Linfox wins Australian Defence Force contract

Linfox has won a warehousing and distribution contract with the Australian Defence Force that will see the creation of 600 new jobs.

Linfox will manage over 20 sites around Australia and provide warehouse and distribution services of all defence inventory handled through the joint logistics units with the exception of explosive ordnance.

Linfox CEO Michael Byrne said the contract will provide efficiency reforms for the ADF’s logistics network.

“Efficient logistics management is the core of our business. We have a track record in partnering major customers across the Asia Pacific to achieve supply chain efficiencies,” Byrne said.

“The contract further endorses the strengths and capabilities of the Linfox business.”

Byrne said the contract would bring 600 new people to the Linfox team, with the company looking at employing experiences personal for the new work.

DB Schenker open $8.5m logistics distribution centre

DB Schenker have opened a new $8.5m distribution centre in Altona.

The Schenker Australia facility, opened by Victorian Minister for Public Transport and Roads, Terry Mulder is a specially adapted eco-friendly building doing its part in reducing CO2 emissions.

Eco-friendly features in the new logistics distribution centre include low emission T5 lighting, an innovation that is expected to save emissions equivalent to the output of 13 residential homes annually, in addition to rainwater harvesting.

Schenker Australia CEO Ron Koehler explains that the T5 fluorescent lighting installed at Altona is one of the smartest options around as an alternative to LEDs, offering comparable energy savings and low cost replacement parts. The new facility would also harvest rainwater to deliver significant savings similar to one of the company’s other centres in Tullamarine.

Mulder applauded the state-of-the-art facility and said supporting innovation and growth for the freight and logistics sector is a high priority for the Government.

He added working with industry to deliver more sustainable businesses is one of the key themes of the Coalition Government's recently released Victorian freight and logistics plan. 

According to Koehler, Schenker Australia has consolidated two other distribution facilities at Sunshine to make a significantly larger Distribution Centre that allows for growth and is located closer to major roads and port facilities.

At optimum operation it will employ 30 staff, including some locally-sourced casual positions. 

Altona becomes the fifth largest site in the Schenker Australia network. The 18,000m² logistics centre operates eight recessed docks and a 2,000m² awning, allowing transport and logistics operations to co-exist on the one site safely and efficiently. 

Schenker Australia is the local arm of DB Schenker, the world’s second largest transportation and logistics service provider based on sales and performance. The company is in its 51st year of Australian operations.

Bunnings signs 10-year lease at Port of Brisbane’s Port West Estate

The Port of Brisbane has announced the signing of a 10-year lease for a 30,450 square metre Bunnings Distribution Centre at its Port West Estate.

The 7.65 hectare area will be developed by the port, due for completion on late 2013, with an expected value of $45 million.

Port of Brisbane chief executive officer, Russell Smith,. Said the company was pleased the have secured the agreement with one of Australia’s leading retailers.

“Bunnings will be the first tenant to occupy the land at the Port of Brisbane’s Port West Estate,” Smith said.

“The Estate’s prime location provides Bunnings Distribution Centre with access to unrivalled transport connectivity – by road, rail and sea – and immediate access to the Port of Brisbane and Gateway Motorways, to help meet their logistics requirements.

“Tenants also have access to the Port’s world-class cargo handling and warehousing facilities, with over $1 billion invested in capital works during the last 20 years,” Mr Smith concluded.

Bunnings’ general manager of Logistics and Improvement, Rodney Boys, said the port offered an great location for the new distribution centre, catering to the company’s long-term strategy in the sunshine state.

“Bunnings is dedicated to injecting over $730 million of capital investment in Queensland over the next three to five years through new stores. These developments will create over 3,500 permanent positions for Queensland residents and over 5,000 additional jobs during the construction phase,” Boys said.

Image: rscc.com

Road Runners saved from collapsing

A Tasmanian courier and distribution company that went into administration last week after 25 years in the business, has been bought by trucking magnate.

Road Runners told its workers in Hobart, Devonport and Launceston on Thursday that it had gone into receivership, leaving 100 jobs in jeopardy, the mercury.com.au reported.

However, trucking magnate Chas Kelly has come the rescue of the company, purchasing the business with plans to keep it as a separate entity from his Chas Kelly Transport empire.

Kelly said the company would remain as Road Runners.

"Everything will be identical — I will deliver the same level of service and commitment," he said.

Kelly said 45 – 50 jobs would remain, but that the rest would need to be shed.

He said he hoped the company could be rebuilt.

"I think it's a great business and now we have an excellent base to build it back to what it was," he said.

CMA CGM launches REX 2 service from Far East to Red Sea

CMA CGM has announced the launch of a new direct service of the Asia to Red Sea route that will replace a service that was stopped at the end of June.

The new REX 2 service will replace the REX 1 service that was operated in a Vessel Sharing Agreement (VSA) with APL.

This new service will enable CMA CGM to remain active on this major trade for the company, with a dedicated loop from the Far East to Red Sea markets.

The REX 2 service has been active from 22nd July, 2012, and is operated under a VSA between CMA CGM, HANJIN, CSCL and YANG MING. The "Ville d’Aquarius" vessel of 3900 TEU has been deployed for this purpose.

Commenting on the decision to launch this new service, CMA CGM Asia MED & NAF Vice President Stéphane Courquin explained that "it was essential for CMA CGM to offer again Egypt and Jordan calls with a direct and improved service from Asia. This new REX 2 service is the first step of CMA CGM redeployment in the zone and confirms the Group’s will to increase its presence in these countries for both import and export."

Geodis to manage Mattel’s logistics operations in southern Europe

Toy manufacturer Mattel has announced that it has signed a six year contract with Geodis for the management of its logistics and distribution operations in southern Europe.

This contract includes the reception of 3,000 sea containers per year from Asia, customs clearance, palletising, storage and the management of 1,800 references to be distributed in France, Spain, and Portugal.

To satisfy these requirements, Geodis has established a 42,000sqm warehouse in the Distriport area of Marseilles, France, which has been operational since March, and is recruiting 120 people.

The warehouse and its resources were sized to fit the seasonal peaks inherent to the business of Mattel.  The site also has a storage area for containers to handle seasonal variations. By late 2013, the total area of the distribution centre will be brought up to 60,000sqm and it will employ 200 people.

An additional 1,500sqm will be dedicated to high value-added services such as the preparation of promotional displays or package customisation according to the requirements of retailers. Geodis will also be in charge of returns management on behalf of Mattel.

Geodis has implemented advanced technologies in the new distribution centre, such as radio frequency and 'voice picking', which is designed to provide optimum service quality and productivity by guiding operators through a voice recognition system.

The new contract is part of a long standing partnership between Mattel and Geodis. Geodis has been managing Mattel's north Europe distribution centre in Venlo, Netherlands, as well as two hubs in Tanjung Pelapas and Port Klang in Malaysia since 2007.

Kuehne + Nagel opens new shared warehouse facility in Hong Kong

A second contract logistics facility has been opened by Kuehne + Nagel in Hong Kong to meet growing demand for quality warehousing and distribution services in the area.

Located at the Hutchison Logistics Centre, the new facility is adjacent to Kuehne + Nagel's warehouse at Asia Terminals Limited and its container freight stations (CFS) in Kwai Chung, the major logistics hub in Hong Kong.

It features 750 pallet positions, 2,000 shelf locations, a 20,000-sq.ft. stacking area and a multi-purpose inspection room, all of which is supported, the company states, by state-of-the-art material handling equipment and warehouse management systems.

Smooth access to the facility is provided by 21 loading docks. The premises also meet stringent security and safety requirements.

With the additional 75,000 sq. ft. of warehousing space provided by this new facility, Kuehne + Nagel has now a total of 350,000 sq. ft. under management in Hong Kong.

Star Cool number 100,000 rolls off Maersk production line

Having experienced almost exponential sales growth, Maersk Container Industry (MCI) has announced that it has produced number 100,000 of its Star Cool refrigeration containers.

The company attributed this increase in production to unabated demand for frozen and chilled foods, and an acute need for energy savings in global transportation.

With the 50,000th Star Cool unit having been produced just over a year ago, Chief Commercial Officer at MCI, Soren Leth Johannsen, commented that the company's focus on energy savings was clearly the right way to go.

"Bunker fuel prices have more than doubled since 2005 so we can help customers offset part of the additional bunker cost," he added.

Meanwhile, MCI is continuing its research and development in Tinglev, Denmark.

Johannsen confirmed that the company has more innovation on the way that is intended to make global trade ever more efficient, noting that "MCI's controlled atmosphere, for example, now lets customers increase transportation time in some cases from 30 to 45 days without compromising quality."

ALC welcomes change to Coastal Trading Bill

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed an amendment to the Coastal Trading Bill 2012 agreed to on May 31st in the House of Representatives that recognises the importance of the efficient movement of freight.

The amendment means the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport may take into account the efficient movement of cargo between Australian ports when considering whether to grant a temporary licence to a foreign flagged vessel to engage in coastal trading.

ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff said that the ALC welcomed the amendment as it puts the efficient movement of freight on an equal policy footing to the maintenance of an Australian coastal fleet.

"ALC highlighted this important point in its submission to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications to avoid the legislation potentially distorting the choice of how freight is moved," he added.

Mr Kilgariff noted that the amendment was particularly important in the context of a large and growing freight task, which is set to double by 2030 and to almost triple by 2050.

Photo: a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from Skellig2008's Flickr photo stream.

How to give your distribution a competitive edge

Most successful businesses make promises about the availability of their products through creative marketing programs. The responsibility of delivering on the promise falls fairly and squarely in the lap of the supply chain team. It’s not an easy job to get the right product to the right place, in good condition, just when the customer wants to buy… but someone has to do it.

To meet these business objectives many companies make substantial investments in their supply chain. Whether that be in state-of-the-art distribution centres with purpose designed automation interfaced with sophisticated controls and software, or outsourcing to a third party logistics provider,  the desired outcome remains the same: an operation that performs reliably to achieve its targets week-in, week-out over the life of the system.

But as any logistics professional will tell you, there are traps and pitfalls. Unexpected peaks in demand, changes in product profiles, errors in picking or despatch and – despite the fact that most modern systems are highly reliable – mechanical, electrical, controls or software malfunctions can adversely affect results.

Logistics practitioners place great emphasis on finding new ways to increase uptime, optimise system performance and ensure they meet their customer’s highest expectations. Your logistics and distribution systems can be a powerful competitive strategy and there are many new ways in which your ongoing performance can aid in the creation of a more powerful brand and a more respected position in the marketplace.

In this article, we explore what you can reasonably expect of a service organisation and how they should ensure that your system is finely tuned and highly responsive. We also consider the changing capabilities of a modern service organisation and how advances in processes and technology can give you an extra competitive edge, even as product profiles and demand changes in the future.

The changing role of a modern service organisation

Service has evolved from the stereotypical image of the mechanic in greasy overalls. Today’s service technicians are multi-skilled, multi-disciplinary professionals, who use a range of sophisticated tools and software to monitor the performance of logistics and IT systems, responding immediately to any equipment failure and, in many cases, identifying problems which could affect system reliability even before they happen.
The advent of high speed communications means keeping controls, software and IT systems up to date often doesn’t even require service personnel to be present, with security updates, software patches and the like being delivered electronically.
A modern service organisation will be able to provide you with previously unattainable levels of service and support in the following impressive ways.

Field Service and Support is essential

At a very basic starting point, any good service organisation will provide a team of field service and support personnel who are available around the clock, 365 days a year. These highly trained service technicians provide emergency support for those unplanned events that disrupt your systems. They can also maintain your system through regular servicing to maximise availability and minimise breakdowns. It’s during peak demand times that systems failures are most critical to your business.  A regular service program will minimise the risk to your operations.

Operational Audits highlight improvements and identify safety issues

Operational requirements invariably change over time. Often the original business and product mix the system was designed for has to be changed as customer and market forces dictate.
Whether it is a full functional audit to assess system and operator effectiveness, or specific safety and equipment-related details that are needed, a thorough and professional operational audit is an economical way to highlight productivity and safety improvement ideas. Any operational audit should include Equipment Condition Assessments and recommend upgrades and improvements to mechanical, controls and IT systems, in addition to safety and productivity reports.

Residential Service

Reliability is the key to achieving service targets week-in, week-out over the life of a system, and many larger distribution systems users – for whom uptime is absolutely critical to meet demanding order turnaround cycles – are taking a new approach to service.
Residential Maintenance Programs provided by the system integrator are becoming more commonplace. They typically provide trained, mechanical, electrical or software technicians who can perform preventive, corrective and emergency maintenance as well as providing operational assistance to ensure systems function at optimum efficiency.
These programs reduce operating cost and improve system performance by providing a systematic approach to service.  Additionally, KPI reporting provided under a Residential Program can give management insight to other benefits, such as reduced parts usage and increased system longevity.

Remote Monitoring & Diagnostics

Today, the internet and high speed communications networks mean that service centres don’t need to be located on the actual DC site. Monitoring can take place at a remote location.
Centralised teams of skilled engineers can significantly reduce the impact of faults and the time taken to rectify them, and ensure systems are fully supported 24/7. Trained operators have the expertise to provide immediate advice about the best course of action to respond to any issue, or to actively intervene to correct system faults often before they become a problem. 
Remote access, help desks and programmers can be on standby to ensure software and IT systems meet operational needs. Software support programs can include regular database checking, server architecture and software applications.

Seeing into the future with Early Warning Systems

Sophisticated software has enabled the development of predictive tools to further improve system performance. Diagnostic software has the capability to monitor systems performance, look for potential malfunctions and analyse events and issues that could affect system reliability.
The aim of early warning system software is to optimise DC performance improving delivery, accuracy and reliability. But there are added advantages. Unscheduled stoppages are reduced, maintenance cost is lowered and system working life is maximised.

Modernising your Distribution Centre operations

With supply chain demands changing at a faster pace than ever before, keeping your distribution operations up to date – even if they’re only a few years old – is vital to responding efficiently to changing customer and market demands, including regulatory requirements.
Systems may have provided many years of excellent service, but should performance levels fall, or business model and requirements change, then a modernisation program can breathe new life into an existing system at relative low cost.

Older systems can also become expensive to repair and maintain as parts and software become obsolete. Alternatively, and without scraping the whole system, performance can be enhanced by introducing automation and new technologies.

As businesses grow and develop, so too can systems, especially when the initial design is based on modular and scalable components. As no two logistics operations are the same, a range of options can be evaluated and a modernisation plan tailored specifically to suit business requirements and timescale. Proven modernisation and upgrade technologies can transform systems and deliver increased efficiency, ease of maintenance and reliability, quick smart.

Updated controls, software and mechanical components are also available, and they may be all that’s needed to increase operating efficiency to meet current needs.

Summary

Service can no longer be looked at as a necessary evil. It plays a crucial role in fulfilling the delivery promise. An unreliable supply chain can quickly bite into profits and, more importantly, business reputation.
The high cost of disruption to the supply chain means keeping logistics systems operating reliably is a key driver for all DCs. Advances like remote monitoring and early warning systems, and constantly evolving IT connectivity, are revolutionising the approach to service, enabling users to achieve high uptime levels while lowering total distribution costs and optimising service levels.

Michael Jerogin is the general manager, customer service at Dematic .

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