Sustainable development and innovation are at the heart of the Montreal Port Authority’s (MPA) business practices and strategic plan.

“The MPA is at the forefront of the marine sector’s movement towards a future where emerging technologies, efficiency and sustainable development go hand in hand,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Sylvie Vachon. “We are an organization that is committed to protecting the environment, to its neighbouring communities, and to its contribution to the economic growth of Montreal, Quebec and Canada. The innovative projects that we are undertaking all have a positive impact on these three pillars of sustainable development.”

The concept of sustainable development was anchored in the MPA’s DNA long before it adopted its first Sustainable Development Policy in 2010. The MPA revised the policy in 2016 in order to adapt to the evolution of sustainable development challenges and stakeholder expectations. Moreover, following the conclusion of its five-year Sustainable Development Action Plan in 2015, the MPA, for the sake of continuous improvement, transitioned to a three-year plan for the period 2016-2018. Increasing agility in order to meet objectives is the goal of the three-year plan.

A perfect example of an MPA-developed technology that improves performance and reduces impacts is the Port of Montreal Trucking PORTal. This tool delivers information in real time on truck traffic and wait times on port territory. Truckers and dispatchers can better plan routes to container terminals, avoid congestion and save time, all of which improves truck fluidity – leading to enhanced supply chain competitiveness – and ultimately helps the MPA reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions related to trucking on port territory and in the surrounding area. Optimizing routes also provides a common basis for discussing performance with container terminals.

The Trucking PORTal has more than 600 users per month. On average, about 10.5 percent of users each month are new users.

The MPA is preparing a new predictive model – Version 2.0 – in order to provide truckers with an even more effective tool.

“We are in a strategic position to be a supplier of digital solutions, which allows us to offer value to our clients and assist them in their decision-making processes,” Ms. Vachon said.

Shore power is another innovative project that is having positive impacts. In 2016 and 2017, the MPA set up on-dock power supply stations at four berths for ships that spend the winter in the port and introduced shore power for cruise ships as part of the modernization of its Grand Quay and cruise terminal. Vessels docked at these berths can now shut down their marine diesel engines and plug in to the electric power grid supplied by renewable energy sources to provide the necessary power to the ships while they are in port.

The implementation of shore power in the port is expected to eliminate up to 2,800 tonnes of GHGs annually, which is comparable to reducing the distance driven by passenger vehicles by more than 10 million kilometres or replacing almost 100,000 incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, according to the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

In June, the Association québécoise des transports (AQTR), Quebec’s transport association, presented its Grand Prize for Excellence in Transportation in the environment category to the MPA for the shore power project.

The Port of Montreal has been offering an eco-friendly liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply solution for marine fuel since 2017. The MPA, shipowner Groupe Desgagnés and energy provider Énergir, the largest natural gas distribution company in Quebec, teamed up to develop the LNG supply system. The system is available to shipowners whose fleets pass through the Port of Montreal. Énergir delivers the LNG using shore-to-ship equipment at Port of Montreal dockside locations.

The Trucking PORTal, shore power and LNG supply projects, among other MPA initiatives, were singled out recently by the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), which bestowed its prestigious 2018 Marine Environment Protection Award on the MPA in the port category. It will be presented at the NAMEPA awards dinner in New York on October 25. The award is given in recognition of an individual or organization’s efforts in environmental stewardship as exemplified by a commitment to a program that has specific objectives set for environmental performance and improvements, and which is innovative and goes beyond minimum environmental compliance.

Also, on the environmental front, the MPA earned the highest average among 38 member port authorities throughout North America in Green Marine’s 2017 Performance Report.

Green Marine is the voluntary environmental certification program for the North American marine industry. The MPA is a founding member of the initiative.

Port logistics innovation accelerator launched

On the innovation front, the MPA has partnered with the Centre for Technological Entrepreneurship (Centech) and École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) to launch the first port logistics innovation accelerator in North America.

“The port sets itself apart and is an innovator with regard to its investments in the research of new technologies, and an example is its participation in the Centech technologies accelerator,” said Mathieu Charbonneau, Executive Director of CargoM, the Logistic and Transportation Metropolitan Cluster of Montreal.

The innovation unit will provide a space for experts from the Port of Montreal and technology startups to meet alongside PhD students from several universities. The accelerator will advance technological solutions in the marine transport sector. Four innovation themes that focus on port logistics challenges will guide the unit’s work: supply chain visibility and freight mobility; cybersecurity; process improvement and agility; and supply chain decarbonization.

The MPA is a member of chainPORT, a select group of 10 ports in the world that place innovation at the heart of their solutions. Members exchange information and develop innovative, forward-looking solutions in keeping with the smart port concept.

The MPA is also a stakeholder in the SCALE.AI innovation supercluster, a project that has the potential to revolutionize Canadian supply chains through artificial intelligence.