Warehousing pressures are driving substantial investment in augmented reality, voice technology, and people tracking. Spending on AR in warehousing alone will reach over US$23 billion by 2025.
Demand for warehousing facilities has been steadily increasing thanks to the strength of international trade and the continual growth of e-commerce. With customer expectations for rapid delivery rising, warehouses are struggling to process the increased volumes of goods passing through facilities in time. The problem is compounded by labour shortages and staffing challenges. The need to adopt technology to alleviate these issues is driving significant investment in augmented reality (AR), voice-directed picking, and real-time location systems (RTLS) for workforce analytics.
By 2025, global spending on AR in warehousing will reach over US$23 billion, US$3.3 billion will be spent on voice solutions, and RTLS will grow to 500,000 implementations for people-tracking across all verticals, according to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies.
“Fulfilling higher order volumes is difficult when warehouses are struggling to hire and maintain staff, and automation is cost-prohibitive for many distributors,” said senior analyst at ABI Research Nick Finill. “Warehouses are therefore increasingly using digital tools that can empower the human worker, deliver efficiency gains, and also reduce the time it takes to induct new or temporary staff.”
Augmented reality is finally starting to gain mass appeal in industrial sectors, thanks to maturing technologies and demonstrable ROI from early adopters. Voice-directed technology represents a considerably older technology but is also undergoing a technological revolution thanks to deep learning-based voice recognition that vastly improves ease-of-use and reliability. Voice is being leveraged to assist the warehouse workforce by providing operational instructions in a clear and hands-free way.
The drive for digitally-enabled workforce productivity in the warehouse is incorporating the human worker into the Internet of Things at a rapid pace. The increased use of RTLS technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi tracking and RFID, are allowing warehouse operators to analyse productivity of the workforce as well as the movement of physical assets. Workers can be monitored in a way that respects privacy while generating valuable operational data that can drive workforce efficiency over time.
Companies such as RealWare, Kontakt.io, Panasonic, Lucas Systems and TopSystem are providing warehouses with a wide range of technology products that can provide incremental advantages. Driving productivity in this way can be an attractive alternative to more expensive automation projects, which is a concurrent trend in warehousing with the potential to transform operations in the longer term.
“The combination of multiple devices and technology can have a positive compound effect on workforce productivity,” concluded Mr Finill. “However, companies must be smart about how they integrate multiple technologies within the same stack to ensure they remain complementary and ROI is maximised.” These findings are from ABI Research’s ‘Devices and Solutions for Workforce Productivity in Warehouse Logistics’ technology analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Intelligent Supply Chain service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Technology Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific technology.
The National Transport Commission (NTC) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) have released the results of a world-first study into heavy vehicle driver fatigue.
The two-year scientific study evaluated alertness monitoring technology and the impacts of work shifts on driver alertness. It analysed shift starting time, the number of consecutive shifts, shift length, shift rotation, rest breaks and their likely impact on driver drowsiness and fatigue.
Spokesperson and theme leader for the Alertness CRC Associate Professor Mark Howard said the research involved a study of more than 300 heavy vehicle driver shifts both in-vehicle and in a laboratory, as well as 150,000 samples of retrospective data.
“We found that slow eye and eyelid movements, longer blink duration and prolonged eye closure are reliable predictors of drowsiness and fatigue,” Associate Professor Howard said.
The study also confirmed the scientific link between alertness and drowsiness patterns associated with specific work shifts for heavy vehicle driving.
NTC chief executive officer Dr Gillian Miles said these findings will inform future fatigue policy as part of the NTC-led review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL).
“This is critical new evidence that will ultimately help to decrease heavy vehicle fatigue risk at a time when the nation’s freight task is expected to double by 2030,” Dr Miles said.
The Alertness CRC conducted the research as part of a wider collaboration, including the NTC, the Australian Government, Transport for NSW, Austin Health, Monash University, the Institute for Breathing and Sleep and the heavy vehicle industry.
The summary report and an infographic of the key research findings are available on the NTC website.
Key research findings
Greatest alertness levels can be achieved under current standard driving hours for shifts starting between 6am – 8am, including all rest breaks.
Greatest risk of an increase in drowsiness occurs:
After 15 hours of day driving when a driver starts a shift before 9am).
After 6–8 hours of night driving (when a driver starts a shift in the afternoon or evening).
After 5 consecutive shifts when driving again for over 13 hours.
When driving an early shift that starts after midnight and before 6am.
During the first 1-2 night shifts a driver undertakes and during long night shift sequences.
When a driver undertakes a backward shift rotation (from an evening, back to afternoon, or an afternoon back to a morning start).
After long shift sequences of more than seven shifts.
During nose-to-tail shifts where a seven-hour break only enables five hours of sleep – a duration previously associated with a three-fold increased risk for motor vehicle accidents.
The TWU is demanding that fatal truck crashes be investigated as workplace deaths when a truck driver is killed, following the death of two truck drivers in a head-on collision on the Augusta Highway in South Australia just before Easter.
Police are investigating driver fatigue as a possible cause for the fiery crash.
Road transport is Australia’s deadliest industry. A truck driver is 13 times more likely to die at work than any other worker.
“We are deeply saddened to lose two truck drivers and in such dreadful circumstances. Our thoughts are with the family and friends who received the tragic news this Easter weekend. We urge the Federal Government to ensure no stone is left unturned in finding the cause of this crash and prosecuting where necessary. Fatigue is being investigated as a possible cause, in most cases this is a direct result from pressure at the top of transport supply chain. To provide justice to the drivers we’ve lost, the families that mourn and the road users at risk over this busy period, it is only right that all possible factors be considered and punishment served where it’s due,” TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.
When a truck driver is killed on the road workplace death investigations are forfeited, assuming a forensic crash investigation will determine the cause. These investigations fail to explore all possible causes beyond the mechanics of what happened at the time of the crash.
“Truck driver deaths have bypassed the vigilant investigations that rightfully follow deaths on building sites, in factories, in the mines. A truck driver’s workplace is on the road. When the worst happens, we must look beyond the debris and ask the important questions: was this driver fatigued or under pressure to meet a deadline? Was there enough money in the pot to ensure their vehicle was properly maintained? Until we start asking these questions and laying blame where it’s due, truck drivers will never be safe on our roads,” Kaine continued.
Safe Work Australia refers to a workplace as any place where work is carried out for a business or undertaking, including vehicles.*
Police have rated the crash risk three times higher over the Easter break.
“The skewed belief that speedy delivery is more important than road safety is exacerbated at busy periods like the Easter break. We urge the wealthy companies at the top of supply chains to ease the pressure on truck drivers and ensure there is enough money in the pot for trucks to be properly maintained and goods to be delivered safely,” TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine said.
The Toll Group (Toll) has signed a three-year, seven-figure software contract with Kontainers, the UK-based enterprise software company, to power its global digital client-facing platforms.
The new agreement will see Toll introduce Kontainers’ flagship product, Enterprise, to its global forwarding operations from Q4 2019.
The online portal will enable Toll to better service and support the needs of its customers – particularly small-to-medium enterprises – by facilitating online pricing and quotes, bookings, shipment management and real-time analytics.
“The addition of Kontainers Enterprise to our digital capabilities will allow our clients to instantly obtain quotes for and book shipments with Toll at the click of the mouse. We are excited to be collaborating with Kontainers on this digital solution as part of our commitment to investing in best-in-class systems to simplify and enhance our customer experience,” said Toll Global Forwarding president Thomas Knudsen.
The product’s rapid deployment time and track record with other large shipping brands were highlighted as important elements of the partnership.
“Kontainers is delighted to earn the trust of a top 20 global freight forwarder and provide what has now become a critical software layer. We’re delighted to be working with Toll Group and look forward to being a part of their impressive digital acceleration plans in the years ahead that will help serve their customers even better than they are today,” said Kontainers CEO, Graham Parker.
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has welcomed confirmation that the federal election will be held on 18 May.
The election announcement coincided with the inaugural meeting of ALC’s Northern Australia Working Group, which took place in Darwin.
“It is fitting that the election announcement has come on the same day that ALC’s newly-formed Northern Australia Working Group meets for the first time, because so much activity in this region underpins Australia’s economic performance,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“Our Working Group brings together freight logistics companies, infrastructure owners, local and state government representatives and other key industry organisations to advocate more effectively for investment in Northern Australia’s freight infrastructure, and work with policy makers to get regulatory settings right.”
“ALC has formed this Working Group because we recognise that Australia’s ability to take full advantage of free trade agreements recently signed with rapidly growing Asian markets rests on our ability to get our export products to market, efficiently and safely.”
“It is vital to make certain that Northern Australia has the road, rail, port and air freight infrastructure necessary to get products demanded by our trading partners to their destination as quickly as possible. This is particularly important when it comes to agricultural goods and other consumables, where freshness is highly prized by overseas customers.”
“Enhanced supply chain performance in Northern Australia is important for the entire nation, because freight does not stop at state borders. A key focus for the next Parliament must be to ensure greater national consistency in our approach to the movement of freight.”
“In the coming days, ALC will be releasing a comprehensive statement of the freight logistics industry’s policy priorities for next Parliament.”
“Chief among these will be to build on the bipartisan commitment to finalise the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, and work with state and territory governments to ensure its effective implementation, so that Australians can share in the benefits that come from improved supply chain performance – wherever they live,” Mr Coningham said.
Woolworths has increased its lead as Australia’s top grocery retailer, boosting its share of Australia’s total grocery market to 34% in 2018, up 1.4ppts from a year ago, according to Roy Morgan’s latest survey data contained within the Supermarket & Fresh Food Currency Report.
While Woolworths increased its market share, the newly independent Coles now has a share of 27.6% of the total grocery market, down 1.6ppts on a year ago. German supermarket Aldi has had a good year in 2018, growing its market share to 11.4%, up 0.5ppts from a year ago.
The other winners over the past year were Other Supermarkets outside the ‘big four’ such as 2018 Roy Morgan Supermarket of the Year Award winner Foodland, Foodworks and other supermarkets that increased their share of the total grocery market to 9.1% (up 1.2ppts), while IGA’s grocery share was down 0.4ppts to 7.1%.
Woolworths dominance is built on strong leads in key fresh food categories with the Sydney-headquartered retailer holding the largest market share in dollar terms for fresh meat, fresh deli, fresh bread and fresh fruit and vegetables ahead of Coles, Aldi and IGA supermarkets.
Over the last year Woolworths has grown its market share in dollar terms across all four fresh food sub-categories and increased its lead over nearest rival Coles. The two brands currently dominate Australia’s fresh food markets holding over 50% of each of the fresh food markets.
The December Supermarket & Fresh Food Currency Report is compiled from data collected as part of Roy Morgan’s Single Source survey, which involves more than 50,000 in-home, face-to-face interviews each year, including more than 12,000 detailed surveys of grocery and fresh food buying behaviour.
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said the impressive performance of Woolworths over the last year has Australia’s leading grocery retailer in a strong position to deal with the entry of German ‘hypermarket’ Kaufland into Australia’s $100 billion+ grocery market.
“Australia’s leading supermarket chain Woolworths has increased its lead in the increasingly competitive grocery market in 2018, now capturing over a third of Australia’s total grocery spending in 2018 – up 1.4ppts to 34% from a year ago.
“The successful year for Woolworths has been built upon strong performances across the four key categories of fresh food. Woolworths has grown its market share in dollar terms for fresh meat, fresh deli, fresh bread and also fresh fruit and vegetables, and is the market leader in all four categories ahead of main rival Coles.
“The demerger of Coles Group from industrial conglomerate Wesfarmers in the December quarter of 2018 means Australia’s second largest supermarket chain now has the opportunity to refocus on its core business ahead of the imminent arrival of German retailer Kaufland.
“Kaufland has already bought six industrial sites in Melbourne at which it plans to open its successful ‘hypermarkets’ over the next two years before rolling out stores Australia-wide following in the footsteps of fellow German retailer Aldi. Aldi also had a good year in 2018 and grew its share of the total grocery market by 0.5ppts to a new high of 11.4%.
“In addition to Kaufland, the Australian grocery market is also anticipating a rollout of the ‘Amazon Fresh’ brand in the near future after the American Internet giant launched a food and grocery segment (although not yet fresh food) in the December quarter 2018.
“The increasingly competitive $100 billion+ grocery market in Australia means it is more important than ever for companies operating in the grocery and fresh food sector to track precisely where their customers, and future customers, live, work and shop,” Ms Levine said.
The Federal Budget 2019 was formally released by the Federal Government on 2 April 2019. However, in an election year, the Federal Government took the unusual path of confirming that the government would not be seeking to pass new legislation implementing that Budget in the remaining Parliamentary sitting days. Instead, the Budget legislation would be left only to pass if the government is re-elected in the next Federal Election which is likely to take place in May 2019.
The Budget was largely positioned to appeal to business and individuals through additional funding, especially for infrastructure spending and additional income tax and other relief for low and middle-income earners. The Budget did not include a prediction of returning to surplus in the 2019-2020 financial year but foreshadowed a return to a budget surplus for the 2020-2021 financial year on the assumption that the current Federal Government is returned to office and that anticipated changes to economic conditions would enable the delivery of that surplus. Clearly, the Federal Government is claiming that it is the most responsible financial manager and that the only way that voters would be able to secure the promised advantages would be to re-elect the Federal Government.
Unfortunately, there was little of surprise in the Federal Budget in the international trade and customs sphere as many of the Budget initiatives had been released before last night’s announcement. However, it is worth reiterating a number of items that did appear in the Budget.
A reminder of the recent signing of the Australia-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (A-HKFTA) and the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership (IA-CEPA). The passage of the two Free Trade Agreements (FTA) (if they are passed by the new Parliament) would lead to some reductions in revenue collected from imports from those countries. It will be a real test of Parliament and its processes to see if these two FTA, together with the Peru Australia Free Trade Agreement, will move forward to commencement given the position of the opposition in relation to some provisions of those FTA.
There is welcome news for those involved in export with the confirmation of certain additional spending initiative as follows:
$68 million made available over three years from 2019/2020 to support exporters in particular additional funding for the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) program. As readers would be aware I am a director of the Export Council of Australia and we have pressed Government on many occasions to increase this funding. This increase is welcomed and hopefully will lead towards additional funding for the program in future years in line with recommendations of Parliamentary committees.
$29.4 million over four years from 2019 to enhance agriculture, including work on the reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade, and assistance with technical market barriers in export destinations.
$66.9 million in funding over five years to enhance Australia’s engagement with near neighbours in the Indo-Pacific region of which a large amount is aimed at improving relationships with China on agriculture food safety and regulatory cooperation.
Confirmation that while government proposes to proceed with the biosecurity imports levy announced in the previous Budget, the date for implementation has been changed from 1 July 2019 to 1 September 2019. There is currently a review of the proposed levy being undertaken, but it would seem that government has assumed that levy in its current form (or similar) will proceed regardless of the current review and work of the Federal Government’s Steering Committee.
Significant increases in customs duty payable on tobacco imports. Readers would be aware of recent changes to proposed regulation for the taxation regime for tobacco including the requirements for permits to be secured before goods are imported and the requirements for import duty to be paid at the point of import. This removes the ability to place goods in bond and only pay customs duty once the goods are released from bond. This has been a contentious issue within industry and has been a subject of significant discussion during my recent forums with the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA).
An anticipated reduction in customs duty from imports of motor vehicles given that motor vehicles from many of our Asian trading partners are already free from duty due to our existing FTAs. This announcement therefore seems to anticipate the likely completion of the FTA with the EU which, as a central inducement would remove customs duty payable on motor vehicles imported from Europe (and maybe even Luxury Car Tax).
Three container stevedore companies have amended their contracts with land transport businesses after the ACCC raised concerns that certain terms in each of these agreements may be unfair contract terms.
DP World Australia, Hutchison Ports Australia and Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) agreed, after the ACCC’s intervention, to remove or amend terms in their standard form contracts that the ACCC considered were likely to be considered ‘unfair’ within the meaning of the Australian Consumer Law.
DP World and Hutchison had contract terms that allowed a stevedore to unilaterally vary terms in the agreements without notice, including fees paid by the land transport operators.
DP World and Hutchison also had terms that limited their liability for loss or damage suffered by the transport businesses, while not offering the transport businesses the same protections. VICT’s contract had a term requiring transport businesses to indemnify VICT for loss or damage, with no reciprocal obligation on VICT.
DP World’s standard agreement also required the transport businesses to pay the stevedore’s legal costs and expenses, in circumstances where such payments would normally be determined by court order.
The three stevedores cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation and agreed to remove or amend the terms. Hutchison has made its commitments in a court enforceable undertaking and will also place a corrective notice on its website and put in place a compliance program.
Those contract terms which previously allowed the stevedore to amend the contract without notice have either been removed, or now require the stevedore to give 30 days’ notice of any changes, including for any price rises.
“Thousands of transport businesses, which have standard form agreements with DP World, Hutchison and VICT, stand to benefit from these changes,” ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.
“The handling of containers has a direct bearing on the cost of goods in Australia and the competitiveness of Australian exports, so it is crucial for businesses and consumers that the supply chain operates fairly and efficiently.”
The ACCC launched its investigation in early 2018 following concerns being raised about alleged unfair terms in contracts between container stevedores and land transport operators, such as rail and trucking businesses.
The ACCC’s 2018 Container Stevedore Monitoring Report noted the ACCC was assessing unfair contract terms within the industry. The ACCC has now concluded that assessment.
The court enforceable undertaking given by Hutchison can be found at Hutchison Ports Australia Pty Limited.
New research from Transport Intelligence (Ti) has found that automotive supply chains will undergo a radical transformation over the next decade as the internal combustion engine is phased out in favour of alternative propulsion systems.
It is clear that electric vehicles will play an important, even defining, role in the industry’s future. This will mean that the supply chain for the entire powertrain will be transformed and the types of components, the logistics processes employed to move them, the markets of origin and destination as well as the tiered character of automotive supply chains will fundamentally change.
Key findings in the new report – Ti Future Mobility: Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Architecture – include:
As the dominant technology in electric vehicles, battery manufacturing processes will transform the automotive supply chain.
Battery or battery pack producers with high volumes will drive out lower volume manufacturers, including many vehicle manufacturers’ own in-house operations.
Supply chain and logistics provision will adapt to the geography of battery and electric component production locations.
The integration of the battery-pack and associated drive-train elements will create a distinctive ‘propulsion platform’.
The complex and deeply integrated tier-system of suppliers feeding in the components will change fundamentally.
While batteries are complex pieces of engineering, they are much more straightforward to insert into a vehicle than an internal combustion engine. Plugging in the electric motors to the battery is a comparatively simple process. With no welding shop, no engine plant and a higher level of outsourcing to new component suppliers, the automotive assembly facility will shrink in scale along with its logistics requirements.
“Conventional vehicle manufacturers define assembly as a core-competence but with the changing nature of operations, this may no longer be the case. It may be that, in time, automotive manufacturers’ come to focus on the design and marketing of their product, in the way that Apple does,” said Nick Bailey, Ti’s Head of Research and the report’s co-author.
The impact of the reduction in parts and the elimination of tiers of suppliers in the powertrain supply chain might be considered to be traumatic enough for the automotive supply chain. However, in addition to this, the process of the manufacturing of batteries in terms of materials, skills and existing production structures has developed outside of the main automotive powerhouse economies. Japan, South Korea and China are dominant in the sector, sourcing their raw materials from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Europe and North America have, with a few exceptions, been side-lined in the development of new technologies of batteries as well as in the manufacturing know-how.
One important discrete aspect of any EV supply chain that will make it distinct from IC supply chains is the differing nature of the interconnection of components. Whereas the relationship between components in IC vehicles is predominantly kinetic, the relationship between electric and electronic components is reliant on the movement of electrons. This means that the nature of different component’s interfaces are very different. This obviously has major supply chain implications.
“Fundamentally there is a shift in the nature of the components used, from mechanical engineering to electrical and electronic engineering,” said report co-author Thomas Cullen, senior analyst at Ti. “The economics of both designing and producing these components is very different. This has enormous implications for how the automotive supply chain is ordered.”
According to a new research report by the market research and strategy consulting firm Graphical Research, Conveying Equipment Market size was valued USD 34 billion in 2017.
The expanding construction industry, which itself was worth nearly USD 9.5 trillion in 2015, will positively impact conveying equipment demand over the coming timeframe. Surging applications in the automotive industry for manufacturing and shipment of vehicles will generate heavy demand for conveyor systems, in turn influencing the market size. In addition to this, rising e-commerce and the food & beverages industry, which in turn demands simultaneous production and delivery of goods, will also be lucrative sectors contributing towards conveying equipment market growth.
Stringent government regulations to ensure employee safety is another vital factor fuelling the industry size. For instance, OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) has restricted human exposure to harmful work environments, which has made it mandatory to install these systems across such work spots, thereby boosting the industry’s growth trends.
However, tight supply of raw materials such as steel, polyester, cotton, rubber and coated fabrics over the coming years may inhibit industry progress. Bulk handling conveyors are estimated to register a CAGR of around 2% over 2018-2024. These are mainly used for loading and unloading of goods. Some of the bulk handling products include belts for coal, ash handling systems, coal handling systems, rotary air lock, truck loading machine, rotary air valve, truck loaders, and rotary feeder. Countries such as China and India, where coal is used as a fuel on a large scale, will contribute significantly towards bulk handling conveyors’ market growth. Conveyor system market share for durable goods is projected to surpass USD 15 billion by 2024. The growth can be attributed to the growing industrialisation and shifting focus towards bulk production to minimise production time and costs. Conveying equipment market size for non- durable goods will register a CAGR of around 1% over 2018-2024, driven by increasing demand across food & beverages industry.
Geographically, the market is segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, and MEA.
APAC conveying equipment market size is estimated to grow at a CAGR of around 2.5% over 2018-2024, driven by favourable regulations, increased infrastructure spending and growing industrialisation across this region. India and China are estimated to drive the region’s growth.
US conveying equipment market will witness a significant growth over the forecast timeframe, catalysed by the expansion of the automotive and aerospace industries across this region.
The European market is poised to grow noticeably over the projected timeframe, driven by the growing automation in automotive and manufacturing industries. Germany and France will be the major revenue pockets.
Key industry participants are Sandvik, Dematic, Rexnord, Nordstrong Equipment, Intelligrated, Daifuku, Webster, Richards Wilcox, Hitachi, FMC Technologies, and Siemens.
The report can be viewed here.