“I wouldn’t say it’s business as usual,” said Michael Cinquino, president and co-founder of ENERGY Transportation Group, a Canadian-based 3PL with trucking assets serving both sides of the Canada-U.S. border. “We’re very sensitive to the evolving situation in both countries, and are currently moving our customers’ shipments fluidly across the border. “
With the uncertainty looming regarding the scope and speed of COVID-19, all supply chain participants, including asset-based 3PLs like ENERGY who plan, manage and execute freight shipments across North America’s borders, have questions about their personal safety, and that of their family, colleagues and friends.
Additionally, supply chain disruptions — including plant closures — which could impact the delivery of medicines, consumer essentials and raw materials weigh heavy on the minds of logistics providers who are helping shippers navigate the obstacles the current crisis presents.
Trucking is considered an essential service. This was recognized during a news conference Prime Minister Trudeau gave outside his home in Ottawa on March 16, where he announced that, together with the United States, Canada would be restricting border crossing to essential travel only. “Supply chains,” Trudeau said, “including trucking, will not be affected by this new measure.”
In a separate interview, Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair added, “The Canada-U.S. border is the symbol of an unprecedented partnership. Every day, $2.7 billion-worth of goods and services passes through that border and that trade is essential to both our countries. Our business and way of life depend on that flow.” A large percentage of these goods are carried on the more than 33,000 trucks that move across the border each day. Therefore, it’s in the best interest of both countries to ensure that the borders remain open to trade, and supply pipelines remain uninterrupted.
“Currently, we are engaging daily with our customers to keep them aware of changes in policy that might impact their shipments,” added Shawn Girard, ENERGY’s CEO who along with Cinquino founded the company in 2007. “At the same time, we’re speaking to them about what they are doing on both a strategic and tactical level, to deal with the challenges they are facing. Additionally, we are providing our F&B and CPG customers with surge capacity for their higher priority loads.”
Recently, manufacturing plants, retail stores and other services have made decisions to temporarily halt operations in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. “A few of our customers have either slowed their operations, or suspended them altogether for the next two to four weeks,” Girard continued. “They have urged us to commit our capacity, the trucks that we were using to haul their business, for the medicines, food, water, and other commercial and consumer products needed most by the folks on both sides of the border … and we have.”
In times of crisis, the trucking industry serves an instrumental role, delivering essential goods, sometimes delivering directly to the point of consumption. Logistics service providers, therefore, not only procure and match available capacity with the demand dictated by the situation, but often provide creative solutions specific to the disruption which may be occurring.
“Truck drivers across North America, including our own, are on the front lines with respect to getting goods delivered. Their sense of responsibility, and the efforts they are putting forth should continue to be praised,” said Cinquino. “We’ve instructed our drivers to follow the recommendations of our respective government agencies in terms of physical distancing and personal hygiene and have equipped them with personal protection equipment, antibacterial wipes and sanitizers. We all need to do our part to flatten the curve, contain the coronavirus, and help our supply chains and economies get back on their feet.”