In this third paper of the AIMS Atlantica Ports Series, authors Jim Frost and Stephen Kymlicka examine what needs to be done to grow port traffic by increasing transload facilities. Reaching Out: Transload extends the accessible market in Halifax, takes an in-depth look at the state of warehousing and distribution in Halifax. It then discusses the strengths and weaknesses of a generic transload strategy and the potential application of such a strategy to the conditions in Halifax.

Frost and Kymlicka conclude that transload strategy makes a great deal of sense for Halifax.

“In fact, the potential growth could be 25 per cent; however, the exact size of the opportunity will depend on individual market forces across a broad range of industries,” say the authors.

Transload is a generic term for unloading freight from one transportation mode and reloading it into another. (For the purposes of this paper transload refers to unloading a container brought by ship and reloading it onto a transport truck.) The primary function of a transload facility is the repacking of goods to optimize returns on throughput by mixing and balancing loads, using equipment more efficiently and lowering costs while increasing services.

Frost and Kymlicka write:

“Distribution and logistics capabilities are increasingly important for the modern port because strategic location is not enough. Ports that have experienced the most dramatic growth over recent years have built and nurtured expansive distribution networks. This is most evident in Asia where governments have built mega-ports from nothing, based upon an understanding of population and industrial needs. However, there also have been dramatic examples in the West including hubs (pivots) like Gioia Tauro in Italy, Algeciras in Spain and gateways (load centres) like Savannah in Georgia. To remain competitive, historic ports have undertaken massive projects to improve their distribution capabilities (e.g., Los Angeles/Long Beach and the Alemeda Corridor project).”

The authors make two recommendations:

  1. Provide an adequate environment for transload. Primarily this means acquiring and zoning adequate space that ideally: is adjacent to the TransCanada; is designed to be accessible by both traditional rail and “road trains”; leverages traditional synergies with bonded customs warehouses or “container freight stations” (short-term warehouses); is away from residential areas; and is secured to both US and Canadian standards.
  2. Attract private sector investment through publication of a business case which quantifies the viable range of trucking and its tolerance to changes in fuel costs, exchange rates, etc.

To read the complete paper, click here.

The first two papers look at how continued trade barriers affect business for the port (Unfinished Business) and how the clusters associated with the port are spread much further than most other ports (Everybody Wins).