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CN: Mobile cranes help train keep a rollin’

By Bob Trebilcock, Editor at Large
August 07, 2014

For deliveries that positively, absolutely have to get there, rail may not be the first mode of transportation that comes to mind. Most of us think of freight trains lumbering across the prairie to deliver grain, coal or other commodities that get there when they get there. Yet, talk to Gordon Graham, senior manager of intermodal development for CN, and you learn that rail is now an integral link in today’s time-sensitive supply chains. “We’re not like your father’s train,” Graham explains. “Customers ship with us because of the quality of the level of service we provide.”

Service has become a critical enabler of CN’s success in recent years. “We are trying to grow opportunities by providing a reliable service that gets a container delivered when it’s committed to get it there,” Graham says. In fact, rail is increasingly an important link between trucks and ports in retail supply chains, just-in-time manufacturing and parcel delivery.

To make that transition, reliability is a key selling point. A customer trusts that his containers will arrive at an intermodal terminal in time to be transferred from a rail car to a truck, or vice versa, to get to the next point in their journey on time. For that reason, the mobile cranes, also known as reach stackers, that handle containers at CN’s network of intermodal terminals have to be available when they’re needed. To minimize downtime and ensure that critical parts are available, CN has developed a program with one of its mobile crane providers (Hyster, and their distributor (Wajax, to manage critical parts, especially expensive parts with long lead times.

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Editor at Large

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484 and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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