This Regional Shipping and Logistics Analysis has been undertaken for the Columbia Basin Trust (the “Trust”) by Davies Transportation Consulting Inc. in collaboration with Wave Point Consulting Ltd. and S5 Services. The scope of the project includes analysis of the shipping and logistics infrastructure in the Basin; identification of constraints and challenges to efficient operations; and assessment of impacts. The study also provides recommendations on potential actions for improving regional logistics to enhance business growth and investment in the region.
The project team undertook extensive consultations with businesses and other agencies within the Columbia Basin. In-person meetings were held in several communities from January 30 to February 3, and telephone interviews with shippers and carriers were also conducted. An online Transportation and Logistics Survey of businesses was also undertaken to gather information about their current shipping practices and challenges. The survey ran from January 20 to February 20, 2017. Regional Chambers of Commerce, advertising, social and traditional media were effectively used to raise awareness of the survey. Three hundred and eighteen businesses participated in the survey, providing a broad overview of the current state of freight logistics and the challenges facing firms in managing their supply chains.
The profile of the businesses who responded to the Transportation and Logistics Survey is similar to that of businesses surveyed in the Basin between 2012 and 2015 for the Business Retention and Expansion Project led by the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute.1 A large number of firms have been in business in the region for more than 20 years; most rely on suppliers outside the region for their supplies, but sell most of their products within the Basin; and the majority are small enterprises, with approximately
70% in both surveys reporting employment of nine or less.
There are several factors which impact the cost and availability of the various transportation modes and logistics services available to businesses retention, growth and expansion in the Columbia Basin:
- The relatively low density of population means that shipment volumes are relatively small, making it difficult to achieve efficiency through economies of scale, particularly where frequent service is desired.
- Long distances from major urban centres (that act as sources of supply or product markets for outbound goods) can result in lengthy travel times for ground transportation service providers.
- The mountainous terrain and variable climate can disrupt and delay access to, or travel within the region, particularly in the winter. Consequently, there can be challenges associated with timely replenishment of items that experience a “stock-out”, or whose demand is difficult to forecast for outbound goods.