By Brian Dunn

It has been a very active year for Cargo Montreal (CargoM), the Logistics and Transportation Metropolitan Cluster of Montreal, with all six of its working groups now in operation. In just its second year of activity, CargoM is moving forward with many activities towards the goal of making Montreal an “integrated multimodal logistics hub within the world’s largest supply chains,” said Mathieu Charbonneau, Executive Director of the cluster.

The activities of the first three working groups were unveiled on June 18 during CargoM’s Annual General Meeting attended by the Board of Directors and members of the transportation and logistics industries, including Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO, Montreal Port Authority. The other three groups are just getting started.

“In the next few years, we plan to further strengthen our image of collaboration, best practices and innovation in order to show that Montreal’s position as a hub is a fact and the fruit of a concerted effort adapted to the needs and demands of the world’s largest supply chains,” said Ms. Vachon, who is also Chair of the Board of Directors of CargoM.

The first three working groups launched during the year were Transport and Logistics Development Opportunities, Communications and Outreach, and Road Access and Fluidity in Road Transport.

Under the direction of co-Chairs Madeleine Paquin, President and CEO Logistec Corporation and Laurent Tourigny, President Trac-World Inc., Working Group One developed a model for its sector with a SWOT analysis (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to obtain an overall diagnosis, determine the challenges that required action, and identify growth opportunities. The working group has already embarked on its mission to convince political decision-makers and the Montreal business community of the relevance and potential of the “CargoM model.” It has presented its vision not only to industry stakeholders, but also to representatives of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and several representatives of various levels of government.

Working Group Two is co-chaired by Nicole Trépanier, President, Société de développement économique du Saint-Laurent, and Frédéric Chevallier, Business Unit Manager, Montreal Vice-President Panalpina Inc. After promoting CargoM’s potential and convincing its institutional and commercial partners to join forces with it in this initiative, the group has embarked on the planning and development of various communication tools to reach the general public. The long-term objective of the group is to promote the expertise of CargoM and the sector it represents.

The third working group’s objective is finding solutions to improve the flow of operations at the port of Montreal. Spearheaded by co-chairs Marc Cadieux, President and CEO, Association du camionnage du Québec, and Michael Fratianni, President and CEO, Gateway Terminals Partnership, the group produced a brochure for drivers to adequately prepare them for driving in the terminal area of the port, not only to enhance their performance and efficiency but also that of the port as a whole.

According to the co-Chairs, the sector is in serious need of statistics and data, since all that has been available until now is fragmented information that is not representative of the overall sector or the effect of dealings between all the players concerned. To address this need, a program called OttoView was implemented. It’s an electronic data gathering system installed in trucks to develop an accurate portrait of traffic and movement in the port area. “A lot of trucks at the port go to the CN or CP rail yards in Montreal and we want to be able to track the main bottlenecks along the way to improve traffic flow,” explained Mr. Charbonneau. “One of the things we’re looking at is to use the reserve bus lanes for trucks out of peak periods.” Ultimately, the goal will be to better manage freight transport logistics using reliable data on the number of trips, routes, schedules, and goods transported, among other variables. Data gathering has already begun and an analysis will soon follow.

The other three working groups just launched are Best Practices and Technology, Regulations, and Human Resources/Workforce. The mandate of Best Practices is to adopt and integrate industry best practices and cutting-edge technology to increase competitiveness while adhering to sustainable development principles. The purpose of Regulations is to harmonize and simplify the regulations to increase the competitive edge of freight logistics and transport, while the objective of the sixth working group is to propose solutions to existing and imminent labour issues.

Results of the election of members of the Board of Directors for 2014-2015 were also announced at the Annual Meeting. Ms. Vachon was re-elected as Chair of the Board. She will be backed by Ms. Paquin, in the role of Vice-Chair. The other members of the executive committee will be Daniel Bélisle, Senior Vice-President of Oceanex, as Treasurer, Marc Cadieux, President and CEO of the Association du camionnage du Québec, François Hébert, Vice-President, Network Strategies of Canadian National, and Valérie Wells, Director Legal Affairs, at Montreal Port Authority, as Secretary.

CargoM was also honoured with two Awards of Excellence on June 18 at the annual awards gala of l’Association québécoise des transports (AQT). The first, 2014 Goods Transportation Award, was presented to CargoM for the project “Creation of the metropolitan logistics and transportation cluster of Montreal.” This award celebrates excellence in a cohesive, original, and a reproducible transport project that improves the flow of the transportation of goods and enhances economic vitality, all with a view to sustainable development.

CargoM also won the Distinction Award. This honour is awarded by AQT’s Board of Directors to a large-scale project that is outstanding for its pivotal value to Quebec’s transport sector. “I am very proud of the awards we won…especially the Distinction Award, because it speaks to just how much CargoM is first and foremost a unifying force that aims to put in place pivotal projects to get Montreal known as a goods transportation hub,” said Mr. Charbonneau. He also made a point of acknowledging the outstanding collaboration of all of the cluster’s members and partners. “CargoM is above all a devoted team of volunteer members who are committed to the realization of our mission. This award is therefore ours to share with them and I’m very thankful for their hard work and support.”

CargoM membership is now up to 40, which Mr. Charbonneau would like to double. “A study of European clusters showed that those that were the most successful had around 80 members after five years of operations. That’s our objective. Our biggest challenge now is to improve truck fluidity with all the construction going on in the Montreal area, while our main objective is to get ready for the European free trade agreement which should bring a lot of new business to the port.”