New York City gets back its grit with a little help from CP Railway
Dec 1, 2002 12:00 PM
CANADIAN Pacific Railway (CPR) is helping put the grit back in New York City — one year later. That's grit as in the abrasive used in sandblasting bridges and ships in preparation for repainting.
When the events of September 11, 2001 shut down sandblasting operations on New York City's George Washington Bridge, BEI Pecal's grit suddenly wasn't needed, but the company had already shipped a lot of the product by Canadian Pacific Railway. That's when the Connetix experts at CPR came to the rescue.
Launched in 2000, Connetix is a division of CPR with a network of logistics and commercial product-handling experts and 23 transload facilities across Canada and the United States. Working with these partner transload facilities, Connetix logistics and commercial product-handling specialists deliver one-stop shopping for complete value-added, dock-to-dock transportation solutions.
The Connetix team found a way to store tons of the grit several months at the Oak Island transload facility in Newark, New Jersey, for BEI Pecal until its distributor, Techni-Quip, could find other buyers. Once sandblasting operations on the George Washington Bridge were restarted, Connetix helped BEI Pecal resume shipping grit for that project in July 2002.
Oak Island's location about 20 miles from the George Washington Bridge was a key factor in BEI Pecal's decision to select CPR in the first place. The grit is transloaded at Oak Island into dry bulk trailers for delivery to the sandblasting contractor's storage silos, which aren't on a rail line.
“Moving 100 tons at a time by rail, you're getting it closer to the source far less expensively than moving it all the way by truck,” says Don McMillan, BEI Pecal's manager of logistics and purchasing.
Shipping by rail costs BEI Pecal less than half what it would to ship that much grit by truck all the way from its plant in Waterdown, Ontario, which is 40 miles west of Toronto. “Connetix made it economically possible for us to compete in the New York markets,” McMillan says. “That's really the key.”
He credits Steve Grant, CPR's Connetix operations manager in Mississauga, Ontario, and Frank George in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a Connetix marketing manager, for making it all work. “They put us together with the transload company; they married us to them,” McMillan says. “They worked with us in terms of timing.”
A number of improvements have been made in the last year at Oak Island. Bulkmatic Transport Company, the facility operator, has added different types of dust collection systems and a new conveyor for transloading the grit. CPR is paving more of the terminal and adding a third section of track. The facility, which is overseen by on-site terminal manager Greg O'Byrn, has 60 carspots for handling both dry bulk and liquid bulk and three transfer holding tracks for storing railcars.
Connetix managers work to ensure the shipper receives the proper car type, and that there is a quick asset turnaround, says Kathy Davies, a Connetix customer specialist in Mississauga, Ontario, who handles the BEI account. Every effort is made to ensure that grit shipments are delivered to the bridge contractor precisely on schedule.
Problem solving is what Connetix does best. When there was a problem with a certain type of covered hopper that had gates too low to the ground, Connetix found a solution. “We worked with CPR car management to get appropriate cars, so they didn't have to maneuver and reposition the cars so much to facilitate transloading,” Davies says.
A year ago, on the morning of September 11, workers at Oak Island were transloading BEI Pecal's grit when their gaze was diverted to the Manhattan skyline. It had been only a week since Bulkmatic Transport had taken over as the facility operator.
“We watched both towers fall that morning,” recalled Doug Bell, Bulkmatic's vice-president of Eastern operations. “One of my trainers said this is going to change everything. He was right.”
However, Bell quickly adds that everyone in the city and surroundings areas has pulled together over the past year to help life return to normal. Such activities as the sandblasting of the George Washington Bridge are an example. Just call it True Grit.
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