The History of XTL Distribution

It was March 18, 1985, and Serge Gagnon, now President and CEO was nervously pacing the driveway at the newly formed XTL Transport Inc.’s Racine Road terminal. The first XTL truck was due to complete its fledgling journey from Montreal. It was the culmination of months of planning and strategizing. Would reality live up to the dream? 

Of course, the first XTL truck rolled up right on time, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

XTL Transport was initially formed to provide truckload service between points in Ontario and Quebec. XTL set up shop on either end of its principal route. And (if you can believe it) the company geared up with just four employees in Montreal, four employees in Toronto, 25 vans, six owner operators, a black rotary phone, a card table and a few folding chairs. 

Only a few months after starting up operations, XTL added warehousing capabilities to provide customers with break bulk services in both Toronto and Montreal. This break bulk service which brought large paper rolls down from the major paper mills in Quebec became one of the competitive advantages of XTL’s operation. For this purpose, XTL introduced tri-axle vans which allowed a larger payload to be transported across Ontario and Quebec. Loads on these vans were then broken down at the new Toronto distribution center and shipped to the U.S. in smaller quantities where weight restrictions were considerably more stringent. The system increased the volume of freight that was shipped by XTL into the U.S. and further enabled the company to compete with short-haul U.S. carriers. 

In 1992, XTL distribution expanded again. The Montreal warehouse facility moved to Lachine and tripled in size from 15,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet. Not to be outdone, Toronto’s warehouse and office facilities moved to Rexdale Boulevard in Etobicoke, thereby acquiring warehouse space of 80,000 square feet. The new Lachine and Etobicoke distribution centres offered private rail accessibility allowing XTL to further enhance their value-add in the break bulk department through boxcar services.  

Dorval, QC, 2004

In 2004, XTL built a new 100,000 square foot warehouse in Dorval, a major milestone for XTL’s Distribution presence in Quebec. The facility also sported rail siding to ensure the company continued to meet the growing needs of their customer base. At the same time, XTL doubled its warehouse space in Toronto, securing additional square footage at their home on Rexdale Boulevard and restored portions of the rail siding that had been filled in by previous tenants. This increased XTL’s receiving capacity from three boxcars to 14 per day and continues to be a sought-after service in the GTA. 

With over a quarter million square feet of warehouse space in the Toronto and Montreal markets, XTL Distribution was well on its way to becoming a leader in Warehousing and Distribution 

Montreal-East, QC, 2018

Fast forward to today and XTL Distribution Inc has grown to nearly 1.5 million square feet across 7 facilities, and is proudly located in 4 of the major distribution centres in Canada; Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and most recently Calgary, AB opening July 2022. The opening of the Calgary DC is an exciting milestone because it means XTL now has all three of their distinct service offerings in each of their four main operating centers – asset-based transportation, logistics, and warehousing & distribution.  One thing XTL continues to do to this day is invest in continuous improvements for the business.  Not only is XTL still located at the Etobicoke head office on Rexdale Boulevard since 1992, two other facilities have been added to support the growth of long-term partners in the GTA area. Similarly, the Dorval warehouse that opened in 2004 became the first of XTL’s facilities to receive HACCP certification in 2021 to complement the evolving product mix. This diversification was fueled by the construction of a brand new, state-of-the-art facility in Montreal-East in order to maintain the rail siding after the local REM public transit project disrupted the rail accessibility in Dorval. The new facility, fully equipped with rail-siding and the latest in energy efficiency technologies, stands at 333,000 square feet and is XTL’s largest facility to date.   

Delta, BC, 2021

After initially reaching the west coast in 2019, the latest chapter in XTL Distribution’s story opens at 1980 104 Ave NE in Calgary, AB July 2022. Always with the partnership in mind, this move was driven by XTL’s desire to provide customers with the most competitive advantage for their supply chains. Calgary is quickly becoming a preferred transportation hub in Western Canada for a multitude of reasons. When comparing to Vancouver, over all supply chain costs are lower in Calgary. This is because Calgary is strategically located for transportation in all directions resulting in lower distribution costs to nearly all of the major cities within North America. This outweighs the higher landed transportation costs that would otherwise be incurred on shipments that originate from Asia. Cost savings are actualized further if supplies are sourced from within North American or European markets. When looking at factors such as leasing or purchasing land and real estate, costs are once again higher in Vancouver. Similarly, there is less available land for future commercial development in the Greater Vancouver Area which will continue to drive existing costs up in that market. With a strong, educated workforce and room for future growth, Calgary is the place to be, and we can help.  

Contact us now to see how we can bring the Calgary advantage to you.  

The Heart of Safety

The concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has received a lot of attention recently as more companies try to satisfy the public demand to make their safety, social and environmental impacts a centerpiece of their corporate policies. Briefly put, CSR is a business model that helps a company understand and be accountable for all its effects in the community in which it operates. The idea is for companies to acknowledge that impact and enact policies and procedures that help to mitigate it.   

Corporate Social Responsibility is not a new concept at XTL. It has long been a focus of the way we do business. And one of the most critical aspects of our approach to CSR is safety. We have based this approach to safety on a single premise: safe driving practices lead to safer roads, which means safer communities. But for us, safety implies much more than simply training our drivers to drive safely, although we do that too. It is entrenched in our policies, in the technologies we embed in our systems, in the way we manage and inspect our equipment and even in the way we purchase our insurance. Here is a quick look at all the ways that XTL reaffirms its commitment to our corporate safety responsibility every day. 

Safety First Policies   

Our safety-first policies start with a rigorous onboarding procedure for our new employees, take for example our cross border drivers. After 2.5 days of orientation, new drivers receive a minimum of two weeks of on-the-job training with an experienced mentor. This is followed by 30-, 60- and 90-day reviews as well as annual reviews for all drivers regardless of experience.  

When an adverse event happens, the director and trainers review it to determine the root cause and then resolve it with corrective actions and remedial training if necessary. They may also harness the information they gather about the event to use in training opportunities for the entire fleet. All events, including hard braking, collision mitigation, speeding and stability control, are captured on video and reviewed by this team. Telematic data trends are gathered and tracked in a scorecard.  

However, our actions are not just reactive when it comes to safety. We have also kept a focus on preventative measures that encourage and reward safe behaviours. This year, we have introduced a recognitions program that celebrates our drivers for their safety achievements, including individual awards tied to the number of years a driver has remained accident-free.  

When they are out on the road, our drivers understand that they can and should stop when it is not safe, regardless of their hours of service. This includes if they are feeling tired, drowsy or ill. We further instruct our drivers to stop in a safe rest area when storms become strong or dangerous.  

Our industry typically pays by the mile, which means drivers receive the same pay no matter how long their trip takes, hence creating a mindset for the driver to rush and complete their trip as quickly as possible. However, at XTL, we incentivize safety. We pay our drivers based on the hours worked to ensure their focus is on safety rather than speed. They do not need to make up for lost time or income.  

Insurance Captive 

XTL has joined with a group of 20 plus other best in class carriers to form a Captive Insurance Group. This means that our safety scores directly affect the entire group and the group premiums we all pay. It makes us accountable not only to ourselves, but also to every other member of our insurance group. As far back as 2010, the Safety group within the captive created a campaign on the importance of professional behaviour and the impact it has on our safety. At XTL we continue to build on this with the mantra that no load is more important than your safety; in a heartbeat, things can change forever.  

Safe Driving Technologies 

XTL governs our trucks far more stringently than is required by governmental legal mandates, which helps keep everyone safe but also reduces our impact on the environment. To accomplish this, we have invested in critical tractor technology, including:  

  • Collision avoidance systems 
  • Blind spot radar detection 
  • ABS with stability and roll control 
  • Satellite and GPS systems 
  • Electronic logs  
  • Speed limiters fleet wide 
  • Automatic transmissions 

To ensure we can implement these new technologies as soon as they are available, we have also reduced our tractor trade cycle. Our tractors are, on average, less than two years old and our trailers less than five years.  

We continue to emphasize safety aspects in our social media and communications to our employees, including our recent support of distracted driving awareness month in April.  

Our commitment to ensuring the safety of our people and the communities in which we operate is integrated into every aspect of life at XTL. It is the focus of our support of continuous training, acts of appreciation and recognition and, of course, in our commitment to purchasing the latest in safety technologies for our fleet. However, the most crucial aspect of our approach to safety remains professional behaviour.  

We have stayed true to a simple mantra first voiced in that ground-breaking 2010 campaign: no load is more important than safety.  

Driving For a Greener Tomorrow

Earlier this year, we sat down with SmartWay to discuss the benefits of our partnership and how XTL is driving for a greener tomorrow. In honour of Earth Day this month, we wanted to share a teaser from that interview.  

  The Power of Partnership 

 XTL Transport has built its 35-plus-year success on long-term partnerships. Since being founded in 1985, the privately owned company has forged close connections with a growing roster of customers. XTL Transport works with them to create customized interplant, direct-to-customer, and end-to-end supply chain solutions. As a consequence of this emphasis on understanding and meeting the specialized requirements of each customer, the company has nurtured trusted partnerships with many Fortune 100 and 500 companies in the food, pharmaceutical, retail, pulp and paper, electronics and consumer-packaged goods industries. 

 XTL Transport’s partnerships extend to its suppliers of trucks and trailers. Throughout its evolution, the company has worked with trusted suppliers Eaton, Cummins and International to develop increasingly fuel-efficient engines and integrate fuel-efficiency best practices into its equipment. As a result, XTL Transport has developed a customized fleet of 456 power units and 1,273 dry and temperature-controlled trailers. 

 “All our activities and resulting success are built on deep relationships,” said Luc Francoeur, XTL Transport’s vice-president of sales and marketing. “We take the time and effort necessary to forge solid partnerships, because we have learned that they work best for our company over the long haul—and we’re in business for the long haul. We instill this spirit throughout the organization.” 

 A new enduring relationship 

The spirit Luc speaks of is evident in XTL Transport’s decision to add rigour to its efforts to become more fuel efficient. In 2008, the company established ties with a new long-term partner that would help benchmark its performance and inspire new sustainability initiatives: SmartWay. Informed and inspired by the program, XTL Transport was able to gain better perspective on how its sustainability efforts were performing and then close performance gaps and focus on areas for improvement. 

 The biggest benefit of its partnership with SmartWay came when XTL Transport instituted its personalized driver management program. The initiative was introduced to support the drivers and give them open, direct lines of communication. It is anchored on a data-based emissions audit, diligently studied by drivers and key members of the company’s safety and maintenance team.  

 “The driver management program has been a win-win-win,” said Jason Wood, XTL Transport’s senior director of fleet maintenance. “It’s a win for our drivers, a win for our customers, and a win for us as an environmentally conscious business. Over the last decade, we’ve achieved a 20 percent increase in fuel economy.” 

 Driving for a greener tomorrow 

The experience of these partnership successes is inspiring XTL Transport to carry out a further series of emissions-reducing reforms… 

Stay tuned to see what we’ve got in store for the future upon release of the full interview.  

XTL Awarded Trucking HR Canada’s Top Fleet Employer of Distinction for 2nd year

We are honoured to be recognized by Trucking HR Canada for the Top Fleet Employer of Distinction award for the second year in a row.

“The Top Fleet Employers program is a national program recognizing the importance of having and implementing sound HR policies and practices in the trucking and logistics industry. All applicants were rated on topics including recruitment and retention practices, workplace culture, compensation, training and skills development, and innovative HR practices. Additionally, employers who have been recognized in the program for a minimum of 5 years are awarded Top Fleet Employer of Distinction status.” – Trucking HR Canada

We are proud of our team for this achievement, and would like to congratulate all the other winners helping to move our industry forward.

Thank you!

Maritime Shipping’s Troubling Year – A Timeline Making Waves

In March 2021 the Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal. That was just the beginning.

On March 23, 2021, heavy winds buffeted the 400 metre long Ever Given, wedging it sideways between the banks of the Suez Canal. The ship and the 18,000 containers it carried remained stuck for six days, shutting down one of the world’s key trading routes. Over 400 other ships piled up behind it as they were prevented from entering the blocked canal. The incident stalled USD$60 billion in trade and was a defining moment in the global supply chain crisis.

In the year since the Ever Given ran aground, very little has changed, and yet, in some ways, everything has changed. Here’s a look at the major maritime events of 2021 and what it can tell us for 2022.

April

The Suez backlog continued throughout the next month and quickly spread to other ports, leading to a Trans-Pacific container crunch as ships sat idle. Exacerbating the issue was the impact of North American port congestion on the global container imbalance which resulted in many containers going empty back to Asia. Officials at the Port of Los Angeles referred to the steady stream of incoming ships as their own “March Madness” and vowed to get the average 29 ships waiting at anchor down to zero. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen. By mid-April, truck drivers represented by the Teamsters union went on strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. North of the border employees also went on strike at the Port of Montreal until they were forced back to work by legislators.

May

In May, container ships failed to keep up as demand continued to grow and the cost of containers surged. Speculation mounted on the production capacity of the three companies producing 80% of the world’s containers. A top maritime official launched an informal investigation into a possible container monopoly. At the Port of Los Angeles, officials continued to deal with a parking lot of ships, further delaying both existing shipments and returns to other ports.

June

By early June, desperate shippers were paying rates exceeding USD$135,000 per day to secure container ships, while Home Depot opted to contract its own ship in a bid to solve the problem. Chassis and labour shortages continued to hammer ocean carriers and train services while a massive crane collapse took out more containers in Taiwan. The port of Yantian, one of the world’s largest container ports, was shut down by Chinese officials as part of a zero-tolerance Covid policy when five crew members tested positive. It would remain stalled for weeks as upwards of 160,000 containers piled up on its docks. Major carriers cancelled sailings to Yantian, but that sparked a domino effect as other Chinese ports tried to absorb the extra volume and quickly became consumed by it as well.

July

As demand for ships continued to outstrip supply, ports continued to be plagued by disasters, both natural and manufactured. Wildfires in BC and the Western US fueled the container backlog as inland movement was disrupted by damaged rail infrastructure. Meanwhile, typhoons pummeled ports in China and other parts of Asia. Covid-19 counter-measures in Vietnam shut down both manufacturers and ports in that country, bruising the supply chain further. On the bright side, 106 days after it became wedged in the Suez Canal, the Ever Given was released and finally limped into the Port of Rotterdam.

August

Canadian Border services began a work slowdown “threatening a dramatic impact to Canada’s supply chain”. In China, Covid cases partially shut down the Port of Nighbo. Chinese coastal ports required a 14 to 21-day quarantine for imported cargoes after they departed from specific countries, further compounding existing shipping delays. Meanwhile, Los Angeles surpassed its own record with over 40 ships anchored and waiting in line to be unloaded. Canadian Tire Corp., in an effort to give itself some more supply chain flexibility, bought a 25% stake in one of British Columbia’s largest inland ports.

September

Chaos reigned in ports on both sides of the Pacific. The number of container ships anchored off Shanghai and Ningbo surged as 242 container ships waited for berths countrywide. As shipping charter rates topped USD$200,000 per day, Costco and Ikea followed Home Depot’s example and also chartered their own ships. A growing power crisis in Asia and Europe rendered Chinese factories powerless, further delaying manufacturing and exports ahead of North America’s busy holiday season. The TransPacific traffic snarl continued to worsen as the Port of Los Angeles backlog grew to 73 ships. The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach rolled out pilot programs to test expanding nights and weekend hours.

October

Walmart joined the list of major companies chartering their own ships. An increase in shipping accidents throughout the year plagued the Pacific threatening traffic on that already clogged route. The latest resulted in more than 100 overboard containers on the Zim Kingston, followed by 10 containers – 2 of which contained hazardous materials – that caught fire aboard the same ship off Vancouver Island.  The Port of Los Angeles announced it would begin operating 24/7 in a bid to reduce the number of ships waiting at anchor. It didn’t work, and the backlog continued to grow. A new threat to shipping emerged as the price of fuel rose to its highest point since 2014.

November

Cybercriminal activity targeted the vulnerable shipping industry over the past several months, selling off access to critical information and logistics. Massive flooding in British Columbia essentially cut off Vancouver from the rest of the country, issuing in a state of emergency as rail lines and highways closed. Labour shortages continued to wreak havoc at most ports, with Covid-19 illnesses and lockdowns causing most issues.  The Port of Vancouver was then hit with another labour obstacle as truckers threatened to strike.  Marine fuel was up 47% since the beginning of the year and an estimated 3 million containers waited on ships at ports around the world.

December

The container shortage worsened as empty containers piled up at global ports, most simply at the wrong place or at the wrong time. Customers with spoiled products or outdated seasonal imports simply abandoned their containers. The Port of Vancouver ship backlog hit 60 while the empty container situation worsened across the globe. Over 70,000 sat empty on Los Angeles terminals or dock depots, with more than half remaining there for nine days or more. Worse, delays on routes from China to the US west coast increased steadily, with only three in 10 container vessels arrived on time at their destination.

January

Los Angeles hit a new record with 105 container ships waiting to berth. Waiting times to discharge or pick up cargoes in Long Beach near Los Angeles reached 38 days to 45 days. Multiple ports in China once again faced restricted access or shutdowns due to zero-covid policy impacting goods ahead of the Chinese New Year.

February

The number of ships waiting off the coast of California dropped to 66, however, this reflected ships being rerouted to other US ports, as countrywide the total number of vessels waiting for berths was comparable with early January numbers at 147. These reroutes continued to add cost and transit time to shipments on board. Nearly a year after the Ever Given, the Suez Canal toll hike adds to shipping costs, but it looks like that might be just the beginning. New annual contracts will likely lock in much higher shipping rates to compensate for higher fuel costs, longer transit times and port layovers. Despite a multilateral probe looking at possible collusion with shipping lines, it is unlikely these rates will drop anytime soon.

The Ever Given did not cause the current shipping crisis, but it did herald a series of unfortunate events that fed the current crisis. And now the world faces a new threat with Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. This devastating war that has already claimed thousands of lives and the destruction of Europe’s “breadbasket” also threatens to increase inflationary pressures. Prices for fuel, food and metals are expected to soar. The ongoing computer chip shortage will be further devasted as Ukraine cannot ship necessary neon gas exports. Ukrainian ports have been closed, affecting trans-European shipping and by association world trade.

What’s ahead

It does look like global Covid restrictions are easing in some parts of the world which could help ease clogged ports. It will take time for the supply chain to recover from the events of 2021, and no one expects a quick fix, but there are hopeful signs. Inventories are slowly being rebuilt across the globe, and higher interest rates could help ease inflation and demand. The US has pledged $450 million in port grants to relieve congestion and improve efficiencies which would have a positive impact on the global supply chain as North American port congestion greatly impacts global container availability and equipment imbalances.  As supply chain woes dominated the airwaves, it also led to an uptick in maritime tech deals, which could bring greater visibility to the industry, allowing for better planning and more streamlined operations.

With so much disruption and uncertainty these past couple years, one thing remains consistent: partnership and communication are more important than ever. Whether your freight moves by ocean or not, you will have undoubtedly experienced delays at the hand of these maritime events. Marine disruption and container imbalances directly impact rail, road, air and warehousing services. Staying on top of current issues can be challenging when individual incidents create such a ripple effect, and that is why we have taken the time to piece together the major maritime events that continue to impact the current global supply chain.  We believe understanding how and why costs have been increasing helps us navigate the current crisis, find solutions and mitigate the impact. Even though 2022 will continue to be a difficult year for shippers and carriers alike, together, we can create supply chain solutions. Visit our website to learn more about our end-to-end, transport, logistics, intermodal and distribution services.

Photo by Suez Canal Authority/Handout/AFP via Getty Images

References:

  1. https://www.businessinsider.com/suez-canal-shipping-backlog-caused-ever-given-to-end-imminently-2021-4#:~:text=A%20shipping%20backlog%20of%20more,world’s%20biggest%20shipping%20company%20warned.
  2. Truck drivers strike at Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – Splash247
  3. https://www.freightwaves.com/news/how-three-chinese-companies-cornered-global-container-production
  4. https://www.ctvnews.ca/business/senate-passes-legislation-to-force-striking-port-of-montreal-employees-back-to-work-1.5408588
  5. North America responsible for the world’s container shortages – Splash247
  6. https://www.freightwaves.com/news/us-regulator-probing-chinas-role-in-container-shortage
  7. https://www.freightwaves.com/news/container-ship-scores-off-the-charts-fantasy-charter-rate-135000-day#:~:text=In%20a%20sign%20of%20just,foot%20equivalent%20units%20(TEUs).
  8. https://www.businessinsider.com/home-depot-container-ship-over-delays-rising-shipping-costs-2021-6
  9. https://www.freightwaves.com/news/oocl-vessel-blamed-for-crane-collapse-at-taiwan-port
  10. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/21/business/shenzhen-port-delays.html
  11. https://www.freightwaves.com/news/yantian-port-back-at-full-speed-box-recovery-could-take-a-month
  12. Port of Vancouver Reports Congestion Delays as Rail Service Resumes (maritime-executive.com)
  13. Northern California wildfires damage BNSF’s rail infrastructure – FreightWaves
  14. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-07-25/china-evacuates-over-100-000-as-typhoon-lands-in-eastern-china
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  16. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/27/supply-chains-freight-rail-ports/
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  18. https://www.freightwaves.com/news/canada-border-officers-to-begin-work-slowdown
  19. https://www.reuters.com/world/china/chinese-ports-choke-over-zero-tolerance-covid-19-policy-2021-08-17/
  20. https://www.freightwaves.com/news/china-bulker-pileup-dwarfs-california-container-ship-gridlock
  21. https://retailwire.com/discussion/canadian-tire-buys-part-of-a-shipping-port-in-move-to-upgrade-its-supply-chain/
  22. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/container-ships-now-piling-anchorages-201330706.html
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  25. https://marinemonks.com/ikea-charters-ships-to-battle-shipping-crunch/
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Breaking the Bias: Correcting the Gender Imbalance in Trucking & Logistics

“The industry’s gender imbalance is a complex issue but one that requires us to think about the most appropriate strategies to get it right.” – Trucking HR Canada

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and this year’s theme of Breaking the Bias, XTL recognizes the importance of women in the workplace and industry of Trucking & Logistics. At XTL, women have been given every opportunity for success and development. 44% of our management team are women which is significantly higher than the industry standard of less than 5% according to Trucking HR Canada.

XTL believes it is important to have a diverse and equal representation of both genders on our team. According to Truckers Human Resource Sector Council (THRSC), companies with higher percentages of women outperformed those with the least by 66%. XTL encourages women in the transportation industry by providing professional development, leadership programs, mentoring, and career advancement. 

XTL is breaking the bias with women in the workplace, especially in the Trucking & Logistics industry. Let’s celebrate our team! 

“The transportation industry is still perceived as a “male-dominated” industry. As we advance and have more representation of women, we will be able to reverse that perception. Breaking the bias also means taking risks and joining an industry that is considered to have that bias and recognizing for yourself that you can make a difference. I personally encourage any women I know to learn more about our industry and for those that are already in our industry that there is nothing stopping them from growing in the industry! The sky is the limit!” Merany Khun, Chief Financial Officer 

“Slowly, the ratio of women is increasing in the industry and also in key positions. We see more and more women who are role models.”- Valérie Blanchard, Senior HR Advisor

“It makes me proud that we have come this far and women in our country can hold any job they want, go to any school and any program they choose.  There is still lots of work to do in other countries but as a Canadian woman I am proud of where we are today.” – Stephanie Gagnon, Director of Western Terminals

“The transportation industry has always been considered a “man’s world” or “male dominant.” Today, we’re seeing women make huge strides, not only in their careers but in the industry as a whole.” – Kamilia Baroudi, Senior HR Director

XTL celebrates women in the workplace and Trucking & Logistics industry. We aim to attract and retain women to grow our talent, improve our company culture, and increase our economic success. We are proud to have such a diverse group of women as employees will continue to grow!

Happy International Women’s Day! 

References: 

https://thrsc.com/advancing-women-in-the-trucking-industry/making-the-case/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3zZpzxdxQs

https://truckinghr.com/gender-imbalance-in-trucking-and-logistics/

https://truckinghr.com/labour-market-information/

https://www.womenstruckingfederationofcanada.net/

Additional Quotes: 

“At XTL, women have been given every opportunity for success and development. We hold key positions in every department, even in areas that typically would be held by a male.” – Heather Savage, Billing and Settlement Manager

“To those women in the transportation industry – you can achieve everything you put the work in for, go get it!” – Audrey Belair, US Operation Manager

“Our industry has evolved a lot over the decades that I’ve been in it.  It’s more sophisticated but still all about the people.  I never intended a career in transport but once I got in, there was no going back.” – Lorraine Koehler, Vice President of Shared Services

 “Keep Trucking! Changes are coming and don’t be afraid to apply for those male-dominated jobs.” – Ann-Marie Pereira, Credit Manager

“Having great female role models in this business is huge!” – Sukhy Hayre, Controller

“International Women’s Day is a powerful commemoration day that unites us, women, to celebrate social, economical, and political achievements. It is a great opportunity to raise awareness of the progress that has been made over the years to achieve equality in the workplace and acknowledge the steps that still need to be made.” – Laura Galvis, Terminal Manager

“We need more people in the transportation industry, women can be a great source of recruitment if we give them the opportunity.” – Caroline Francoeur, General Manager Savoie Express

“I have been a driver for almost 20 years!” – Hélène Dupuis, Driver

“International Women’s Day allows me to look back on progress as a society and also my personal progress.” – Cynthia Héroux, Driver

 

A Shortage of Trucking Parts is Affecting More Than Just Trucking Companies

Factors impacting the part shortage and what it means for companies and consumers

We all know there is a supply chain crisis. Alongside the pandemic and rising costs, it has dominated the news cycle over the last few months. Issues in the supply chain have directly impacted the trucking companies and the industry that supports it, triggering a severe shortage of parts which, in turn, has driven up the costs of both new and used trucks.

Rising prices for truck parts and both new and old trucks

Parts shortages, particularly with chips and rubber, are impacting the whole automotive sector, including commercial and consumer vehicles alike. In response to this and ongoing labour shortages, manufacturers have increasingly shifted their focus to the consumer market. This has limited the availability of new trucks, and as supply has dwindled, prices for new equipment have risen. Used trucks, however, have also sharply increased in price as companies increasingly turn their attention to used vehicle options. Used truck tractor prices rose in Canada by 14% this year alone, while used vocational trucks cost an additional 20%, according to used truck dealers Ritchie Bros.

These shortages are happening just as trucking companies have a unique opportunity amid increased capacity to expand their fleets and step in to help mitigate supply chain issues. Instead, many are committing additional resources to sourcing the parts needed to keep their older equipment in service as orders are reduced, delayed or even cancelled outright.

From the pandemic to freak weather events- a perfect storm.

Equipment shortages began early in 2020 when the pandemic shut down factories and led to a scarcity of the computer chips used in many modern goods, including medical equipment, cell phones and, of course, trucks. Most modern trucks contain 15 to 35 chips powering everything from rear cameras to emergency brakes. However, while the chip shortage continues, a perfect storm of weather, labour and other issues have now made things much worse.

A year after the pandemic began, the Evergreen ran to ground and blocked the Suez Canal for six days, virtually freezing delivery of various goods, including oil, and doing long term damage to the global supply chain. At the same time, global ports were heavily affected by government-mandated shutdowns and labour shortages and continue to be. Pandemic related lockdowns and illness have slowed down the movement of goods and contributed to a growing shortage of the labour needed to keep these goods moving. And this is occurring even as e-commerce and government stimulus increases demand. Trucks and parts are often caught in the middle as manufacturers, ports and even distribution centres are affected.

Weather events have exacerbated the impact of these events. Tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires and massive winter storms have shut down highways and ports alike, slowing down the delivery of goods including parts.

Stockpiling is also a global issue for some products. Tire manufacturers continue to struggle with China stockpiling rubber just as the world’s rubber crop was heavily damaged by disease and floods. Volatility in steel pricing spurred by trade wars and other factors have led to issues with certain parts. The availability of specific lubricants, including oil, have been affected by halts in production caused by the pandemic and weather events. Even the wood used to build trailer beds has been in short supply.

The delivery of these products has been an ongoing issue throughout the pandemic. Many other parts, which used to ship overnight, are now taking weeks, with some orders cancelled outright. Other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have limited the number of parts that companies can order to manage availability.

Even though demand for trucks and parts is surging, material shortages have halted growth

What does the shortage of truck parts and equipment mean for you?

The higher costs of parts, labour and equipment, have translated into higher operating costs for transportation companies. It is also reducing the capacity of fleets even as demand for their services has grown. These higher costs are often passed along to customers, who then charge higher prices to consumers.

The end could be in sight, but price reductions may lag

Most experts believe that the parts shortage will ease, but they also warn that the existing pricing structure may outlast the parts shortage, at least in the short term as manufacturers catch up. While much of the rising cost associated with the parts shortage is unavoidable, our customers can take steps to reduce the impact on their operations and consumers.

How XTL secures your supply chain

XTL runs new-model equipment. Our tractors have an average age of two years, while trailers are five years old on average. We are constantly turning our fleet over to take advantage of greater aerodynamics, fuel savings and producing lower emissions than ever before.

To accomplish this, we leverage long-standing partnerships with suppliers whom we have worked with since our inception, including Manac (for trailers) and International (for tractors).

We plan in advance for new equipment and have recurring annual orders with these suppliers. Supply chain issues might reduce order sizes or cause delays, but our established relationship with suppliers and our proactive approach keep us at the front of the line for deliveries.

We also have full-service bays at many of our terminals to ensure a well-maintained fleet for both your inbound and outbound logistics. And, of course, we keep spare parts stocked to further reduce downtime for equipment and keep trucks on the road.

What you can do to protect your interests

XTL continuously works to mitigate the effect of these shortages and rising prices on our customers through the combined key strengths of our three distinct offerings: asset-based transportation, logistics and warehousing & distribution. By leveraging an end-to-end solution, like that offered by XTL, you can take advantage of our extensive network of partners and our dedicated team of professionals focused on helping you develop effective, efficient supply chain solutions throughout North America. Learn more about the end-to-end solutions offered by XTL.

 

2021 Year in Review – XTL and the Transportation Industry

2021 was a challenging year for everyone.  While industry, economic factors and COVID-19 brought many hardships, XTL continued to grow.  Here’s what we were up to in 2021 and also some of the major market forces that challenged us last year.

2021 Milestones at XTL

Key Industry Trends and Challenges in 2021

Port Congestion

Port congestion was, and continues to be a major issue in the transportation industry. Through a combination of factors such as the imbalance of shipping containers, changes in consumer spending, high volumes, unavailable chassis, disrupted rail lines and labour issues to name a few, ports all over North America saw record numbers of ships at anchor with compounding factors increasing average dwell times on equipment. These delays resulted in higher levels of safety stock, impacting warehousing levels and further driving up shipping volumes.

Equipment and Part Shortages

In the face of COVID-19 lockdowns and absences, many part suppliers and manufacturers haven’t been able to keep up with demand.  Lack of key truck parts and raw materials such as rubber, steel and semiconductor chips impacted not only the supply of new equipment but also in maintaining and keeping existing fleets on the road. Lumber shortages and price increases also impacted trailer production with wood being the primary flooring material for dry vans.  All of these shortages were even further exacerbated by the increase in demand coupled with shipping delays.

 Natural Disasters in BC

There were more than 1600 fires burning more than 8,700 square kilometers of land this year according to the CBC.  In addition to the fires, 2021 was also a dire year for flooding and mudslides for the province. This led to many road closures and delays that effected the transportation of goods throughout all of Canada. In both instances, Canadian Pacific and Canadian National Railway had to suspend service on their lines, putting further pressure on the trucking sector as container shipments were converted over the road, drawing in truck capacity that would have otherwise serviced alternate North American markets.

Bright Outlook for 2022

While we don’t know exactly what challenges 2022 will bring XTL is focused on growth and customer service.  Our Nation Wide team of drivers, logistics professionals and distribution facilities will continue to rise to meet the challenges ahead.  Contact XTL Today if you need help with your shipping needs in 2022.

XTL TRANSPORT IS EXPANDING IN WESTERN CANADA

As part of XTL’s strategic growth plan, we are expanding our asset-based refrigerated transport and dry trucking operations in Alberta and British Columbia. By increasing our presence in Western Canada, we aim to enhance our domestic and cross border services.

XTL is adding a significant number of both dry and refrigerated units to our fleet to meet our customers’ evolving demands. A key objective of our Western expansion is to provide the best equipment to attract qualified drivers with the experience and training to eliminate downtime, increase efficiencies and operate in the safest manner possible.

Our new temperature-controlled trailers are state-of-the-art and designed with the future of refrigerated transport in mind. Not only are they equipped with live diagnostics and 2-way communications, but they are insulated with 100% recyclable materials. We’re proud to be among the first carriers to invest in these recyclable units, demonstrating our commitment to protecting the environment by eliminating waste when our vehicles are decommissioned.

Our expansion into Western Canada will help us meet our customers’ needs and open opportunities to further improve our processes. We  look forward to our new advancements as XTL keeps evolving as a leader in our field.

XTL Just Received HACCP Certification, Why It’s Important to Your Business?

What is a HACCP Certification and Why is it Important for Your Business?

HACCP is a food safety management system that was created to ensure the safety of food. It was developed by NASA and the US Department of Agriculture. It combines “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points” with “Good Manufacturing Practices” to work towards preventing any food borne illnesses or diseases.

The HACCP certification is a necessity in the world of food and beverage industries, as it ensures that your business meets all requirements needed for safe production, handling, transport, storage and distribution of foods.

What Do the Regulations Involve in a HACCP Certification Program?

The HACCP plan is not a one-size-fits-all solution to a food producer’s safety and quality needs. Therefore, the HACCP plan must be tailored to the specific operation, with management’s commitment to continuous improvement and zero tolerance of risks.

How do You Become Certified under the HACCP System?

The HACCP certification process is a rigorous and demanding process that features multiple levels of approval, such as validation and verification.

For XTL, the first step is the validation phase which consists of setting up the processes on physical readiness and risk evaluation to make sure that products stored are safe for consumption. The next step is the verification phase which consists of analyzing records and documents to make sure that business processes are following HACCP guidelines accurately.

XTL Distribution is Now HACCP Certified

XTL Distribution has recently achieved HACCP certification and now stores and distributes foodstuffs that are required to be handled by a HACCP certified warehouse facility.

Resources and Further Reading on the Topic of HACCP Certification

– Wikipedia article on HACCP

– Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Hazard Analysis Control Points Program https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/?q=haccp

– Hazard Analysis Control Points (HACCP) – CODEX Alimentarius Commission

Citations:

United States Department of Agriculture. “Hazard Analysis Control Points.” Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Hazard Analysis Control Points Program https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis?q=haccp&s=