IFLN News 2019

The Sky’s the Limit: FMS & Falcon Organize Urgent Shipment of Gondola Cable

cargo on the trailer

  Two IFLN Network and IFLN Global Projects member freight forwarders – Falcon International and Fr. Meyer’s Sohn (FMS) – recently collaborated on the shipment of an extremely long and heavy cable, urgently required after the original cable to the Sea to Sky gondola ride in Squamish, Canada, was deliberately cut.

The Sea to Sky is a 2km long gondola ride, a major tourist attraction carrying approximately 400,000 visitors a year up the mountainside above Howe Sound.

The sabotage of the cable in August caused 30 gondola cabins to crash to the ground and the Sea to Sky would be out of operation until a replacement could be transported to – and installed at – the site in British Columbia (BC).

A 54-ton cable reel, the load measuring 360cm by 330cm by 340cm (for a total of 40.4 cubic meters), needed to be moved from Romanshorn, Switzerland, as quickly as possible.

Robin Schüpbach, manager project logistics & transports at FMS Switzerland, had known this particular customer for some years, and FMS controlled the shipment from Switzerland. FMS approached Falcon International a few weeks in advance of the actual movement of the cargo – in August in fact – requesting inland transport costs for movement from Halifax to Squamish.

It wasn’t the first time that the two cargo agents had worked together. In fact, they collaborate regularly on shipments, perhaps as often as on a monthly basis, says Alexandre van Gent, project manager at Falcon International.

With regard to this particular shipment, FMS wanted Falcon to handle the to-door delivery in BC after the arrival of the reel at Halifax. FMS handled all the origin-related tasks in Europe up to the port of arrival, Halifax, and Falcon handled the delivery from Halifax onwards.

Saving Time and Money

cargo on the trailer

“FMS received the transport order from our customer here in Switzerland,” recalls Schüpbach. “Due to the fact that there was only one shipping line with a suitable sailing from Europe to Canada, we had to arrange the transport from Switzerland to Antwerp entirely by truck, which is very uncommon if you look at weight of this shipment and the number of days required to obtain all the necessary road permits in Switzerland, Germany and Belgium.

“But thanks to our long-term, reliable sub-contractors we could obtain the road permits within 3.5 weeks, rather than the more normal five to six weeks.”

Van Gent takes up the story: “This cable reel was urgently required, to say the least.” Having been trucked from Switzerland to Antwerp, he explains: “The reel was then shipped from Antwerp to Halifax by roll-on/off vessel on the quickest service available to us, as there was simply not enough time to move it through the US West Coast or via New Westminster/Vancouver.”

Moreover, van Gent continues, “We had a choice to make, quote ‘all-truck’ in Canada to meet our deadline, or take a risk, quote rail/truck for the delivery section of the shipment, to obtain the business and still try to meet our deadline.”

Schüpbach is in full agreement on the importance of this out-of-the-box thinking. “The key point of this job was that we found a more economic way to carry out this shipment than all our competitors,” he says.

The risk was certainly worth taking, and the cable reel was indeed moved by rail across Canada from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Vancouver in BC. From there it was transported by truck on the last leg of its journey to Squamish. This leg of the journey was by no means easy. However, “With the dedicated continuous involvement of Falcon International and FMS Switzerland, we were able to overcome all the challenges that lay in front of us at the beginning of the shipment,” says van Gent.

The entire shipment took just a month, leaving Romanshorn on 20 September and arriving in Squamish on 24 October. Indeed, Van Gent notes, “We were able to beat the delivery deadline by one day, and everyone involved was extremely satisfied with the end result of this project.”

Meeting the tight timeframe of the delivery was only possible because of the close collaboration between the two cargo agents. “Due to the fact that Alex and I had already met a couple of times at several conferences and handled several projects together, I knew that if we were nominated by the customer to handle this shipment, Falcon would be the perfect agent at destination to arrange the on-carriage from Halifax to the final site at Squamish,” says Schüpbach. “The co-operation between Alex and myself was fantastic,” he adds.

And, in a unique development, CBC News was on-site at Squamish prior to the reel’s arrival with a camera crew, taking drone videos/pictures for a story on the success of the transport and delivery of the cable.


Previous News IFLN News