OTTAWA, Ont. – The SmartWay Canada team and Natural Resources Canada are launching a new Freight Assessment Program to help Canadian carriers better determine where improvements can be made to lower fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Paula Vieira, the Director of Transportation and Alternative Fuels Division at the Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada, the program is being put in place to improve the way carriers operate their business in terms of reducing their environmental footprint.
“This is an effort to take greening freight to the next level,” she said. “We’ve been doing benchmark performing for a while with the SmartWay program, but we thought it was important to go a bit deeper and to look at other opportunities for reduction.”
The program is being launched in two phases, she added. Phase 1 is the Green Freight Assessments.
“This is a deep dive,” she said. “An in-depth assessment of freight operations. It’s not just about what you drive and what’s on the vehicle, but we’re going into greater details here. Such as, what kind of technology do you have? What does your route planning look like, etc. We’re really going into detail here and finding out where there are efficiencies and where in your operation there could be an opportunity for improved efficiency.”
Following the assessments companies will receive an extensive list of recommendations identifying areas of their operations that could be improved. Then, as part of phase 1 a number of selected companies will have the opportunity to receive $50,000 of funding to finance those recommended improvements.
The second phase, called the Supply Chain Modernization Phase, will be launched in the Winter of 2019. This phase will explore opportunities for research and innovation to help streamline the supply chain.
“In years two, three, and four, the assessments, as well as the implementation of technologies and supply chain modernization will be open call,” she said. “Right now, as we are still in year one, just the assessments are open call and we are selecting certain carriers for the pilot implementation.”
Vieira called the program a win-win for the economy and the environment.
“What we have heard is that in the (trucking) industry there’s a lack of information,” she said. “The greatest barrier for these companies is to implement any emission reductions technologies or practices. They don’t know enough about it, and most don’t understand the return on it. But this program will allow for a more customized approach. We are looking at their specific operations and their specific needs and catering to that. By the end of the program, carriers will know what works, and the real impact it has on the environment and their bottom line. And this will give them a competitive advantage. It saves trucking companies money and lowers their emissions. It’s a win-win, because they can see real results in their environmental footprint and bottom line.”
And the goal of the program is just that – to lower emissions from the transportation industry and help those carriers become more profitable.
“Our goal for this program is two-fold,” she said. “Emissions from heavy duty transport continues to increase. We have made significant improvement in light duty emissions, but because of the growing economy and demand for real-time delivery…the emissions from freight continue to increase. So (this program) is an attempt to bend the curve and tackle those emissions and give a greater understanding to transport companies about emissions, which then helps their bottom line, makes them more competitive, and lowers emissions.”
One fleet that has gone through the assessment phase already is Titanium Trucking Services. Greg Black, the company’s manager of fleet maintenance, said the program has helped Titanium know it is on the right track in terms of lowering emissions.
“I think above and beyond anything, it has certainly let us know we’re on the right track to be better at what we do,” he said. “One of the biggest struggles most trucking companies have is understanding return on investment. But this program just confirms the steps we’re taking to lower fuel costs and emissions is correct…if you invest in technology, then your ROI is going to come as long as you use programs like this to validate that you’re doing the right things.”
Black says Titanium has always been interested in lowering their greenhouse gas emissions.
“Being green is right at the top of the list for our company,” he said. “Because being green and investing money in technology is helping your carbon footprint number one, and you’re getting a payback for your investment.
“We thrive on this kind of program. I have to say technology lets us be good at our jobs and lets us perform well. And fleets that aren’t doing that…it’s going to be a struggle for them.”
After the program is complete in four years, Vieira says she hopes that further government intervention won’t be necessary for carriers to lower their emissions.
“What our hope is, after four years of programming, we have done enough of these, and there’s enough data and enough company profiles and company success stories that this becomes an activity that continues in the marketplace and no longer requires government intervention,” she said. “That is the ultimate goal, that we prove that it works, and that it’s important to take that deep dive into your operations.”