TORONTO, Ont. — Having already pioneered the 53-ft. intermodal container in 1994, Canadian Tire is pushing the envelope and has developed a 60-ft. container that has received government approval and will soon by deployed on multiple lanes.
The specific launch date for the new container and chassis has not yet been determined, but Canadian Tire has been testing the ability of the container to fit into existing rail infrastructure by attaching 3.5-ft. of Styrofoam to both ends of a standard 53-ft. unit and testing it at Canadian Pacific’s Vaughan terminal.
When pulled by a day cab, the longer container will not exceed existing tractor-trailer length limits.
“Since the chassis and containers are Canadian Tire’s and standard power is all that is needed to operate the containers, we can work with any carrier,” Neil McKenna, vice-president, transportation with Canadian Tire, told Trucknews.com.
Canadian Tire operates one of largest transportation networks in the country, moving more than 100,000 different types of products to more than 490 stores across Canada.
“The 60-ft. container was developed by Canadian Tire’s transportation team as an intermodal solution to increase productivity and efficiency while reducing the company’s carbon footprint,” McKenna said. “The added size allows the company to transport more products while reducing transportation costs and greenhouse gas emissions.”
The containers are being built by AICM and the chassis manufactured by Quebec-based Max-Atlas. It is currently in the prototype stage, with four units initially to be deployed when the program launches.
The four containers will run: Toronto-Vancouver; Toronto-Calgary; Toronto-Halifax; and intra-Ontario lanes. This will mark the first time a 60-ft. container has been used in North America – and possibly even the world, McKenna said.
“Except for long combination vehicle (LCV) programs, this is the biggest innovation in intermodal in over 20 years,” he said. “The 60-ft. container will revolutionize the movement of goods.”
Canadian Tire expects to see payload increase of 13%, resulting in cost savings for the corporation as well as a reduction in emissions.
However, getting to this point hasn’t been easy.
“The first order of business was to determine the suitability in an existing rail intermodal network,” McKenna explained. “The next was to seek provincial Ministry of Transportation approvals for operations in their jurisdictions. Lastly was the determination of the American Association of Railroads (AAR) that this intermodal unit meets all the specifications required to integrate into the existing intermodal rail networks.”
McKenna said Canadian Tire’s partners, including CP Rail and the various Ministries of Transportation, have been supportive of the project.
“Together, we are working to ensure a safe and speedy deployment of the new containers,” he said.
McKenna said this is just the latest example of how the retailer is looking to improve its supply chain. Since 2011, it has embarked on a major road-to-rail conversion within Eastern Canada, which McKenna said has reduced GHG emissions by more than 60%, equal to removing 2,500 cars off the road each year.
It has also been using LCVs in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces.
“By using trucks capable of pulling two full-length semi-trailers, LCVs allow the company to move more products, at a lower cost per unit and with a smaller carbon footprint than is generated by two single-trailer trucks,” he said.
We will have more on this development, including pictures, when the first 60-ft. containers are ready to be deployed.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies