Grain has been thriving in recent years, but Logistec’s team in Thunder Bay is also working with more and more project cargo and out-of-gauge pieces. “Shipments for the oilsands have been going through Houston for some time, but project cargo headed to the Canadian West and the Prairies can be routed just as effectively through Thunder Bay,” says Jean-Marc Bélanger, Sales Manager for Logistec in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence region. “The competitive rates and flexible timeframes we can offer help make it a practical alternative to shipping through the United States. Thunder Bay is the western-most point in the Highway H2O network, plus bond fees and customs clearances aren’t an issue.”
When it comes to rail access, Thunder Bay has the highest module clearance envelopes in Canada. Logistec is served by both CN and CP, and offers ship-to-rail direct loading and unloading for standard and oversized cargo, up to six railcars at once. Since Logistec began operating at the port in 1985, it has unloaded wind energy components, transformers, and out-of-gauge equipment pieces for the mining, oil, and gas industries.
“Our heaviest inbound piece was a 525-tonne reactor, discharged to rail and headed to Alberta,” says Vasko Popovic, Operations Manager for Logistec, Thunder Bay. “We also unloaded Thunder Bay’s first inbound shipment of wood pellets last September. We processed the cargo onsite, using conveyors to load one-tonne bags directly onto trucks for Thunder Bay Hydro.”
Another of the company’s noteworthy cargoes was a series of boilers and reactors travelling from a dismantled methane plant in Saskatchewan to a buyer in China. “Loading the ship was like a jigsaw puzzle. Everything was a different shape, with tanks, stands, and other smaller sections sticking out,” says Jim Hicklin, Logistec’s Superintendent. “General and project cargo has its challenges, and these pieces were up to 185 tonnes each. We paid close attention to the lashings, made sure that the delivery order was correct, got the pieces to yard on time, and transported them shipside before getting the heavy-lift underway.”
In addition to ample laydown area and over 500,000 square feet of warehouse space, the port of Thunder Bay provides access to a Liebherr 320 mobile harbour crane for handling dimensional cargoes. Keefer terminal is connected to the Trans-Canada Highway, and Logistec works with local partners to provide specialized trucking services.
“The Port Authority has made strategic investments to diversify its cargo base, and its business development activities continue to attract new carriers and products,” says Madeleine Paquin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Logistec. “We’ve been handling project cargo, steel products, woodpulp, and much more. Our operations team in Thunder Bay is actively supporting the Port’s growth with their efficiency and professionalism.”
“We do what’s best for the customer, and try to save them time and money whenever we can,” says Mr. Popovic. “It’s about guiding them, and making sure that the operation is smooth and efficient. For example, when we’re handling grain, we’re the liaison between the ship and the elevator. We know how well the local equipment can perform, so it’s up to us to work with the Chief Officer to reduce downtime, increase productivity, and keep everyone safe.”