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Green pioneers

MT : You were the first Canadian fleet to be awarded the US Environmental Protection Agency's SmartWay Environmental Excellence Award, which recognizes freight industry leaders that have made signific...


MT: You were the first Canadian fleet to be awarded the US Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Environmental Excellence Award, which recognizes freight industry leaders that have made significant contributions to protecting the environment. What drove you to become a pioneer in this area?

Streuber: Our goal was simply to be a good steward to our environment. You can talk about being a steward within your community but the macro community for our industry is the environment and we wanted to take a leadership position. When we looked at the contributions that we could make as a company, burning less fuel was an important contribution that also made strong business sense. We were the first Canadian fleet to fully install in-cab heaters. We achieved significant idling reductions as a result and were awarded the Canadian Fuel Efficiency Award in 1999 and 2004. We analyze fuel optimization from all angles, including the driver’s involvement, through simulator training. We run a progressive shifting course and we’ve seen fuel efficiency improvements from every driver that has graduated. All our highway tractors purchased since 2002 have been spec’ed with automatic transmissions and that too has improved our average fuel economy.

MT: How are shippers responding to your environmental initiatives?

Pries: Probably the first major shipper in Canada that actually spoke to the issue of the environment and incorporated it into everything they did was IKEA. We are also thrilled that Wal-Mart is taking an active role in sustainability since we are a large carrier for Wal-Mart throughout North America. It requires the commitment of both shippers and carriers to make a tangible difference.

MT: Do you see the focus on environmental sustainability changing the shipper-carrier relationship and the services carriers are expected to offer?

Pries: There is a growing number of shippers recognizing that some of these initiatives that we’ve taken are certainly good for the environment but they’re also wise from a business perspective. The cost savings that we can generate for our customers is significant, utilizing service models like our Western Canada turnpikes (two 53-trailer loads being pulled by one truck), intermodal, and multi-modal services.

MT: Canadian business is controlled by many small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). Do you see carrier green initiatives becoming a differentiator in the market place even at the SME-shipper level?

Pries: I think it’s definitely on the horizon. Certainly there are some shippers out there who don’t pay a lot of attention to these issues currently. However, larger shippers that do, such as IKEA and Wal-Mart (amongst others), can impact the market place by requiring their carrier/vendor network to comply. We’ve seen it happen already with the RFID initiatives that Wal-Mart and others have pushed down to the vendor level. In the same way such retailers are going to be looking to their carriers to provide a scorecard on what they are doing to sustain our environment.

MT: Can you see a future where shippers have KPIs that address environmental impact?

Pries: Absolutely. Just as security is top of mind right now, and safety is becoming an increasingly important part of business, I predict environmental impact concerns being part of the qualification of a carrier.

Streuber: If we can’t expect that to change then you are ultimately not going to be creating the amount of impact that you are hoping for the environment. If shippers don’t show they care, then that will be unfortunate for us as a society.

MT: Your turnpike initiative is an integral part of your green strategy. Can you elaborate on your capabilities and the likelihood that turnpikes will become accepted across Canada?

Pries: Our turnpike initiative is integral to our sustainability and fuel efficiency goals. We are leading the industry in Western Canada in combining two trailers pulled by one truck and sharing the savings with our clients. Many of our clients are seeing double-digit savings. Our fleet of turnpike equipped trailers has grown to the point where we are dispatching turnpike combinations from cities such as Winnipeg and Calgary every hour or less, seven days a week. That provides a significant amount of opportunity to get onboard. We plan to continue to aggressively grow this part of our business, as there has been high demand for it. Transit time using turnpikes is generally as good as, if not better than the conventional single trailer model.

Streuber: We offered to beta test turnpikes for Ontario but the government was not willing. We are of the opinion that there should be speed limiters at a very moderate speed because of the weight that would be hauled and the government was concerned about gridlock. But if you think of the benefits of having two loads moving with one truck, we think it makes lots of sense, both economically and environmentally.

MT: What have been the major things you’ve learned while implementing your green initiatives?

Streuber: We’ve learned that the environment does matter to our employees. They want to know that they have made a difference and when you can provide them with a realistic and honorable objective they try and obtain it. So much is dependent on individual decisions that everyone makes. It takes the smallest of actions: when there are two containers, do I choose to recycle or just throw it in the garbage can? When it comes to driving, am I consciously trying to save fuel or am I not thinking about it? Each little decision makes a difference.

Join us at CITT’s environmental summit

Bison Transport will be taking part in an environmental summit of transportation industry pioneers moderated by editorial director Lou Smyrlis this November 8 in Quebec City. This not-to-be missed half-day summit is part of CITT’s Reposition 2007 National Symposium for supply chain and transportation professionals.

The list of guest speakers participating in the environmental summit includes leaders from the supply chain, logistics and transportation sectors, along with leaders from the business and academic world.

Featured speakers include:

Peter Robinson, CEO, Mountain Equipment Co-op;

Lesley Smith, vice president supply chain, Wal-Mart Canada

Robert Johnson, president and CEO, Purolator

Lynda Harvey, senior manager, FleetSmart, Natural Resources Canada

Rob Penner, vice president operations, Bison Transport

Brian Death, general manager, J.D. Smith & Sons

Norman Pellerin, assistant vice president, environment, CN Rail

Jack Ampuja, executive director, Niagara University Center for Supply Chain Excellence

Joe Raleigh, Sustainability business manager, Unilever/Wal-Mart International Team

For more information and to register, contact CITT at 416-363-5696 or at info@citt.ca. To learn more about CITT and its education programs, visit www.citt.ca.


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