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2018 SCI Annual Meeting: Focus. Excellence. Future.

On Tuesday March 20th, the company came together for an unforgettable day of networking, participating, learning, and celebrating – the 2018 SCI Annual Meeting. The annual event got everyone aligned around the guiding principles of Focus, Excellence, Future.

What lies ahead for SCI?  How we plan to make our teams even better?   How we plan to help our employees become even better as leaders? The SCI executive team answered these questions while our team members got a chance to reconnect with their peers from across the country, meet new people, recognize the Continuous Improvement and Safety award winners, and have some fun while we learn new things together.

Click above to watch a video: 33 SCI facilities won the Safety award

Click above to watch a video: 16 Continuous Improvement award winners

Click above to watch a video: The SCI Award of Excellence winner: Wendy Leblanc

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Logistics Challenges Faced by Canadian Businesses

Countries come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s no country quite like Canada. Canadians are used to dealing with long drives and harsh weather, but when it comes to the logistics operations of a business, things get significantly more complex than what is experienced in many other countries. Here, we will explore many of the factors that impact the logistics of a business operating in Canada, as well as explain how many companies overcome these challenges by leveraging the resources of 3PL logistics providers.

Size of Country

For starters, it’s no secret that Canada is simply massive in terms of area. As the second-largest country in the world, Canada has over 9.9 million square kilometers within its borders. This fact alone means that simply traveling from one side of the country to the other requires significant resources in place to successfully make the trip. Couple this with the fact that the Canada is surrounded mostly by oceans, one of which is frozen and inhospitable for a large portion of the year, and you can quickly see how these factors can make transportation of goods quite difficult.

Since the country is so vast, fuel consumption and vehicle maintenance are critical factors in the logistics performance for Canadian companies. There’s simply no getting around the fact that trucks use fuel, and the more miles they cover, the sooner they will require maintenance. Canadian companies must invest substantial resources and effort to maintain an effective transportation fleet, and this investment may result in tighter profit margins in highly competitive markets.

Vast Distances Between Population Centers

In addition to simply being a huge country, Canada’s population tends to be focused on a handful of major city centers, with medium-sized and smaller cities scattered in between to varying levels of frequency. Canada’s two largest cities, being Toronto and Montreal, are separated by a distance of approximately 550k. While this may seem like a significant distance, the third largest city in Canada is Calgary, a whopping 3,400km away from Toronto. Things only get bigger when you consider the distance between two of Canada’s largest ports (Vancouver and Halifax) is over 6,100km.

These distances are staggering, and even with these numbers, we still haven’t taken in to consideration how far north the country extends. Transporting goods across Canada is a mammoth task, and not something that every company is capable of. For nationwide transportation and warehousing needs, 3PL logistics providers are often the only solution for many companies who otherwise simply don’t have the resources or capability to reach all of their markets.

Majority of Population is Near the US Border

While the distance between Atlantic and Pacific oceans is a major consideration for Canadian businesses, so too is the proximity of the bulk of the Canadian population to the US border. Recent estimates from the Canadian Census show that of the 23 million people in Canada, nearly 90% of the population lives within 100km of the US border. In addition, with the relatively free flow of goods across the border in both directions, Canadian companies must face the reality that their logistics operations are significantly impacted by those of the United States. US customs and border regulations play a major role in the ability of Canadian businesses to transport goods to their customers in major Canadian cities, as well as affect the competitive situation as US products flood these same markets.

Canadian businesses may choose to leverage the international expertise of a 3PL logistics provider in order to more effectively manage these factors, and improve their competitive situation in core markets. 3PL logistics providers help improve overall distribution efficiencies at each step in the supply chain.

Climate Factors

While it may seem stereotypical to talk about the severity of Canadian winters, there is a certain level of truth to it. Winters in Canada can range from mild and short to fast and furious, and sometimes both, even within the same season. The size of the country, and the fact that cities can be found in all geographic areas of the country from mountains to coasts to prairies, means that virtually every major city has a unique climate. For example, Vancouver winters are generally mild, while cities like Calgary get buried in snow, and others like Winnipeg experience plummeting temperatures.

Aside from the obvious need for things like snow tires in the winter, this variety of climates in major cities means that companies who deal with temperature-sensitive products must put extra care and precaution in to their warehousing and transportation resources. Sometimes it means extra heating equipment, while other times additional refrigeration may be needed.

For companies looking to streamline their supply chain and improve efficiencies, investing in the resources necessary to successfully overcome these factors is not always a wise move. Canadian companies can choose to go with a 3PL logistics provider who has extensive fleet resources and a nationwide network of distribution facilities (DCs) that can meet their needs for climate control and product handling.


As you can see, it’s not always easy doing business across a country like Canada. Expanding to a new market in a new city is not a simple matter of an extra hour or two of driving time. These factors mean that Canada is a challenging country for many businesses to thrive in, but they are certainly not insurmountable. Examining the logistics needs of your company, and then evaluating the services available from a 3PL logistics provider can often highlight many positive opportunities. For some, these opportunities may come in the form of additional warehousing or expanded transportation capabilities, for others it may mean a smoother transition of goods across the border or from one ocean port to another.

Whatever challenges your company is facing, you can be sure that a 3PL logistics provider like SCI can help your business succeed in Canada.

There are few companies in the world that can match the resources and expertise that SCI brings to Canadian businesses. Contact us today and let us help you achieve your goals.

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The Right Time to Outsource to a 3PL

When do Companies Start Thinking About Outsourcing?

As all companies grow, they must continue to evolve their business processes in order to stay successful. For many, this means focusing on manufacturing efficiency, for others it means improving the customer experience, and others may need to invest heavily in product development. Each company faces a unique set of challenges that are determined by many factors:

  • Company size
  • Market conditions
  • Technology
  • Customer needs.  

Because of this, each company will also reach different goals and achieve different benefits through outsourcing their supply chain or distribution services to a 3PL.

Understanding how your company stands to benefit from outsourcing, as well as identifying which specific tasks or functions make the most sense to outsource, will determine whether now is the right time or not.

Let’s now take a quick look at the different benefits that companies can achieve through outsourcing to a 3PL.

Benefits of Outsourcing to a 3PL

Of the numerous benefits that companies aim to achieve through outsourcing to a 3PL, the most common is cost savings. Outsourcing can allow companies to significantly reduce many types of costs, including labour, materials, overhead, transportation, and more. The scale of these savings varies depending on many aspects of the business, but for many companies that engage internationally, the savings from outsourcing to a 3pPLcan have a big impact on the bottom line.

Other companies obtain benefits from the ability to refocus efforts and resources on core values and activities. This is done by shifting internal resources away from functions that can easily be outsourced, such as warehousing or transportation, and reinvesting these resources in areas of the business that can have a much more significant impact on customer experience, product development, and other aspects that directly drive the growth of the business.

Seasonal industries that see dramatic surges in business are able to achieve much greater flexibility in meeting the demands of these cycles by bringing in additional resources through outsourcing to help manage the peaks. Once the surges have subsided, the temporary additional resources can then be released until the next surge when they are needed again.

Key Signs It’s Time to Outsource to a 3PL

While each company will have a different set of circumstances that prompts them to consider outsourcing, there are many common factors that these companies will see as outsourcing becomes an increasingly viable option for them.

Maintaining profit margins is a challenge for any business, but even more critical for businesses in fiercely competitive markets, or products that have notoriously thin margins. A common sign that a company may benefit from outsourcing to a 3PL is the continual erosion of profit margins and increasing costs. For companies that have tight budgets, outsourcing could be the right way to manage profit margins, as supply chain processes and distribution, when done in-house, contribute to a large portion of the overhead.

In markets where the workforce is not as plentiful as the company requires, outsourcing may be the only way to acquire the talent needed to drive the company forward. If a company is struggling to attract talent from the local area, it may be time to consider expansion through outsourcing to a 3PL that has established relationships with employment agencies and a greater volume of talent available to draw from.

Another potential sign that outsourcing could be a good move is if overtime is increasing in your facility beyond what should reasonably be expected. Outsourcing could provide a fast and effective way to reduce the load without adding excessive overhead or additional labour costs.

While this is not an exhaustive list of the factors that cause companies to consider outsourcing to a 3PL, it should give you a general idea of the typical warning signs to look for.

What can be Outsourced to a 3PL?

One of the most common ways that companies choose to improve their supply chain or distribution efficiency, and one of the easiest for many companies to implement, is outsourcing a variety of logistics services and tasks to a third-party logistics provider (3PL).

Shipping, warehousing, order fulfilment, packaging, and return logistics are all functions that can be managed through outsourcing. In addition, since many third-party logistics providers have resources in locations across the country or even globally, they can open up new markets that may have previously been unattainable.  Leveraging the resources of a third-party logistics provider can be a major benefit to companies that are struggling to achieve growth.

Decision to Outsource to a 3PL

The decision to outsource is not one that should be taken lightly, but at the same time it should not be shunned or discounted. If your company recognizes one, or several, of the warning signs we described then it may very well be time to consider outsourcing. It’s best to look at the trends your company has been experiencing, both internally and externally, in order to determine if now is the right time to make a shift.

By looking internally at factors such as profit margins and worker capacity, and overlaying these with trends in the market and competitive environment, it often becomes clear how things will keep going if nothing changes. Integrating some level of outsourcing can help companies reverse downward trends and improve their market position by helping to alleviate the pain points that are causing problems.

If your company recognizes these warning signs and pain points, contact SCI today and let our logistics experts help you with an in-depth analysis of whether outsourcing is the right move.

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