By R. Bruce Striegler
“Historically, the port of Prince Rupert has had two forest-based stuffing and reload operations in Prince Rupert,” the Port’s Brian Friesen, Manager, Trade Development, explains. “Both Tidal Transport and Quickload Logistics served regional mills – mills along the Highway 16 corridor – but in close enough proximity to Prince Rupert, that it made sense to truck forest products to Prince Rupert, stuff them into containers and then truck them to the terminal.” Beginning in 2007, CN Rail began operating a forest-products transload facility, 720 kilometres to the west, in the City of Prince George, and Friesen notes that a significant volume of forest products coming from Alberta and B.C. are stuffed there before they are shipped by rail to Prince Rupert.
Friesen says, “Last year, CT Terminals, a joint venture between Tidal Transport and Metlakatla First Nation, began operations. This is a unique facility, in that for the first time we’re able to accept beam cars, bulk forest products arriving by rail to Ridley Island, making use of the Road/Rail Utility Corridor. Transload capacity for forest products at the port of Prince Rupert is within 80,000+ TEUs annually across the three different operations. Friesen adds that, “Over the coming years we have plans to expand this capacity.”
Quickload Logistics General Manager Cody Smith explains the role the company plays at the growing port of Prince Rupert. “We provide cargo transloading services to customers transiting the port of Prince Rupert and we operate the first purpose built Container Examination Facility in Canada, collaborating with Port of Prince Rupert and Canada Border Services Agency to improve efficiency and decrease examination times.” The facility examines the contents of targeted import containers to ensure safety and compliance with Canadian laws and regulations.
Smith describes one of the company’s most critical tools, saying, “We also operate the world’s first C Loader to load containers,” says Mr. Smith. The C Loader – manufactured by CSL Industries – is an advanced materials handling machine capable of loading lumber packages efficiently. The C-Loader has dramatically increased Quickload’s loading efficiency and productivity while reducing collateral damage to both product and containers. “This enables us to load containers three to four times as fast as can be done with a fleet of forklifts.”
The C-Loader is specifically designed to load lumber or palletized goods into containers. As forklifts load an entire 55,000-60,000 lbs on the ruggedly constructed load platform, the C-Loaders’ built-in load scale weighing and balance system allows the operator to control the weight and balance to within desired limits. Then the load is transferred into the container in one smoothly controlled operation lasting less than four minutes.
Port of Prince Rupert’s Brian Friesen continues, saying that forestry transload is an integral part of the supply chain. “With mills across western Canada that need to get their product to market, whether by rail or road, they need to find their way to tidewater and into a container. They don’t do this transloading at the mills, but will push the product either to a facility like CN’s at Prince George, or all the way to the port, so transloading has become a significant component of the forest products supply chain. We’re all very much focussed on the export side of the equation and transload capacity is a critical component of that.” He says that there has been an increased demand for transloading, noting that Japan and South Korea have long been markets for Canadian forest products, but with the emergence of China in the last decade, China has become a key market for Western Canadian forest products.”