Case study: Innovation in Freight Transportation

Australia has a significant challenge ahead to meet its future freight task, with this task predicted by the 2011 Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) Report 123  to almost double between 2010-2030.  With the overwhelming dominance of road transportation of the non-bulk market (more than 78 per cent), the pressure in meeting this challenge will be felt by road transportation and its associated infrastructure.
It is likely by 2030 that the road transportation industry will require more than an additional 70,000 articulated vehicles to meet this demand.  The BITRE also predicts that although road transportation productivity (based on average vehicle loads) will increase by less than five per cent, compared to around 40 per cent over the prior two decades, the transport needs will still increase significantly.
With this massive increase in vehicles what impact will there be on the ability of road transportation to maintain its service levels? Will governments and industry be able to provide sufficient investment for the maintenance and delivery of infrastructure? And what about the other modes of rail and sea, what investment will occur in the next 15 years to deliver significant productivity gains?
Along with new technologies that can assist existing modes to further increase productivity, perhaps now is the time to also look at new freight transportation modes that don’t require significant infrastructure.
I am seeking the assistance of people based in Australia with supply chain/logistics experience to complete a 10 to15 minute online survey in the aim to collate a broad sample of the value decision makers place on the different qualities of freight transport modes.
A new mode of transport, cargo airships, are being examined as part of this research and whether they can assist in meeting Australia’s future freight task and associated infrastructure challenge.
By completing the survey you are contributing to the assessment of this new mode, which could provide greater operational flexibility and lead to new distribution models.
To fill out the survey, click here.

Why the mining industry needs weighbridges

Having a solid, reliable weighing system in place is essential for operational efficiency, cost control, regulatory compliance, and revenue management of all mines. Visit any quarry or mining site and it is easy to see why weighbridges are indispensable to the industry.
Weighbridges utilise advanced technology to provide accurate and precise weight data. Having more accurate weight data means you can keep closer track of your inventory, obtain precise measurements of incoming and outgoing materials, and minimise wastage onsite. Weighbridges provide legal-for-trade weight readings, helping you record weight data for legislative purposes and any reporting requirements.
Weighbridges can be customised to provide the best solution for your site, no matter how your operation works. They can be installed at ground-level, above-ground or in-ground, with all kinds of sizes and capabilities available on the market. Many manufacturers also offer various accessories such as boom gates, remote displays and traffic control lights.
Weighbridges are heavy duty, able to weigh reliably and accurately, even in tough environments and adverse weather conditions. The provision of accurate weighing data helps you ensure payload accuracy, improving operational efficiency. Weighbridges also enhance worksite safety, as there is no need to unload materials because the weight data is recorded as trucks are directly positioned on the scale.
Weighbridges can improve profitability for operators in the mining industry in multiple ways. Having more accurate weight data enables operators to load vehicles to their maximum capacity – but still avoid overloading fines. One of the biggest benefits weighbridges offer is that drivers can complete weighing transactions at any time without even having to leave their vehicles. Thanks to modern advancements like driver-operated docking stations, automatic number place recognition, and entry and exit barriers, it’s possible to create a completely unattended system. Since the weighbridge can function without a dedicated operator, operating costs are reduced and operating hours are extended.
Weighbridges come with user-friendly software that automatically stores weight data. It’s possible to download the data to analyse site operations, monitor inventory, fulfil batching tasks, vehicle control, and a host of other uses. The software can often be integrated with word processing, spreadsheet and accounting programs, making invoicing and reporting an easier job. Having this wealth of information in real time can help mining operators monitor costs, improve efficiency, control wastage and increase profitability.
Ultrahawke is a provider of weighbridges and truck scales. They supply high-quality, Australian-made weighbridges with both analogue and digital load cells, and digital weight indicators.

How to prevent warehouse accidents

Within the logistics arena, there are a myriad of scenarios where safety can be compromised. In a highly controlled environment like a warehouse, accidents are still highly likely to occur and even more so if the cargo stored consists of hazardous goods. In the US alone, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicated that across the United States, there were over 150,000 people working in warehouses across the country. So if one considers the immense amount of cargo movement all across the Asia Pacific region, these numbers would easily surpass the US.
With the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and mining sector growing rapidly, 3PLs have had to increase their agility in terms of turnaround times. The result is a surge in workload in this region, which in turn creates a simultaneous focus on the safety and ergonomics in the warehouses. This then brings about key concerns centring around operations involving lifting actions, vehicular movement and electrical functions, or a combination of all.
Forklifts, electrical and wiring, hazard communication, exits, mechanical power transmission and respiratory protection are just some of the hotspots identified by Safework Australia over the years that can be applicable to a warehouse just about anywhere. Thus it would be bad for the business if an employer ignores these elements that constitute a good and safe work environment.
Infusing the mindset of the integration of a pro-active approach to the management of safety, providing due attention and budgets on injury prevention into corporate culture would go a long way in reaping productivity and efficiency in the facility. Nobody would be looking forward to a 3PL version of Deepwater Horizon.
Safety guidelines in most industrial facilities are mandatory especially when it comes to hazardous materials. Attention needs to be given to liquid spills, which should to be cleaned as soon as possible because the exposure to workers is very high and can cause many problems so fixing damaged equipment is paramount. Preventing or reducing the chances of injury can be as simple as optimising procedures to manage the physical layout of the warehouse, reduce walking times and making sure access to equipment and material is easy.
In the Asia Pacific, German chemical producer BASF utilises its own Warehouse Safety Assessment (WSA) tool – a standardised questionnaire designed to assess the quality, safety and environmental management systems of third-party warehouses. The trained safety adviser will be responsible for undertaking these WSAs. At the end of each review, corrective and improvement actions will be discussed and agreed between the assessor and the assessed company.
In the packaging arena, containers have been undergoing a redesign because of the introduction of weight limits on containers. On paper, this will look to provide easy access to the product and reduce the stress due to lifting.
Replacing wooden pallets and corrugated boxes to reusable plastic containers will reduce or stamp out the possibilities of injuries. The key is to reduce the bending, reaching, and pulling associated with the tasks in warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
Looking for ergonomic options that increase the comfort of the operator when choosing a new forklift or automation technology for your warehouse will likely see higher productivity together with improved health and energy levels. The assist devices for moving containers could also include vacuum lift machines that use a vacuum of air to grip and lift boxes, or even computer-controlled assist devices that are sensor guided and can make fast, automatic adjustments for accurate container placement.
Manual handling has seen a steady recently as there has been a shift towards the investment in automation of order picking – especially forklifts. For the sake of efficiency these machines are designed for heavy lifting in distribution centres (DCs). Looking at the downside, without proper training and instruction, they can also cause injury to persons and damage to property so manufacturers of this equipment have been looking at ways to prevent these outcomes occurring. One tip is to invest in impact shock switches, which automatically switch the vehicle off upon any collision.
Models by leading forklift producers Junghenrich, Crown and Toyota offer impact resistance, which has increased up to threefold combining aluminium and cast iron in the manufacture, helping the trucks to cope with the normal bumps and scrapes of everyday applications. Linked suspension castors have been fitted to provide maximum load and truck stability on any surface.
Let’s not forget that workers in a warehouse also exert themselves on strenuous ergonomic activity that stress the body, which offers up risks such as repetitive motion strain and other potential injuries. The only way around this is education even if employees should be able to identify tasks that may involve higher risks in the warehouse. Employers need to be proactive and identify tell-tale signs of the symptoms of discomfort.
It is important that employees should ensure that any incident, accident or symptom be reported to their supervisor so that the appropriate measures can be put in place. Following this, the management has to give the appropriate attention to these incidents with documentation for follow up and action.
In Australia, with workers being aware of their rights to a safe work environment, plus the increasing insurance coverage of workers in a workplace, a safe warehouse environment will ultimately see that important cost savings are maintained with increase productivity and reduced equipment downtime.

Majority of Aussies want self-driving cars

Seven in ten Australians want a self-driving car to take over when they feel tired or bored and just under half already recognise autonomous vehicles will be safer than a human driver.
The inaugural study coordinated by the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (ADVI) and its academic partners surveyed more than 5,000 Australians aged 18 and over.
The findings showed 82 percent of Australians are said to find that driverless vehicles will provide greater mobility for people with driving impairments and just under three quarters (73 percent) wanted an autonomous car to transport them when they feel physically or mentally unable to drive manually.
“It’s just under a year since ADVI led the first trial of autonomous cars on Australian roads, and fully driverless vehicles aren’t yet even available to the public, but the Australian public is already quite advanced in its thinking,” said lead researcher, Professor Michael Regan, Chief Scientist-Human Factors at the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB Group). “ADVI’s preliminary findings show the majority of the Australian community is already willing to trust self-driving cars in situations where they don’t feel capable to drive or when they would simply rather not because it’s boring or they’re in traffic.”
Regan said the fact that a quarter disagree driverless cars will be safer, and a quarter remain undecided, highlights the importance of continued community education by governments and industry to ensure the safety benefits are communicated and individual incidents don’t delay their safe introduction onto Australian roads.
Interestingly for vehicle manufacturers, the research found that more than half (62 percent) of Australians think they shouldn’t need to pay more for autonomous technology; but of those willing to spend more, they would invest an additional AU$8,977 on average for a fully-automated car.
Other outcomes included:

  • 76 percent agreed they would want to use a driverless vehicle when they were tired or fatigued
  • 69 percent would rather a driverless vehicle take over when driving was “boring or monotonous” and 60 percent when there was traffic congestion
  • 61percent said they would prefer to hand over control to a self-driving car when they felt uncomfortable driving manually, but only 25 percent said they they’d use a driverless car to pick up their kids
  • The most likely activity Australians said they would spend their time doing in driverless cars was observing scenery (78 percent) followed by interacting with passengers (76 percent)
  • 52 percent would use the time to rest but only 28% said they would be likely to sleep in a driverless car
  • Many Australians are also keen to make their daily commutes more productive with 36 percent saying they would spend their reclaimed driving time doing work


How will transport succeed in a ‘higher expectation’ future?

How will transport look in the future? Will people and governments ever accept driverless b-doubles careering through city streets? Will we see flying delivery vans? Near-instant drone deliveries, or delivery by particle beam, Star Trek-style?
Change won’t be smooth. Driverless trucks might be available, but the regulations will take some time to catch up. Innovations raise serious questions about safety and security, which will become political as the regulators and the public weigh up the pros and cons.
Rather than focus on what might be coming, we need to step back and consider the principles which will drive future developments.
The big picture tells us transport is often a source of great angst in the supply chain, as it’s one of business’s greatest costs. It also tells us that both B2B and B2C customers are becoming more savvy, and have growing expectations.
Our ability to succeed in this ‘higher expectation’ future will come down to applying timeless principles of successful delivery transport: the ability to offer efficient, personalised service.
We need to continually ask: are we able to meet or even surpass the consumer’s expectations? Already, supply chain innovation from global behemoths such as Amazon are having a knock-on effect across many industries. We all need to put ourselves in the mindset of the ‘want-it-now’ shopper.
Innovations such as next-day or half-day delivery, or parcel delivery tracking, become a standard expectation. Can same day delivery become same-hour delivery? If consumers come to expect it, we will need to figure it out.
A key principle is that the wrong transport option affects a product’s cost viability to market, and the customer experience, which determines future sales. This applies to driverless vehicles, drones or standard delivery methods. If driverless trucks require a babysitter driver for safety reasons there may be some efficiency gains regarding fewer accidents and better fuel efficiency. But will there be big savings? How do we measure the performance? No matter what the method, you need a mentality to continually question and analyse to get results.
Unfortunately, many organisations fall over at the first step – not fully understanding their transport costs. Many variables need to be accounted for. While technological tools are available, the knowledge to use these tools to their potential is often missing. Without this crucial starting point, it’s difficult to keep tabs on how your transport costs can be reined in and performance improved.
Greater efficiency and responsiveness are keys, which means better flexibility across the supply chain. Technology also plays a key role. In transport, we are seeing supply chains across the board benefit from telematics and RFID technology to track deliveries – QR codes are good for inventory and protecting against lost or misplaced goods, and play a big role in customer service by automatically updating customers on a parcel’s delivery status. It’s now a standard expectation among both B2B and B2C customers.
In a quest to become more efficient, we can expect more data-driven decision-making. New technologies such as blockchain, a distributed ledger system, may introduce greater transparency and security for contracts.
You don’t necessarily need to be first to the market and take undue risks. But you do need a finger on the pulse to understand the changes and be open to new ways of doing things.
We can expect refinements in areas aside from technology, including more specialists in the market, more collaboration with clients, 3PL providers being more integrated and accountable, and collaboration between specialist suppliers across the supply chain. This may include insourcing specialist teams, which include back-up personnel for when you have absentees, or when you need to increase resources quickly. This might include working un-traditional hours to increase delivery efficiencies, or re-evaluating whether outsourcing the warehousing, transport and other supply functions is better than doing it in-house. While insourcing is nothing new, it remains underutilised.
With more pressure to be faster and traceable, and the competitive pressure of global markets encroaching on traditional local areas, companies will increasingly avoid running an entire end-to-end service themselves. Partnering with the correct suppliers who specialise in areas of the supply chain will be just as critical to a client’s success in the future as it is now. The delivery method (plane, drone, train, truck, driverless car or pushbike) is still inefficient unless the cornerstones such as correct processes, systems, management and KPIs are in place.
The good news is that many of the solutions that make you more efficient are becoming more accessible. Insourcing a dedicated transport team makes you more responsive, and gives you more flexibility with costs. Telematics technology is now available to everyone via smartphone, whereas previously it was only accessible to the larger freight companies.
A healthy supply chain benefits business like a healthy cardiovascular system benefits an individual. It’s inseparable from business success. Whether the crucial transport delivery happens via flying van or particle beam will be fascinating to see.
Walter Scremin is general manager of national transport provider Ontime Group

How supply chain management affects a company’s risk management strategy

External volatilities and natural disasters such as hurricanes, extreme weather, and political unrest can cause significant disruption to businesses, often with devastating impact.
Consider environmental change as a factor: natural disasters have already caused major economic losses in vulnerable, developing regions such as Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, and we estimate that by 2030 the annual global economic cost of natural disasters could be as much as AUD$479 billion.*
Terrorism, conflict, and political instability are other potential causes of supply chain disruption. The character of conflict is changing and is often unexpected, resulting in increased disruption. According to the DHL Resilience360 risk management platform, civil unrest is a major risk in more than 30 percent of all countries, while the number of incidents related to terrorism have increased by 59 percent (even outside the Middle East) compared to the first half of 2015.
Incidences of digital risk are also on the rise. While the world benefits from technological innovation and advancements, the by-product of this progress is cyber risk, which can come in the form of data breaches and hacker attacks.
So what role does the supply chain play in helping to manage these risks? Research from the World Economic Forum reveals that large disruption to the supply chain is likely to impact a company’s share price by 7 percent on average. Not only are there explicit financial losses caused as a direct result of supply chain disruption, but supply chain disruption also affects a company’s reputation, as confidence in the business is likely to decrease. There are a number of functions that must play a role in the development of a company’s risk management strategy, from enterprise risk management to cyber risk management. However, the supportive backbone in an overall risk management strategy will always be an effective, resilient and well-managed supply chain.
Getting ready to face disruption
For many large-scale engineering and manufacturing businesses, the supply chain plays a central role throughout operations. It must be protected, and each company should also prepare for the external factors that could negatively impact the supply chain. The current design paradigm of a longer, leaner supply chain could prove to be a burden in the future. Therefore, from the planning stage of any project, it is important to assess risks and prepare for them by implementing contingency plans. Equally important is the insistence that suppliers have appropriate contingency plans in place. Increasing supply chain visibility is a core element of this – visibility makes it easier to understand where products are, how shipments could be disrupted, and what must be done to mitigate for this.
Understanding and predicting supply chain risks
Supply chain risk management works best when companies have the earliest possible notice of potentially disruptive incidents. Data analysis is a key element. By analysing past data, E&M businesses can develop a better understanding of what risks they might face at any given time, and ensure they are protected in the future. Communication across business functions means that data can be centralised and analysed most effectively, helping companies to predict risk. Collaboration across business functions should always be encouraged. E&M companies should run simulations on their supply chain processes as well so they can identify pressure points and predict how these might have an impact in future.
Managing a crisis
Despite a company’s best efforts, sometimes it is inevitable that disruption will impact the supply chain. What is important now is that businesses put their planning into action. Employees need to react quickly but carefully, and the business must communicate clearly both internally and externally with its partners. If the business has prepared well and used robust data to predict the potential of risks in the supply chain, overall impact on operations will likely be reduced.
Ultimately, businesses will never completely avoid disruption but if they prepare they can potentially reap rewards. Companies that get supply chain risk management right have a strong foundation on which to develop their overall risk management strategy. With it, they can often gain advantage by filling the gaps left by their less-agile competitors. By investing in more resilient supply chains, E&M businesses will not only reduce the impact of disruptive events, they will also have the potential to boost overall business performance.
*DHL Engineering and Manufacturing 2025+):

Why Hanjin's ships are stranded around the globe

The collapse of South Korean company Hanjin Shipping has left ships, cargo and crews stranded around the globe. It highlights the complex consequences of a shipping company going bankrupt, with Hanjin’s creditors and customers waiting to see whether the business can be saved.
Hanjin Shipping Co is one of the world’s top ten container carriers, operating some 70 liner and tramper services, transporting more than 100 million tons of cargo annually. Its fleet consists of some 150 container ships and bulk carriers.
Increased competition and Hanjin’s own high debt levels have led to its demise, as it struggled to adapt to changes in the market. Demand for shipping has fallen since the global financial crisis, at the same time as technology has started to produce larger mega-ships. Over capacity is one major problem.
Container operators are also increasingly constrained by competition laws in the US, the EU, Japan and more recently, China. It is a scenario playing out among other shipping companies in what appears to be a major readjustment of the size and operations of the world’s shipping fleet.
The company’s financial woes have caused it to seek protection from its creditors through Korea’s corporate “rehabilitation” laws. This is similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. This is where the insolvent debtor restructures the debts it owes to creditors, according to a rehabilitation plan, while the company continues its operations.
Under South Korean law, the plan must be approved by the creditors and the court and it is then implemented by a nominated receiver. The receiver is now in charge of Hanjin’s operations, and its ships, worldwide.
In the meantime the chairman of Hanjin Group has transferred 40 billion South Korean won to the company to help unload cargo stranded on the its vessels, but regulators have warned securing further funds could take “considerable time.”
Ideally, the plan will give Hanjin sufficient breathing space while the receiver restructures its business into perhaps a leaner operation, or one in which others, including creditors, may take a financial interest.
Ships are unusual assets for a receiver or liquidator to deal with. A shipping enterprise can be extensive geographically – with ships at all points of the world, and difficult logistically – with those ships at various stages of cargo handling. A range of other players – the owners of vessels chartered to Hanjin, and bunker (fuel) suppliers and port agents in many different countries – all add to the complexity.
Typically, a liquidator takes possession of the fixed assets of a failed business – land, plant and machinery – assets that stay put and can be located and secured. While some of those assets may be overseas, shipping collapses invariably involve the application of cross-border insolvency laws.
Ships travel from place to place and can be hard to find and secure. Maritime law is unique for that reason; for example, the ship’s crew have a direct claim on the ship itself for their unpaid wages – a maritime “lien”. They can have a court marshal board the ship, to arrest and secure it under a court order.
Arrest involves the marshal attaching an arrest warrant to the ship’s cabin or mast, and taking steps to prevent the ship leaving its mooring. This right of a crew dates back to the days when unwanted and unpaid sailors might find that while on shore leave at a distant port, their employer, the ship owner, sails off.
Others also have rights to arrest a ship at various ports around the world, this is happening right now with Hanjin. The South Korean receiver will be resisting these arrests of Hanjin’s ships.
However one of the fundamentals of bankruptcy is that ordinary unsecured creditors owed money have to wait in line for the receiver to decide how best to deal with the insolvent business. This includes realising assets to pay and what can be paid in way of dividends to those creditors – in many cases only 10 cents in the dollar, if they are lucky. Some maritime liens and other claims give the relevant creditor a “secured” claim, one that is paid out first before the ordinary creditors.
It appears that the South Korean receiver Mr Tae-Su Seok is applying to various courts around the world for orders to challenge what may be secured claims. Well developed international cross-border insolvency laws will help him access to foreign courts to obtain orders protecting the ships in that jurisdiction. At the same time, he will be looking for funds to try to keep any profitable parts of the business going.
The shipping world is waiting to see how and whether the Hanjin rehabilitation succeeds. Other major collapses, for example in Korea with Pan Ocean and Korea Line Corporation, have resulted in creditors’ claims being considerably compromised. In these cases only a certain percentage of debts were repaid and over a period of time, or creditors took equity in the shipping company.
Given the state of world shipping, that outcome may occur here. The shipping industry suffers from an inherent inflexibility in responding to changing economic conditions. There may be a decline in demand for certain goods, leading to a drop in shipping rates.
A shipper taking delivery of a new vessel some long time after it was first commissioned may be left high and dry in finding that there is a much reduced demand for its services. On the other hand, a shipping company’s leaner world fleet may find that it does not have sufficient capacity when trade conditions quickly change.
While ships will always be needed, shipping is finding increased competition from air freight services, transporting many goods – food for one, and technology consumables – unsuitable for longer shipping delivery times. Demand for the latest iPhone 7s, or fresh fruit, would call for overnight air freight, rather than weeks. Pirate incursions are another current risk.
Still, the huge capacity of ships will never be offered by flight and this remains a major advantage. Ship design and technology is also improving – computer guided “crewless” ships are on the horizon. But shipping remains a business subject to the vagaries of international trade and economic conditions.

Mr Ryan Eagle, Partner, Ferrier Hodgson, Sydney, provided assistance in writing this article.
The Conversation
Michael Murray, Fellow, Queensland University of Technology
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Examining Lagging Friction

Does your lagging optimise your convey’s performance?
Flexco chief engineering 
Brett DeVries explains: 
Conveyor lagging has long been used to both protect conveyor pulleys and to increase the available friction for driving the conveyor belt. A primary consideration in the choice of lagging is the coefficient of friction.  Designers use the friction coefficient in the pulley wrap factor equation to calculate the drive capacity of the conveyor, so the behavior of lagging friction under real world conditions is of extreme interest. 
 Through advancements in research and testing, lagging is available in various designs with differing stated capabilities and strengths. As belt technology innovates with increasing tensions and more power delivered through the drive pulleys, a correct understanding of the source of friction – a primary consideration in the choice of lagging – is necessary.
Pulley lagging is available in a myriad of styles and materials.  The most common types are autoclave rubber, sheet rubber, strip rubber, and ceramic imbedded in rubber (CIR).  All exhibit different coefficients of friction by nature of their design, creating a confusing choice for the conveyor designer.  Some established design charts for friction exist like those contained in CEMA’s Belt Conveyors for Bulk Materials 7th Ed., and the DIN 22101 standard, but they are generalised, come from best practices, and assume a constant coefficient of friction.
In contrast, values published by lagging manufacturers may vary significantly from the charts.  Additionally, there is no standardised test for determining the lagging friction coefficient or an industry standard for applying a safety factor against slippage. So how does one decide which is the best choice of lagging for their conveyors?
Testing, testing, testing
The engineering team at Flexco, as part of their continuous efforts to improve not only their lagging solutions, but the lagging’s performance with other belt conveyor components, developed a test apparatus for measuring lagging friction in which friction coefficients are measured under uniform pressurised loading using a tensile test machine.  Applied pressures range from 5 to 100 psi, including some measurements to 120 psi for various lagging types.
Five different types of cold bond strip lagging were measured to find the coefficient of friction versus increasing pressure. Test conditions were also varied.  Each lagging type was measured under conditions termed “Clean & Dry”, “Wet”, or “Muddy”.
Determine a way to measure the friction 
The test fixture was designed to be used with a standard 50kN tensile test apparatus.  The test fixture used floating pressure plates that are guided by track rails along the bottom edge.  Belt samples are secured to the pressure plates such that the bottom covers of the belts face inwardly towards each other.  Between the pressure plates is the steel shear plate with lagging samples bonded to it.
The design of the fixture uses Newton’s principle of equal and opposite force reactions to assure the load is equivalent on each side.  The pressure plates are substantially thick to prevent flexure.  There is a load cell located between the large airbag and the first pressure plate to measure the applied load.
The tensile tester has a load cell attached to the shear plate via pin connection on the protruding tab. The effective area of the steel shear plate is 64 square inches.  The airbag is capable of applying loads in excess of 6400 pounds, allowing for measurements to 100 psi if the entire area is used.
The test procedure consisted of placing the shear plate between the pressure plates.  Air pressure was then applied and allowed to stabilise to the proper reading.  Next, the crosshead translated vertically upward at 50.8 millimetres per minute for a distance of 6.35 millimetres, while data was recorded regarding the position of the crosshead and the vertical load measured.  While the data from the pressure load cell was not dynamically recorded, it was observed from the digital display that it did not vary during the test.  Each test set was a unique combination of conditions (clean & dry, wet, or muddy), lagging type, and pressure and was repeated five times. Compressed air was used to blow off debris or dust generated during testing.
Analyse Stage 1 results 
The classical representation of the friction force between two solid objects is that there exists a static coefficient until the start of motion, which then quickly drops to a lesser value know as kinematic friction.
The lagging in these tests behaved differently.  The measured extraction force vs. displacement curves do not contain a local maximum force with a rapid decay to a lower value as would occur in classical friction.  Upon visual inspection, it was clear that there had been movement between the lagging and the belt samples, so the absence of a transition was not due to insufficient applied force or displacement. This indicated non-classical friction behavior.
This led to the question of how to measure a friction coefficient at all, since the pull force had not yet stabilised even though slip had clearly been observed. <Insert Figure 3: Pull force vs. Displacement, 60 psi, plain rubber lagging, clean & dry conditions.>
Another aspect observed was that a doubling in the pressure was not resulting in a doubling of the extraction force.  See Figures 2 & 3.  This violated classical friction theory which states there is a constant coefficient of friction, which is independent of pressure.
After additional research was done regarding the dynamics of a belt traversing a pulley with a 180° wrap, 6.35 millimetres of crosshead movement was selected as the measurement point for the lagging friction coefficient.
Analyse Stage 2 results
Using 6.35 millimetres of crosshead movement as the threshold for developing friction, the coefficient of friction vs. pressure test results of each combination of lagging type and conditions were graphed.  Exponential curves were fit to the data to allow for automated calculation of the coefficient of friction.
The curves showed a general downward trend in coefficient of friction as the pressure increased, except for the medium and full ceramic lagging samples.  For these, it was observed that the coefficient of friction peaked at 30 psi.  It is inferred that this is the requisite pressure for the 1mm tall surface nubs to fully engage with the belt.  After the peak, the ceramic plots all trended downward like the other samples.
Using the fitted exponential curves, it was possible to consolidate several of the lagging types onto one graph to illustrate the relative friction performance.

  • Clean & Dry – conditions were as optimal as possible. The lagging and belt were in new condition.
  • Wet – conditions are dew-like. Water was sprayed onto the lagging with a trigger sprayer until water dripped from the lagging.  This data does not represent lagging that is hydroplaning or immersed in water. 
  • Muddy – samples were painted with an Illinois basin coal fines slurry. The slurry was a mixture of clay and coal particles of unknown distribution. Ratio by weight was 3:2 coal fines to water. 

Discuss the results
These results showed a strong dependence of lagging friction on pressure.  In practice, pressure arises from the belt tension wrapped around the pulley.  Where p = 2 x T/(BW x D), we see that wrap pressure is a function of belt tension.  Since drive pulleys remove tension and thereby, pressure, from the belt, the results show that the coefficient of friction is changing as the belt traverses.
Applying the results
So what should a conveyor designer do? The new data suggests the reason the pulley wrap factor equation has worked is because of generous safety factors in the assumed friction coefficient, especially at pressures below 70 psi.  However, since available friction is pressure dependent, it is difficult to know the actual safety factor and correct results are not assured using this equation when pressures increase.
Ideally, the equation would be modified to include pressure-dependent friction. However, an analysis shows it cannot be solved by conventional means.  An approximation method must be employed.
Utilise an approximation method
Friction force is usually expressed as coefficient of friction multiplied by a normal force.  Normal force is distributed over the apparent area of contact and could be expressed as a pressure. So, pressure multiplied by the coefficient of friction is the friction force per unit area between the two apparent areas, otherwise known as shear stress.  Conceptually, this could be considered the grip or traction that the lagging has on the belt.
Graphs (Figures 7-9) were made showing the theoretically available driving shear stress.  Curves were created from multiplying pressure by the measured coefficient of friction equations.
As the pressure increases, the available shear stress increases, but at a diminishing rate.  The graphs suggest maximum grip for each of the different lagging styles. This is predicted by the origin of the friction force. Friction force arises from adhesion in the areas of true contact between surfaces. True contact area is much less than the apparent contact area for most substances and can linearly increase with increasing pressure. But not rubber. Since it is homogenous and soft, true contact quickly approach apparent contact area. If the true contact area is approaching the apparent contact area, and friction is the result of adhesion forces between the surfaces, then there will be a limit at the maximum shear stress value those adhesion forces can sustain.
From a practical standpoint, the goal of the conveyor designer is to assure the belt will be driven under all foreseeable conditions.  One method to achieve this is to use a safety factor.  Once the effective shear stress required to drive the belt is known, it can be compared against a theoretical maximum available value and a design safety factor calculated.
It should be noted that there are three ways to increase the safety factor.

  • Increase the T2 This can be an inefficient way to improve safety factor in some cases since the available shear stress increases slowly at higher tensions.
  • Change the lagging type. Full ceramic lagging showed the best performance for pressures exceeding 50 psi.
  • Increase the pulley diameter or wrap angle to increase the contact area. Pulley diameter plays a pivotal role in driving the belt as compared to the pulley wrap factor equation.  With the new method, traction is being increased by placing more lagging area in shear due to the extra circumference generated by a larger diameter.

This improved method for calculating conveyor drive capacity is based on the induced shear stress at the interface of the belt and lagging.  It originates from measured coefficient of friction data and a modern understanding concerning the origin of rubber friction.  It provides the designer with improved accuracy and confidence.  Gone are the assumed coefficients of friction that do not match measured data.  The improved method also captures and quantifies two intuitive concepts: there is an upper bound for frictional adhesion and larger pulley diameters have more traction.
A consequence of this approach is the potential for the designer to avoid excessive T1 tension by increasing the pulley diameter or adjusting the lagging type.  Since T1 tension commonly guides the selection of the belt minimum tension rating, reducing it may save on belting costs.  Depending on the length of conveyor, large savings may be possible by selecting a lower tension rated (and less expensive) belt and choosing instead to invest in a larger diameter pulley and ceramic lagging.

The Rise and Rise of Terminal Operating Systems

It’s no secret vessels are getting larger, cargo is becoming more varied and complex, and throughput at ports and terminals is increasing. At the same time, competition is becoming more fierce and customers are demanding more. All of these factors are putting intense pressure on terminal operators to do more, more accurately and more efficiently.

The situation has led an increasing number of operators to seek more control over their business by deploying a terminal operating system (TOS).  A TOS sits at the operational core, allowing a port's complex mix of cargo movements to be handled and controlled more efficiently. It gives the business a competitive edge by providing increased agility along with a boost in productivity across the operator's entire organisation.

In-house or commercial solution?

Any organisation considering deployment of a TOS has two options: develop a solution in-house or purchase a specialised commercial system. 

One of the problems of in-house developments is the exposure to risk.  TOS solutions are often developed by just one or two individuals within the IT department.  If either individual leaves, there is a high risk that essential knowledge about the system – information necessary for its maintenance and further development – will be lost. In these circumstances, how will you deal with the need for system improvement, modifications or interfaces to future applications?

In contrast, commercial TOS vendors continually develop their products to keep pace with changes in technology, legislation and the industry, for without constant improvement, their offerings soon become uncompetitive.

What to consider when selecting a TOS

Just as every terminal has its own requirements, every TOS deployment is different.  The areas you give precedence to will depend on your individual situation. However, one of the best places for any organisation to start is by understanding your current landscape, particularly your business model, people and processes, as well as the part you play in the wider supply chain community.  

Understand your Business Model

If you want a more efficient port and a TOS is key to achieving that, you need to find a solution that really fits your business, rather than attempting to “make do” with a generic TOS.

Major considerations are likely to include the type and volume of cargo you currently handle, the type and size of ships your port can accommodate and your vision and plans for future growth.

Look for flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. While you may be comfortable with your current situation, market and industry changes could force you to re-evaluate your goals and objectives, causing your business model to adjust accordingly.

Determine functional requirements

Having addressed macro-level business needs, it is time to think about the more functional aspects of your operation.  Consider whether other areas of the business, such as a depot or warehouse within the terminal, could benefit from the functionality provided by a TOS.  Think about the potential for any current or planned use of mobile applications, optical character recognition (OCR) and radio frequency identification (RFID). 

Understanding your business model allows to you to build a clearer picture of your organisation’s current landscape, your vision for the future, and the tools and processes required for success.

Supply Chain

A TOS is not just about your own organisation – it is your entry ticket for involvement in the wider supply chain. There are a variety of stakeholders and areas of interaction where your TOS needs to be the hub of activity and co-ordination. Shipping lines, transport hauliers and customs are just a few examples of the agencies and organisations reliant on clear communications and interactions with your terminal.

Therefore it is essential to check in advance that your TOS is capable of connecting to partner systems and can make the appropriate data available to the relevant decision-makers within the supply chain.

People and Processes

When it comes to processes, don't just think about your current situation.  Be clear about how they may change in the future.

The TOS vendor should be able to assist you with this, as well as provide guidance on the flexibility of the TOS with respect to meeting your requirements. Your aim is to strike the right balance between making changes to the process itself, or customisation of the product, whichever makes the most sense to your organisation.

Never forget that while processes are necessary to drive the business, people are the keys to your success. Any form of change can be unsettling for staff. They need to adapt to new ways of working and deal with uncertainty and disruption to ‘business as they know it’. Involving users as early as possible and providing clear communication about changes will help to mitigate any resistance and increase the likelihood of successful adoption.

Knowledge makes for more successful decisions

Addressing the key elements of business model, people and processes, and your supply chain in advance allows you to build a picture of your current positioning, to pinpoint where you would like to be in the future, and identify the changes you need to make to get there. Armed with this information, you'll be well-equipped to select a system that is scalable enough to grow with your business and the wider supply chain community.

Kaustubh Dalvi is the director of sales for Jade Logistics.

Freight Needs Equal Consideration

Much has been written and said since Malcolm Turnbull’s rise to power, about the Federal Government’s role in our cities. There is universal agreement that unless there is a renewed focus by all levels of government to improve our cities’ transport infrastructure, our economic prospects will inexorably suffer.

Chief amongst these is Infrastructure Australia, which warns in its National Infrastructure Audit that growing congestion threatens to cost Australians $53 billion by 2031 as the population increases to 30.5 million.  Infrastructure Australia also reminds us that the economic contribution of our major cities will increase by 90 percent to an input of $1.6 trillion in 2031.

From the perspective of the logistics industry, greater Federal Government focus on the workability of our cities is a positive step.  It has the financial muscle that many state and territory governments simply don’t have to invest in projects to improve the economic efficiency and liveability of our capitals.  Similarly, the development of policies that pave the way for greater private sector investment in infrastructure projects is strongly encouraged by industry.

But in the rush to extol the virtues of government investment in trams, buses and rail links in our cities, the need to invest wisely in key logistics projects to improve supply chain efficiency has been somewhat overlooked in the national debate. As attention turns to the crafting of the next budget, it is essential that the Government gives equal consideration to the movement of freight as it does to the movement of people.  In short, any new federal approach to moving people should not be at the expense of supporting supply chain projects to move freight.

Too often, freight is seen as an inhibitor, rather than a creator of wealth, prosperity and opportunity in Australia. But the fact is the health of our cities and our lifestyles are inextricably linked with national supply chain efficiency.

There needs to be greater integration between urban planning and freight planning to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past that restrict supply chain efficiency.  In practice,  urban encroachment, a lack of buffer zones, and a tangle of passenger and freight rail on the same lines are all symptoms of a lack of attention to the needs of freight.

Ensuring there is a strong approach by governments to freight is imperative for three key reasons.

The first, Australia’s rising freight task. The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics predicts Australia’s freight task will double between 2010 and 2030, and likely to triple by 2050.  Unless there is targeted investment focussed on connecting our sources of wealth with our domestic markets and international gateways, our cities will inevitably suffer.

The second is the economic windfall from improving the efficiency of our national supply chains.  A report by ACIL Allen and ALC found a one per cent improvement in efficiency of our national supply chains will yield a $2 billion-a-year benefit.  It provides the evidence, if it were ever needed, that inefficiencies in the industry will cost Australia dearly unless all governments continue to focus on improving the efficiency of our supply chains.

The third is to maximise the economic benefits that can be achieved through recent trade deals, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Maintaining and enhancing efficient national and international supply chains is a fundamental component of any international trade deal, such as the TPP, and will help to ensure Australian businesses receive the full benefits of this and other important international agreements.

These economic realities underscores why ALC is encouraging Government to ensure there is clear responsibility for supply chain efficiency and freight in the new ministerial arrangements. It is critical there not be duplication or overlap between these ministerial responsibilities, particularly as they relate to major freight projects.   Freight cannot fall between the cracks, particularly when it comes to responsibility for major infrastructure projects.

The logistics industry looks forward to Infrastructure Australia’s 15-year Infrastructure Plan, due later this year, to provide this high level infrastructure blueprint, and to deliver the framework Australia needs to facilitate the more efficient movement of freight across our national supply chains. 

Michael Kigariff is the managing director of the Australian Logistics Council.

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