Supply chain makes the difference

After consolidating its manufacturing operation into one site, Oceania Glass found itself dealing with the challenge of running an efficient supply chain while maintaining a leading customer service experience. It seized the challenge, with the support of Prological’s expertise.

Oceania Glass traces its heritage back to selling its very first glass in 1856. Since then, its performance glass has become a key architectural signature to many of Australia’s landmark buildings and has brought the joy of natural light to countless Australian family homes. An Australian icon, the business was formally the glass manufacturing arm of Viridian and continues to make glass locally as the only architectural flat glass producer in the country. 

With an extensive supply chain network across Australia and New Zealand, Oceania Glass services the entire country from its manufacturing base in Dandenong, Victoria. 

Prior to 2013, Oceania Glass was manufacturing glass at two sites in Australia, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney. After the global financial crisis, when construction activity started to decline, the business made the decision to consolidate its manufacturing processes into one super site.  

The consequences of this was managing the much larger freight distances to service the whole Australian market from one manufacturing plant, while maintaining the high level of customer service the business is renowned for. 

Remaining competitive

Transporting glass is a challenging endeavour for obvious reasons, it’s extremely fragile and breaks easily. 

Oceania Glass was using float liners to transport glass large distances across the country. Float liners are a rapid glass transport system that improves the safety and efficiency of glass delivery, but they are not designed for long distances. 

“Upon its introduction in Australia the float liner was a recipient of an Australian Freight Industry Award for Innovation & Technology. It is essentially a specialised single trailer designed for glass that can take a payload of 20 tonnes. They are designed for quick turnaround delivery to customers, not long-haul,” says Corné Kritzinger, CEO at Oceania Glass. 

A major issue with using the float liner for long haul, is that it creates dead-running kms. “Transport companies can’t use these specialised trucks for any other kinds of freight. So, we’re sending them all the way from Melbourne to Brisbane and we were having to pay both legs,” Justin McKenzie, National Logistics Operations Manager at Oceania Glass says. 

Calling on the experts 

Moving glass around Australia has its unique challenges. “A lot of people ask: why don’t you just put it on a train? But we know that if we try and use rail freight, we have a lot of issues around breakages and damage. So, we knew we needed to explore a different way of transporting the glass to Sydney and Brisbane,” Corné says. 

Justin had worked with Peter Jones, Managing Director and Founder of supply chain consultancy Prological on a previous project for Oceania Glass regarding Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and voice picking technology. 

“I knew that Peter was very well experienced in the world of freight and supply chain, so we re-connected with him to explore new ways of managing our supply chain,” Justin says. 

After analysing the operation, Peter and the team at Prological developed a solution that solved the issue of dead-running kms. 

Peter, in conjunction with the Oceania Glass team, recommended exploring an A-double trailer for the line haul journey. This also required the establishment of a distribution centre (DC) in Brisbane to off load and store product and service the last mile. 

“By establishing a DC in Brisbane and changing to an A-double freight model, we could improve our freight efficiency, redirect the float liners for use on local customer deliveries and also reduce our lead times,” Corné says. 

After establishing the DC in Brisbane, Oceania’s freight contract was up for renewal. It was time for the business to go to tender for a new freight partner, which would require a well-documented system of work. 

“Peter helped us make sure we got all the data right and all the associated operating methodologies bedded down so when we went out to tender for the new contract, we could engage and enable potential providers to accurately quote and cover our operational requirements,” Justin says. 

The A-doubles have been developed in partnership with Oceania Glass’ freight partner, Toll and will be fully operational by the end of April. The trucks have been custom designed for Oceania Glass’ transport needs and will be used for transporting glass into Queensland and New South Wales. 

An opportunity for Australian made 

For Corné, innovation around freight and supply chain is really important in Australia. “Most businesses who have a national footprint know that supply chain has such a big impact on the business efficiency and customer satisfaction, so driving innovation is key” Corné says. 

 “Australian supply chains are full of these sorts of opportunities; however, they will rarely be visible from the inside and most transport companies can’t do the work to develop them because they no longer have the margins to recoup the development costs, and rapidly losing the knowledge and skills base,” Peter says. 

Prological has extensive experience in this approach of redesigning the task and engineering solutions. Peter and his team pride themselves on creating the “unfair advantage” for their clients.

“To develop the unfair advantage is to come up with something that makes the opposition irrelevant. It occurs by interpreting the rules to your advantage through application not previously thought of,” Peter explains.

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