McMaster partners with Peel to launch Smart Freight Centre

The new Smart Freight Centre in Peel aims to address how freight movement affects infrastructure. (Photo from Unsplash)

Senior government and academic officials gathered Thursday at Brampton’s Embassy Grand Convention Centre for the launch of the Smart Freight Centre.

The centre will be a one-stop shop for addressing some of the most pressing transportation and logistics issues facing Canada’s busiest commercial and residential hub. For example: How do municipalities deal with increased traffic as online shopping necessitates more delivery vehicles?

McMaster will work with partners — the Region of Peel, University of Toronto and York University —  for five years to improve the quality of life and ongoing economic vibrancy in the Region of Peel and Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Evidence-based research will be at the forefront of the centre’s efforts, as it strives to help co-ordinate transportation infrastructure, land development, regulations, technology tools and resources.

It’s no small task. Trucking activity alone accounts for approximately $1.8 billion worth of goods moving daily to, from, and through the Region of Peel, with its population of more than 1.3 million.

“Traditional business models continue to be disrupted. At the DeGroote School of Business, we see disruption as an opportunity to better prepare our students for the future of work,” said Dean Len Waverman, who spoke at Thursday’s event.

“As we examine the future of business education, we will continue to seek out opportunities that improve the overall health and prosperity of Canadians,” Waverman said. “The Smart Freight Centre represents one such opportunity. We’re pleased to support our partners as we work toward safer and more efficient goods movement across our communities.”

Projects during the first year of the centre include an off-peak delivery pilot study; examining truck-friendly lane measures and strategies; and tracing the impact of online shopping on logistics operations.

Elkafi Hassini, professor of operations management at the DeGroote School of Business, is McMaster’s faculty lead on the initiative. Hassini specializes in data-driven optimization in supply chain management, and is research director of the Marketing and Supply Chain Analytics (MiSCAN) lab located at DeGroote’s Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington.

The centre will also offer skills training in the fields of innovation and sustainability through the creation of up to three full-time research associate positions, three post-doctoral positions, and the recruitment of up to 20 graduate students.

The launch event featured addresses from MP Kamal Khera, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Development; and the Honorable Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation.

Remarks were also delivered by Nando Iannicca, Chair of the Region of Peel; Eric J. Miller, Director, University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute; and Rhonda Lenton, President, York University.

“As a key contributor to the GTHA’s vibrant economy, we recognize the importance of improving the movement of goods in order to maintain the transportation network’s efficiencies and safety, while supporting the quality of life within our communities,” said Iannicca.

“The Smart Freight Centre has been established to make recommendations through evidence-based research to address shared concerns. I am confident that together, we can work to ensure that our goods movement industry is sustainable, safe, competitive, and innovative,” he continued.

The centre will ultimately evolve into a formal network between government, academic, and industry partners that work on goods movement issues of regional significance.

The centre is currently seeking government and industry partner contributions to further its research efforts. To learn more, click here.