to reduce congestion on Notre Dame Street. “CargoM is a remarkable tool for getting different organizations to work together, and there is a high level of confidence in the organization,” added Mr. Fratianni.

Group four is Best Practices and Technology led by Jean-Robert Lessard, Vice-President, Marketing and Business Development, Groupe Robert, and Norman Tam, Director, General Manager, Mediterranean Shipping Company. The group is developing, in conjunction with Group three, a real-time optimal route selection smartphone application for truckers. “The app will list construction sites and congestion which will enable truckers to find the optimal route in and out of the port,” said Mr. Tam.

The phone application is a collaboration between CargoM, the City of Montreal and the Quebec Trucking Association. Part of Montreal’s contribution is its Carte de Camionnage (Trucking Route Plan) which lists routes that trucks can use, those that are off limits overnight, and those that trucks are never allowed to use. The trucking association is conducting a 2-3 week pilot project to test the app before scheduled roll-out this summer. “Another major initiative is to explore any value-added use of new technology and to see how we can apply it throughout the entire supply chain,” said Mr. Tam. “The challenge is how to best put it together in a meaningful way to determine what problems it will resolve.”

The fifth working group is tackling Regulations and is headed by Nathalie Léveillée, Conformity, Legal Affairs, Association du camionnage du Québec, and Marc Gagnon, Director, Government Affairs and Regulatory Compliance, Fednav. The group’s mandate is to identify, prioritize and communicate regulatory elements that should be harmonized or simplified with a view to improving and facilitating operations in the sector. “There is a lot of red tape provincially and federally, and between Canada and the United States. We need to find a way to simplify and harmonize all the regulations” said Mr. Gagnon. “We’re trying to tackle the issues that affect all modes of transport, whether it’s marine shipping, trucking or the railroads.” The first order of business is to meet with customs officials on both sides of the border, but the group wants to make sure it has the right agenda to simplify the bureaucratic process at the border.

Another file the group is working on is land use issues with the different municipalities, since there is no harmonization, said Mr. Gagnon. “For example, a truck driving from one municipality to another with the same load faces different rules in each municipality. From a shipping point of view, the port is an industrial site. Do you build condos near the port? And the railroad is important to the port, but it’s not so nice for the neighbourhood. We need to create a dialogue with the city and urban planners to avoid potential conflicts. You can’t move the port, but you can move a trucking route. To me, the right forum to resolve these issues is CargoM.” As a member of the transportation committee at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Gagnon knows this is a universal problem “and we need to get it right the first time.”

The third issue on the group’s agenda is to determine how easy is it for a transportation company to open an office in Montreal compared to other cities around the world. “It’s not about attracting new business, but as a city, is it easy to open a new office here compared to other shipping cities like London or Hong Kong or in Brazil? If it isn’t, we need to find ways to improve it.”

The sixth and final working group deals with Human Resources/Workforce, co-chaired by Nathalie Drouin, Associate Dean of Research, École des sciences de la gestion, Université de Québec à Montréal, and Jean Bédard, President and CEO, Maritime Employees Association. The group has adapted a project called “Follow the container,” which tracks a container from the port of Montreal along the logistics chain to its final destination such as a retail store. “It’s an initiative to attract new candidates to our industry, especially the trucking industry which is having trouble attracting new workers,’ explained Mr. Bédard. “A lot of people think there aren’t a lot of good jobs in the sector, but if you don’t want to drive long distances or spend time at sea, you can always find work as a dispatcher, in logistics, in administration or even as a mechanic.

“While the trucking industry is facing personnel shortages as baby boomers retire, (both Transport Jacques Auger and Rosedale Transport ran radio spots to attract drivers) the shipping industry could soon face the same situation here. In Rotterdam, the shipping industry is so desperate to find people, that they’re putting ads in the newspaper. That’s why we’re focusing on a real human resource issue.”

The idea of following the container came from a similar project at the port of Savannah where kids on a bus followed a Nike container from the port to a Nike store. CargoM wants to do something similar. It has also teamed with Commission scolaire de Montréal and its 35 high schools to prepare a classroom presentation on what is involved in the logistics chain and the different jobs affiliated with various sectors. “We hope to have the classroom program ready for the fall. We may use part of the video that is being prepared by the Communications and Outreach group,” said Mathieu Charbonneau, CargoM Executive Director. The plan is to expand the classroom presentation to other suburbs of Montreal and eventually take it across the entire province. The program is designed as a tool for high school career counsellors to show there are some promising job opportunities in the LT sector. Not everyone can or wants to be an MBA candidate or a doctor, so this initiative offers other choices, said Mr. Bédard.