The Government has announced the appointment of David Saxelby and Jennifer Seabrook to the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) Board. Saxelby brings with him substantial experience in construction, infrastructure contracting and major projects, while Seabrook has extensive experience in finance and capital markets. Darren Chester, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport wrote in a press release, “These skills and experience will strengthen the Board’s capability, while also bringing a wealth of private and public sector experience to the organisation. “These appointments ensure a strong leadership group is in place to deliver on the Australian Government’s significant rail investment and reform agenda.” Saxelby has extensive experience delivering major projects. He has worked on some of Australia’s most iconic infrastructure projects, including the Lane Cove Tunnel, ANZAC Bridge, and NorthConnex. Seabrook brings more than 20 years’ board experience to ARTC, including current director-level roles with Iluka Resources Limited, IRESS Limited, MMG Limited and Western Australian Treasury Corporation. “The Coalition Government is committed to ensuring that our national freight network is as efficient and effective as possible,” Chester wrote. “This includes delivering the largest transport project in Australia—Inland Rail from Melbourne to Brisbane.” For more information, visit the ARTC website.
According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics’ (BITRE) latest research, the Australian Infrastructure Statistics Yearbook 2016, productivity and investment in the transport sector are at an all-time high. In the 2014–15 financial year, 212 billion tonne kilometres (tkm) of bulk and non-bulk domestic freight was transported by road, made up of 133.8 bn tkm of non-bulk freight, and 78.2 bn tkm of bulk freight. This is up from a total of 205.7 bn tkm in the 2013–14 period. A tkm is a unit of measure of freight transport calculated by multiplying total load carried by total distance covered. In 2014–15, 401.6 bn tkm of bulk and non-bulk freight were moved by rail, a huge jump from 367.7 bn tkm in the previous financial period. Australia’s ports have been busy, with 7.1 million TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) exchanged at the country’s five principal container ports: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Fremantle and Adelaide, up from 6.2 million in the previous financial year. In 2013–14, 105.4 bn tkm of freight were moved by coastal shipping, up on the 104.5 bn tkm moved in the previous period, but far off the high of 116.2 bn tkm in 2009–10, and the record 127.6 bn tkm moved in 2006–07. In 2015–16, 45.7 per cent of infrastructure construction was in the transport sector, and $25.2 billion was spent in 2014–15 on roads. BITRE, part of the Policy and Research Division of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, prepares economic analysis, research and statistics on infrastructure, transport and regional development issues to inform Australian Government policy development. You can view the full publication on the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s website.
Some $6.12bn worth of growth opportunities fall through the cracks of Australian mid-sized businesses every year due to insufficient or variable cash flow, according to research released by American Express. More than one-third (38%) of mid-sized CFO admit their business has been delayed or unable to achieve a strategic business objective due to cash flow pressures. Alarmingly, 81% of mid-sized businesses miss growth opportunities every six months or less, with the average cost of each missed opportunity costing Australian businesses around $35,000. The logistics industry performed strongly compared with the average Australian business, with just under a fifth (18%) of CFO of logistics companies delayed or unable to achieve a strategic business objective due to cash flow pressures. However, every one of these businesses (100%) missed growth opportunities frequently – every few months or less, with the average cost of each missed opportunity worth $16,000. While the outlook for mid-sized organisations on the whole is optimistic, with 65% of businesses forecasting growth in 2017, a special report from American Express, Behind the balance sheet: unlocking hidden value in credit, reveals cash flow pressures constrain mid-sized businesses from achieving their full growth potential. The cash flow management conundrum While an overwhelming 89% of CFO of mid-sized logistics companies agree that credit is a good cash flow management tool, many organisations still opt for cash over credit, rather than using cash to fund business initiatives, and using credit to manage cash flow. Despite the opportunity presented by credit – whereby cash is kept in the business for longer – traditional methods of cash flow management still prevail. Only 41% of logistics CFO use credit to manage cash flow, with around two thirds using business loans (65%), and one third using an overdraft facility (35%) and invoice discounting (35%). Martin Seward, vice president for small & medium enterprises at American Express Australia, said by sticking with tried and tested cash flow management methods, businesses are burning through available cash in the bank and limiting their room to drive forward strategic objectives. “When credit is used to manage predictable cash flow, CFO can unlock hidden value in their business as well as ease the burden of cash flow management,” Mr Seward said. “While cash flow management will always be a top priority for CFO in mid-sized Australian companies, the role of the modern CFO has evolved to become a key strategic lead within the business. “In an increasingly competitive economy, the modern CFO cannot afford to miss business opportunities due to cash flow pressures nor expend all their energies pouring over the weekly ebb and flow of cash.” Effective cash flow can unlock additional funds to help logistics CFOs capitalise on business opportunities. With extended cash flow in the business, these CFOs said they would fund staff training (53%), hire staff (41%) or purchase new equipment (47%). Additionally, nearly one third of businesses (29%) would increase their investment in innovation and R&D. “The benefits of using credit as a cash flow management tool are threefold – an extended interest free period delays upfront payment, keeping cash in the business for longer, while lining supplier payments up with statement cycles helps receivables arrive before expenses are due”, Mr Seward said. “Thirdly, early payment discounts can be negotiated with suppliers by creating a history of reliable on-time payment.”
As 2016 draws to a close and businesses set their sights on the year ahead, Australian employers appear to be keeping a level-headed approach to hiring despite broader economic and political uncertainty. This is according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, which shows that hiring intentions remain cautiously optimistic, with some job gains expected and almost 80 per cent of businesses intending to keep their headcount the same in Q1 2017. The resulting national Net Employment Outlook (NEO) is +9%, down two percentage points from last quarter, and at the same level as this time last year. ManpowerGroup managing director Australia and New Zealand Richard Fischer reflected on the year that was and noted that businesses are again adopting a wait-and-see approach in terms of reacting to implications of macro issues. “The hiring intentions forecast for the first quarter remain modest for the fourth consecutive year, suggesting that at the start of the year employers tend to wait and see how things pan out before making broader hiring decisions. Across the board there is certainly some positivity, with 13 per cent of employers looking to bolster their headcount with additional staff, while the clear majority – 76% – are not intending to make any changes. “If you look at what the last 12 months has bought from a macro political and economic perspective, it was certainly a year of uncertainty and change. We have had a double dissolution election in Australia, the ‘Brexit’ decision in the United Kingdom, and an American Presidential campaign. While there is arguably still some uncertainty around the impact of such events, business sentiment has been relatively stable throughout the year.” A closer look at the Australian states showed Queensland employers reported the biggest drop in NEO quarter on quarter – down to +3% from +10% last quarter, and down from +8% this time last year. Mr Fischer noted that the Queensland labour market remains weak, saying this is largely due to the end of ‘labour intensive’ construction across the resources sector. “Queensland employers remain cautious in their hiring intentions heading into the new year – taking a ‘wait and see’ or ‘make do with what we have’ approach to hiring. The reason for this is three-fold – across the state a number of major construction projects have wrapped up such as BHP’s Caval Ridge mine; we are seeing falling commodity prices; and we have had weaker than expected retail growth, which has all led to a more subdued outlook. In regional centres this has also been exacerbated by the ongoing drought. “The resources sector will remain a key driver of future growth, but the Queensland economy needs to manage the transition from construction to production in this sector. Outside of this sector there will be growth in residential construction, tourism and agriculture,” Mr Fischer said. Other states that are predicting a slump in hiring intentions include Tasmania, with a NEO of +3%, down seven percentage points quarter on quarter and an overall drop in three percentage points year on year. The Australian Capital Territory has recorded an NEO of +9%, down five percentage points from the last quarter and an overall two percentage points from the beginning of 2016. Across the industries, Transportation & Utilities – which had the strongest forecast across the industry sectors last quarter – is expected to be sluggish in the upcoming quarter, with its NEO dropping from +17% in Q4 2016 to +8%. This is the same figure reported at the beginning of 2016. At the same time, Finance, Insurance and Real Estate and Manufacturing both reported a drop of four percentage points, to +11% and +4%, respectively. “We are again seeing the impact of automation in the manufacturing space, which is also having an impact in the Finance sector, with the rise of digital service offerings and automated roles. Companies across these sectors, like many others, are on the search for quality I.T. candidates that can drive the integration of tech within the business.” Finally, despite a drop in quarter-on-quarter results for large businesses by two percentage points, year-on-year outlook has increased by two percentage points and sits at a respectable NEO of +17%. Small and medium businesses have recorded remain the same year on year, modest NEO figures of +7% and +9% respectively.
On Friday 9 December, over 170 people from the SCLAA Queensland Division, the QLD Supply Chain and Logistics Conference (QSCLC), the AIP and the APPMA, spent their Christmas Party packing over 1,100 hampers for Foodbank to provide to those in need during the holiday season. The hampers included 800 family hampers, 200 ladies’ packs and 110 children’s packs. The total value of the hampers was over $120,000 worth of items that were either donated, or the funds raised for, by the industry. The hampers would not be possible without the continued support from the industry including Campbells Arnotts, Colgate, Ego Pharmaceuticals, Edex, Tip Top GW Foods, All Purpose Transport, Office Max, BDO, APPMA, Orora, Linde Forklifts, Tip Top Foodservice-GW Foods, Coles and Department of Housing and Public Works. Over the last five years, the team has packed 5,400 hampers to the value of close to $660,000 for people in need, and we look forward to even more hampers in 2017!
Logistics & Materials Handling (L&MH) has been selected as official media partner for the 2017 Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Forum. The event will focus on issues identified in the ALC’s election priorities document ‘Getting the Supply Chain Right’. A key recommendation in the document, the development of a national freight and supply chain strategy, was embraced by Infrastructure Australia in its Australian Infrastructure plan in February 2016, and endorsed by the Federal Government in November 2016. Following on from the success, leaders and key policy makers in the Australian logistics industry will gather at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 7–9 March 2017 to discuss and debate the issues that will shape the nation’s supply chain strategy in 2017. According to the ALC, L&MH has been selected for its role as a thought leader in the Australian logistics and supply chain scene. According to publisher, John Murphy of Prime Creative Media, the selection goes hand in hand with a planned relaunch of the title in 2017. “Along with an increased print run to six editions per year, the new-look L&MH will keep you informed, interested and involved with more curated news, thought leadership and hands-on industry insight,” he said. “On the back of that commitment to the growth of the logistics industry, we are especially proud to have been selected as the media partner for the 2017 ALC Forum. “Working alongside the ALC, the peak body representing the nation’s freight transporter and logistics supply chain industries, will enable L&MH to benefit from the expertise of the country’s premier minds on logistics, and give the ALC a platform to celebrate industry best practice.”
Jungheinrich has launched an entry-level range of pallet trucks for low-duty applications. This new range of electric pedestrian trucks is designed for retailers, print shops, workshops or garden centers, or even small to medium-sized businesses that routinely need to move heavy individual items. The range includes EJE M13 (1300kg) and EJE M15 (1500kg) electric pedestrian pallet trucks. The AC drive motor provides fast and efficient transport of pallets over short distances. An intelligent automatic shutoff system turns the truck off automatically after 30 minutes of non-use, conserving energy and the battery. All trucks are fitted with a maintenance-free, three-phase AC motor and a maintenance-free gel battery with integrated charger as well as an ergonomic Jungheinrich tiller, offering fast, efficient and safe throughput, claims the manufacturer. Moving loads in these applications can be difficult if the operator only has a conventional hand pallet truck,” says Greg McNamara, National Jungheinrich Product Manager. “The initial effort required to get the load moving, and then stopping, can be a possible OH&S risk or if not, sometimes impossible with a manual pallet truck.” The Jungheinrich EJE M13 and EJE M15 electric pallet trucks are now available from NTP Forklifts Australia.
Asahi Beverages, comprising some of Australia and New Zealand’s most successful beverage businesses, including Schweppes Australia, Asahi Premium Beverages, Independent Liquor and The Better Drinks Co., has awarded Dematic a contract to build a high bay warehouse storage facility. The warehouse in Heathwood, Queensland, will consist of a satellite storage solution containing six aisles of six-deep satellite ColbyRack capable of storing 28,000 pallets. The automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) will include six new Dematic RapidStore Storage Retrieval Machines (SRMs) with Dematic’s latest “free roaming” Automover satellite carts. The solution will also feature Skate Auto-loading Truck Docks, a pallet conveyor system, stretch wrapper, automatic barcode labelling, and a full case picking area. “Dematic was selected by Asahi Beverages as their preferred logistics integration partner following an extensive tender process that assessed experience, comprehensiveness of offering, and local capability,” said David Rubie, Dematic’s Manager of Industry Logistics. “We look forward to working with Asahi Beverages to deliver a supply chain solution that is a core component of their ongoing success.” “Our new Queensland high bay warehouse is another major step forward in the transformation of our customer centric logistics network,” said Tracey Wagner, General Manager, Logistics and Customer Operations, Asahi Beverages. “We are pleased to be working with an experienced integrator such as Dematic on this crucial program.”
The Australian Chamber of International Trade (ACIT – www.acit.org.au) is to join apicsAU as the International Trade Special Interest Group to share its inbound and outbound trade expertise and connections with the Australasian professional supply chain community. apicsAU is a premier non-profit, professional membership community providing leadership and innovation, education and training and professional development for the Australian supply chain, procurement and logistics community. ACIT is a not-for-profit organisation providing training and support to Australian importers and exporters and has connections with Australian and overseas Government agencies, industry associations, foreign embassies, consulates and trade promotion agencies. apicsAU CEO Dr Pieter Nagel said this agreement further strengthens apicsAU’s move towards building a comprehensive supply chain community representing all sectors of the supply chain industry. “We are strengthening our community by expanding in Special Interest Groups so that we can better serve the broader supply chain industry,” he said. The announcement follows several other such amalgamations for apicsAU with the Alliance for Supply Chain Innovation, which formed the apicsAU Leadership & Innovation Special Interest Group; the Logistics Association of Australia, which formed the apicsAU Transport & Logistics Special Interest Group; the Lean Network Australia, which formed the apicsAU Continuous Improvement Special Interest Group; and the collaboration with universities to form the Future Leaders Special Interest Group. “Both the Australian Chamber of International Trade and apicsAU have been diligently serving their respective industries for 50+ years, delivering comprehensive professional development offerings to the Australian supply chain community,” said Lawrence Christoffelsz. “We are excited to join such a professional and important player in the industry and our combined support programs provide an ideal fit for companies wanting to grow their business further on a global stage.” New courses for Term 1 2017 have already been established in incoterms, importing, exporting, cargo handling, international trade payments and import/export documentation.
A company that is attempting to establish a new-technology tyre recycling plant in Stawell, Victoria, to locally recycle 9 million dumped tyres, is finding the red tape thrown in their way by the Victorian Government and various agencies may be more expensive than building the actual plant itself. Used Tyre Recycling Company (UTRC) CEO Dr Matthew Starr was forced to write an open letter to residents outlining the difficulties being put in his way. Following his open letter to Stawell residents advising them of a misinformation campaign regarding UTRC’s attempt at removing the largest tyre stockpile in Australia, Dr Starr is again imploring the Victorian Government to take steps that will see the business start employing many of Stawell Gold Mines’ retrenched workers. With up to 150 people losing their jobs at the gold mine (announced Tuesday, 13 December), UTRC offers Stawell a chance to employ up to 50 people in early 2017. “All we request from the government is to waive some of the small regulatory fees that UTRC has been hit with, and provide greater support for our efforts to eliminate Victoria’s number one environmental hazard,” said Dr Starr. “UTRC is the only new business of size attempting to become operational in Stawell that can employ up to 30 per cent of the newly unemployed. “UTRC is the best option for the unemployed workers who now face a very unhappy Christmas and New Year, with a bleak outlook for 2017.” The Stawell tyre stockpile comprises almost 9 million tyres, which UTRC purchased in June 2015 to create a new, environmentally-friendly, clean-tech facility to recycle the tyres. Dr Starr added: “We intend to support the workers of Stawell for the long term and as UTRC in Stawell has been classified as a Transfer Station for Victoria’s used tyres, we can assure the town that there will be jobs well into the future.” You can read the open letter, which is being delivered this week, at https://utrc.com.au/open-letter-to-stawell-residents/