Gordon Bacon, CEO of Pulse Canada uses an airline analogy to try and paint the picture of what the western Canadian agriculture industry’s logistics could look like. “If I’m on a plane bound for Europe, and I leave Winnipeg, routing through Toronto, and something happens while I’m in the air so that it means I won’t make my flight to Europe, there should be a mechanism in place to have me re-booked through to my destination before I land,” he says. That happening is a stretch for the airline business, but at the very least, once on the ground Bacon would be able to ask someone what his options were to get to Europe. If instead of a person, we were using a container shipment or amount of grain destined for an overseas market, could anything like this happen now? Not even close, says Bacon.
And that’s because there are two fundamental flaws in the Canadian logistics systems: a lack of data being captured in an easily shareable and readable format (so as to measure and compare performance); and, two, a means to communicate up and down the logistics line when a problem occurs.
Pulse Canada is leading a 5 year, $3.2 million project that seeks to, at least in part, work on solutions to both of these shortfalls of the Canadian grain handling system. The cost-shared project, announced today, will receive $1.5 million from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s AgriMarketing program. Matching funds, for a grand total of $3.2 million, will come from Pulse Canada, the Grain Growers of Canada, the Canadian Canola Growers Association (CCGA), the Alberta Wheat Commission, the Western Grain Elevators Association (WGEA) and the Inland Terminals Association of Canada (ITAC), and the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association.
In the interview below, Bacon outlines the project, what the goals are for the next five years and the drivers behind putting together this multi-group, multifaceted project. This project, in the works for more than 18 months, isn’t likely to solve the 2014 logistics woes, but it is a first step in, possibly, driving change within the industry.
If you cannot see the embedded player, click here to hear the interview.