Seventeen tonnes of almonds have successfully been shipped and tracked from Sunraysia in Victoria to Hamburg in Germany in a blockchain-based collaboration between Commonwealth Bank and five Australian and international supply chain participants. Commonwealth Bank demonstrated a new blockchain platform underpinned by distributed ledger technology, smart contracts and the internet of things (IoT) to facilitate the trade experiment, tracking the shipment from packer to end delivery in parallel to existing processes. Managing director of industrials and logistics in client coverage at CBA Chris Scougall said: “Our blockchain-enabled global trade platform experiment brought to life the idea of a modern global supply chain that is agile, efficient and transparent. We believe that blockchain can help our partners reduce the burden of administration on their businesses and enable them to deliver best-in-class services to their customers.” As part of the experiment, CBA partnered with global agriculture player Olam Orchards Australia Pty Ltd, Pacific National for rail haulage, port landlord Port of Melbourne, stevedore Patrick Terminals and shipping carrier OOCL Limited. Hardware and software support was provided by Australian IoT provider LX Group to ship the almonds from Mildura to the global hub of Hamburg. CBA’s managing director of global commodities and trade Alex Toone said: “By bringing together partners from across the end to end supply chain and developing a new platform underpinned by emerging technology, blockchain and IoT, we were able to prove a concept to modernise global trade.” The platform digitises three key areas of global trade – operations, documentation and finance – by housing the container information, completion of tasks and shipping documents, on a purpose-built blockchain. Partners were able to view and track the location of the shipment as well as view the conditions, such as temperature and humidity inside the container, via four IoT devices. This level of data provided partners in the supply chain with a greater level of transparency and efficiency regarding the location, condition and authentication of the goods being transported. Supply chain manager at Olam Orchards Australia Pty Ltd Emma Roberts said: “Trade inefficiency can be extremely detrimental to our business. It is vital that as an industry, we look at emerging technology for ways to enhance the supply chain to develop a more transparent and efficient platform. This project has shown that through collaboration from all parts of the supply chain that this can be achieved.” At the documentation layer, the blockchain-enabled supply chain allows partners to upload and access key documents, such as bill of lading, certificates of origin and other documents required by customs, which streamlined these processes. Chief financial officer at Pacific National Gerhard Ziems said: “Since the expansion of globalisation, global supply chains have continued to become more complex. This project is unique as it looks to re-imagine how the supply chain communicates and shares information. Simple access to this information provides us with an ability to better utilise our assets and provide customers with better, more efficient services.” Patrick Terminals’ chief commercial officer Ashley Dinning said: “We are always looking for ways to innovate and drive better results. This project has provided a heightened level of transparency, enabling us to explore further efficiencies for our business, such as improving yard management.” In 2016, CBA and US-based bank Wells Fargo successfully completed the first global trade transaction via blockchain between two independent banks. This latest project built upon that work, examining how CBA could help its partners optimise working capital and asset utilisation, explore trade finance concepts and potential for in-app payment and invoicing.
CEFC finance for the Numurkah Solar Farm is supporting a path-breaking example of how solar energy can deliver cost-effective electricity for Victoria’s energy-intensive services and manufacturers. Even before work has begun on the 100MW (AC) (128MWp) solar development in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region, developer Neoen has secured major power supply contracts for both the Laverton steelworks, in Melbourne’s west, and the Melbourne tram network. CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the CEFC commitment of $56 million in debt finance would help accelerate development of the $198 million solar farm. “High grid electricity prices, high gas prices and unfavourable contracting conditions have put pressure on tight operating margins for manufacturers,” Mr Learmonth said. “The lower cost of solar, combined with these types of commercial power purchase agreements, offer manufacturers welcome control over their energy use. “Reducing the electricity bills and carbon emissions of energy-intensive industries such as steel manufacturing is increasingly achievable. The Numurkah Solar Farm contract with Laverton steelworks is an outstanding example of how clean energy can be integrated into manufacturing operations to help decarbonise their production processes and reduce costs with locked-in solar contracts. “For passengers on Melbourne’s iconic tram network, the benefits are also clear. Trams get cars off the road, which is crucial for lowering emissions. Supporting the operation of the tram network with solar energy is a further opportunity to reduce emissions in the transport sector.” Neoen Australia managing director Franck Woitiez said the successful financial close of Numurkah is one of the most significant milestones for the company’s operations locally. “Numurkah is an important project for Neoen,” Mr Woitiez said. “First, because it marks the achievement of our first gigawatt of projects in Australia, either under construction or in operation. And second, because the Victorian Government and ZEN Energy are long-term partners for Neoen and this project proves that collectively, we are moving towards our aim of delivering sustainable, reliable and competitive energy to all Australians.” Neoen expects the Numurkah Solar Farm to generate about 255,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity into the national power grid each year. That’s enough solar to power about 42,000 homes. The project will be constructed over 500 hectares and include about 350,000 solar panels. It is expected to be operating by the middle of 2019. Neoen has contracted 60 per cent of the farm’s projected output to renewable energy retailer SIMEC ZEN Energy, a majority owned subsidiary of the GFG Alliance which operates the Laverton steelworks. SIMEC ZEN Energy will use the energy to support firm retail supply contracts to commercial and industrial customers in Victoria, including the Laverton steelworks. The Victorian Government has contracted a further 30 per cent of Numurkah’s large-scale generation certificates to support its goal of covering the electricity load of Melbourne’s tram network with solar power. Transaction leader Monique Miller said the CEFC expected to see further demand for solar as energy intensive manufacturers seek corporate power purchase agreements to offset their energy costs. “In steel making, energy can account for between 20 to 40 per cent of input costs. It makes good economic sense to find a renewable energy resource that can reduce those outlays,” Ms Miller said. “We expect to see more industrial and commercial businesses contract directly with renewable energy producers to meet their electricity needs in the future, as consumers take more control over their energy needs. This will also strengthen the business case for project developers, giving them security over the sale of their power output as their projects come online.” With this latest investment, the CEFC has committed just over $420 million to renewable energy projects in Victoria, adding approximately 1GW of solar and wind energy to the state’s power supply
Australian shoppers are flocking back to traditional brick-and-mortar stores compared to online, but retailers are failing to capitalise on this resurgence, latest research from Monash University has found. The latest data from Monash Business School’s Australian Consumer, Retail and Services (ACRS) research unit quarterly survey of Australian shoppers shows 65% of shoppers prefer using bricks-and-mortar stores most of the time, compared to 18% of Australians preferring to shop online. Despite this renewed attraction to traditional shopping methods, Dr Rebecca Dare, managing director of the ACRS research unit within Monash Business School’s Department of Marketing, said Australian retailers are not maximising their in-store experience. “We see trends overseas with empathic, human-centred design and advanced technologies that make shopping easier and/or more pleasurable, however, in Australia it’s all too common to see that in some cases the basics aren’t right – stock is piled high to the ceiling, merchandise is displayed poorly, and finding personalised customer service can be difficult,” Dr Dare said. The current trends show Australians are shopping more frequently in 2018 than they were in 2016, but bucking the general theories, ACRS research shows that Australian shoppers are increasingly drawn to physical stores, not online channels, to make non-grocery purchases. “We are also seeing similar trends overseas. Nearly 80% of shoppers in the USA purchased more than half of their items in-store in 2017. Australian retailers need to understand that customers want the experience that the physical store can bring. Retailers just need to provide it,” Dr Dare said. Dr Dare said there are numerous best practice examples of overseas brands and physical stores winning on customer experience. IKEA in the UK is discounting umbrellas on rainy days that communicates a human understanding, while providing a solution to an everyday problem. Also, Nike in the USA is using technology-enabled personalisation through the Nike Maker’s Experience, which allows shoppers to design their own custom shoes in-store. Dr Dare said such notable examples are sparse in the Australian retail landscape and Australian retailers need to become better equipped to take advantage of the shift back to bricks-and-mortar. “There is a return to the importance of customer experience at physical stores. Human touches and the sensory experiences of a store visit are increasingly important, particularly with millennials – who prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things,” Dr Dare said. “Shoppers miss the customer experience of physical stores; ‘real life’ connection with other people, touching things and trying them on is not an experience you get online.”
A recent survey shows technology might be the missing piece of the puzzle to solve fatigue, driver shortages and cost management. The report also paints a positive picture for the transport industry, with the majority of fleet managers planning to increase fleet sizes, despite a growing driver shortage. Anyone working in the heavy vehicle sector will tell you the big issues are compliance with fatigue laws, driver retention and trying to manage costs. Teletrac Navman has released findings from its 2018 Telematics Benchmark Report: Australia Edition that show these issues aren’t going anywhere. The results also reveal that those who currently use telematics and fleet management technology have seen notable improvements in tackling these issues. What’s surprising is that few organisations are employing these tools. Other notable findings of the report include a growing number of fleet managers (34%) reporting a driver shortage, making “finding, retaining and developing talent” one of the industry’s top business challenges, with 24% of respondents saying it was a primary concern (up 8% on 2017). Organisations are taking a variety of approaches to address the shortage, including through flexible working hours (45%), increasing benefits (31%), and providing additional education (29%). Worryingly, this driver shortage will be compounded as the majority (53%) of transport operators are planning on increasing fleet sizes, due to more demand for services (62%), replacing older equipment or vehicles (60%), and domestic growth (51%). While most fleet professionals surveyed cited the above as top challenges, many did not currently have plans to roll out potential solutions, such as electronic work diaries (EWD) or GPS fleet tracking. Organisations that rely on heavy vehicles and equipment have yet to see the true value of technology to improve safety and productivity. Fatigue management, driver retention and managing costs are top of mind
Fatigue management (69%) is the top concern for organisations, but only a few currently use electronic work diaries (12%).
The majority of organisations (62%) plan to increase fleet size over the next year due to increases in industry demand, which will only add to the driver shortage.
Managing costs is a big challenge for fleet professionals, with payroll (63%), fuel spending (43%) and maintenance (34%).
The missing piece of the puzzle
Businesses using telematics data say it helps to meet compliance requirements (37%).
Organisations are most likely to use telematics to track use of vehicles and equipment (89%), speed (67%), distance (57%), driver performance (34%), idling (34%) and fuel use (24%).
Looking beyond track-and-trace technology
Businesses cite peace of mind (60%), improved driver behaviour (39%) and meeting compliance requirements (37%) as top benefits of using fleet management systems.
Fleets with a rewards program in place have improved customer service (57%), driver retention (46%) and safety (28%).
Nearly half of all respondents who use telematics achieved a reduction in fuel costs, with nearly 10 per cent seeing fuel costs drop by 11 per cent or more.
“Whilst it’s encouraging to see the benefits of telematics as evident from the survey data, many companies appear to use only a portion of its potential, decreasing their potential ROI. We see the industry leaders leveraging complex data to drive real change around safety, cost, and business transformation. It’s up to both the industry and technology providers to demonstrate these benefits so that more businesses embrace this technology and make it the standard,” said Andrew Rossington, vice president – transport solutions, Teletrac Navman. The full report can be found here: 2018 Telematics Benchmark Report: Australia Edition. Survey methodology The 2018 Teletrac Navman Telematics Benchmark Survey is based on responses from more than 2,400 fleet operations and fleet management professionals from around the world. Of the total survey respondents, 268 indicated that they were based in the Australia. The results described in the 2018 Telematics Benchmark Report: Australia Edition, were compiled from those respondents. The report provides an understanding of best practices and fleet management trends in business, telematics, emerging technology, transportation and talent. Results may not amount to 100 percent due to questions with multiple selections. For reporting purposes, all statistical values have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
E-commerce continues to drive new construction in Melbourne’s west with national developer Vaughan Constructions signing a new deal with global logistics provider Kuehne + Nagel to significantly enhance its $30 million Derrimut facility. The design & construct contract will deliver an 8,000 square metre extension to the 20,000sqm Boundary Road distribution centre with an expected completion date of November 2018. Vaughan Constructions director Mark Byrne said the new facility will aid Kuehne + Nagel in delivering goods with optimised speed and accuracy as competition in the integrated and contract (3PL) logistics sector intensifies within the booming online retailing economy. “The entry into the market by the world’s biggest online players has brought Australia into a new phase of online shopping as consumer expectations rise, driving the need for all players to offer the sort of premium service that has delivered success for the top firms. “And of course that has impacted our business across the country from Melbourne to Sydney to Darwin and elsewhere, with logistics firms gearing up for the challenge by updating and expanding their operations,’’ Mr Byrne said. He said Vaughan’s recent building portfolio completions included a string of e-commerce related industrial facilities for leading logistics providers including Linfox, GMK, K&S Freighters, and Northline with the recent completion of works on a 6,000 square metre extension of GMK Logistics facility in Gregory Hills NSW and Linfox’s $10 million, 3,000 square metre, North Star intermodal facility at East Arm wharf in Darwin. Mr Byrne said Kuehne + Nagel’s digitalised platform, which allowed customers to track shipments in real time, was one part of a wholistic service providing online retailers with a competitive edge. “Acting as an arm within the retailer’s own business, they can offer next-day delivery to the consumer’s doorstep while reducing, and in some cases eliminating, rental and sales labour costs,’’ Mr Byrne said. According to an IBISWorld report the transport, postal and warehousing sector is now worth $188 billion annually, employing well over half a million workers, with forecasts of continued growth.
Combilift has launched what it says is the first purpose-built order picker for long products. Previously, customers have had to modify traditional order pickers to cope with the specific demands of long loads. The Combi-OP is said to provide much more efficient and non-compromised operation for easy picking of long profiles in, for example, steel service centres. This man-up truck features a long platform to enable the operator to access long products stored at height. It is fitted with guide rollers to enable it to operate in existing guided narrow aisles of just 1.4m – the same width as those needed for Combilift’s GT truck. It enables operators to easily and safely hand pick orders for customers from the elevated platform and it has a capacity of 450 kg. Its overhead guard, light anti-slip floor, self-closing platform gate and guard rails guarantee utmost safety, as does the travel speed and steering angle that automatically adjusts according to lift heights. Features:
Countless hours of technician study and practice were put to the test by Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) during its recently held National Skills Competition at TMHA’s Training and Development Centre in Moorebank, Sydney. The annual competition saw 160 forklift technicians and apprentices from across the TMHA national branch network complete two online exams, the first whittling the field to 68 and the second determining 15 finalists. Six apprentices and nine technicians then put their knowledge and ability on display over two days of theory- and practical-based exercises covering TMHA’s Toyota, BT and Raymond brands of forklifts and warehouse equipment. TMHA president & CEO Steve Takacs said the National Skills Competition is important on a number of levels. “It’s an investment in the skills of our technicians and apprentices. It helps ensure they have a high level of product knowledge and the abilities required to remain at the forefront of industry standards,” said Mr Takacs. “Conducting the skills contest provides real benefits. It has been proven to support high customer satisfaction rates thanks to less downtime and increased efficiency for all our business partners. “It’s also just reward for their efforts in continually up-skilling. The Apprentice of the Year component in particular allows budding technicians to test themselves against the country’s best.” This year’s TMHA National Skills Contest marked the eleventh anniversary of adding the Apprentice Award. Mr Takacs said the competition is also important to him, personally. “I started out in this industry as a Toyota technician so I know the importance of skills training. It’s something we have run for over a quarter of a century and something we will continue to support as part of our commitment to maintaining industry-leading service standards.” Mr Takacs said this year’s TMHA National Skills Competition also coincided with TMHA celebrating 50 years of forklift sales in Australia. “So it was a particularly special event. Toyota sold its first forklift in this country in 1968, and now holds almost 40 per cent of the Australian market, and the number eight position for sales in the world.” This year, nine technicians specialised in one of three brands – Toyota, Raymond and BT – for the practical component and also sat an exam covering all three brands to determine the overall Master Technician. The Master Technician of the Year award for 2018 was won by TMHA Brisbane’s Luke Kuschert after also winning 2018 National Technician of the Year award for Raymond products. Mr Kuschert was also crowned Master Technician of the Year in 2016 and 2016 National Technician of the Year for BT products. This year’s BT Technician of the Year was won by TMHA Melbourne’s Jhon Gallego and TMHA Brisbane’s Aaron Lang took out Toyota Technician of the Year 2018. Michael Chattin of TMHA Albury rose from a field of six to become Apprentice of the Year 2018. As part of his prize, Mr Chattin will attend an Educational Factory Tour of an overseas Toyota forklift production plant, as will Master Technician Winner, Luke Kuschert. All brand winners received a $2,000 cash prize and all participants given Makita power tools. In June, all winners were presented with their awards and prizes at a national TMHA awards function by Mr Takacs and TMHA Chairman, Toshi Nakazawa.
MYOB’s latest Business Monitor survey of more than 1,000 SME has highlighted continued growth and confidence going into the new financial year. The research shows strong signals that business will continue to improve over the coming year, with positive growth indicators including new jobs, wage growth and sales in the pipeline representing continued optimism and confidence. Employing more full time staff and paying higher wages Australian businesses are looking to employ more full-time staff and pay their staff more, according to the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey of more than 1,000 business operators around the country. Employment growth is on the horizon for SME, with 15 per cent of businesses planning to increase the number of full-time staff in their business. This figure has increased from 11 per cent in the same Business Monitor survey of November 2017. Just under a quarter (23%) of operators surveyed revealed they intend to increase wages and salaries paid to employees in the next 12 months. Pay increases are most likely in the manufacturing and wholesale industry (31%) and the retail and hospitality trade (29%). Two in five operators (41%) expected their revenue to remain the same over the next 12 months, with a further 33 per cent expecting their revenue to increase in the next 12 months. For the next quarter, 40 per cent of operators indicated they had more sales/work in the pipeline for the June to August period. SME indicated continued confidence and optimism going into the new 2018-19 financial year. 33% of Australian small and medium business operators expected the Australian economy to improve over the next 12 months, showing continued improvement since May 2017 when only 25% of Australian operators expected to see an improvement. Overall, satisfaction levels with the Federal Government are also up from 27% to 33% since May 2017. Among the sectors, the manufacturing and wholesale industry are most likely to expect the economy to improve in the next 12 months (46%), and the construction and trades industry are least confident in predicting continued economic improvements (24%). MYOB CEO Tim Reed said the results show the SME community is continuing to walk-the-walk. “By putting people first and investing in human resources, SME are showing their confidence in the economy and their commitment to building better businesses. Investing in skilled workers is the means through which they will create future innovation and gain a competitive edge,” he said. The great tech divide: regional Australia lags behind There are still significant barriers for businesses in regional Australia. The research shows that rural businesses are amongst the most likely to be technology laggards. Up to 60 per cent of regional small business owners are operating without any online presence whatsoever, a statistic that is significantly higher than the nationwide figure (34%). Only 11 per cent of regional SME surveyed have both a business website and a social media account for their business. By sector, the industry most likely to be based in regional Australia again lagged behind in technological adoption, with up to 64 per cent of agribusinesses operating without an online presence. Geographically remote Western Australia-based operators were also significantly more likely to be late adopters of technology (50% without an online presence). Educational programs aimed at improving digital literacy are important for Australia’s economic prosperity. “We absolutely encourage SME to continue to use digital tools for their business. Creating an online presence and using it to interact with and service customers is a simple, necessary step to helping your business succeed. “Digital literacy programs that are inclusive of Australia’s geographically isolated SME operators will be important for removing barriers to business growth and success in the regions,” Mr Reed said. “It is the responsibility of the government and leading corporate technology providers to do as much as they can to encourage upskilling and digital adoption across the small business community, no matter where you live.”
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has formed an Electric Vehicles Working Group to consider the full impact that this rapidly-evolving transport will have on the movement of freight in the years ahead. The working group’s initial membership will include representatives from Linfox, Woolworths, DHL Australia, Australia Post and a number of other ALC member companies. “It is important to recognise that electric vehicles will have an enormous bearing on the future shape of Australia’s freight logistics industry,” said ALC managing director Michael Kilgariff. “This makes it vital for policy-makers to focus on ensuring Australia has the right infrastructure and regulatory framework in place to permit the heavy vehicles of the future to continue delivering our mail, groceries, medicines, business supplies and online purchases every day. “The formation of this Electric Vehicles Working Group is part of ALC’s commitment as an industry leader to ensure the continuing efficiency and safety of this industry, as Australia begins the shift from internal combustion engines to newer technologies. “A recent study completed by Energia on behalf of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation anticipates that by 2030, up to 50% of new cars sold will be electric vehicles. “There is every reason to believe that similar changes will also occur in the heavy vehicle industry – and we need to be preparing for that change now,” Mr Kilgariff said. “The ALC Electric Vehicles Working Group will promote the financial, social and environmental benefits of electric vehicles to industry and governments. “The Working Group will also be charged with developing policies that promote greater manufacture and uptake of electric heavy vehicles in Australia, in the interests of greater national supply chain efficiency and safety,” he concluded.
After years of decline, Australia’s manufacturing industry is finally recovering – adding almost 50,000 jobs in the last year, one of the best job-creation records of any sector in the whole economy. But that recovery could be cut short by growing shortages of skilled workers, according to a new report on vocational training in manufacturing. The new report from the Centre for Future Work identifies key factors behind the rapid emergence of skills shortages in manufacturing, including:
The sector’s ageing workforce, creating a looming demographic transition for skilled workers.
The highly specific nature of manufacturing skills (across sectors and occupations), creating difficulty for workers moving from between shrinking sectors to growing sectors.
The need for new skills and ongoing training as companies adopt advanced manufacturing techniques and new digital technologies.
“Manufacturing is again making a positive contribution to Australia’s economic progress after over a decade of decline. We don’t want to squander this potential,” said Dr Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work. “If Australia doesn’t get its act together on vocational training, this will be a wasted opportunity for manufacturing. “Recent experiments with market-based vocational training have been a waste, they have damaged confidence in the skills system among both potential students and employers. “Stable, well-funded, high-quality public institutions must be the anchors of any successful VET system. “Public institutions are the only ones with the resources, the connections, and the stability to provide manufacturers with a steady supply of world-class skilled workers. “No sector feels the pain of the failure of vocational training more than manufacturing, precisely because advanced skills are so essential for the success of advanced manufacturing techniques. “Manufacturing stakeholders need to work together to strengthen vocational education and training.” Key principles for rebuilding vocational education in manufacturing, discussed in the report, include:
A greater reliance on courses and apprenticeships through public-sector TAFE (rather than private providers).
Phased-in retirement programs to allow senior workers to pass on their skills to new apprentices.
Inclusion of provisions guaranteeing access to further training in industry awards and enterprise agreements.
The report, Advanced Skills for Advanced Manufacturing: Rebuilding Vocational Training in a Transforming Industry was co-authored by Dr Jim Stanford and Dr Tanya Carney and prepared for the Second Annual National Manufacturing Summit at Parliament House on 26 June 2018. The National Manufacturing Summit engages leading representatives from all parts of Australian manufacturing: businesses, peak bodies, unions, universities, the financial sector, suppliers and government. The growing problem of skills shortages is a priority focus for this year’s summit.