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The Canadian government has allocated C$51.2m ($37.25m) to support 19 projects aiming to improve the nation’s digital supply chain infrastructure.

“Strong supply chains help make the cost of living more affordable for Canadians,” said transport minister Pablo Rodriguez.

“Technological innovation will help make supply chains faster and more resilient. With these investments, we’re making sure crucial knowledge and information can be shared and acted on for the benefit of Canadian consumers, workers and businesses.”

Last year, the federal government launched a drive to advance supply chain digitalisation, inviting proposals for funding. The money is flowing out of Ottawa’s National Trade Corridors Fund, set up in 2017 to support critical infrastructure projects at trade gateways, railways, transport facilities and access roads. Since its inception C$4.1bn has been committed to such projects.

The latest funds will fuel seven projects at Canadian ports (including Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Halifax and Montreal), four projects at rail carriers (including both Class I railways), two at airports (Vancouver and Calgary), at two technology providers and at one logistics firm. The remaining three projects, by the Western Canadian Shippers Coalition, British Columbia Maritime Employers Association and Canadian Avalanche Association, are aiming to “significantly reduce closure times for rail and highway corridors while enhancing the safety of mountainous rail and highway lines during winter”.

The port of Vancouver garnered the largest chunk of the federal largesse, with C$9,267,500 going towards its C$18.535m Gateway Optimisation and Forecasting plan, which aims to enable seamless information sharing among stakeholders and enhance transport planning for future infrastructure improvements.

C$7,205,500 is going to Vancouver International Airport for the development of a “cargo situational awareness tool”, a C$14.411m project that aims to cut over 250,000 hours a year of truck dwell time and up to 15,000 hours a year of customs documentation processing, while reducing aircraft dwell time by up to 50%. In addition, it could boost cargo throughput by more than 83,000 tons, according to the airport authority’s application.

Logistics provider OEC Group is receiving the third-largest infusion, $6,769,500, towards its $14.189m project to address the limitations of transport management systems (TMS) and visibility platforms with the integration of new technologies.

Visibility across the global supply chain is impeded by the lack of a single, universal end-to-end platform, as historically, key stakeholders in the supply chain were resistant to collaboration and the sharing of data,” said OEC president and CEO Marc Bibeau.

“Our objective is to take the supply chain from the production line to the customer on all segments of the voyage, irrespective of the mode of transport, with accuracy,” he added.

His team will collaborate closely with other key stakeholders creating an supply chain ecosystem to establish common ground for such a solution. The main focus in the first phase of the project, which runs until Q4 26, will be “the gorilla in the room”, he said – intermodal cargo that involves ocean carriers, terminals, ground transport and customs.

Today, there is a lack of consistently accurate information on inbound/outbound cargo movements. In some cases, accurate information is not available until a few days prior to the arrival of cargo. A universal or shared platform and earlier information from all stakeholders would allow for better planning of required capacity and improve fluidity at the terminals and inland movements, explained Mr Bibeau.

Ultimately, the objective is to improve visibility across the Canadian supply chain, increase the capacity required to evacuate containers through the terminals and mitigate the impacts of congestion and bottlenecks, he added.

The smallest amount in this round of funding is C$256,177 towards establishing an intelligent vehicle management system for Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority. Deploying AI-enabled technology, the $512,354 project aims to bring visibility of all trucks and shipments entering and leaving the port area to allow better traffic flow planning and optimise the use of the congested facilities.

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