Port de Montréal's Challenge

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions relating to container trucking activities
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What is the Port of Montreal? What are the company’s objectives?

Operated by the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), the Port of Montreal is a major diversified trans-shipment centre that handles goods of all kinds: containerized and non-containerized, liquid bulk and solid bulk.

This leading container port covers close to 26 kilometres of riverbank and is served by the world’s largest container shipping lines. In 2015, it handled 32 million tonnes of cargo and welcomed 91,000 passengers and crewmembers at its cruise terminal. It manages 21 terminals where ships are loaded and unloaded.

The port has its own rail network directly dockside and is connected to the two national rail networks and a highway system. Port activity supports 16,000 jobs and generates $2.1 billion in economic spin-offs annually.

What problem are we trying to resolve?

Every day, thousands of trucks enter and exit the Port of Montreal’s facilities to deliver and pick up containers. Historically, the modal distribution of containers has always favoured rail (60/40) over truck. However, structural changes to the logistics chains connected to the port are changing origin-destination links. In short, the portion now handled by trucks is nearing 55%, and every indication suggests that this trend will continue.

In an ideal world, all trucks would arrive with a full container ready for export, and would leave with another full container destined for clients in the metropolitan region. In addition, truck traffic would be evenly distributed throughout the day, thereby avoiding the creation of traffic jams and wait lines at terminal entrances.

The situation is obviously more complex, as a proportion of trucks enter and exit empty, and they sometimes have to wait almost two hours to enter a terminal at certain times of day. The Port of Montreal is hoping to optimize the mobility of goods in order to reduce congestion and the resulting unnecessary greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, while maintaining an excellent customer experience.

To these ends, the Port of Montreal recently launched an application to announce wait times, allowing truckers to avoid gridlock at the entrances to the port and various terminals. The Trucking PORTal application delivers real-time truck traffic info and wait times at the port’s Cast, Racine, and Maisonneuve terminals. The application can be downloaded to smartphones and tablets, and can be used on computers.

PORTal has three main functions:

  • a display of the wait times and real-time views of the waiting lines at various terminals
  • a customizable SMS or email alert service when the wait time is too long, which allows the truck driver to advance or postpone his trip to the port terminal
  • a delivery/pick-up journal allowing the truck driver to view a history of his trips to the port.

Over time, this information should improve overall truck traffic flow by decreasing congestion while reducing the carbon footprint of trucking activities at the port.

The Port of Montreal is of the opinion that it is possible to go even further by proposing other initiatives to reduce traffic and improve the flow of trucks, both inside and outside the port territory, in order to reduce the carbon footprint of trucking activities, increase truck drivers’ productivity, and limit the impact on the quality of life of citizens living near the facilities.

What are our goals?

The Port of Montreal is seeking to reduce the movements of unproductive trucks at its facilities, that is, trucks travelling with empty trailers or empty containers. This reduction should lead to a decrease in the carbon footprint of port trucking activity in Greater Montréal.

Knowing that the range of possibilities is very broad, we are seeking solutions that can address at least one of the following three objectives as a matter of priority. A proposal that can reduce the movements of unproductive trucks while also tackling other objectives would, however, be welcome.

Objective 1:

Better understand the route of trucks that come to deliver and pick up containers, both in the port facilities and in the Greater Montréal region.

  • This knowledge could involve a mapping of truck traffic flow in the Greater Montréal region, drawing on historical data sets supplied by the port.
  • It could also involve real-time monitoring of a sample of trucks affiliated with a trucking company taking part in the federal Ottoview pilot project.
  • Or any other proposal deemed to be relevant to achieving the objective.

Objective 2:

Bring together conditions to favour the creation of predictive models in order to optimize truck movements.

  • The Port of Montreal has a significant number of data collectors and data sets relating to road carrier traffic within its facilities, as well as information on causal agents that affect truck driver behaviour. The Port would therefore like to explore opportunities to create predictive models of use and traffic volumes in its facilities in order to plan ways of reducing traffic, ameliorating its flow, and improving its management.

Objective 3:

Find ways to convince truck drivers and their employers to change their behaviour.

  • We are expecting too many trucks at the Port of Montreal in the next 24 hours. What do the trucker and employer do when they receive this warning from the alert system? Do they change their behaviour? Do they adjust their schedule? Do they ask us to open the terminals earlier and keep them open later (which is possible)?
  • What might convince a truck driver to change his habits? A rewards system in the form of a loyalty program? A more convincing way of viewing the PORTal data? A game that allows him to compare his productivity with that of others or with the average?
  • Should we equip willing truck drivers with cameras to get a better understanding?
  • What if we offered ways of personalizing PORTal according to the specific needs and conditions of each driver? Would this result in a change in behaviour? What type of personalization should we try?
  • In short, we want to demonstrate the relevance of the process associated with the Trucking PORTal.

The Port of Montreal will provide the start-up with access to relevant members of its team and to the following elements:

  • access to a vast set of existing historical data collected over the past 12 months
  • the opportunity to work with a group of voluntarily participating truck drivers
  • access to port facilities in order to install data collectors, as required (RFID chips, cameras, etc.).

The proposed solution may be incorporated into the PORTal application or be completely independent, provided it can demonstrate the merits of reducing GHG emissions relating to trucking activity at the port.

What is the target: who is being addressed?

First and foremost:

  • truck drivers
  • trucking companies (employers)

Up to 2,500 trucks frequent the port every day, including some 1,600 to 1,800 making container transactions at one of the four international terminals (Cast, Maisonneuve, Racine, and Viau). All of the container trucks must go through a common security checkpoint located at the corner of Notre-Dame and Boucherville streets, which also serves as a common waiting area. It is here, in particular, that congestion can occur during peak traffic times. Whether they are independent or employed, truck drivers want to maximize their number of transactions per day at the port, and delays can obviously have a negative impact on their productivity, while also adding undesirable costs to the logistics chain.

The port trucking sector is a fragmented one: while hundreds of trucking companies frequent the port, a significant proportion of transactions are concentrated among some twenty companies. This could eventually make for an interesting sample group or pilot project from the start-up’s point of view.

What will be the framework of the pilot project to prove the validity of the solution? What are the indicators of success?

The framework for the project will specify the facilities to be targeted in the pilot project, the duration, and the types of tests that will be carried out, as well as the target groups that will be used for sampling. This framework shall be proposed during the private meeting and may be adapted according to the needs expressed by the selected start-up.

The indicators of success are the following:

  • number of people that will use the service
  • quality of data collected
  • solution’s ability to demonstrate a potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • involvement of the various stakeholders.

The selected start-up will have to propose a realistic schedule for the pilot project.

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