MONCTON, N.B. –Technology at the borders will play a greater role in processing products moving in and out of the country, says Jason Proceviat with the Canada Border Services Agency.
“There are a lot of changes coming and there will be choices you will have to make,” Proceviat told delegates attending the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) transportation summit held recently in Moncton.
Specifically, eManifests will become the rule over the next year or so and the trucking industry moving product over the Canada-US border will have to comply.
Proceviat, with the CBSA’s eManifest stakeholder consultations and implementation division, was one of several speakers on a panel discussing the future of trucking -shippers and border views.
“Technology has been a blessing and a curse at the same time. Without it at the border we wouldn’t be able to do truck processing. Without, we would have to shut the border down,” he said, adding that it takes on an average about 30 seconds to process a truck. The curse is that technology sets big expectations. “Everything is about immediate gratification and we have to be cognizant of your needs, which is driving us to have technology to understand your issues.”
The implementation of sophisticated electronic systems has presented its challenges to the CBSA because the agency can’t close the border to install the new technology.
The implementation of the technology for eManifests will be done in phases, Proceviat said.
As of Oct. 31, EDI clients or those who go through a service provider or send transmissions through Internet connections provided by the service provider will be required to provide cargo and conveyance data on a system matching or mirroring what US Customs and Border Protection now has in place.
In the spring of 2011, “we are going to be getting a portal that will mirror the US CBP’s ACE portal for small carriers that don’t have the means, or if they want to reduce costs they can use the portal to send a manifest which is a cargo and conveyance report,” Proceviat said.
“From the time the portal becomes available, there will be a one-year implementation window or phase-in period and at the end of that period we will have a six-month period of informed compliance, but that means at the end of that one year it will be mandatory for everyone to provide electronic advance cargo and conveyance information,” he said.
Other members of the ‘cargo chain’ will also be included. Once the cargo carrier program is implemented and providing the cargo and conveyance “we are going to have freight forwarders who are involved in the provision of data, provide their data mandatorily. By 2012 we are looking to get all mandatory importer data in advance so there will be three different members of the trade chain that will have to provide us all their information at least one hour before all the cargo gets to the (marine) border and the land border,” he said.
The federal government has budgeted approximately $400 million to implement the program.
David Bradley, CEO of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, said eManifests means another step toward automating the border.
“We’ll be able to submit what is now paperwork electronically. That way it can be checked prior to getting to the border and that should make clearance when you get to the border that much easier,” he said.
For the industry, Bradley acknowledged implementation won’t be cheap.
“You do have to invest in computer systems so that is why we are always pushing for the technological platform at least to be identical or similar to the US, so we don’t have two different systems going,” he said. “They have made some strides in that regard but it will really depend on each company. There is a lot of support for this program within the industry and, therefore, we will see the return on that investment.”
In other discussions on the future of trucking, shippers Andrew Oland, president of Moosehead Breweries of Saint John, and Matthew Bragg, vice-president, Oxford Frozen Foods in Oxford, N.S. both agreed the trucking industry is a key partner in their success and what they expect from the carriers is safety, dependable service and sustainability. They both said they continue to work closely with the trucking industry to understand the complex issues each face.
“We are responsible to our consumers, our customers and truckers. Our carriers understand our issues in getting product to the market,” Oland said. Going forward, both men expressed concern that continual contact between the shippers and carriers is an important issue, as is the issue of a driver shortage and the quality of drivers. Wes Armour, CEO and president of Armour Transportation Systems, said in a question and answer session, trucking is a complicated business and “we need support on rates to attract drivers.”
There was a suggestion from one delegate that carriers should be going after double-digit rate increases so they could be in a position to offer better wages and compensation to attract and keep drivers.
CTA’s Bradley said in an interview that in central Canada and Atlantic Canada, while there is always a shortage of qualified people, “right now, because of where we are at in the recovery, there isn’t a critical driver shortage. Out west it’s a different story. Go to Alberta and Saskatchewan and they are having difficulty. But the reality is, given the age of our workforce, one of the oldest workforces in the country, we are not getting anywhere near our fair share of people under 25 coming into the business. It is just a matter of time and the demographics will ensure that we are going to have a chronic and extended driver shortage in the not too distant future.”
The environment and the future reduction of greenhouse gas emissions was another topic addressed by Lynda Harvey, senior manager, Natural Resources Canada. She said the consumer is looking at manufacturing these days “with an eye toward a green footprint” and a spin-off of that will impact the trucking industry.
She discussed Canada’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases by 17% by 2020 and the trucking industry’s contribution to that reduction in the coming years with more efficient heavy-duty vehicles.
Harvey outlined a number of voluntary programs available that would help cut the greenhouse gas emissions and was pleased that the trucking industry was responding to these programs. One such program mentioned was offered by Nova Scotia. The program provides rebates to Class 8 carriers and owner/operators who purchase and install new equipment to upgrade tractors and/or trailers registered and plated in Nova Scotia. The province had $1 million available and approximately $700.000 was rebated at the time of her presentation.