Almost 50% like shopping

Presenting at the National Retail Forum, Melbourne Exhibition Centre, 14-16 August 2007, Roy Morgan Research has been investigating consumer attitudes towards household grocery shopping over the past twenty years, however in the last eight years and has encountered fluctuating results between genders.

“Throughout the years we have found that men typically enjoy grocery shopping more than women, although the difference between the sexes is typically only a few percentage points,” says Simon Pownall, Director of Analytics and Integrated Marketing, Roy Morgan Research.

“We experienced a peak in 2002 with 50 per cent of males and 47 per cent of females admitting they enjoyed grocery shopping. Our latest statistics show that an equal amount of men and women enjoy their daily, weekly, fortnightly, or monthly trip to the grocery store — in fact it’s almost half with 47 per cent.”

Michelle Levine, Chief Executive Officer, Roy Morgan Research, will be presenting What The Consumer Is Telling Us at the National Retail Forum, along with many other industry experts including Bernie Brookes, Chief Executive Officer, Myer; Peter Alexander, Founder, Peter Alexander Pyjamas; and Pierce Cody, Director, Macro Wholefoods.

Australia’s leading retail conference, the National Retail Forum, will be held in conjunction with Retail Expo Australasia.

New rolling stock tool

A new project, led by Monash University’s Prof Rhys Jones and managed by Pacific National Rolling Stock Engineer Zarko Milicevic, will allow operators to take a validated risk management approach to their rail wagon fleets and maintenance programs.

According to Milicevic, the tool allows operators to make sound decisions based on wagon fatigue such as determining the current condition and remaining life of aged rolling stock.

“We currently don’t have an accurate method of determining the life of rail components or wagons,” Milicevic says. “This is a predictive tool and offers us a validated way of assessing the life and condition of the wagon as a whole, and can identify the growth of small cracks.

“The condition of aged wagons is a huge issue — and will get bigger and bigger as our general freight traffic increases.

“Monash have currently developed this tool to analyse an FEA (Finite Element Analysis) model that can accurately assess crack growth rate of sample wagon underframe materials. It’s not in a user-friendly format yet, but when commercialised, it will allow operators to manage their assets far more effectively.

“This tool has the potential to save many, many millions of dollars in reduced inspection maintenance costs, reduced fatigue testing, improved safety testing, and effective repair-quality assessment. It will also put us in a smarter buying environment when we’re purchasing rolling stock vehicles.”

Further information regarding this and other Rail CRC project outcomes will be presented at Rail CRC’s Technology Showcase 2007 this week – June 7-8 – at the Brisbane Novotel Hotel.

The Aged Rolling Stock Management and Assessment Project is one of approximately 40 Rail CRC research projects, which were established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Programme.

This current Rail CRC is in its final year of operation and consists of rail industry partners — Pacific National, Queensland Rail, TMG Rail Technology, ARTC, and Rail Corp – and six university partners — Monash University, Central Queensland University, The University of Queensland, University of South Australia, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Wollongong. A newly funded Rail CRC and new research program will commence operation on July 1, this year.

Customers want self serve

It is clear that Australian retailers who want to remain competitive can not afford to ignore emerging self service technologies, as highlighted in a recent paper from the Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS), an exhibitor at Retail Expo Australasia, 14-16 August 2007, Melbourne Exhibition Centre.

At the upcoming Retail Expo Australasia, organisers will dedicate an entire specialist zone to Retail Technology, with exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge technology solutions.

Among those will be Jason Seed, Head of Sales and Marketing, Abuzz Technologies, who believes that self serve kiosks will be one of the most important technologies for retailers within the next 5-10 years.

“Self serve kiosks have made and will continue to make a significant impact on the retailing industry as they change the way customers purchase, and expand the reach of non-traditional products into retail stores. For instance, customers can now pay bills and buy credit for their mobile phones at a petrol station or chemist,” said Seed, who will be launching Abuzz Technologies’ award winning kiosk, the Edge, at the Retail Expo.

“The biggest reward is that technology like self serve kiosks and POS systems enables retailers to lift service without increasing costs. Staff can be redeployed from repetitive tasks to potentially more interesting and valuable roles.”

Epson Australia will also be exhibiting in the Retail Technology zone at Retail Expo, ensuring that all visitors are kept abreast of new innovation and retail practices.

Craig Heckenberg, Business Solutions Manager, Epson Australia, agrees that self serve retailing technologies are transforming traditional retailing methods as they allow customers to take control of their own transactions. He also acknowledges the challenges faced when implementing new technologies in a retail store.

“The most significant technological challenge facing the retail industry is streamlining the transaction process — simplifying yet at the same time ensuring reliability. This process is important as it is the last link in the customer’s in-store experience — it is the step that will reinforce the customer’s overall impression,” says Heckenberg.

Fellow exhibitor, Pronto Software’s Product Manager, Chad Gates, predicts that retail technologies will continue to evolve along the lines of increasing customer service speed. As a result, he forecasts customer expectations will rise, as they seek fast, efficient and friendly service. With the advent of self serve retail technologies, industry members must find other ways to deliver customer service.

“Retail is a multi-faceted industry and therefore requires multi-faceted IT solutions. Effective POS and inventory management systems, if implemented and integrated properly, combine to make a powerful combination for retailers who want to stay competitive,” says Gates.

“Retailers have to implement those ‘extra little things’ that will differentiate them from their competitors. Faster check-out times, more choice and better information will be the key — customers want their experience to be personal, without invasive time intrusions.”

In addition to its exhibition presence, Australian Centre for Retail Studies, in the Department of Marketing at Monash University, is Conference Partner for Australia’s leading retail conference, The National Retail Forum, which will run concurrent to Retail Expo Australasia. Both events are proudly supported by Platinum Sponsor Fujitsu Australia and Silver Sponsors Praestegaard Australia and QAS.

Brain drain to continue

With current technological developments, changing generational attitudes and new knowledge, many ‘employment-norms’ have rapidly become obsolete. “Our Society members tell us,” said Society founder and CEO Ric Willmot FAIM, “that everyone realises the days of long-term employee loyalty to a company, employees assigning security to their current employment, and hesitancy to employ a ‘multiple-career employee’ are gone. And that human talent is becoming more inclined to seek high-paying opportunities off-shore in what may appear exotic locales.”

“The Australian economy has never been stronger nor the outlook been more buoyant, yet talent is heading to Dubai, UK and USA in waves,” says Willmot. “So we will continue to see employers thirsting for talent, as the pool of quality people evaporate as quickly as our dams and rivers in this great Australian drought.”

“Our Society members are seeing an interesting shift in attitudes of Generation X and Y, along with a frustration for employers where current immigration is failing to deliver the quality needed to fill positions; whilst Gen X and Y venture offshore where remuneration is at significantly higher rates. But money is not the sole motivator; it is a hygiene-factor. More money will not guarantee the retention of talent, but a lack of money will most certainly see the exodus continue,” adds Willmot.

The winning Prime Ministerial candidate must be prepared to capitalise on the resources boom, assist scientific research to remain here, and bring more corporate investors to joint venture with Australian-owned business, enabling the talent pool to choose to remain in Australia because of exciting and interesting work opportunities.

ARTA supports CoR compliance

Speaking in his capacity as a transport insurance representative, Morris says it is a well known fact that if a truck crashes, and in the worst case scenario, injures or kills someone while severely overloaded, the insurance company has the right to deny any claim for damages, and the driver, and also the owner, can end up in jail.

“After all, as they say, ‘the law is the law, is the law’ and we cannot – at any time – condone the breaking of the law on our roads by heavy vehicles – particularly when it compromises safety for all road users,” Morris says.

“Severely overloaded trucks are a definite safety risk in anybody’s book and the days of overloading are long gone across the vast majority of our professional transport operators today.

“The key benefit the C&E legislation has brought our industry is that it makes everybody in the ‘chain’ accountable and liable — from drivers, owners, consignors (ie. farmers), loaders (ie. header operators) and consignees (ie. grain receivers).

“In turn it means the pressure is spread across those who do not abide by the laws, and provides and ‘even playing field’ for law-abiding operators against those who attempt to ‘fleece the system’.”

Mr Morris was responding to a recent story in The Land newspaper stating that “Central West (NSW) truck drivers believed the 2005 harvest was to be a ‘trial and awareness’ year for new grain overloading rules”.

“The reality is that was not the case, and transport operators were well warned beforehand throughout 2005,” Morris says.

Mr Morris highlighted that the RTA conducted many Compliance and Enforcement (C&E) seminars throughout NSW and publicised C&E information in the trade media in 2005, stating that the Road Transport (General) Act 2005 (encompassing C&E laws) would be introduced in September 2005.

Aussie technology foils car thieves

Earlier this month, a Toyota Camry was carjacked just before midnight in one of Nigeria’s largest cities. The driver of the vehicle was shot in the process, and the thieves escaped in the stolen vehicle. The vehicle was fitted with EziTrak®. Within minutes, the vehicle was tracked and immobilised some 13 km from where it was stolen.

Using GPS coordinates from the EziTrak® unit, police were able to locate and recover the stolen vehicle. The driver has been discharged from hospital and is recovering well.

So what is EziTrak®? EziTrak® is a monitoring, protection & tracking system which gives car and vehicle owners personalised, self-monitoring with no ongoing back-to-base fees. EziTrak® utilises GPS and GSM technology to give the owner instant tampering notification, control, tracking and emergency alert information over the phone.

With EziTrak®, you are completely in control of the security of your car. Interaction is typically by selecting menu options over the phone (mobile phone or landline). This menu allows you to remotely immobilise the engine, lock and unlock the doors, check on your vehicle anytime, and obtain a status report including location to within 6 metres.

As a Silent Anti-theft system, EziTrak® calls its owner within seconds of a door opening or ignition detection. By selecting an option on your phone, you can instantly immobilise the engine and stop the theft. If the vehicle is towed away, you can track its removal over the phone or via GPS mapping software. Unlike other alarms or immobilising products, EziTrak® does not incur monitoring fees or charges; just a once-off purchase and installation cost.

The only additional requirement is a GSM SIM card from your preferred network provider. EziTrak® has an internal Black Box Recorder logging speed, position, time and date from 1 to 255 hours. This information can be downloaded to a PC and then played back on a moving map display.

A GSM antenna allows EziTrak® to be a truly covert security system. This antenna is compact and can be hidden anywhere on the vehicle. The antenna looks like part of the normal wiring system, so detection by thieves is virtually impossible. Ready to install, EziTrak® is a compact, robust module that keeps power consumption to a minimum. EziTrak® offers you security, control, GPS tracking and emergency notification.

EziTrak® is manufactured in Australia and available worldwide. EziTrak® is available in Nigeria through Nigertrak.

USB Thermometer-Logger

Adelaide based company Reltronics has released a new USB thermometer-Logger – a tiny plug and play USB device which can be added to your PC. It measures the ambient temperature and sends the result to your PC via the built-in USB port. The temperature is displayed in the Windows System Tray (small icon at the right bottom corner of the monitor) and is also presented in the application window as an infinite graphical chart with selectable time base.

The thermometer can be connected directly to any USB port of the PC or via a USB hub or extension cable (supplied). The measurements can be saved into an Excel-compatible data logging file and transferred to other applications. The thermometer features include: absolute accuracy of 0.5° C. relative resolution of 0.05° C, infinite chart display in 5 different time scales (10 min, 1 hour, 6 hours, 1 day, 10 days), selectable temperature units: C or F, selectable sample rate (1, 2, 5, 10 sec.), re-calibrate feature and power from USB.

The USB thermometer-logger package includes: installation software CD for Windows 98/2000/XP, the user’s guide, an extension USB cable and an USB digital thermometer.

Delivering on APS

Traditional planning and scheduling tools such as manufacturing resource planning (MRP) use cumbersome procedures based upon predefined heuristics. As a result MRP systems aren’t really capable of change in response to demand, or to shifts in material availability or capacities (be them plant or labour).

Predominantly these systems plan materials and capacity separately; one system ignoring the limitations of the other. The end result is a plan that can’t be executed in the real world and this leads to inaccurate production schedules, false delivery dates and some very unhappy customers.

Unlike MRP, APS plans and schedules all facets of an organisation by simultaneously taking in to account available materials AND capacity. The end result is a more realistic supply chain plan which means deadlines met and customer orders fulfilled on time.

APS provides value in specific environments where simpler planning methods can not adequately address the complex trade offs between competing priorities.

For example, APS can pay dividends to enterprises working with one (or more) of these characteristics:

•Requirement to trade off key costs across the supply chain (e.g. Procurement vs. Production vs. Logistics vs. Storage vs. Labour)

•Production intensive environment with multiple facilities, variable routings and recipes

•Asset intensive operations requiring maximum utilisation

•Seasonal behaviour of key drivers (demand, supply, and capacity)

•150 million turnover plus, with a large degree of operational variability

•Highly dynamic sourcing (where to make, make or buy, where to buy, where to ship-from decisions)

If your business features characteristics of this kind read on. If not, APS might be the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack nuts.

APS technologies can help a company at three planning levels within the business — strategic, tactical and operational. At a strategic level the system must look at long term success requirements such as infrastructure investment (i.e. demand network design) and market positioning (i.e. domestic / export, services / retail). At a tactical level that same business’ APS must focus upon mid term success requirements, how best to maximise returns within 12 – 18 month time frame (i.e. where to make, what shift patterns to employ, what downtime to schedule). And at a purely operational level the focus is much more immediate, maximising efficiencies in 1 — 6 weeks. (i.e. detailed production schedule, transportation schedule).

APS is not a ‘plug and play’ solution to all your planning and scheduling problems. Whilst the benefits are there to reap there is also a large potential barrier to consider:

The APS model serves as an interpretation layer, sitting between the mathematical solver engines which do the analysis and configuring, and the business. As a result,

APS is heavily reliant on the ability of practitioners to accurately model individual supply chains. Practitioners need to ensure that all material flows and corresponding costs and constraints are available to the system to accurately reflect business behaviour.

If for example, your team is in the habit of overstating capacity to secure a safety margin; your APS plans for scheduling to maximise efficiency will be inhibited. To that extent the system is as good as the information it is fed.

Further, the potentially large amount of data which the APS system may require to function effectively could be more than your existing ERP system can handle. This factor alone may prevent some businesses from ever realising the total benefits of APS.

APS solutions have no boundaries so it’s crucial to clearly define the scope of the challenge – otherwise modelling will be endless and the output useless.

It’s important to recognise that supply chain projects cross functional boundaries so a successful optimisation must ensure that all department parties are equally optimised. The most optimal solution for a business therefore, is one in alignment with supply chain and business goals.

When running a pilot, take a cross section of the business or product portfolio. Aim for a sample that is concise enough to evolve with the pilot but also exercises the most challenging constraints and costs within a supply chain. Analyse the results carefully before proceeding. If the pilot does not make sense then the confusion will only be magnified on a full APS rollout.

This article was written by Shaun Phillips, solutions architect, Infor. Shaun has delivered business benefits, using APS technologies, to companies across Australia, Asia, and Europe for more than 10 years.

Efficient supply chain solutions

While many companies strive to make the most efficient gains through available channels of outsourced supply chain management and logistics, it is an interesting point to note that many tend to overlook their own premises and perhaps are operating with a low level of internal handling efficiency.

It is vital a materials handling system is completely integrated to maintain product flow, and companies should use their contract transport services as a de facto warehousing component.

Smart operators are the companies that have studied the logistics market and have seen positives in utilising transport and freight services to eliminate costly warehousing and quicken truck turnaround times.

Key to this becoming a widespread reality is knowing exactly how to best set up loading and unloading systems to work in synchronicity with transport company services.

Until recently, operations managers have been content to receive stock through an incoming goods dock, store it temporarily while organising transport to its client, and then eventually send it again on another truck.

This has been occurring in virtually every industry including perishables, food and beverage, engineering, mining supply, agricultural and rural, primary industry, retail and consumer, and almost any other industry of which one can think.

But with an optimised materials handling system put in place, smart companies, instead of storing stock on the premises for an indefinite period, rarely have to see their goods.

Instead, they use a clever materials transfer system on their site that instantly moves goods from incoming to outgoing without storage, or they have equipped their transport carrier with appropriate systems to load and unload palletised or non-palletise product and transport it directly to their clients without warehousing.

Firstly, with floor charges per metre continually rising, the elimination of reliance on warehousing is an automatic, and enormous, cost saving.

Reduction in multi handling of stock also reduces time and operating costs and ensures smoother movement of product from manufacturing base or bond store to the customer

In the case of perishables, reduction in supply chain steps can only be of benefit to handlers of product with limited shelf life.

Using its existing product and technologies alongside solution-specific developments, Industrial Conveying Australia is currently developing several turnkey projects for Australian companies undertaking this cultural change.

Among these technologies are:

• Automated transport loading and unloading systems including handling unit loads or complete truck loads.

• Pallet handing systems such as multi-lane palletising equipment, to organise truck loads ready for dispatch.

• Elevators and spiral conveyors for non-palletised goods transfer between different floor levels, powered roller conveyor and lift tables.

For more information contact Industrial Conveying (Aust) Pty Ltd. on 

Making the Connection

Supply-Chain Council Chief Technology Officer Joe Francis, an acknowledged world expert o framework-based Business Process Models will hold a seminar to help practitioners learn practices that best service customers.

This seminar will walk participants through a simple, reliable and scalable process for making the link using the SCOR® operations reference framework of metrics, processes, and best practices. Case studies are presented from diverse industries illustrating the power of the approach. The Supply Chain Operations Reference model (SCOR) is a process reference model developed and endorsed by the Supply Chain Council as the cross-industry standard diagnostic tool for supply chain management. SCOR enables users to address, improve and communicate supply chain management practices within and between all interested parties.


Date: Thursday 26 July 2007

Time: 7.30am registration and breakfast 8.00-10.00am seminar

Venue: Sydney Business School Level 14, 175 Liverpool Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Cost: AUD$25.00

RSVP: Catherine Buckley, SCC Tel: (+61) 2 9006 1059 / MELBOURNE

Date: Thursday 26 July 2007

Time: 2.30pm registration and refreshments 3.00-5.00pm seminar

Venue: Victoria University, Footscray Park Campus Conference Room 2, Level 6, Building K Cnr Ballarat Road & Geelong Road, Footscray (Melways 25 F4)

Cost: AUD$25.00 ($15.00 students)

RSVP: Alison Caruana-Smith, ILSCM Tel: (+61) 3 9919 6257 /


Date: Friday 27 July 2007

Time: 7.30am registration and breakfast 8.00-10.00am seminar

Venue: Brisbane Riverview Hotel Cnr Kingsford-Smith Drive & Hunt Street Hamilton QLD 4007

Cost: AUD$25.00

RSVP: Tel: (+61) 7 3364 0700

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