Living Lab paves way for ‘ground-breaking’ transport and logistics technology

IN an industry that is worth more than A$150 billion and accounts for more than 14% of Australia’s GDP,  transport inefficiency and rising costs still remains a major challenge.

However, for the 1650,000 Australian businesses in the transport and logistics sector, the launch of Australia’s first high technology "living lab" could signal a new era of innovation and commercial opportunities for one of Australia’s most lucrative sectors.

Launched in February this year by German enterprise software company SAP in collaboration with Australia’s ICT research centre NICTA and Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation, Fraunhofer, the Future Logistics Living Lab is an exhibition space to test and develop new technology.

Till Dengel, the head of SAP’s Industry, Business Unit Transport and Logistics, said the living lab was both a testing space for solutions and where researchers could work with industry to drive innovations forward for the logistics and transport industry.

The lab consists of three separate physical areas: an exhibition, event and work space and has been designed with the aim of improving the efficiency of Australia’s logistics networks by fast-tracking the adoption of emerging technologies and leading research outcomes by industry.

According to NICTA CEO Hugh Durrant-Whyte, the living lab focuses on solving challenges in an area critical to Australia’s commercial future.

“The living lab is a real opportunity for bringing together research, experience in optimisation, traffic management, and networking, and focuses on a business area which is critical to Australia’s future; infrastructure, transport and logistics,” Durrant-Whyte said.

“This lab ultimately will change the way we do things not just in Australia but globally. We will be able to do things more efficiently and able to use some of the research to address challenging problems that ultimately will deliver national benefits in this area,” he said.

The lab will achieve this by providing a means for participants to create, test and demonstrate prototype technologies prior to commitment to real products.

Technology demonstrations in the lab will also allow stakeholders and visitors to explore, interact and understand how the latest technology will work in practice.

Results from the Living Lab will be commercialised by participants and will leaded to the development of new products, process and services in logistics that will help improve the industry’s efficiency and cost-effectively address challenges such as rising fuel costs, road congestion, carbon emissions and safety.

Michael Byrne, Chief Executive Officer Linfox, Australia’s largest supply chain solution company, said sophisticated IT innovation is the key to running an efficient global supply company.

"You can’t manage moving $51 billion of inventory for customers with a bit of paper,” said Byrne.

"You can’t track 16,000 employees moving 600 million kilometers per year without sophisticated IT and at Linfox we can track every piece of equipment through SAP and Trimble where we can download information every 15 seconds.”

Byrne said Linfox’s business had trebled in size since 2003 but had 400 less managers because of heavy investment in IT with its major software partners Microsoft, Telstra and SAP.

He added that the company needs to continue to invest and experiment in IT to meet client expectations.  Linfox services over 100 customers in throughout the North American, European and Asia-Pacific region.

For more information, visit www.futurelogisticslivinglab.com.au

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