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Capacity challenges facing supply chains are disruptive


Ottawa, ON — Becoming a shipper of choice is no longer a choice, particularly during what the executive of one of Canada’s largest shippers calls “some of the most disruptive times I’ve ever seen.”

Delivering the keynote address at The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transportation of North America (CILTNA) annual spring outlook conference, Gary Fast, vice president transportation at Canadian Tire, told those gathered that he couldn’t remember experiencing the capacity challenges his company faces today in his 24 years in the industry.

“[Shippers] have to think differently about how to move goods from A to B,” said Fast, who also serves as chair of the Freight Management Association of Canada (FMA).

Importing 34,000 containers annually—from Asia and Europe—Canadian Tire is the largest domestic intermodal user in Canada as well as largest user of truckload (TL) services. The company also truckloads 10,000 loads each year from the U.S.

Being a shipper of choice with its carrier partners is vital for Canada’s iconic retailer, said Fast. “It’s about the little things,” he added, describing how Canadian Tire has fought to attract inbound U.S. drivers by reducing wait times at its distribution centres, palletizing shipments and paying them quickly.

It’s not just truck drivers, Fast said Canadian Tire works with railways to leverage assets like shipping containers, allowing the railways to use empty containers after they’ve been delivered and before the company needs them back. “We just say, ‘we need them back in Vancouver in 17 days.”

Collaborating with the terminals can also help reduce what Fast referred to as, “the total journey cost.” To illustrate his point, Fast said drayage costs, which are the final 30 or so kilometres to the transshipment point can be one-quarter of the cost on a total journey of 9,000 kilometres from Shanghai.

Getting goods across the country between modes requires integration in order for shippers to successfully navigate their supply chains, according to Fast.

“Shipper’s are looking for options to find seamless integration.”


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