Found in translation – Exporting the Australian logistics mindset

This article first appeared in the February/March 2017 issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.
Three Australian logistics veterans have been tasked with rethinking Japan’s supply chain strategy, mixing the traditional and the modern to achieve unprecedented growth.
Even when you’re the biggest name in your market, that’s no reason to rest on your laurels. While Coca-Cola is the market leader for beverages in Japan, there are five other major players vying for a share of the action. Market pricing has been declining steadily over the past 16 years, putting a squeeze on margins and forcing beverage suppliers to stay vigilant to remain relevant. According to Bruce Herbert, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Coca-Cola East Japan (CCEJ), consolidation and diversification have been key strategies for many in the industry. “Coke in Japan is not just carbonated drinks, over half our volume is sugar-free teas, coffee and water,” he says. “A very strong innovation and new product pipeline has to be filled every year from our own plants and a network of contract packers.”
Covering over half of Japan and serving a population of 60 million, Coca-Cola distributor CCEJ is in a constant state of metamorphosis, always looking for ways to increase efficiency and cut costs. The US$6 billion ($8.2 billion) bottler was originally formed in 2013 through the merging of four smaller bottlers and has since absorbed a fifth one. It will soon merge with Japan’s next biggest beverage distributor – Coca-Cola West – and cover some 90 per cent of the market. Set to take place in 2017, the merger will increase the company’s value to US$10 billion ($13.7 billion) and increase its assets from eight factories to 17, 250 sales warehouses from 150, and 800,000 vending machines from 400,000 and 3,500 daily semi-trailer loads shifted per day from 2,000.
CCEJ recruited supply chain experts from around the world, including Bruce, to come to Japan and lend their expertise and, as a result, has been hugely successful in cutting costs and increasing profit. Bruce is joined by two other Australian supply chain experts, cherry-picked for their knowledge of the beverage and retail industries with decades of experience working with supply chains in Australia, Asia and Africa – Edward Walters, now Senior Executive Officer, Planning, Logistics & Distribution at CCEJ; and Distribution Transformation Manager, David Sim.
The Japanese market has presented a challenge, thanks to the country’s complex traditional business etiquette, though Bruce found its workforce’s strong work ethic and customer service to be worthy of admiration. “In Australia we take for granted that change and improvement are part of working life,” he says. “Especially at [Coca-Cola’s Australian-based bottler, ed.] Amatil, where supply chain transformation has been progressing since the mid-90s and many world-leading initiatives were started. Coming to a business which was effectively five small Japanese businesses just three years ago, I have realised just how far ahead some of those things we were doing in Australia were.
“In one way we have a big advantage of having lived in what will be ‘the future state’ for the supply chain here. Of course, there are many things to be learnt from the Japan model as well, but knowing that changes needed here have worked elsewhere gives us a big head start.
“I respect the Japanese working style. My Japanese colleagues are extremely hardworking and focused on detail, in a way that most Australians would find very challenging. Workers regularly work very late in the office, never hesitate to stay back or work over weekends and don’t give up on a problem. So much so that Government and companies are focused on encouraging people to relax more and take more time off, take more holidays etc. – this is definitely not a problem in Australia.”
The Japanese approach to life in general, including even how seemingly ‘logical’ issues are approached is quite different to the West, according to Bruce. “Not better or worse, but different,” he adds. “Whilst basic human reactions and motivations are the same, the way they express themselves is different. Relationships are much more important and sensitive here, as is loyalty to the business or community. All of these things translate into business culture and relationships.”
In some aspects, Australia’s logistics sector could benefit from observing the Japanese workplace, says Bruce. In particular, he believes that the value placed on quality and customer service in Japan would do wonders for Australian business. “Japan is surely the most quality-focused country on earth, and customer service is seen as an extension of quality,” he says. “Near enough is not good enough, perfection is sought after and worked towards at every level. It is deeply ingrained into everyday life – I don’t think we would ever have to ‘train’ for customer service as it is intrinsically understood. This often leads to failures by multi-national companies who don’t understand what Japanese consumers and customers expect. Likewise: quality. Australian businesses may be more ‘lean’ but often do so at the cost of customer service and quality.”
CCEJ looked at successful logistics strategies in use around the developed world when searching for ideas to rejuvenate their own approach and, according to Bruce, flexibility and a laid-back Australian style have been instrumental in ‘cracking the code’ for the company’s logistics strategy. “I think openness to different ideas has been key,” he shares.
“I experienced some changes put in place here earlier by some of our colleagues from the US, but many of them did not work as they were simply ‘cut and pasted’ ideas from the US. Aussies may be proud of their country, but they usually don’t expect that they have all the answers.”
Edward likens the challenge of solving CCEJ’s issues to the task of unravelling a badly tangled set of Christmas lights – difficult to unravel without breaking a light and stopping the business. “We discovered that, over many years on the quest to providing high service and quality, network efficiency at CCEJ had been eroded severely,” Bruce adds. “This had happened steadily and high transport, warehouse and other costs had been accepted as ‘normal’. As there was little benchmarking of supply chain costs outside Japan, and since the costs were not easily ‘visible’, they had not been tackled by investment or progressive change either and a gap grew between global practice and Japan Coca-Cola practice.”
In order to ‘crack the code’, Bruce shares that two major changes needed to be introduced. “First was a painful implementation of a new SAP ERP system which replaced multiple legacy systems and gave central visibility to live data,” he says. “Second was more instinctive – we cut inventory by about 20 per cent – a very brave move in Japan – and thereby decongested the network, eliminating double handling, waiting times, extra transport and product write-off.”
A third big change, which is currently in progress, involves moving inventory upstream, closing small sales centres and cross-docking others, together with possible investment in new warehouses at plants and picking automation. CCEJ is already seeing positive results from the change, with over 25 billion JPY ($290 million) supply chain savings both from manufacturing and logistics/distribution improvement since its inception in 2013.“This year, heavy transport cost is down 20 per cent and write-offs are down 50 per cent,” Bruce shares. “So we are already almost halfway to the long-term cost reduction goal after just one year.” The 2017 merger of Coca-Cola East Japan and Coca-Cola West is expected to create opportunities for further savings.
Bruce attributes his team’s success to a combination of factors, from slow and cautious implementation of changes to constant re-evaluation of direction. “We didn’t approach this as a ‘project’,” he says. “We tackled this as a management challenge – to implement changes, monitor them closely and adjust as we went along. In that way the original ‘plans’ were gradually changed – with successes amplified and failures dropped quickly. Good real-time data access and manipulation was crucial here.
“Thanks to methodical and detailed execution of strategies by our team here, the changes we made to inventory levels, planning processes, truck routing, pallet configurations etc. were executed without impacting customers or quality. This meant that the costs we saved were not lost in upset customers or lost sales, but could flow directly to the bottom line.
“We discovered a clear and costly link between inventory levels and transport costs, which had never been uncovered before. I’d like to say we found this by a big analytical study, but actually it only became clear by trial and error – which is why an army of experts and analysts had failed to find it before.”
CCEJ now encourages its employees to make suggestions for improvement of processes, and implements over 100,000 small innovation ideas per year on ways to improve quality, safety, service and cost.
The notoriously rigid traditional Japanese business culture presented a particular challenge for the CCEJ supply chain team, Bruce explains, though they were still able to achieve “massive change and results” thanks to their measured approach. “Resistance to change remains a constant both within the business and with customers and some suppliers,” he says.
“This is largely due to the extremely high standards set by customers and consumers and fear of making big mistakes. We were able to overcome this by making many small progressive changes, and avoiding – for the most part – big bang or sudden, unplanned change.”
Bruce believes that if applied in Australia, his team’s strategy could result in similarly positive outcomes. “The approach we have taken here has been based on numerics and data combined with good management routines, not just ‘hardware’,” he shares. “It can therefore be applied anywhere, to any problems.”
The CCEJ supply chain team have developed their own version of the revered – though oft-misunderstood – ‘Kaizen’ (kai: change, zen: good) business philosophy whereby big changes can be achieved through small, continuous improvements in all aspects of business. They are confident this method could be applied with success in any business environment. Bruce adds, “All I know is that after 35 years in this game there has never been a change as big and fast as what this team has achieved here in Japan this year.”

Moorebank Logistics Park launched

The launch of the Moorebank Logistics Park has been described by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) as a “watershed moment” in the continuing transformation of Australia’s freight networks.
“Given the Federal Budget’s significant investment in freight infrastructure and the continuing development of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, it’s an auspicious moment to mark the establishment of what will become the nation’s largest intermodal freight precinct,” said ALC Managing Director Michael Kilgariff.
“This nationally significant project was included on Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Priority List and, according to government figures, is expected to create some 6,800 jobs and deliver $11 billion in economic benefits over the next three decades. The strategic location of this site, at the very heart of New South Wales’ freight network, is second to none.”
Kilgariff added that more efficient road and rail connections from ports to intermodal facilities would be key in meeting the country’s growing freight task, reducing road congestion and improving community amenity.
“The Moorebank facility is central to achieving this around Sydney’s heavily congested M5 corridor,” he added. “At the same time, its ability to transport 1.5 million TEU each year from Port Botany by rail will support the NSW Government’s goal of boosting rail freight to and from that port from its current 18 per cent to around 30 per cent. Likewise, it accords with NSW Ports’ objective of moving three million TEU by rail by 2045.”
“ALC has long argued that building a reliable, national network of intermodal facilities is central to boosting rail’s contribution the national freight task. Moorebank will complement other intermodal facilities throughout NSW, including Aurizon’s operations at NSW Ports’ Enfield Intermodal Logistics Centre, and Pacific National’s facility at Chullora.”
“Both Moorebank Intermodal Company and Qube Holdings deserve enormous credit for their intensive efforts bringing Moorebank to fruition. The success of this intermodal facility is set to deliver transformational improvements to supply chain efficiency,” Kilgariff concluded.

‘Sharing economy’ shaking up logistics, says DHL

Digital platforms and business models built around sharing not owning assets presents a significant future opportunity for the logistics industry according to the findings of the new Trend Report released by DHL.
The report, ‘Sharing Economy Logistics – Rethinking logistics with access over ownership’ provides insights into understanding the ‘sharing economy’, best practices in the sharing economy from other industries, and practical applications of the sharing economy within the logistics value chain.
“The concept of sharing is nothing new, but today people can share assets and use sharing services at the speed and scale of three billion smartphone users worldwide, said Matthias Heutger, Senior Vice President Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “Naturally this started with high-value assets like rooms and cars, but the underlying concept can be applied to almost anything now.
“Logistics providers can really benefit from sharing their own assets, as well as facilitate the sharing of goods that are a hassle to transport. Digital sharing platforms give instant access to what’s available from online networks of users, including but not limited to hotel rooms, taxis, construction equipment household items and even people’s personal time or skills. Logistics providers can leverage these developments via more cost-effective usage of warehouse space, more efficient transportation and delivery methods, or flexible staffing models.”
In a sharing economy, individual or organisation users get temporary access to an asset, service or skill owned by someone else and which would otherwise be underused. Not only does this maximise Return on Investment through greater utilisation, it also produces a new revenue stream in the form of rental fees for the asset owner. DHL asserts that sharing is good for the environment as it leads to fewer new assets being produced, and existing ones are being used more often.
In its early days, DHL employed an early form of crowd sourcing, offering free plane tickets to private travellers in exchange for giving up their baggage allowance to transport critical shipping documents. By delivering the original bill of lading by plane before the containers arrived by ship, DHL sped up the customs clearance process and paved the way for the express delivery industry, the company wrote in a press release.
“Today, the tremendous scale of digital sharing platforms and crowd-based access to already existing assets is redefining the concept of ‘sharing’ and reshaping the future of the logistics,” the release continued. “Sharing of warehousing space, transport capacities, operational data, and staffing are just some of the examples where the Sharing Economy could be effectively employed in logistics.
“According to research, one in four trucks on US and EU roads are driving empty or typically only half-loaded. Digital platforms provide an instant snapshot of availability and the ability to access spare capacity in almost any truck, including smaller delivery vehicles or even privately owned cars on a day-to-day basis.
DHL’s recently launched real-time freight brokerage platform Saloodo! uses the global network of smartphone users and real-time communications to reach a greater audience of shippers to take advantage of excess capacity.
Multi-customer warehouses could help third-party logistics providers achieve greater economies of scale by consolidating fulfilment, demand and know-how between several customers within a single site. Taking the concept of space sharing from the hospitality sector as a role model, sharing excess warehouse capacity would bring great financial and productivity benefits.
This opportunity for new business creation does not come without challenges – risk liability, transparency, insurance and workforce protection must all be considered. Also, the pace of technological innovation and social change often outpace regulatory frameworks.
“Collaboration between companies and policy makers is necessary to ensure development happens in a positive and productive way,” added Heutger. “With logistics perfectly placed to enable and benefit from this trend, it will play a key role in shaping the sharing economy and rewriting the rules of value creation.”

Flinders University ‘Kookaburra’ discovery may boost logistics productivity

Flinders University researchers believe they have cracked a long-running quest for an optimal solution to the classic algorithm question in computer science known as the Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP).
The TSP focuses on finding the most efficient and cheapest way for a travelling salesman to visit all of his cities and return to a starting point.
An optimal answer could lead to lucrative productivity gains in a range of industries and complex tasks, from logistics and transport to more cost-efficient manufacturing, gene sequencing and even drone mission planning.
The solution was achieved by the Flinders Mathematical Sciences Laboratory Hamiltonian Cycle Project over the past three years and has already broken more than 20 records, solving open TSP problems listed on the international register maintained by the University of Waterloo in Canada.
It is shaping up as a powerful new tool to develop better software systems for a range of industries, said Associate Professor Vladimir Ejov, director of the Flinders Mathematical Sciences Laboratory.
“In a resource-restrained world, optimal solutions are increasingly necessary in ever-more-complex processes,” Ejov said. “We hope this TSP solver could become a world leader in highly competitive market of solving difficult logistics and many other industrial problems by the virtue of its highest quality outcome.”
The history of the TSP dates back to Sir William Hamilton’s early investigations of the dodecahedral graph in 1857 and his Hamiltonian Cycle Problem has puzzled math minds ever since. It is summarised as: given a graph containing N vertices, determine whether it contains a simple cycle of length N.
 
Ahead of seeking out possible industrial and research partners, PhD students Alex Newcombe and Pouya Baniasadi are putting the software to work in a range of applications while lecturer Dr Michael Haythorpe is looking to upgrade computer cluster facilities Colossus.

Report finds visibility key to freight supply chain efficiency

Austroads has released its findings from a review into end-to-end visibility in supply chains. The report, ‘Research Report AP-R538-17 – Investigating the potential benefits of enhanced end to end supply chain visibility’, was produced in collaboration with GS1 Australia, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Supply Chain Standards Working Group and the Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics.
The Australian Government welcomed the report, and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the findings of Austroads’ report were in line with the Government’s commitment to develop a comprehensive national freight and supply chain strategy.
“Improving the ability of businesses to keep track of freight from the time an item leaves the farm or factory gate until it is delivered, is crucial to improving the operational efficiency of supply chains in Australia,” he said.
“To help make this a reality, we will be asking the independent inquiry into the establishment of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to consider Austroads’ findings.”
During the course of preparing the report, several major pilot studies examined the effect of adoption of ‘visibility’ technologies using Global Data Standards (GDS) on the ability to track freight along a supply chain.
“Austroads’ pilot studies showed that larger transport businesses which have adopted GDS-based technologies effectively build a capability to create connectivity and improve visibility throughout their supply chains,” Chester said.
“This may increase costs over the short-term for smaller transport operators given the complexities of adopting the new GDS-based technologies, but those same operators will definitely see the benefits over the long term.”
The report was launched at the ALC Forum 2017 in Melbourne on Thursday 9 March to an audience of approximately 250 senior industry and government leaders, including ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff, and GS1 Australia’s Senior Manager – Trade, Transport & Heavy Industry, Bonnie Ryan.
Participating in a panel discussion at the ALC Forum, Ryan said the report concludes an extensive body of work conducted by the ALC Supply Chain Standards Working Group and GS1 Australia.
“The industry pilots were across three logistic supply chains operated by Toll Group, Arrium OneSteel and Nestlé,” she shared. “The aim of the pilots was to continue the investigation of end-to-end supply chain visibility improvements on intermodal transport corridors using the comprehensive GS1 standards toolkit.
“GS1 standards enable information on freight, transport equipment and events along supply chains to be identified and shared among different parties and service providers. Based on the pilot findings using GS1 standards, the economic benefit to the Australian transport and logistics sector could exceed $1 billion.”
Kilgariff added, “This study shows that there are strong economic benefits where we can improve supply chain visibility. Industry should now work towards implementing greater supply chain visibility standards to the benefit of consumers.”
The research report can be found on Austroads’ website.

Iconic Australian manufacturer and exporter Packer Leather calls United’s CAT Dp25Ns to lift efficiency

Queensland Exporter of the Year and leading manufacturer of iconic kangaroo leather products Packer Leather is investing in a growing fleet of Caterpillar DPN25N lift trucks to safely handle processes vital to its efficiency, uptime and competitiveness on local and world markets. 

The fifth generation family business, established in 1891, sells its light, tough and supple product to manufacturers of global brands of premium products including football boots, MotoGP suits, firefighter gloves, cycling gloves, saddlery and hiking shores, delivering a product that has many times the tensile strength of cowhide and is considerably stronger than goatskin.

Operating on a national and world stage –where its export achievements were recently recognised by Queensland premier Anastacia Palaszczuk in the Queensland Premier’s Export Awards –Packer Leather operates in an environment where reliability and delivery performance are vital and safety is mandatory.

According to Packer Leather’s International Marketing and Sales Manager, Mark Hourigan, “The forklifts are a key part of our production process.”

“During production, the leather can be moved between four sheds, five separate work areas and three storage locations. Depending on the product this can mean as many as nine separate pallet movements via a forklift, with each pallet of leather weighing between 500kg and 1,500kg. The caterpillar forklifts handle this workload with ease.”

Packer Leather recently expanded its fleet of DP25Ns to four, extending the excellent relationship built up over 20 years between United Forklift and Access Solutions’ Queensland Manager Garth Grams and Packer Leather Principal Lindsay Packer.

In addition to the service support offered by United, the CAT DP25N’s dependable and easy-to-service engines offer an excellent blend of power and performance with the advantage of low fuel consumption and emissions, making them easy and economical to use.

Ideal for industrial applications, the trucks achieve outstanding traction on sloping or slippery surfaces with solid pneumatic tyres providing excellent operator comfort.

“Key standout advantages for us are the built-in safety features and the high-visibility paintwork,” said Mr Hourigan. “With so many varied forklift movements taking place in a factory with 120 staff, safety qualities and strong visibility are highly valued. These are features that are most appreciated by staff.” DP25N features include:

  • LED lights on the front work lights, with front/rear combination lights that enhance visibility while reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs.
  • LCD display provides extensive information on truck operation and maintenance state. It also indicates service requirements to prevent unexpected downtime and cost due to unscheduled maintenance and service.
  • Modern design techniques in combination with long life of components result in a long service interval reducing the total cost of ownership.
  • Vehicle Control Module manages various truck and operator functions allowing easy trouble shooting and pin pointing of problems

Garth Grams says United’s customer-focused service ethos is a good fit with that of Packer Leather, which is an international leader in high performance leather with a reputation for quality and innovation.

“Packer Leather have a variety of specialised production processes to serve their diverse retail and export markets, in which our technology is extensively involved.”

“Through the company’s R and D capability, their leather can be customised with a variety of colours, finishes and technical attributes to suit specialised applications. Packer leather is one of a handful of tanneries worldwide who can provide this service as a part of a supply chain extending from the factory floor to the customer’s door.”

“Service is important throughout their finely tuned supply chain, including our service backing for first-rate dependable product such as the DP25Ns.”

United Forklift and Access Solutions is one of Australia’s largest privately owned forklift and access equipment companies, with a company footprint extending across Australian markets, enabling it to offer a truly national solution that remains responsive to local conditions.

Transportation industry suffering from fuel theft turns to TomTom Telematics

The transportation industry has been losing millions of dollars over the last few years as drivers siphon fuel from company vehicles.

According to the 2015 State of the Industry report, petrol/fuel theft was up 6.8 per cent nationally for the 2014 calendar year.

Employees can either siphon fuel from tanks or use special devices making it hard to detect fuel incrementally leaving the tank.

In 2012 tanker drivers siphoned petrol destined for Sydney Caltex Woolworths service station, subsequently selling for 50c a litre to low-cost rival service stations in a $1 million scam.

Director of LeFand Services, Philip Lacovou, said despite having a dynamic company that operated in the building management and maintenance, workers were still using company cards to buy fuel that was too expensive to personally afford.

“When we asked why the workers had been stealing the fuel, they believed that staff would not understand that they were saving money through using the company card to obtain fuel,” Lacovou said.

In correlation with the cases of fuel theft, the company was also struggling with contractors speeding & burning through fuel, in some cases completing two hour jobs in 15 minutes.

Rising fuel costs and increasing difficulty passing on fuel levies in a competitive market means that companies like LeFand Services have to find new measures to ensure the business is economically viable whilst taking care of their employees.

Fortunately, a system has been created that can assist in maintaining productivity standards, saving LeFand Services from wasting money and improve employee relations.

How Tom-Tom put fuel efficiency back on the road

Netherlands based mapping, navigation, and telematics developer TomTom Telematics made its presence known in Australia in November last year, with a massive launch of its enterprise telematics business.

Its aim was been to embed itself into thousands of fleet vehicles across the country, seeing Australia as a perfect market given the lack of sensory traffic management technology currently used by road authorities.

According to TomTom Telematics’ Australian head Christopher Chisman-Duffy, the WEBFLEET system allowed consistent monitoring of vehicles, even when they stopped their engine to refuel.

“The soaring cost of fuel has made it the number one concern for many fleet operators and the LINK530 builds on TomTom Telematics’ existing product portfolio to give them even greater power to improve efficiency, monitor driver behaviour, and deliver cost savings,” Chisman-Duffy said.

Efficiency was the common goal between TomTom Telematics and LeFand Services, and TomTom Telematics device features a system which can maintain productivity standards through working hours that correspond to individuals within the company in addition to fuel usage and distances driven over a period of time.

A sure-fire way to stamp out these rorts is the system’s ability to check that a work vehicle is actually at the location where the fuel is purchased on either a fuel card or expenses card when the transaction occurs. If the work vehicle isn’t at the petrol station, it’s almost certain company fuel is being pumped into an employee’s car.

After three months of using the TomTom Telematics service, Lacovou said there had been no fuel thefts within the business; a success he attributes to the monitoring of vehicles that stop their engine to refuel. Fuel charges were also reduced with the implementation of the system, dropping from $2,800 to $2,000 in a month.

By utilising a truck’s standard fleet management system (FMS) interface, the LINK510 detects fuel drops and refills triggers automatic notifications to help managers detect incidences of fuel theft.

It also helped LeFand Services halve fuel costs within the first few weeks by removing vehicle overuse for private activity and highlighting cases of outright fuel theft.

Those who bill for labour and services on an hourly basis, are also squarely in the telematics mix because the data extracted from WEBFLEET can show where vehicles, crews, or contractors are at any given time and how long they’ve been there. Data from TomTom Telematics’ journey management system helped Philip’s clients to validate crew work activity.

As most fleet leasing and financing companies now offer fleet management software and apps as part of their service, a key question is whether these operators will naturally gravitate towards devices like TomTom Telematics’ in the wider ‘vehicle-as-a-service’.

Workhorse Konecranes CXT responds to tough times this maintenance season

Crane reliability and efficiency are key considerations for businesses during the forthcoming Christmas-New year maintenance season. The highly competitive nature of industry compels managers to seek out solutions to optimise their time, space, productivity and energy consumption across vital tasks that often must be completed within a narrow window of opportunity that comes once a year.

Such factors – including avoidance of costly downtime – are key considerations across industries such as food and beverage processing, primary processing, production engineering and warehousing, metal fabrication, mining and resources, steel, workshop mechanical maintenance operations

In response to highly competitive times, Konecranes offers a wide diversity of lifting solutions incorporating its CXT wire rope hoists, which are staple lifting devices used widely globally and throughout the Asia-Pacific in maintenance tasks, production lines, engineering industrial warehouses and factories. Their strength, compact size, speed, reliability and safety make them indispensable in assembly workshops where time and space is money.

“CXT wire rope hoist cranes are designed to be industry benchmarks of safety and ergonomics, with easy and effective load handling and optimum dimensions for space saving solutions,” says Mr TK Mak, Industrial Equipment Manager, Konecranes South East Asia Pacific.

“Konecranes CXT wire rope hoist cranes utilise the latest technology for improved load accuracy, versatility and ease of use – making them the industry leader in medium-heavy indoor cranes,” he said.

Key features that contribute to their success include:

Space efficiency – In an industry where floor space utilisation is difficult but vital, the compact design of the CXT allows them to operate closer to the walls, lift loads high and ultimately save valuable space. This enables businesses to optimise their valuable floor space.

Strength – Depending on the model, CXT can lift up to 80 metric tonnes. The new rope reeving system also extends the lifetime of the ropes by as much as 40% – having a significant impact on maintenance costs.

Safety – In an industrial setting, operators must be able to rely on the safe performance of the crane. Konecranes design, manufacture, and assemble all of the key components to ensure a quality wire rope hoist crane. High quality components and precise manufacturing based on years of experience enable enhanced durability of the hoist.

Konecranes’ product development has invested in speeding up and extending hoist operation cycles, and in crane safety and durability. Features that have resulted from this research and development include:

Speed – The latest CXT wire rope hoists are available with adaptive speed ranges which improve productivity and save energy consumption

Adaptive Speed Range (ASR) – a stepless hoisting movement control method. It allows very slow speeds which are important in moment of load lift-off and lowering. It also has the ability to lift up to 50% faster than traditional hoisting control. ASR is typically used in light to medium lifting.

Extended Speed Range (ESR) – this is an extension of the ASR that allows even slower speeds. ESR is typically used in heavy to very heavy lifting. When more performance is needed out of the hoist, ESR is the choice.

Positioning and area control – This feature is designed to assist the operator in positioning the load more efficiently and accurately. This allows the crane’s working area to be adapted to the varying physical layout of individual facilities and production lines.

Chute Technology’s world-first chute design cuts costs and downtime

A multidirectional rotating underground coal chute system that can be installed in less than a single shift at a typical mine has been developed by Chute Technology in what the Australian technology and manufacturing partnership believes is a world first.

The cost-saving universal chute – which can rotate output through 160 degrees left or right – can remove completely the need to custom-manufacture individual chute types to fit the confined spaces and particular angles of individual mines. 

The versatile bolt-in system – comprising a complete integrated structure from head end to conveyor outlet – features a rotating outlet beneath the head that can be angled to any position required to facilitate product flow.

In addition to radically reducing the labour required for manufacture and installation, the chute’s ability to be installed in a fraction of the time of custom chutes minimises downtime by keeping production moving when chutes wear out.

“This is a brilliantly simple breakthrough in cost and time saving at a time when the mining industry needs it most to maintain production. The benefits are obvious when you look at the basic concept, but we don’t know of anywhere else in the world where it has been done,” says Chute Technology Partner Mr Tom Woods, whose experience of coal chute manufacture through family company T.W. Woods Construction extends back more than 40 years.

The new chute system – of which the first example has already been produced – is the result of the analytical, design and manufacturing experience of each of the three Principal Partners in Chute Technology, who have combined experience of more than 80 years in a wide variety of resource industries including coal, iron ore, alumina and limestone across Australia, the USA, South America and South Africa. The company’s technologies are also applicable to gold, nickel and other bulk minerals and ores.

“A great thing about the new system is that it is easily configured to flow with the hugely diverse geology of mines throughout the world, which have shafts joining other shafts at whatever angles the geology and conditions underground dictate.

“Instead of having to engineer custom-fabricated chute systems to suit unusual angles, this system just bolts into place in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost in time and money.

“In addition to savings in extending mines and adding new production, the chute system is far more time and labour-efficient in replacement of worn-out chutes, when you usually have to dismantle the old and install the new piece by piece. This one just slots into production virtually overnight.  

Chute Technology Pty Ltd combines the local and international manufacturing experience of T.W. Woods, represented by Director Tom Woods, with the similarly broad engineering and technology experience of Engineering Consultant Dennis Pomfret of Dennis Pomfret Engineering, and Design Engineer Gary Telford of McKajj Services, which contributes extensive design engineering, detail drafting and project management experience.

A bonus of the system they have produced is that it is designed from the outset to solve spillage and conveyor bulking problems common in coal mining and coal handling facilities.

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 

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