Supply chain and mobile warehousing in one

The challenge of loading and unloading shipping containers involves a balance of efficiency and safety.

On the one hand the container must be well-packed to maximise cargo space, but the loading crew must be mindful that at the other end of the journey another crew must unload, and this is not without its hazards.

As usual with a manual handling job, there’s 1001 ways a worker can wind up injured, all the way up to horrific and fatal crush injuries.

Quite apart from the obvious safety concerns, unloading a well packed sea container can be a very difficult job.

Using a Franna, there’s a lot of crane movements in a confined space, which burns a lot of fuel and presents challenges to the rigger and crane driver to get the job done safely and in a timely manner.

Presenting at the inaugural CeMat exhibition in Sydney last month, Australian logistics solutions company Seabox International has devised a sea-container loading system that reduces loading and unloading times, swaps the Franna crane for a forklift, and all but eliminates manual handling hazards for the crew.

Seabox International managing director Shaun Moore worked closely with representatives of resources construction contractors CBI Kentz to develop a system that would improve the productivity and safety of one of Australia’s largest offshore construction projects, the Gorgon Project.

Named the CROWS (Container Roll-Out Warehousing System), implementation of this system has resulted in massive productivity gains for the construction contractor CBI Kentz.

CROWS is a stackable, roll-out storage system designed for use in sea containers, 20 or 40 metres long.

The system allows any kind of cargo to be safely strapped down into platforms, which are stacked and rolled inside a shipping container for transport.

On arrival at the destination the container can be opened and have the platforms rolled out safely using a forklift.

Everything from large pipework to vehicles c an be transported using the CROWS.

Research and Development

With a background in designing and manufacturing purpose built logistics platforms, Seabox knew how to deal with the challenge laid down by CBI Kentz, to ensure their organisation of parts and material would not impede the progress of the job.

One of the key constraints faced by CBI Kentz was the minimnal footprint allowed for the materials laydown yard.

Gorgon Project materials and logistics manager Rob Lowe said the environmental concerns specific to Barrow Island prevented the usual approach to assigning space for a laydown yard.

“The island’s Class A Nature Reserve status had created additional challenges during construction,” he said.

“The State Agreement under which Gorgon operates limits the land available to the Project which means the total construction footprint, including laydown, is very small for a project of this scale.

“The introduction of the CROWS has increased storage space on Barrow as it allows four racks to be safely stacked on top of each other.”

The key to the success of the CROWS development was one of a collaborative effort between Seabox and CBI Kentz, one which did not fit the bill for a traditional procurement.

Andrew Constantine said the CROWS project, visualised by CBI Kentz, was one they needed to get right in a very short space of time, and for that reason necessitated finding a short cut to the process from innovation to procurement.

“First of all [in a conventional procurement] you identify the need, you develop a business case, specifications, develop and execute that tender plan, you hopefully get a contract, and that’s where the real risk starts, for the supplier and the client,” Constantine said.

“You go through a design, test, and evaluation process, and then you’ll go into that project management, fabrication delivery phase, and that’s the complex phase, that’s where you’ve got to pool your resources… and you’ve got to have your project team in there from the very start.”

Constantine knew that the constrained time frame of a construction project was not the ideal situation for procuring a new innovation, but in this case necessity had to become the mother of invention.

“What we found on this project was that we didn’t have the time to go through that full process to get this system out,” he said.

“We had to come up with an abridged process that would achieve the change during the life of the project.”

“It seemed like the materials and logistics team could be the ones to hold up the project schedule, and at the time it looked like we were going to be that team that would be the weak link.”

In order to increase the efficiency of the materials operation at Gorgon, Constantine was already familiar with a logistics platform built for military purposes by Seabox, but it needed some crucial changes made.

First of all the design needed to meet the strict quarantine requirements enforced by Chevron on Barrow Island.

“We needed to get rid of all the nooks and crannies, we needed to have that sealed up from an environmental point of view for quarantine purposes on the island, so any gaps were filled up so that every part of the CROWS could be easily inspected for contamination or vermin,” Constantine said.

In addition, the CROWS had to be stackable to be used for warehousing purposes, and at present CBI Kentz uses the CROWS system for warehousing both under cover and outdoors, with the system stackable to four high.

It also needed to be designed for more loading points, so that unusual or regular shaped items like pipework could be tied down in different ways as the load demanded.

“To achieve that we made sure it had a full bar along the side of the CROWS for tying down,” Constantine said.

“But above all things the chief concern was the safety of crews unloading the containers. Now we don’t have anyone going inside containers, and we have reduced crane movements onsite.

“This goes a long way to reducing the risk of pinch points in manual handling, the crush injuries that can be extremely damaging.”

Now the Gorgon Project boasts a world-class materials laydown and warehousing facility, all achieved through an innovative logistics platform which works within a minimal footprint, with principle focus on productivity, safety, and environmental concern.

Are you breeding customers or victims?

When was the last time something you ordered didn’t show up? Can you remember the frustration you felt?  The anger that surfaced when what was promised wasn’t delivered – made even worse if that in turn prevented you from fulfilling a promise you’ve made to someone else.  You are powerless.  A victim of someone else’s failed system.

We can talk delivery statistics all we like but at the end of the day when an order isn't delivered on time, or is wrong for whatever reason, there is a very human outcome; we turn a perfectly good customer into a victim. You are as powerless as any other victim of circumstance and feel equal measures of frustration, anger and betrayal.  And as a victim, you are very unlikely to come back for more of the same treatment. 

Inventory applications often boast about their ability to deliver a wide array of key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics or measurements.  But to the customer that is sitting waiting for a delivery that never happens, or opens a box of goods that wasn’t what was ordered, there is really only one metric that matters:  Delivered In Full and On Time (DIFOT).  

DIFOT gives a very clear indication of the quality of your service provided to customers.  It confirms whether your customer has received the right stock at the right time, in line with their expectations.  At face value, it provides a measure of wether you have the right stock on hand at levels to meet order requirements.

 But DIFOT is so much more than a measure of inventory availability, it is a measure of an organisations ability to successfully bring together all of its line functions and suppliers to meet customer demand – each and every day! Most businesses fail to achieve 100% DIFOT not because they don't care, but because they don't have the capability to ensure all the critical factors required to guarantee delivery are in place.


Inventory is more than counting stock

Most inventory software easily supports picking, shipping, prioritisation and visibility; many do that extremely well as it is their single purpose in life.

It's not until you get to predictability and forecasting that the options begin to narrow dramatically as it takes a really good, fully integrated inventory system to help you anticipate future inventory needs. This is where a business can obtain real cash flow and service advantages, and really make a difference to your DIFOT (Delivered In Full and On Time) statistics – but it is a far more complex task than simply knowing what's in the warehouse. 

Anticipating customer needs and order patterns requires knowledge of activity outside the warehouse including information about purchasing and future order patterns to ensure appropriate lead times for replacement stock and avoid out-of-stock disasters.

Without real-time production, ordering and sales updates from your business system, it’s difficult to achieve any real improvement in customer service. When standalone Warehouse Management or Inventory System projects are put together, much of the effort, cost and risk are associated with building these critical interfaces back to the core business system. For many such projects, this is often a point of pain, if not outright failure – with an integrated system it is simply business-as-usual functionality.

Taking an enterprise view

Customers today expect your business will understand and anticipate their demand. When they approve a quote, they expect the order will be fulfilled on time, regardless of how long they sat on the quote. This means it is imperative to ensure linkages between CRM and quoting systems, to allow the inventory management system to obtain a three-to-six month advance view of likely order requirements – right down to individual line items.

For these reasons, inventory management software must be considered an essential and imbedded component of the overall business system.  Far from simply existing in its own space, inventory software must be capable of real time data sharing with key systems across the business.  And the easiest way of achieving this is with a single, fully integrated, solution that can help you to effectively manage your business delivery against your customer’s expectations.

Most customers will accept if you can definitively tell them when an out-of-stock item can be delivered.  It is your inability to answer their questions with any certainty that raises alarm bells. I find it incredible the number of relatively large businesses still working on an end-of-day batch system environment that blindly accept that they will get a certain percentage of orders wrong.  Many of the customers we work with in a Greentree environment believe that anything less than 100% DIFOT is unacceptable, simply because they know it is achievable.

All of the systems that feed your supply chain create these inter-dependencies. It’s only when you have true intergration across your purchasing systems, production, delivery, and resourcing that you can start delivering to your customers’ expectations, with good real time forecasting being the icing on the cake.


But at what cost?

Collaboration and visibility at all points in the supply chain is essential to achieving dramatic improvement in efficiency and customer service. There is an increasing importance placed open real collaboration with supply chain partners. Invariably, the businesses that perform best today are those that successfully manage their role in the greater supply chain.

 Many organisations are now opening up their systems to provide critical partners with visibility into stock and forecasting to ensure that their partners are able to predict their needs.  These businesses understand that in a collaborative world, if they can add value to their suppliers business and take costs out of the supply chain, all parties stand to share in the benefits not to mention the improvement achieved in SIFOT (Supplied In Full and On Time).

But this can't come at any cost.  You still need to turn a profit, so you equally need to manage the cost of supply, production, delivery and resourcing while delivering to your customers’ expectations and service levels. Full integration gives you the reporting power to ensure you are getting your pricing and margins right.  You can test out scenarios that take into consideration shifts in the cost of raw materials, petrol, labour costs or foreign exchange and how that will play out across your business.

Stand-alone, best-of-breed inventory applications will undoubtedly deliver improvement in your warehouse. But if you are looking at implementing a profound and sustainable level of improvement to your business and customer service performance, then you need a lot more. Selecting an integrated ERP system with a very strong inventory management component, will ensure that you are not only breeding satisfied customers but continuing to build a sustainable, profitable and growing business to boot.  

Rob Sheldrick is the Business Development Manager at Greentree Partner, GT Business Solutions.

The Voice of Reason: Hands Free in Cold Storage

Australian 3PLs and the food retail businesses they supply are all too aware of the need to ensure in-store stock levels are maintained. However, it is not uncommon to come across an empty shelf or freezer in a supermarket. At times, this can be linked to unsupplied stock due to warehouse discrepancies and challenges presented while delivering goods through the cold supply chain.

Perishable food products must be transported and stored at chilled temperatures to ensure they meet government food standards. Within medical environments, chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs must be stored and transported within specific temperature settings to maintain quality. Therefore an unbroken cold chain, meaning an uninterrupted series of storage and distribution activities maintained at a given temperature range, is of paramount importance to many industries across Australia.

Importantly, and what some Australian 3PLs and the retailers they work with are still not fully appreciating, is that just as coats, hats and gloves are essential for workers to function in cold storage areas; it is vital that the technology being used in these challenging materials handling environments is fit for purpose and supports workers throughout the order fulfilment process.

Standard retail-grade devices don’t perform at adequate levels when confronted with cold storage situations. LCD screens can freeze up, barcode readers will not function if frost or condensation covers their optical ports, and mobile computing batteries won’t release energy when temperatures drop below certain levels. These challenges contribute to situations whereby distribution centre (DC) pickers may resort to manual data entry – which severely reduces productivity and increases error rates – just to ensure that product tracking is occurring.

The cold, hard facts

Operating in cold storage environments requires technologies that offer workers the freedom of movement needed to complete their tasks efficiently in challenging situations. Voice picking technology is ideally suited to cold storage settings because it offers a hands-free, eyes-free, rugged design for increased productivity in cold operating environments.

Many warehouses have learnt the hard way that using paper-based picking and some hand-held computer or scanning technologies can lead to inefficiencies and inaccuracies in the cold chain picking process. This is due to the specific challenges faced in common product sorting and picking tasks due to both low temperatures and the protective clothing workers are required to wear in such settings.

When using paper-based systems in a cold storage setting, workers often find that even straightforward activities like writing on a piece of paper is very awkward and slow, if not nearly impossible, given they are often required to wear bulky gloves and clothing to protect themselves from the cold conditions. This means that pickers either have to remove their gloves when writing on order forms or try to complete vital product delivery forms without a proper grip on a pen, which can lead to incomprehensible writing and result in goods being shipped to the wrong customers.

With Voice technology, workers have both hands free to make the picks. Since they are not looking down with Voice, they can also continue to move while receiving instructions. They do not have to stop their walking or driving to read from paper or a screen improving their operational efficiency.

While there are a number of handheld scanner and mobile devices designed to withstand cold temperature operating environments, these are not without their operational challenges for warehouse workers. Keying vital product and delivery information into a mobile computer wearing gloves, even if they are larger keyed devices, is an enormous challenge – along with the fact that the worker constantly has to shift their line of vision between the mobile device in their hand and the product they are looking for.

The Voice terminal is typically worn comfortably under an operator’s coat. The Voice system also has noise-cancelling features that filter out high levels of noise from the fans and compressors blowing in cold temperature buildings. As a result, workers are comfortable and extremely productive.

A cool change

Pickers are usually not solely confined to cold environments and their job often requires them to roam in and out of refrigerated environments. This worker, if equipped with a mobile computer, would need a specialised solution (i.e. a mobile computer equipped with big buttons for use with gloves) which could potentially make things difficult back on the warehouse floor. And the dramatic swings in temperatures these workers experience as they move from the warehouse to the cold storage environment can lead to standard retail grade scanners and mobile devices seizing up. 

Alternatively, a Voice solution which is specifically built to operate in cold storage environments can be used across all warehouse functions by simply capturing lot or serial information, therefore eliminating the need to have separate solutions for different areas of the warehouse. Additionally, Voice systems overcome the need for specialty attributes, such as larger buttons, on hand-held computers. 

In a difficult working environment, it is essential that cold storage operators have the best tools for the job. Voice solutions improve worker productivity in cold storage environments – improving traceability, enhancing order accuracy and speeding up shipping times – while also being adaptable and applicable to other warehouse situations. 

Frozen berries scare reminds of need for traceability

The recent 2015 frozen berries case is not the first food safety incident of its kind and it won’t be the last. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Product Safety Recalls Australia website there were 75 recalls of food and grocery items in 2014 alone.

The latest incident was preceded by other high profile cases including the Hepatitis A outbreak allegedly linked to semi-dried tomatoes in Australia in 2009, and the contamination scare that triggered a recall of Fonterra products that may have contained whey protein in a number of countries around the world, including China and Australia, in 2013.

Initial detection of the cause of a foodborne virus outbreak or food contamination is clearly an issue for the food regulators to review and address as part of the Food Standards Code.

According to FoodLegal, experts in Australian and international food law, “It appears that little has been done to improve the situation for preventing an outbreak of food-born Hepatitis A in foods in Australia in the period from the last major outbreak, which occurred in 2009, until the latest outbreak in 2015.” Source: “Hepatitis A and food testing: What lessons were learned by governments from last time?”, 10 March 2015.

These food safety incidents have also identified an inherent gap in the current traceability systems we have in the Australian food chain today.

To help prevent these food contamination outbreaks from reoccurring in the interests of public health and safety, we need to examine the learnings from these incidents and explore the opportunities for improving traceability and supply chain visibility.

Product visibility and traceability through the supply chain

Following the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident involving Fonterra, The Dairy Traceability Working Group was established in New Zealand. 

Recent reports released by the Dairy Traceability Working Group outline the most appropriate regulatory provision for the traceability of dairy products and the development of a code of practice to guide the dairy industry in implementing these requirements.

It is important to note that recommendations of the working group will also be considered for all food sectors, not just dairy.

The working Group’s proposed regulatory requirements include:

·         End-to-end traceability from farm to consumer using the “one up, one down” system (tracing back where product has come from and tracking forward where product has gone), with particular reference to participants in the supply chain having access to Recallnet – the voluntary product recall online portal administered by GS1

·         Future consideration of implementing EPCIS (EPC Information Services) – a GS1 standard that enables trading partners to share information about the physical movement and status of products as they travel through the supply chain from business to business and ultimately to the consumer. EPCIS is an international tool that enables seamless end-to-end traceability.

GS1 standards to protect the Australian food chain

To protect the security of the Australian food chain and the safety of consumers, the implementation of GS1 standards will allow for better visibility of product, up and down the supply chain at all times. By using GS1 standards, the recalled products will be able to be traced quickly and efficiently back to the source of origin.

Traceability is all about tracking any food through all stages of the supply chain from the source of raw materials, additives and other ingredients through to production, processing, packaging and distribution, including importation and retail.

Effective traceability enables food businesses to specifically target the product(s) affected by a food safety problem, thereby minimising disruption to trade and reducing potential public health risks.

GS1 standards exist today to encode data such as batch/lot numbers, use-by and best before dates and other product attributes at all levels of packaging from bulk materials to single produce items and finished goods.

Recall communication plan

Traceability is an important part of an organisation’s product recall management plan.

“Not having effective traceability processes can often lead to delays in actioning a product recall. This is one of the leading causes of incidents escalating into a crisis,” said Maria Palazzolo, Chief Executive Officer at GS1 Australia.

“The ability for a company to successfully track and trace their products through their supply chain and retrieve them from the marketplace is a key component to protecting the safety of the consumer and protecting the brand.”

The speed and effectiveness with which a recall is communicated to retailers and government authorities has implications for not only consumer safety, but a firm’s business reputation.

A detailed and well thought out recall communication plan is therefore an essential business tool for any company.

With GS1 Australia’s Recallnet, issuing a recall or withdrawal notification is simple, fast and inexpensive. Recallnet is a centralised online portal designed to streamline the management of product recall and withdrawal notifications. Distribution of a recall using Recallnet facilitates significant improvement in the speed of notification to stakeholders.                                  

Based on global GS1 standards and best practices, Recallnet simplifies and automates the exchange of information between suppliers, distributors and retailers as well as government agencies such as FSANZ and the ACCC.  

Implementing GS1 standards

Technologies including barcodes capable of encoding and capturing much more than a single product identifier through all points in a supply chain, allowing for greater product traceability have been in existence since 2005 but have not been adopted by industry.

Thirty-six years ago, Australian retailers adopted the GS1 System of barcoding and numbering as their preferred standard for trade.

GS1 Australia will coordinate a working group with industry support to discuss the adoption of traceability technologies to identify the costs and benefits to brand owners and the industry, and develop a road map for implementation.

“GS1 Australia has assisted Australian food and beverage businesses in improving their ability to track and trace their products up and down their supply chains by implementing GS1 standards,” added Mrs Palazzolo.

“We work towards helping industry create a seamless supply chain, allowing Australian companies to adopt world’s best practice supply chain management techniques.”

GS1 DataBar – The one little thing that will have a BIG impact

GS1 DataBar is a new family of barcodes that are an open, global standard, just like existing EAN/UPC barcodes. They have a huge potential to transform the way retailers do business as they carry more information than the current GS1 retail Point-of-Sale (POS) barcodes. They can be used on small, hard-to-mark consumer products and fresh produce, enabling a piece of fruit to be scanned instead of being looked up on the system.

In the instance of the recent frozen berries scare – if the finished product had been barcoded with a GS1 DataBar, the product recall could have been much more efficient as it would have provided greater visibility about which consumers had purchased the product and which retail outlet had a particular batch that may have been contaminated.

For fresh produce, GS1 Australia and GS1 New Zealand are currently working with the Produce Marketing Association Australia-New Zealand (PMA A-NZ) to develop a roadmap for the implementation of a more effective produce identification and traceability system, including GS1 DataBar, for produce sold as loose or in bulk.

Australian retailers began a process of upgrading their store scanning systems to accommodate GS1 DataBar in 2006. Unfortunately, other priorities have pushed ahead of implementing this capability across their networks.

Pushing forward to the future

Polish machinery manufacturer Dressta has been an established player in the small to mid-range bulldozer market for some years in Australia, but now their sights are being set on the Australian mining industry. 
With Australian bulldozer market dominance firmly in the grip of Cat and Komatsu, breaking in with a European brand will be no easy task, but Dressta are looking to expand their services thanks to investment from a joint venture partnership with Chinese giant LiuGong Machinery, which now wholly owns the Polish company.
Despite the underrepresentation of the brand in Australian industry, Dressta claim unmatched performance in mining applications in many countries around the world, including coal mines in Poland, copper/gold projects in Uzbekistan, and nickel mines in the Philippines.
Global vice president of sales Howard Dale was pleased to showcase the LiuGong Dressta range at an open day in March at the company’s testing facility in Stawola Wola, Poland, near the Dressta manufacturing plant. 
There the media were invited to get up close and personal with the machinery, and even to drive the new equipment for themselves to get a feel for the cabin comfort and ease of operation of their flagship dozers.
“Our products features high productivity, proven reliability, they’re easy to maintain on site, and we offer our customers a flexible manufacturing arrangement which allows us to tailor products to their specific needs,” Dale said.
“Our manufacturing, administration, and engineering processes are all accredited to ISO9001, and here in Poland we’ve won many local awards for our design, engineering and for the quality of products we produce here.”
Dale also said Dressta has recently won the Polish Overseas Foreign Investment Award for the contribution made to the Polish economy by LiuGong’s ownership of Dressta.
In the past 12 months Dressta have also set up partnerships with Australian dealers and service providers Onetrak (Perth, Melbourne)and Terrequipe (Rockhampton), which will allow greater sales and service to customers around Australia.
“We’re very excited to have Onetrak as a new dealer, who came on board in quarter three last year, and their first products have just arrived, and we’re working with the dealer to enable them in terms of their market readiness to serve new customers,” Dale said.
On the subject of marketing in Australia, Dale said the Dressta range had several features which would be attractive in the mining market.
“Our number one USP is our two-speed track system in the TD-40, for ease of maneuverability, but the second is that we have the best return on investment as it relates to owning and operating costs, and we move product for the lowest unit cost,” he said.
“Also our drivetrains are modular, which makes maintenance very easy on site.
“One of the key features we want to retain as we continue our development of these machines is their ease of maintenance.”
Turnaround for track overhaul of the large TD-40 in the field was quoted at less than one day.
The Dressta range includes 42 models across five product lines: Bulldozers, loaders, backhoes, pipe layers and conveyor belt shifters.
Dressta’s bulldozers have a unique two-speed steering drive which allows for continuous transfer of engine power to both tracks, giving better performance for pushing full loads through the turns.
They also lay claim to “best in class” drawbar pull, as well as unmatched ripping performance with superb penetration in hard materials.
For specialist coal handling work Dressta offer blades for high productivity and optimal load handling capacities, with custom blades of 21m3 up to 47.5m3 in the TD-25E and TD-40E, the two largest models in the Dressta fleet.
These machines also boast comfortable cabins with excellent noise and dust resistance to ensure greater ease for operators working long shifts.
For industrial steelmaking applications Dressta bulldozers also come with a high-temperature pack designed for hot slag handling, which can also be applied to emergency work with coal mine fires to ensure maximum reliability under the most severe heat conditions.
These machines are fitted with heat resistant fuel and oil lines which are also protected by fire suppression systems which can put out any smouldering, as well as extensive guarding and high grade steel used for the blade and rippers, with capacity to work in contact temperatures up to 600 degrees Celsius. 
Dressta machines also come fitted with Trimble navigation systems designed to increase productivity.
Director of after sales service and training Jason Izzard said it was Dressta’s goal to have all machines leaving the factory fitted with Trimble systems within two years, making the machines much easier to use, as well as enabling real time fleet monitoring.
“The machines have to be fitted with systems so that you or I could jump onto the machine and begin to use it like an experienced operator,” Izzard said.
“Trimble gives the operator a screen which allows him to see what he’s moving, what he should be moving, what he’s actually moved, and it records production.
“It can send these details back to an office in Sydney or Perth, and then you know how much material a D11 working in the Northern Territory has pushed in the last hour, last day, or week.”
Izzard said it was key to modern operations in mining and construction to utilize real time information with regard to machine performance.
“Basically it helps to forecast when the job is going to be finished, assist with scheduling, and you can work out where to put more machinery; it’s an excellent system, and we’ve recognised that need,” he said.
“We’ve chosen to partner with Trimble because they’re very active, they came to us, and you’ve just got to have it, especially if you’re putting machines into a hire fleet.”
Dale said there were two levels of Trimble readiness, the first being machines built with adjustments for harnesses in the system so that Trimble can be fitted as an after-market, plug-and-play scenario, but the preferred level will be machines with factory-fitted Trimble systems, ready for online operation at sale.
“In terms of the mining markets the application of telematics comes into its own for measuring machine availability, understanding service schedules, and as it relates to operations it’s going to be about calculating cubic metres of material loaded into trucks, the amount of product being hauled, so this will improve the efficiency of minesites through the sharing of data.”
However Izzard also pointed out that Dressta is well experienced with custom tailoring machines to customer needs, and that if not needed the Trimble systems can be left out of the equation.
But the immediate focus for the future of Dressta lies in the small to medium class bulldozers, currently aimed at the North American and Canadian markets.
Awaiting launch in third quarter 2015, the newest Dressta machines are small-range models (including the TD-9R) featuring the Hydrostatic Drive, which offers a vastly increased level of manoeuverability.
The technology has also been developed for mid-range bulldozers such as the TD-14 and TD-20, which are suited to smaller mines, construction projects, and specific jobs on large mining operations such as clean-up around wash plants and moving dragline cables.
Izzard said the hydrostatic system started for Dressta during their joint venture with Komatsu between 1992 and 2005, and was extremely popular in the TD-8, TD-9 and TD-10 machines in North America, however further investment was required to take development to the next level, which was facilitated through the purchase of Dressta by LiuGong.
The key to the hydrostatic system is that it improves on standard bulldozer steering (where one track is braked to turn in that direction) by incorporating hydraulic pumps which feed directly to the power train for each track, as Izzard explains.
“Hydrostatic system involves having a hydraulic pump attached to the back of the engine, there’s no gearbox, it’s a variable displacement hydraulic pump, and on the tracks you have two motors,” he said. 
“So there’s a lot of variation. The motor on the back of the engine, you can choose how much oil it delivers to each side, and depending where you have the motor set on each track, the amount of oil you feed into it will give it speed, and you can vary the speed by the motor. So you can have an infinite variable on each track, rather than simply on and off. On the smaller machines used for landscaping and civils, operators want to be able to get the machine to push effectively at any variable. 
“The hydrostatic system allows infinite control via the tracks jut by moving the lever fractionally.
“To go faster they alter the speed from the pump, and for more power the pump will feed the maximum amount of oil to the slowest motor speed which gives you the maximum amount of push.
“If you’ve got a light load, you use the fastest motor speed with the lightest pump action because it saves fuel.”
Therein lies the benefits of the system, giving the operator so much more control in terms of manoeuverability, with all settings computer controlled to respond from hand controls, translating to massive fuel savings, ease of operation, excellent performance, which in turn leads to increased productivity.
Dressta have also implemented a medium scale hydrostatic system for the TD-14, TD-15 and TD-20 called Diff-Steer, based on earlier developments by Cat in the 1980s.
“It’s going to allow the operator a similar sort of manoeverability as the TD-9R in larger machines,” Izzard said.
“That’s the future, that’s where we’re going to be. It’s what we’ll be talking about this time next year.”

Software keeping tabs on your tools

At the core of every efficient logistics site or operation there is a complex network of people, processes and equipment all of which need to be performing at optimum levels to maintain business advantage in a highly competitive market-place.

Therefore, anything that makes life easier for staff, that automates repetitive manual tasks essential to business outcomes or that ensures equipment is maintained for optimum performance and maximum lifespan has the power to deliver genuine bottom line benefits.

A new state-of-the-art tools management application developed by Australian-based asset tracking software and services vendor, Hardcat, has recently been released to a rapidly expanding global customer base.

Hardcat Tool Manager provides organisations with full visibility and control over their entire tool inventory through optimising the management of large and small tools of trade.

It facilitates better tool utilisation and helps to lower stalled productivity that may arise from tool losses and/or breakdowns.

By ensuring that all tools are tracked over their full lifecycle based on key data such as how, when and by whom they are being used, Hardcat Tool Manager discourages mis-use by employees because they automatically become more accountable for the tools they are using.

It also supports best practice tool management by using automated notifications to ensure that warranty claims or calibration and maintenance events aren’t missed.

According to Hardcat managing director Dan Drum the new Hardcat Tool Manager suite allows organisations to know exactly where their tools are, who has them, when they are due back and what they are being used for.

“In organisations where accountability of tools and equipment is essential, Hardcat Tool Manager lets you to know exactly where all your tools and equipment are, where they have been, and who has been responsible for them at any given time,” Drum said.

“Better lifecycle management of full tool inventories has been identified by business process engineers as a simple and effective method of improving bottom line business performance in industries where large and small tools represent significant capital investment.

“This product was developed in close consultation with several of our global asset management customers in the logistics, engineering, resources and energy production sectors who wanted a specialist system to manage their tool inventories.”

Hardcat’s Tool Manager works by tagging all tools using barcodes, Direct Part Marking or RFID tags while also generating detailed records for each staff member and external contractors.

Hardcat Tool Manager allows companies to structure and categorise their entire tools and equipment register within the core module and at the same time collect, track and report on a wealth of information about each piece of equipment.

Information held against each item can be accessed and sorted by virtually any field. Each item in the database can have as many as 10,500 associated fields.

The solution is extremely scalable accommodating companies with a few hundred tools to those with several hundred thousand tools.

“Our system is built for better transparency on tool usage, efficient notification of events such as scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and producing reports that provide genuine business value on the utilisation of tool assets,” Drum said.

“It allows for the automatic scheduling of common tasks or templates and automatically issues work orders for maintenance, inspections and calibrations on all tools and equipment.”

Hardcat Tool Manager is also platform agnostic which means that it can be used by SQL, Sybase or Oracle databases, and the Hardcat Smartphone app, Micat is available for Apple or android mobile devices allowing dynamic tool management to happen in the field and on job sites.

Collected data can also be directly exported to broader ERP applications such as SAP.

Unions: part of the solution, or part of the problem?

Since the 1980s, Australia, like many industrialised countries, has experienced rising inequality and growing concentration of income, wealth and power. Within the workplace, there are major concerns about working hours, work intensity, work-life balance, pressures on women, “overemployment” and underemployment, demands on employees for flexibility, insecurity, micro-management of time and managerial efforts to control “culture”.

Upward redistribution of income and power has accompanied the spread of “market liberal” or “neoliberal” policies in most industrialised countries – without any distinguishable improvement in productivity to justify it.

In this grim context, are unions part of the solution, or part of the problem?

Unions and the problems of the past

Through much of the 20th century, unions’ high membership and industrial and political strategies gave workers – both members and non-members – substantial gains, helping moderate or reduce inequality.

In the 1990s, though, what had worked well for unions (tribunal advocacy and doing politics with the ALP) became a liability in a context where employers and governments became belligerent and the workplace, not the tribunal, became the centre of wage determination.

Membership declined. To varying degrees unions sought to reorganise, devoting more resources to the workplace and training of workplace delegates. This boosted influence in some workplaces but the environment remained adverse. A rare but major success was the Your Rights at Work campaign against the Howard government.

Now the problem?

Although the decline was stabilised by the early 2000s, membership failed to grow sufficiently to match workforce growth, so union density (membership as a proportion of the workforce) continued to ease. If unions were once part of a solution, their situation now is a barrier to redressing the growth in inequality, and hence is part of the problem. Increased inequality in several countries has been linked to fallen union density. Few Australian unions have been fully transformed and it is important not to understate the magnitude of changes now demanded of them.

Australian unions are in a weaker situation than during the Accord of the 1980s and early 1990s. Competition for “rents”, generating a spiral of unemployment and inflation, had prompted the Accord as a solution. These days rents are still being extracted, but by different groups – extremely high income earners, top managers and directors of large firms, and some financiers.

By the Rudd-Gillard years, unions were relegated to just another lobby group. They maintained links with the Labor Party, but that government seemingly figured, “where else could unions go?”. Unions put resources into the ALP, which badly needs the resources but does not want the unions.

Structurally, unionism is no longer a primarily male, blue-collar affair. Soon there will be more female trade unionists than males. White-collar unionists now out-number blue-collars by two to one. Professionals are unions’ biggest occupational group. Manufacturing accounts for only 7% of members, less than half those in health care and social assistance. Many of the “heartlands” of unionism are no longer so.

Governance remains an issue. There are well-argued claims that proceedings of the Royal Commission on Union Corruption demonstrated bias against unions, but also no doubt that some corruption existed within some unions. To the extent certain union officials enriched themselves and disenfranchised members, this anti-democratic activity undermined workplace unionism. The governance challenge is how can unions be demonstrably pure without also appearing impotent.

Meanwhile there is a clear need for major rethinking of economic and social policy, in Australia and overseas. Despite the failure of liberal market policies through the global financial crisis, pushing millions out of work globally, the ideas behind market liberalism showed zombie-like persistence. Civil society failed to develop and articulate an alternative vision.

Can unions be part of the solution?

The net effect of globalisation’s contradictory tendencies – promoting economic and employment growth alongside greater demands for flexibility and risk shifting – depends on choices taken by many actors.

But what is unions’ capacity to shape these forces and mobilise responses? Australian unions do not face unique problems, though national factors have exacerbated them. Canadians Lévesque and Murray identified key “power resources” for unions, including their internal solidarity and infrastructure. But unions must also be capable of using these resources as contexts change. Much depends on unions’ capacities for learning, framing issues, fostering collaborative action and networks, and devising actions across time and space.

Effective union mobilisation requires power and capabilities on many levels. But perhaps the foundation is the workplace. Workplace influence requires workplace activism. This depends on effective delegates with self-belief, supported by union offices, with access to networks providing back-up, information and ideas. Formal training of delegates is essential but almost wasted if resources are not put into follow-up of training. Necessary structural changes can be both expensive and controversial.

Workplace influence requires delegates and members believe they can and do influence what the union does. Workers cannot have power in the workplace if they don’t have power in the union.

Democratisation is not so much about elected structures as it is about members’ and delegates’ ability to shape what the union does and how open it is to members’ preferences and their diversity.

An effective response to workplace and national problems requires new ways of doing and thinking about things. The prominence given to Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century reflects how it “suits the mood of the times”. The need to develop an alternative vision is greater now than ever before.

But can unions mobilise outside labour? Are they capable of engagement in a ‘big conversation’ about alternatives? It would require change to the “insider” mentality – precisely what the Accord did when pensioners and poverty became industrial issues. It would require confronting unions’ old anti-environmental image – but already many actively engage in environmental and climate issues. Unions are probably the only group with the resources, breadth of membership, and organising capability to draw together the disparate groups and individuals concerned with developing an alternative. In that way, they could be central to the solution.

In the end, if unions are to be part of the solution, there is much to be done. It requires action in developing and empowering workplace delegates and members, democratising union processes, strengthening articulations between levels, developing framing capabilities, managing governance, becoming learning organisations, deepening links and networks with other organisations and movements in the community, and using such links to build and articulate an alternative vision of society. It is a huge task. But if unions don’t do this, who will?

This is an abbreviated version of a fully-referenced article in Australian Review of Public Affairs.

The Conversation

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

Managing heavy vehicle safety

What distinguishes a trucking company with a good safety record from one that performs poorly on safety? That’s the question which has focused the mind of UNSW academic Lori Mooren.

Mooren’s research is partly funded by Zurich Insurance Australian Limited, insurer for the transportation and logistics industry. She shared some of her findings at a Zurich customer forum on road safety held recently in both Sydney and Melbourne.

‘Heavy vehicle fatalities have decreased by 32% over the past decade,’ Mooren said.

‘The trucking industry is one where employers do know that there are serious risks to their employees, to their cargo and to their business in using the road.

“They have been a lot more proactive than most employers in managing risks of using the road.”

Mooren said road safety is a huge issue for businesses across the board, not just the trucking industry.

“Of all work fatalities, 67 per cent are vehicle related,” she said.

“That’s not surprising, when you think about it. There are lots of other workplace accidents but when you have a vehicle incident, it’s such a violent event that the injuries are pretty severe.”

It was also shown that a person is 50% more likely to crash in a company vehicle than a private vehicle. Why?

“When people don’t own their own vehicle, they don’t treat it as well. When they are travelling for work, they are often doing things like talking on a mobile phone, or they are in a hurry. The combination of distractions, speed and sometimes fatigue, are some of the reasons,” Mooren said.

She noted, however, that employers can strongly influence the safety of vehicles and cites the example of BHP Billiton which last year started purchasing passenger vehicles only with five-star safety NCAP ratings.

Mooren’s research in the trucking industry has shown that the ‘safety culture’ of the particular business affects the crash rates.

“You can measure things like the perception that workers have that their bosses are committed to workplace safety above other objectives. It’s a demonstration of clear commitment and a sense ‘safely is the way we do things around here’. When you have that culture of safety, then crash rates are likely to be lower.”

The converse is also true. “A lot of research has found that some employers haven’t fully embraced the problem of crashes. There is the attitude that someone else manages road safety, whether it’s the police or road authorities, and it’s really up to them to get people to follow the rules of the road. These employers are not owning the problem.”

In terms of the companies which have got on board with road safety, Mooren said that Dupont is a stand-out.

“They’ve always tried to encourage education of their employees’ families, as well as the employees themselves, about road safety and other safety issues.”

Another significant factor for truck safety is the pay system for drivers.

“Do they get paid for waiting time, for loading and unloading? That’s a big issue for fatigue. I’ve spoken to drivers who say they start at 6pm and then they wait for sometimes up to four hours for their trucks to be loaded, which means that when they start driving, they’re already not fresh when setting out to drive all night.

“A lot of the industry is still being paid on a piecemeal basis, and that can be per kilometre or per truckload. This encourages drivers to work longer hours and do more shifts. When drivers get paid a regular wage per hour, day or week, they are less encouraged to work excessive hours.”

From Millimetres to Millions: Measurement accuracy

Measurement accuracy is vital to ensure an efficient production process and determine the true cost of a product’s value.

It’s estimated that, each year, over $400 billion worth of goods are sold on the basis of a measurement in Australia.

Measurement inaccuracies are worryingly commonplace in the Australian transport and logistics industry.

The transport and logistics industry is worth more than $150 billion to the Australian economy representing in excess of 14 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

The costs involved in the shipping and delivery of goods is entirely dependent on measurements; inaccuracies can severely affect companies’ profits.

The Importance of a Measurement

Incorrect measurements may not make a huge difference on a case by case basis; but consider these inaccuracies when multiplied by the number of parcels distribution centres process in an hour, a month or a year.

For example, one of Australia Post’s large parcel sorting machines can process over 12,000 parcels every hour.

Recording the correct measurements of parcels is not only important in regards to billing and invoicing; it also determines whether the allocated parcels can fit on the delivery vehicle and how much this will cost the distributor.

The option of weight or size is important as road and air transport costs depend on the space occupied, by number of packages that can be carried as well as their weight.

Knowing the exact measurements allow carrier companies to optimise their loads and, in turn, reduce costs.

Measurement accuracy is regulated by The National Measurement Institute (NMI), Australia’s peak measurement organisation, which is responsible for maintaining the nation’s primary standards of measurement and for providing the legal and technical framework for the dissemination of those standards across varying industries.

For each and every transaction made, the NMI’s trade measurement is there to ensure ‘you get what you pay for’ – meaning no loss in revenue or cost.

The NMI enforces its standards with regular checks and fines across all trade industries; in the past 12 months, they have recorded more than 1,000 complaints, issued 2,388 organisations with non-compliance notices and completed more than 40,000 tests for measurement and labelling accuracy.

Costly Inaccuracies

So how much do these inaccuracies cost?

According to Jean-Michel Maclou, intralogistics and transport sales manager at SICK, carrier companies lose hundreds of thousands in revenue due to inaccurate measurements of packages.

This doesn’t take into consideration the larger of these companies who churn through 1000s of packages per hour.

UPS’s air hub in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA sees approximately 95,000 parcels and documents sorted every hour, day after day – when you consider these figures, it’s clear that the accumulative lost revenue can quickly become astronomical.

How can postal and delivery companies combat this flaw in their system?


SICK’s Dimensioning, Weighing and Scanning systems (DWS VMS 420/520) aid revenue recovery, capture data for automated generation of transport documents and provide accurate measurements for load optimisation.

The SICK DWS system automatically enable an accurate price to be charged, based on either the weight or the volume, whichever is greater.

Clients who purchase a weighing system generally reduce revenue loss by $250,000 within just 12 months, with some paying back in half the anticipated time – just through recovered revenue.

Norsk-European technical director Gary Bartoletti claimed that SICK’s DWS systems have played a key role in the company’s operations.

“Previously we had to rely on customer-declared weights and dimensions to calculate charges which, unfortunately, were not always accurate.,” he said.

“Since the installation of SICK’s DWS systems, we have been able to capture correct weights and dimensions, and charge accordingly.”

Rapid revenue recovery can benefit all sizes of parcel and package carriers, from the smaller operations to those handling many thousands per hour, making the DWS an essential purchase.

Image: Angela Wiley

Oils well that ends well

An Australian manufacturer of lubricants for the mining industry has been awarded a contract with O&K- Carraro that will see its products used in machines right across the sector.

O&K- Carraro, a leading manufacturer of transmissions, hydraulic drives, axles and gears, said it awarded Anglomoil the contract because of the ‘excellence’ of their products.

O&K is a member of Carraro Drive Tech, an 83-year-old German company that is represented across the Asia-Pacific region by Australian company Cram Fluid Power.

Cram Fluid Power founder Kevin Moore said Anglomoil lubricants are well-suited to the extreme operating conditions in final drives, slew drives, undercarriage components and drill rigs.

Moore said end users are frequently looking for Australian-made products that provide them with better quality because the high-value machines they’ll be helping to run include high ­capacity shovel loaders, slew drives, winch drives and a wide range of undercarriage driver systems.

Moore said his company also works closely with Anglomoil to providing solutions to customers with great results.

Anglomoil has supplied grease for use in heavy mining applications such as loaders and haul trucks and Cram has been supplying this grease to one of its heavy excavator fleets for nearly four years.

“During this time there have been no failures in their fleet,” Moore said.

“Prior to using the Anglomoil grease, they were experiencing a grease related failure rate of, on average, two per month. Cram supplied and manages this grease product in bulk 1.5 tonne bins. This is typical of the stories we are hearing from our mining companies.”

Cram now has operations in Wollongong, Newcastle, Singleton, Mackay and Perth so it can readily service the mining sector.

In other efficiency-related news, a new technology contract will ensure future fuel cost savings for Anglo American’s coal operations in Australia.

Canadian company Blutip Power Technologies will supply Anglo American with their Advanced Universal Controller (AUC) for coal haulage, after successful trials on Caterpillar 797, 793, 789 and 785 series haul trucks at the Dawson, Capcoal and Drayton mine last year.

Blutip president Chuck Knott said he was very proud to be working with Anglo American to help them achieve fuel effi­ciency objectives.

“We are committed to assisting Anglo American maximize their efficiency by allowing them to reduce the fuel consumed per tonne-hour across their fleets and by providing real time fuel management analytic tools,” he said.

The new AUC provides engine remapping that reduces fuel consumption while maintaining engine power output and other functionality of the original equipment provider’s electronic control unit.

Blutip said the improvement in Anglo American’s fuel efficiency through use of the new AUC would reduce particulate matter emissions, in turn helping Anglo American to reduce its carbon footprint.

The controllers provide data analytic tools for engine loading time distributions, GPS data and the capability to evaluate other fuel saving initiatives.

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