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SCL shipper, carrier panel looks at costs, outlook for 2013

MISSISSAUGA, Ont., -- Shippers and carriers met to discuss costs and challenges ahead for 2013 during Supply Chain Canada’s breakfast seminar this week in Mississauga.


MISSISSAUGA, Ont., — Shippers and carriers met to discuss costs and challenges ahead for 2013 during Supply Chain Canada’s breakfast seminar this week in Mississauga.

Lou Smyrlis, Editorial Director, Transportation Media, spoke of the volatile and fragile economic recovery faced by countries worldwide and how Canadian shippers and carriers thought these challenges might play out in their businesses.

Jim McKay, Walmart Canada Corp’s Director, Transportation, said the company would focus on reliability with respect to servicing its stores and DCs in 2013. Fuel efficiency, and keeping costs low would also be key areas of focus.

Ian Murray, General Manager, Marketing, with Canadian Pacific Rail, said the number one driver of change for 2013 will the change in leadership at the railway under new CEO Hunter Harrison.

“There will be a huge focus to move the needle on reliability and speed, foundational to what we’re doing, and to moving assets more efficiently while controlling costs,” said Murray.

Doug Munro, President, Maritime-Ontario Freight Lines Limited, said there are challenges ahead in trying to get compensatory rates in a market of overcapacity and stagnant growth.

“It’s trying to get top line revenue when costs on the bottom are pushing up all the time. It’s about maintaining margins,” said Munro.

Excess capacity is also a major issue for the marine sector, said Michael Broad, President, Shipping Federation, as is slow trade growth worldwide.

“Record numbers of containerships, along with swelling international trade, and the high cost of inputs, are the three issues of concern,” he said.

In terms of priorities heading into 2013, Murray said service quality would be at the top of the list.

“It’s making sure we’re making commitments and delivering to those commitments, and controlling our resources much more closely than we have in the past,” he said.

Keeping service levels up is also a priority for Munro.

“It’s educating customers on the one hand, but with the markets so competitive we have to maintain a high level of service. Without that, nothing else matters. My outlook is that 2013 is going to be a bit of a tough year but I think we’re getting a bit of market share from our competitors,” he said.

Walmart Canada’s McKay said 2013 will be about finding increased reliability through relationships, and also about fuel, cost mitigation and balancing the inbound and outbound flow of goods.

“Global trade is expected to increase 3-5 %. We’re hoping for the best but will have to take a look at controlling costs and keeping efficient,” said Broad of the marine industry outlook.

Murray noted there is ample room for collaboration between the modes in the year ahead.


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