Meet the ifm expert – Freddie Coertze

Meet expert Freddie Coertze, the Product Manager of Industrial Communications at ifm. Freddie talks about why he loves being part of ifm’s family culture and working with such high quality products. He is particularly inspired by the customers he works with and extending the ifm values of good service to customers, gaining satisfaction from finding the best solutions for them. Hear Freddie explain why ifm’s slogan ‘Close To You’ is not just a saying, but a real company value.
Watch this video to find out more: 

Without a hitch

Parcel shipping volumes in Australia are rapidly increasing, mounting pressure on delivery networks. From 2015 to 2016, the number of parcels shipped in the country rose by 13 per cent to 794 million parcels1, representing a nine-billion-dollar spend. Research carried out by technology company Pitney Bowes found that by 2021, over one billion parcels will be shipped annually – an estimated growth of between nine and 12 per cent from 2017 to 2021.
According to Laurie Shorten, Light-Duty Product Manager for conveyor system expert Flexco, the growth of the package-handling industry puts further pressure on companies to ramp up efficiency. “With the rampant and growing success of the industry comes challenges as well,” says Laurie. “The need to be competitively productive is at an all-time-high, with every minute of lost productivity costing the industry’s major hundreds and thousands of dollars.”
Breaking tradition
Laurie shares that interrupted conveyor belt operation is one of the biggest causes of lost time in the parcel-handling industry. “Keeping a conveyor belt running smoothly is a challenge companies face daily,” he says. “Transfer gaps and hitches between belts can lead to foreign-object debris getting caught in the gap, belt damage, lost envelopes and packages and – most importantly ­– the safety of staff is heavily compromised.” He notes that companies’ options for avoiding such conveyor-belt issues has traditionally been limited. “Often, maintenance staff have had to resort to ‘homemade’ devices made from ultra-high molecular weight (UHMW) polyurethane. There are, however, serious implications involved with this practice,” says Laurie.
One common issue resulting from the use of such devices is gaps of up to 12mm between conveyor belts and transfer plates. “This is very concerning, as a lot of foreign-object debris is still able to make its way through the gap and cause blockages and damages to the belt,” says Laurie. “Traditional homemade plates are not effective at preventing foreign-object debris jams into transfers – if the debris gets caught in the gap, the friction can cause the belt to stop, resulting in a disastrous amount of damage, and hours – if not days – of downtime.” On top of this, he notes, the beveled edges of homemade plates can cause uneven wear and rips in the belts, and also the conveyed product.
Another common issue with traditional UHMW transfer plates is the cost and time required for maintenance. “Most of these plates are relatively cheap to produce but have a life expectancy of only six months,” says Laurie. Due to their short lifespan, time and resources must be allocated to replacing the plates regularly, a process that is timely and complex. “As it’s a tricky procedure, it’s not uncommon for the plates to be installed incorrectly, leading to further hours of maintenance work,” Laurie adds. “Homemade devices have long been the only option available, so companies have had to persevere with the associated unscheduled downtime, lost productivity and harm to conveyor belts.”
Moving forward
Recognising the need for a more professional and effective solution, Flexco tasked its design experts across its global network with developing an alternative for the parcel-handling industry. Following extensive testing, Flexco is now ready to reveal its complete solution – segmented transfer plates and hitch guards. “This tool has the potential to significantly impact the parcel industry,” says Laurie.
The segmented transfer plates are designed to cover the gap between conveyors that are positioned belt-to-belt, belt-to-chute, belt-to-roller and for power turns. “The plates are easy to install, they simply snap onto the support bar and can be in place in minutes,” he adds. “As such, maintenance managers can focus their time on increasing productivity proactively, rather than repeatedly reacting to the same issue.” Flexco originally designed the plates for use in parcel sortation operations, distribution centres, fulfilment centres, warehouses and airports. The main purpose of the plates is to prevent foreign-object debris from entering the conveyor path and causing jams or damaging belts. They come in a range of sizes, from 38mm to 250mm, to accommodate for a variety of gap sizes, and feature moulded-in ribs on the segment surface to reduce friction by up to 10 per cent and allow heavy packages to transition over the plates without harming belts.
“The main point of difference between Flexco’s new product and traditional homemade solutions is Flexco’s patented technology,” says Laurie. “The individual segments of the transfer plate are designed to release under extreme pressure, in the rare instance where a product may momentarily become lodged between the belt and the segment.
“A single segment section releases, but the remaining segment pieces remain intact and continue to protect the efficiency of the company’s operation.” If the same scenario were to happen with a homemade solution, the result would be catastrophic, with foreign-object debris causing the belt to seize, and the repair could take days.
“The segmented transfer plates and hitch guards will be launched to the Australian market at MEGATRANS2018, with the products being displayed on a working conveyor system, so attendees will be able to see the product working for itself,” says Laurie. “This exciting launch means there is finally a solution in Australia for one of the packaging-handling industry’s biggest conveyor pain points.”

Winning the race: behind the scenes at Formula 1

The Formula 1 season is an exciting time for motoring enthusiasts and tourists alike. It is considered the pinnacle of automobile motor sports and takes fans across the globe and this year is no exception. Starting in Melbourne and covering 21 races across five continents this is one of the most complex and impressive logistics operations out there.
So, how do you transport 20 cars, ten race driving teams, 20 drivers and 2,000 tons of freight across 130,000km over a period of nine months? Thomas Nieszner, President and Global Head of Motorsport at DHL speaks to Logistics & Materials Handling about the project and how the key to success is impeccable planning and a will to succeed.
Gearing up
The 2018 Formula 1 season kicked off earlier this year in Melbourne, Australia and this year’s season will see races take place in China, Singapore, Azerbaijan and Abu Dhabi to name a few. It  also the return of races in France and Germany.
Having an experienced, meticulous and specialist logistics team is crucial in the delivery of such an important and large-scale event. Formula 1 has been working with DHL for more than 35 years, with becoming the Official Logistics Partner in 2004. “The initial relationship started with Formula 1 more than 35 ears ago and has evolved year after year. It began as a logistics supplier relationship but has turned out to be a most exciting global partnership, built on mutual respect and expertise,” Thomas Niezsner, President and Global Head of Motorsport at DHL says.
It takes a huge team of experts to deliver such a fast-moving global event. There is a core team of 30 full-time specialists at DHL to support the operation around the world, as well as local teams at every race.
Up to 2,000 tons of valuable and time-sensitive freight is moved to each racing location, including racing cars, tyres, fuel and replacement parts, transmission technology as well as marketing, TV and hospitality equipment. It is a multimodal operation with the goods being moved by road, sea and air.
About 660 tons of it is air freight, while 1,000 tons is transported by sea. During the course of the 2017 season, six Boeing 747 aircraft were used for fly-away races outside of Europe to transport items over a combined distance of 131,995 kilometres and up to 150 trucks were needed for the European races.
For DHL, a Grand Prix weekend starts 12-15 days before the actual race takes place, with freight being packed in boxes or temperature-controlled containers, depending on the requirements and seasonality. “Logistics has become so well defined and rehearsed. The freight in most cases is available for teams on a Tuesday to set up, and event pack up is usually complete close to midnight the Sunday two days before. This shows a remarkable achievement of logistics planning and execution,” Thomas says.
Each equipment has different requirements. For example, all cars have to be securely latched and loaded onto specially designed cargo crates prior to take-off. Each team is also responsible for the safe packaging of broadcast equipment, spare parts and other material in special boxes.
“I think it’s like adult Tetris at the maximum skill level – everything has a place whether this is on one of the Boeing 747 aircrafts or in the 120 sea freight containers. This can only work if all the parts are positioned and at the right time. There is a solution and no time to fix problems – no dress rehearsal. Unlike Tetris we don’t get to play again if this goes wrong, failure is not an option,” Thomas says.
Challenging schedules
One of the most challenging legs of the tour is when races take place on two consecutive weekends. Thomas refers to these as “back-to-back” races. “This is the ultimate test of all key stakeholders working in unison: the team, the suppliers, F1 and, of course, DHL,” he says.
This year presents a particularly tough challenge for Thomas and his team, with back-to-back-to-back races taking place for the first time. “This year we have races on three consecutive weekends, France on 24 June, Austria on 1 July and UK on 8 July. This is likely to be one of our toughest challenges so far,” Thomas says.
Time zones and flight times add to this remarkably tight schedule. “Some events have a seven-hour flight time with an eight-hour time difference. We lose half a day or more just for taking off and we still have to maintain that Tuesday delivery,” he says. This requires a maximum of speed, reliability, detailed planning and expertise that Thomas’ team have been preparing for.
DHL is also working with Formula 1 to commit to a greener more sustainable event. “We are working to minimise air freight volumes of the racing equipment and provide the most efficient logistics possibly,” Thomas says.
Each race has its own challenges, whether that is complying with local rules, infrastructure or even political events. The Melbourne leg of the race is unique not only is it a city circuit, but it also takes place in a park. “The City of Melbourne, as part of the development of the area, is committed to not damaging the area in anyway. We have to leave the park as it was found after the event. All forklifts have to have terrain wheels so as not to damage the grass, and access and delivery points are all closely monitored as is work practice under stringent OHS rules. We even use a vehicle that has been specifically adapted for this event to be able to fit under the bridge while on lockdown for the event to bring in late shipments of spares and parts,” Thomas says.
Certain countries have specific rules. In China, for example, there are extremely strict rules with regards to dangerous goods and lithium batteries this all has to be planned and pre-approved before the teams even arrive. These negotiations are conducted at airline, civil aviation and agent level.
Preparation, planning and punctuality
According to Thomas, the key to success in this entire operation is preparation and planning. “Plan, plan and plan…oh and plan. It’s no joke every item is meticulously planned, and we run a Continued Improvement Programmed (CIP). This accommodates all issues and these are flagged openly so they do not repeat themselves. We debrief after every event and continually tweak the process to iron out any creases.”
An operation like this one puts logistics in the spotlight. Without such a precise and punctually planned project there would be chaos. “This sets the standard for logistics,” Thomas says. The challenge that each season presents gives the logistics sector an opportunity to grow and push the boundaries of what has been achieved before. Demands like the back-to-back-to-back races challenge the experts involved and led them to achieve great things in the world of logistics. “Many of the demands at first seem unachievable, but we pull it off over and over again.”
The innovations that are developed for the Formula 1 project trickle down into consumer logistics. “These disciplines can be blue printed and rolled out as a product,” Thomas says. The race series places particularly high demand on logistics. “A tight racing calendar with race venues around the world comprising valuable, highly sensitive equipment calls for innovative, customised logistics services. Some of the solutions developed for Formula 1 are now being used at other global events,” Thomas says.
Thomas is passionate about his job and for him, a career in logistics was always on the cards. “I loved jigsaws and puzzles as a child. There is only one way to complete the puzzle or game and the rewards of achieving the impossibilities is there as are the stress levels. I started in this industry aged just 17 and have known the people I work with for a very long time. It’s become very much like a travelling family.”

Tired man truck driver with cigarette

Linfox, TWU study: transport is dangerous

Transport workers are up to five times more likely to be injured at work than any other Australian worker, according to new Monash research, with rail drivers in particular 30 times more likely to develop a mental health condition than any other worker.
These are just two of many significant findings unearthed in the first report of the National Transport Industry Health and Wellbeing Study, released today by the Insurance Work and Health Group at Monash University.
The research, supported by Linfox Logistics and the Transport Workers Union, comes from the first stage of a detailed national study looking into the health of workers in the transport industry.
The Australian transport and logistic industry is very diverse, and encompasses drivers, logistics, storage and warehousing workers, managers and executives.
Alex Collie, professor and director of the Insurance Work and Health Group, said transport workers were subject to a unique set of health risks in their working environment, including sedentary jobs, long working hours and shift work, isolation, fatigue and sleep deprivation, among others.
“This study presents a national picture of the health of people working in the transport and logistics industry. Prior studies have focused on safety and on specific groups of workers. We used a large and detailed national database of work injury claims to examine a range of different injuries and diseases that affect workers across the whole industry,” Professor Collie said.
“Our ultimate aim is to develop programs and services that can prevent illness and injury in the transport sector, and help people recover and return to work when they become sick.”
There are strong links between people’s health and their ability to work, Professor Collie said, so understanding and improving the health of an industry which employs 1.2 million people is important for the workers, their employers and the Australian economy.
The Transport Workers Union national assistant secretary Michael Kaine said the report’s findings show that the “pressures on transport workers, including long hours away from family, chronic fatigue and the stresses of meeting deadlines, are clearly taking their toll”.
“It should serve as yet another example of the need for a check on the transport supply chain, to ensure that the major clients at the top are being held to account for the pressure they exert on the industry and its workforce,” he said.
Linfox Logistics general manager of HR Lauren Pemberton said working with Monash and TWU to investigate driver health and safety was the “next logical step in improving our staff health programs”.

Fear flexibility not – says this week's MHD article

Dana Stiffler

Operational speed and agility are considered markers of maturity and excellence for leaders in high performing supply chain organisations. However, when it comes to how, where and when supply chain professionals do their jobs, the industry isn’t hitting the mark in allowing and embracing flexible work practices. It’s making careers at manufacturers, distributors and retailers relatively less attractive.
The result is an adverse effect on employee engagement, inclusive and diverse teams, overall career brand and ultimately, supply chain performance. To hire and retain even average performers, leaders must embrace more flexible work practices.
Significant engagement gaps
Gartner recently asked 437 supply chain professionals about their careers and what motivates them. It appears that significant engagement gaps exist between frontline employees and senior leadership. The survey provided some insights into what is causing these gaps.
In addition to a lack of career path visibility, workplace flexibility in many supply chain organisations is missing, especially for individual contributors. Sixty-nine per cent said they are required to be physically on-site every day, whether they are in a cubicle, a plant or a distribution centre.
Why is this the case when many labour-intensive tasks have been automated and manual business processes pulled together onto virtual platforms? The requirement that staff be physically co-located with capital equipment for a full shift, or attached to a 9am-to-5pm paper-intensive process has disappeared for the majority of supply chain roles.
White-collar, virtual jobs can be done by anyone, anytime and anywhere. Examples of proven flexible work arrangements include working from home, flex-time, four-day work weeks and job sharing.
Yet, even in companies that have extended more flexibility to finance, IT or sales, supply chain organisations remain curiously resistant to embracing flexible work arrangements. This is true even as they have become more planning-centric and the physical product component of customer service has decreased over time.
Although both of these trends lead to work that is well-suited to a virtual workforce, the profession’s roots in factories and warehouses live on in leadership mindsets that equate physical presence with performance, with the ability to see a body as evidence of effective control of that body. From the employee perspective, it isn’t a big leap to thinking your manager doesn’t trust you to do your job, which leads to dissatisfaction and its associated negative outcomes.
Supply chain leaders who want to attract and keep great people need to change these mindsets. In fact, supply chain leaders who want to attract and keep any people need to do so.
Desire for work-life balance
After compensation, work-life balance is the top consideration across companies globally for whether a candidate will take a job or not. A recent Gartner survey found that if given a choice between two jobs, nine out of 10 respondents will take the job that offers more flexibility. Almost one-third of respondents said they would have stayed longer in their previous job if more flexibility had been offered.
The good news is that many supply chain leaders have already started an aggressive push into flexible work and results-only performance management. This has been driven by a struggle to hire in a market where high-tech companies and start-ups have already changed the game. A formidable combination of more flexibility and workplace perks like food, amenities and employee support services makes the worksite a more appealing place to spend time.
It’s also been driven by the ability of the supply chain organisation to take on more start-up-like qualities. Aiming for balance, they are retaining mature continuous improvement practices that are predictable and stable, but are also adding a non-linear approach involving experimentation, failing fast and learning through iteration.
Reframing the flexibility mindset
If all industries are undergoing a process of digital remastering, Gartner believes the profile of supply chain professional will continue its upgrade path of the past five years. This will reflect stronger analytical and technology skills, as well as strong communications and influence skills. Start-ups and professional services firms are competing with supply chain organisations to hire this same talent.
We know what will happen when these candidates get to choose between opportunities that offer more and less flexibility: They’ll choose flexibility nine out of ten times. If you haven’t yet reframed your flexibility mindset, we hope this provides a catalyst for a rethink, where flexibility shifts from a benefit once offered only to senior staff and high performers, to a standard starting point for the employee experience.
Start by reinventing the supply chain organisation’s perspective on workplace and schedule flexibility by treating flexibility as a primary rather than secondary consideration in role design and job descriptions. Clearly some roles and scenarios require an on-site presence, but even in these scenarios, schedule flexibility is a top consideration for employees choosing or leaving a job.
Help mid-level and frontline managers overcome ‘presence = productivity’ mindsets by showing them how to manage by objective, and move toward a results-only work environment.

“Encourage staff to take advantage of newer, more flexible work arrangements by having senior leadership model flexibility in how and where they work.”

Re-imagine employee reward and recognition strategies to recognise great work regardless of where and when the work is done.
Finally, take advantage of established flexible work practices of other functional leaders or HR by using their playbooks, policies and performance data to show the broader supply chain organisation how a pilot program might be structured, and what its outcome might look like.
Dana Stiffler is a research vice president at Gartner, focused on supply chain talent strategies, the chief supply chain officer role, as well as individual influence and effectiveness in supply chain leadership. For more information visit

It all stacks up

This article appeared in the April/May 2018 issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.

After two decades building its reputation for reliable storage solutions for the timber industry, BHD Storage Solutions has its eyes set firmly on becoming the materials handling industry’s go-to manufacturer and supplier of reliable storage equipment.

Since 1999, Victoria-based BHD Storage Solutions has supplied cantilever racking – or tree racking, so named for its protruding appendages branching out from a vertical base – to the timber industry and major hardware retail chains in Australia and New Zealand.
Following the company’s acquisition in 2014, it turned its focus on the varied storage needs of the country’s broad range of industries, applying the company’s in-house storage expertise across warehousing, logistics, retail, and beyond. It was decided early on that the company would need a new name to reflect its new direction and capabilities. In October 2017, the company officially rebranded from MECA Racking Solutions to BHD Storage Solutions.
BHD boasts dedicated and thorough racking design, manufacture and installation services, thanks to the vision and hard work of owner Suny Deng and Managing Director Jessica Zhu. “We no longer look after just the timber industry,” says Jessica. “Now, we provide for the whole storage solutions industry, stocking tyre, pigeon-hole, mezzanine, long-span and pallet racking, and electronic, mobile and shuttle storage technologies.”
Jessica explains that moving towards a full-service offering was a key consideration during the company’s acquisition.
“The majority of storage solutions providers in the industry focus on one end of projects – they either do technical design here in Australia and outsource manufacturing to another country, or they focus on manufacturing and hand over the finished goods,” she says. “At BHD, we lead projects all the way from conception through to customer delivery – that’s something we decided to do right away when we started the acquisition.”
This has helped BHD quickly become a force to be reckoned with for storage solutions, Jessica explains, as they can react quickly to customer needs and deliver projects promptly.
“Offering a full service makes BHD more competitive, but more importantly, the customers get more efficient responses, better cost control and can see across the whole project more transparently than when dealing with several companies, or across several countries,” she says. “We are one of very few in the industry capable of providing truly turnkey solutions, from production through to completion of projects.”
What’s in a name?
The company’s new name reflects the importance its new owners place on their obligations to its people, its customers, and its future, Jessica explains. “BHD stands for ‘beholden’, meaning ‘responsible’,” Jessica adds. “Our slogan is ‘Beholden to the future’ and this idea runs throughout the business.
“We are responsible to our people – to their job satisfaction, health and ownership of their performance. This supports our responsibility to our customers, to give them high-quality, safe completed projects. It is paramount to us that we can walk away and sleep at night after completing a project. Finally, we are responsible for supporting our own success, and happy customers and treating employees right will help us to achieve that.”
Protecting against the unknown
Jessica explains that BHD prides itself on being a problem solver for its customers. “I think that Australia’s logistics professionals are very capable at identifying and solving issues to avoid crises,” says Jessica. “The issue, however, is that since supply chains are long, with many links and people involved along the way, it’s not always possible to buffer for contingencies. When something goes wrong, fixing it requires a coordinated effort by various people in various job functions, which is time-consuming, and can cause more problems.”
She explains that BHD’s full-service offering enables the company to take care of its customers’ storage worries, delivering them a prompt resolution. “We take everything under our control,” she says. “Our promise to the customer is to let them hear no noise, only solutions.”
She gives the example of a customer that had been a long-time customer of the company in its previous iteration, who approached BHD with a seemingly impossible task.
“A customer we had worked with for many years in the cantilever industry approached us for our help with an extremely time-tight project,” Jessica explains. “He was seven days out from opening a store in time for Christmas, and had been let down by the supplier set to help stock the store with 1,000 pallets. It was a very tough deadline to meet, and obviously not many people can achieve that.”
The customer offered BHD the opportunity to stock the store, noting that he was prepared for there to be a delay in opening. “Because we have the advantage of controlling every part of the process, from design and manufacture to project delivery, we managed to finish the project in seven days,” says Jessica. “Our team all worked together to successfully carry out the project.
She explains that collaboration between BHD’s overseas manufacturing facility and Melbourne-based warehouse means the company efficiently manages the stock both in the mill and in the warehouse to adapt to changes in demand, saving customers from having to wait two to three weeks for shipment.
“The customer was able to open his store on time, and we’re now his go-to provider for all his storage needs,” Jessica adds.
Branching out
As BHD now undertakes major projects from a broad range of industries, it has been important to ensure its team works together seamlessly and effectively, Jessica notes. “In the past, when the company dealt with the timber industry, and only cantilever racking, the order sizes were far smaller,” she says. “We are incredibly fortunate as the company has team members that have expertise acquired over two decades in the storage industry. With the move towards becoming a provider of supply-chain storage solutions, and the large projects involved, though, it was crucial for us to develop and foster a strong culture.
“We needed cohesion between the salespeople, the finance and operations teams, construction managers, the manufacturing team, and everyone in between. The effort we have put into this has been worthwhile, as it has enabled us to deliver large orders, to a high quality, and on time.”
Jessica adds that the close team dynamic also helps when customer needs change partway through a project. “We involve customers heavily at the beginning, to establish their needs,” she says. “We help them consider whether a short-term solution suits them, or whether they are in need of a long-term inventory plan. It’s not unusual for customers to change their plans when the project has been designed, approved and started, due to unforeseen circumstances, but we’re able to be very responsive across our team.”
Passion for growth
Jessica has been a passionate advocate of the storage industry for a decade, and in her seven years with BHD she has seen it grow from a medium-sized business serving loyal customers in a niche market to a large organisation forging relationship with major international companies and expanding its capabilities tenfold. “I saw the opportunity for expansion for BHD when I first joined the company and, when it was acquired by Suny Deng. Fortunately he shared my enthusiasm for the potential of the industry, the technology and its people.”
Jessica adds that she loves delivering complex projects for customers, while making sure they experience no stress. “When I meet a customer who has a task they need help in handling, and we exceed their expectations for budget, professionalism, deadline and quality, it makes all of the effort worth it,” she says. “When our customers’ project managers or supply-chain managers tell us we have conquered a challenge, that gives me great pride.
“We never have ‘short-term’ customers; we’re always considering how we can contribute to their long-term success. I take pride in seeing our long-term large customers expanding sustainably, and small customers growing their successes together with our team.”

Renewed focus

This article appeared in the February/March 2018 issue of Logistics & Materials Handling.
Australia’s rail freight industry has been in the spotlight in recent months, with the Inland Rail project on track to bring back the mode’s visibility – and, importantly, its viability. AusRAIL PLUS 2017 looked to champion the mode’s successes, and potential.
All governments recognise the importance and benefits of rail to Australia,” said Danny Broad – CEO of the Australasian Railway Association (ARA), as he opened the ARA’s annual event, AusRAIL PLUS 2017, in Brisbane. “Investment in rail made in the national interest will enhance rail’s contribution to the economy through greater efficiency in both public transport and supply chain networks – all Australians will be the beneficiaries.”
With forecast investment in both new rolling stock – or rail vehicles – and rail infrastructure of $100 billion over the next 15 years, and Inland Rail and a national rail industry program securing $20 million in funding in the FY17 Federal Budget, “rail certainly is the place to be,” he noted.
“An important era lies ahead of us – it is a pivotal time, and the implementation of the national rail industry plan is essential.”
Darren Chester, then-Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, echoed Broad’s comments, noting that the federal backing for the Inland Rail project and other key rail infrastructure is a clear vote of confidence in the future of the industry.
“[This is] the most exciting time in the past 100 years to be in involved in rail,” said Chester. “Australia needs Inland Rail – without it, we won’t be able to cope with a projected doubling of our nation’s freight task.
“Currently, about 25 per cent of Melbourne-to-Brisbane freight is carried on rail, and around 75 per cent is carried on road. This project will help to even the ledger.”
Seeing the value
The ARA commissioned consultancy Deloitte to produce a report looking at future strains on passenger and freight rail networks, rail safety, rail’s benefits over road, and environmental considerations for modal choices. Broad released the Value of Rail report at the event, noting that it highlights the significant role the rail industry will play in enabling Australia to cope with future challenges.
“Australia’s population is increasing at a rate of 370,000 people per year,” he said. “By 2060, both Sydney and Melbourne populations will have grown by approximately three million people.
“Freight is likely to grow with gross domestic product (GDP) rather than the population growth – with a potential 88 per cent increase in kilometres travelled by 2050, and an increase in vehicle stocks of about 2.5 million trucks and light commercial vehicles.
“To manage these challenges, Australia will have to develop its multimodal transport systems, with light rail and heavy rail at its spine.”
The report found that Australia’s population will double by 2075, reaching almost 45 million people. It notes that rail currently contributes approximately $26 billion to the Australian economy each year, while offering lower emissions and safety and congestion benefits compared to other transport modes.
“Significant investments are being made into Australia’s rail infrastructure,” the report continues. “In some sense, these investments are making up for a prolonged period of underinvestment.”
Dealing with disruption
Change was a central topic at the conference – in particular, uncertainty about the pace and extent of change to work, technology and population.
As Craig Rispin, Business Futurist and Technology Guru at The Future Trends Group, explained, the ability to obtain and analyse data will be key in the years ahead.
“Data is the new oil, and artificial intelligence (AI) is the new oil,” he said – since the ability to collect data means nothing without the ability to analyse it.
By 2028, he shared, the world will be far removed from the one we live in today. Fifty per cent of jobs will have been replaced by machinery, the majority of cars will be driverless, and six in ten people will be living in cities – with one in three aged over 100. The significance, he said, is businesses cannot expect to continue to keep working the same way while the world changes around them.
He pointed to the rise of the start-up culture as one risk to established companies, with organisations such as Airbnb and Uber enabling individuals to do what entire companies used to do. While competing with new, lean rail start-ups, the industry will also have to remain mindful of advances in emission-reduction technology in trucks, allowing them to travel from Melbourne to Sydney in one charge, recharge and head back again. “Be part of the future,” said Rispin. “Or try to avoid the inevitable.”
Port partnership
For ports to handle the incoming onslaught of freight, they will need to increase their reliance on rail, shared Jonathan Lafforgue, General Manager – Operations and Environment at NSW Ports.
“The 2016–2017 ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) Stevedore Monitoring Report came out [in early November 2017], stating that Port Botany is now Australia’s largest container stevedoring port,” said Lafforgue. “While we welcome that news, we’re more excited about the potential capacity we’ve still got in our port to grow – right now, we’re handling a little under 2.5 million TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) per annum. The port itself has the capacity to grow to 7.5–8 million TEU– meaning we have enough key lines, berths, and land behind that to facilitate that volume of freight.”
He noted that the only way NSW Ports will be able to put that much freight across the key lines of ships is by getting 40 per cent of containers on rail. “Right now, we’re proud of the fact that it’s about 20 per cent – but we need to double that to reach that next-level capacity.”
The majority of Port Botany’s freight is regional rail at present, and 80 per cent is delivered within a 40km radius of the Port.
“To get to that next step, we’ll need to start targeting the import freight, rather than the export freight – and to do that, we’ll need the intermodals,” said Lafforgue.
One voice
According to Priscilla Radice – Principal and Australasian Business Leader at professional consultancy Arup, the privatisation of Australia’s ports has had an unexpected effect on the conversation around freight in the country.
“With the privatisation of the ports, I don’t think anyone predicted how strong a voice [ports would] have,” said Radice, adding that their input in creating a strong supply chain is key, since ports are mode agnostic. Now, privatised ports are contributing to the conversation.
Radice noted that oppositional conversation about freight in unhelpful, especially in the government space.
“Having worked alongside governments, looking at light rail, passenger rail, road and inner-city shaping policies, I see that the oppositional speak of freight – road versus rail, freight versus commuter – I don’t think [it] helps,” she said. “Governments are shifting more and more towards city shaping, understanding their current ecosystem – they need the freight industry to provide a coordinated ‘one’ voice that is very clear […] so the supply chain does not happen in isolation.”
Radice advocated a holistic and united approach to infrastructure planning, noting that rail freight will always have to jostle for its slice of the pie after passenger rail.
“NSW Ports, your target of 40 per cent freight on rail is potentially in direct conflict with the densification of population along freight lines,” she said. “Look at what the freight piece is in the wider context for cities – you’ll never beat the commuter push. Governments need to know that the population is going to double, by getting smarter around all the technology freight will be what that looks like in terms of its infrastructure. You can’t continue to be oppositional.”
The rail freight industry has been handed an opportunity to prove itself viable as an alternative to road transport, though the years ahead will not be free of challenges. Key will be industry development focused on remaining competitive, speakers noted, whether that be through the development of intermodal freight terminals, sophisticated route planning and tracking technology, autonomous capabilities or otherwise.
With the nation’s rail experts already strategising for the various unknowns, the rail industry could be on the right track.

CMC CartonWrap makes peak season distribution a breeze for

Packaging manufacturer Abbe Corrugated finds the perfect solution to help keep up with demand in the busy season.
When e-commerce organisation set out to purchase new packaging system, productivity and efficiency were key considerations. The company processes over 10,000 orders each day, from its distribution centre that holds over 40,000 products ranging from beauty items to grocery goods. During the Christmas rush, the operation can process as many as 17,000 orders in a single day.
“It was crucial for us to find a reliable machine capable of working fast and reducing waste and damage,” said Saar Davidi, Distribution Centre Manager,
Packaging manufacturer Abbe Corrugated recommended the CartonWrap machines from Italian on-demand packaging machine manufacturer CMC Machinery.
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“The machine is just fantastic,” said Davidi. “It 3D-scans the item or items to be packaged and makes a box to the exact size required, so we’re not sending air. With other machines, we can specify variable box height, but CartonWrap creates a box with the ideal length, width and depth.”
Eliminating void has enabled to reduce the number of forklift movements, Australia Post unique loading devices (ULDs) and truck loads taking place each day.
In addition to producing a box optimised for its contents, the machine can also drop the items in, insert marketing materials, seal the box and affix the shipping label.
“In one hour, it can prepare around 800 to 850 orders for sending,” said Davidi. “We do have box-size-optimisation machines with a throughput of 500 to 600 packages per hour, but that’s for same-sized-footprint boxes with variable height, where we have to manually place and arrange the order items inside the correct footprint box, a task which substantially slows the process.”
Davidi added that the CartonWrap has enabled the company to work substantially faster. “Every 3.6 seconds, the machine can induct an order,” he said. “Then, the creation process takes between 12 and 20 seconds, but it’s continuous – this machine is the fastest I have come across.
“We were looking for a carton optimisation machine for a while until we came across the CMC machine, as far as I know, there isn’t another machine out there that can do the same – it simply doesn’t exist.”
The structural integrity of the boxes produced by the CartonWrap has also impressed, Davidi explained. “The construction of the box is solid – the way CMC designs its boxes is stronger, so we can send orders of up to 15kg,” he said.
CartonWrap was recently installed in’s Truganina, Victoria, distribution centre, the culmination of a year-long project between the online retailer, Abbe Corrugated and CMC Machinery.
“We are so delighted to have facilitated the right solution for Catch with the optimum automated packaging equipment,” said Daniel O’Sullivan, Sales Director, Abbe Corrugated. “We have fostered a great partnership to date and understand their business needs. It’s by no means a set and forget, we will continue to provide them with consistent quality and service they require.”
“Abbe’s packaging engineer came and spent time in our distribution centre before we bought the machine. He saw the volume we deal with and showed how the CartonWrap machine could reduce the volume of what we send by 30 per cent,” said Davidi. “Abbe helped me do my homework before buying and were always very communicative.”
After purchasing the machine, Davidi visited CMC’s factory in Italy to see’s own machine being manufactured.
“I flew there with a suitcase full of problematic products – round, shiny, heavy, odd shaped, and so on,” said Davidi. “I wanted to put the machine to the test, to see if it would do what it was supposed to – it did not disappoint. In our factory testing we were averaging around 900 boxes an hour.”
Since the machine became operational in the Truganina facility, it’s been running volumes through “beautifully,” Davidi explained.
“I would certainly recommend the CMC CartonWrap,” he said. “Everything is working as it should. Yes, we had some teething problems but, dealing with CMC and Abbe has been a pleasure – they really back up their project.”
He shared that he has known CMC for 15 years and therefore has confidence in their ability and craftsmanship, confidence that has then extended to the company’s chosen distributor in Australia.
“I know CMC is good, and have found that Abbe is a very hands-on business with family values,” he added. “It seems like we made the right partnership with the right companies.”
Francesco Ponti, CEO of CMC Machinery, noted that CMC is proud to serve the right-sized packaging needs for “Catch is undoubtedly one of Australia’s leading e-commerce companies,” he said. “We are delighted to be its preferred packaging technology partner to leverage its daily process and improve operating efficiency.”
Marco Mozzaorecchi, Manager – APAC at CMC Machinery, added: “Our partnership with Abbe allows both companies to provide Catch with timely support and service, and best-in-class technology for any future development and requirements.”

Saar Davidi, Distribution Centre Manager and Daniel O'Sullivan,Sales Director, Abbe Corrugated.
Saar Davidi, Distribution Centre Manager and Daniel O’Sullivan,Sales Director, Abbe Corrugated.

About Abbe Corrugated
Abbe Corrugated is a manufacturer and supplier of packaging that includes corrugated cardboard boxes, cartons and similar products. It is located in Coolaroo, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia.
Abbe has demo centres of Panotec’s Automated Box Making equipment located in VIC, NSW & QLD. Contact Abbe for an onsite demonstration.
About CMC Machinery

CMC has served the global mailing, graphic arts and packaging markets since 1980 and has built a reputation for developing innovative solutions. This penchant for quickly understanding customer needs and responding with creative design engineering has won CMC much acclaim from its customers around the world. CMC on-demand packaging solutions can deliver strong, personalised and safe boxes and bags that ideal for e-commerce, logistics and POD companies.
About the CMC CartonWrap
Launched in 2013 by CMC Machinery, the multi-award-winning CMC Cartonwrap 1000 is the market-leading, automated, right-size boxing solution for clients. The system scans the physical size of products to be boxed and creates, fills, labels and prints boxes as required, to deliver a fully automated delivery solution. Automated workflow and right sizing remove cardboard wastage, void fill and haulage of fresh air within oversized boxes. The system integrates with clients’ warehouse management systems (WMS) to track the item from machine induction to despatch through the supply chain.
CMC CartonWrap is now being installed in the largest e-commerce fulfillment and delivery sites worldwide as well as print on-demand and photobook companies.
About is Australia’s favourite place to shop online, where people go to find everything they want and anything they need. It stocks over 50,000 products from all of the biggest brands at the lowest available prices, everything from beauty and fashion items to grocery and tech products. will soon hold a tour of its distribution centre, at which retailers will have the opportunity to see their operations (including the CMC CartonWrap) in action: more information.

Linde helps Paramount Liquor keep warehouse costs down

Privately owned on-premises liquor wholesaler, Paramount Liquor, has made large-scale use of refurbished Linde Material Handling forklifts to help minimise costs in a highly competitive industry.
The family company competes successfully in a market contested by major local and overseas players.
Paramount Liquor founder Mark Rowe has seen plenty of competitors in the on-premises wholesale liquor business fail over the last three decades, but his business has succeeded and expanded.
One of the key decisions Mark has made in the last 18 months has been to rely on refurbished Linde forklifts and reach trucks. The business now has 30 of them at its Melbourne and Sydney warehouses.
“We don’t lease anything,” says Mark. “We own everything we’ve got, including buildings.
“My experience has been that maintenance costs on the used Linde equipment we run still come in below what our outgoings would be to purchase or lease new equipment.”
Mark adds that the company constantly adapts to the marketplace in order to outperform its competitors. “As a family company Paramount Liquor has the advantage of rapid decision-making – the buck stops with me,” he says.
“I always strive to reduce my costs so if I am offered a good deal on refurbished equipment, as I always have been with Linde, I’ll go for it.”
Paramount Liquor has built its reputation on a commitment to service and reliability, so looks for those characteristics in its own suppliers, Mark explains.
“We have a good relationship with Linde,” he adds. “They understand our business and provide us with refurbished forklifts capable of handling the workload we place on them. Given their reliability and quality in our circumstances, we consider that we get best possible value by purchasing refurbished equipment.”
Paramount Liquor purchases used Linde forklifts under 10 years old, and generally with around 6,000 to 8,000 hours on the hour meter. Often, the refurbishment process includes provision of a new battery.
The company’s 16,000sqm Melbourne warehouse runs a mixture of 30 Linde electric forklifts and reach trucks operating at high tempo in a wide-aisle environment, with racking up to nine metres high. A smaller Sydney warehouse also runs used Linde equipment.
Refurbished Linde trucks stack up
“Our demands are very straightforward,” says Mike. “We look for good reliability and equipment that is easy to use. We are always busy, but we work around the clock four days per week. At those times, we use opportunity charging and we have never had a problem with our Linde trucks running out of charge.
“Over the years, we have looked at other forklift brands, but we’ve never had reason to change since switching to Linde. They suit our purposes. We keep each of them until they reach the point that they are no longer worth repairing.”
Mak adds that the company has a strong relation with Linde. “Whenever we need equipment I call Linde,” he says. “They’ve come to know our business, know what we want and have always been able to source it for us. When we have had need to call Linde technicians they have appeared promptly.”
Linde notes that it manages its relationship with Paramount Liquor not simply in an order-taking role, but by anticipating and understanding Paramount’s needs and by offering solutions that give the expanding wholesaler the power to choose Linde products that will suit it best.

Find out more about Linde pre-owned forklift solutions.

Parkes National Logistics Hub

Parkes Shire Council is releasing further information about the opportunities available at its national logistics hub.

You may remember Parkes Shire Council from its cheeky video back in May 2017, bidding for Amazon to choose the area for its first Australian distribution operations.

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