Industry is calling on businesses to add their details to the Commonwealth-supported National Location Registry to help reduce futile deliveries, avoid the need to onboard new customers, and to improve visibility and traceability in the digital space.
MHD spoke with GS1 Australia’s Bonnie Ryan, Director Freight, Logistics and Industrial Sectors in August 2021 and April this year about the National Location Registry (NLR), an industry-led initiative, sponsored by the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications to develop and deliver an industry platform to complement the government’s Freight Data Hub.
The barcode and ‘global language of business’ pioneer is joining industry to call on Australian businesses to load their location data to the NLR to reduce futile deliveries, and to improve onboarding of new customers and supply chain visibility and traceability.
The NLR as a digital registry stores physical pickup and delivery location information and makes it accessible to authorised users.
The evolution of the NLR
Since the NLR was launched last year, Bonnie says the platform has continued to evolve with several enhancements now available to add to the user experience. All stakeholders can benefit from loading their data to the registry. Industry is now pushing for this to happen.
One of the key developments is the broad call-to-action by key stakeholders in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.
Some of the companies that have rallied to encourage all members, brand owners, transport carriers and 3PL providers to load data include Woolworths, Primary Connect, Big W, Metcash, Endeavour Drinks Group, and the Australian Food & Grocery Council.
This callout comes because location data is increasingly important to the smooth flow of goods.
“Knowing exactly where goods need to be picked up from and where they are going is key to providing the market with timely deliveries and ensuring that products go to where they need to be,” Bonnie says.
“We need to do this with the least possible cost and effort,” she adds.
She goes on to say that during the pandemic, the freight sector did a great job under unprecedented circumstances by giving much-needed relief to the transport network, despite customers not always receiving orders on time.
Companies that provide critical services are good for the industry because they help strengthen the supply chain and are good for the consumer and the economy.
“In an increasingly digital world, it’s important that information accessed has integrity and can be trusted,” Bonnie explains.
“The information required by the registry is provided by the custodian of the location and hence, by default, the owner or the source provider of the data associated with a specific location.
“For example, custody for a Woolworths distribution centre sits with Woolworths, and they would be the provider of that location’s information to the registry.”
Pickup and delivery information
The fact that many companies also curate their own information about a Woolworths DC does not make it accurate, up-to-date, or consistent. Only data coming from Woolworths about Woolworths can be fully trusted.
Pickup and delivery information such as site address, GPS coordinates, trading hours, site amenities, council curfew constraints, height and weight of gates/gantries, truck entry and exit points and other relevant information are securely stored on the platform.
“The data for each location is consistent so industry can utilise it in various systems,” Bonnie says.
“This paves the way to increased interoperability between supply chain partners as data can be easily interpreted across the supply chain, driving increased efficiency and productivity in the exchange of information between parties.
“Any changes to the location record are pushed as notification alerts to all users who have subscribed to receive a location’s data ensuring all who need to know have the latest version of the truth.
“All users of the NLR must be registered. Location and data owners control access to their data; they can elect to make their data available to all NLR subscribers, or they can restrict access to those subscribers of their choosing.”
Visibility and traceability
Users who wish to subscribe to specific locations can request access if the location record is not available to everyone.
It’s crucial to know where products have been, where they are while they are in transit, and where they are going. It’s a critical dimension of supply chain visibility and traceability aspirations.
Before the NLR was launched, there was no service or solution that filled the gap required for industry to access reliable and accurate location data.
Without using such a service there are many operational delays and sometimes failures when goods are delivered because information about locations is either missing or inaccurate.
Bonnie says it’s problematic and a waste of time and energy when businesses duplicate or reinvent information about a specific location.
Companies need to have the correct location information for themselves, their customers, and their customers’ customer in the case of ship-to locations for the purpose of making deliveries.
To deliver something properly the first time and every time, it’s important for transport companies to understand the parameters of a site before they send in a truck.
“Ensuring the right size truck is despatched, under the correct safety conditions, and a raft of other factors is vital – a driver who arrives at a location and isn’t fully aware of potential constraints can and does result in not being able to execute the delivery,” Bonnie says.
“For example, if the location is closed because they changed their hours of operation and neglected to tell the transport company, or if additional safety requirements are not met because there have been changes (as happened during COVID) and the transport company is not advised.
“These scenarios could impact the driver’s ability to make the delivery – both scenarios readily happen and result in futile deliveries, i.e., deliveries not able to be executed and therefore a delivery re-attempt is necessary later.”
Pickup and delivery locations
If information is up to date and accessible, these scenarios will be reduced.
From an administration perspective, most organisations contract several transport companies while many large companies have dozens of transport companies they work with.
“Each of these transport companies must hold records of pickup and delivery locations for each of their customer sites,” Bonnie says.
“Every company and every transport company carries their own administration burden to curate their own version of the same information for any given location.
“Across the nation, this results in an administrative magnitude that is difficult to measure, such is the size and cost of the task.
“The NLR requires each company to take responsibility for loading and managing their own information and making it accessible to other companies and users.”
Bonnie continues to say the success of the NLR relies on the amount of data it contains: the more companies that load their data, the more beneficial the value it delivers.
“Imagine if a transport company could simply subscribe to the NLR and download in one file all the location information they need for any given customer or group of customers?” Bonnie asks.
“One process, one format – they can then import it directly into any back-office system they choose; be it a traceability platform, a warehouse or transport management system, a mobility solution or any other relevant technology that requires information about logistics.
“This is a shining example of industry and government working together for the benefit of all stakeholders.
“The NLR is a piece of national digital infrastructure, so industry should consider this something they can buy into without reservation about losing competitive advantage – because there are no losers in this initiative.
“Australian supply chains will be the beneficiaries and if an organisation participates in any supply chain activity, location information will be a requirement – that is a certainty.”
For more information on GS1 Australia, click here.