RFID specialist joins CHEP

As RFID manager at CHEP, Gerry Wind will drive the development of ‘track and trace’ systems on high-profile projects for CHEP customers.

Gerry Wind brings a passion for technology and automation, coupled with 23 years’ experience in RFID, supply chain management and logistics. His particular expertise is in developing RFID infrastructure that integrates with business systems to improve the efficiency of supply chain processes.

Gerry Wind has advised government and industry on RFID and addressed conferences across the globe. More recently at Telstra, his team developed an Adaptive Asset Manager system that enables live demonstration of RFID readers with updated results on a ‘dashboard’.

An all rounder, Gerry Wind is widely travelled and fluent in two languages. His diverse career includes time in Uganda as project manager for a charitable organisation, and as a consultant with Sunshine Technologies. He also managed 152 staff at Australia Post’s State Parcels Centre in Queensland.

 

NZ award for container lifter

STEELBRO New Zealand Limited took out both the Global Operator and Supreme overall award for medium/large enterprises at the recent 2007 Annual Champion Canterbury Awards.

The awards were presented by the Prime Minister, Helen Clark.  The Champion Canterbury Awards are now widely recognised as the largest of their kind in New Zealand.

Peter Townsend, Chairman of Champion Canterbury Ltd. says the award recognises the innovation, tenacity and sheer hard work to succeed. 

“STEELBRO is a very worthy recipient of the Supreme Champion Canterbury Award.  As a multi-generational contributor to the Canterbury economy and a company that is well versed at competing worldwide with products that find ready markets in a myriad of countries, this is a well-deserved accolade.”

STEELBRO has developed a successful self-loading trailer (sidelifter) container handling technology. Claimed to be the world’s best-selling sidelifter system, STEELBRO exports the units to over 100 countries worldwide.

Queensland infrastructure crisis

The Queensland infrastructure crisis has reached a new low with Michael Roche announcing a “new wave of industry activism” weeks before the release of the Goonyella Supply Chain review writes Daniel Hall.

Roche made the call after announcing that a coal transport rail corridor between the northern Bowen Basin and the Abbott Point export terminal in Queensland had been given the green light by coal companies.

“Despite the project’s potential to consolidate future growth, there is no hiding the fact that industry’s interest in the Northern Missing Link and expansion of the Abbott Point coal terminal is a direct response to the difficulties being experienced along the Goonyella corridor,” he says.

Roche says that seven companies interested in using the 69 kilometre Northern Missing Link had confirmed with the Queensland Competition Authority (QCA) their willingness to underwrite early works costs undertaken by the State Government-owned Queensland Rail Network Access (QRNA).

Queensland Rail (QR) has welcomed confirmation that mining companies are willing to underwrite early works costs for the project in North Queensland.

The early works costs associated with the 69-kilometre Northern Missing Link are estimated to be worth $27 million and will be recouped by the State Government through QRNA via independently determined rail price arrangements, regardless of whether the project proceeds.

“Once endorsed by customers the cost with the early works will, upon completion of the early works, be included

in QRNA’s regulated asset base for the Goonyella System,” a QR spokesperson says.

“Access charges for the operation of coal services on QRNA’s rail infrastructure is based on recouping the capital charge (depreciation and return) as well as maintenance and operating costs as agreed with the Queensland Competition Authority.”

“Final go-ahead will depend on execution of port and rail contracts by the companies, which will in turn depend on the economic findings of this early stage engineering and design,” Roche told the Rail Summit.

Roche’s call for a new wave of industry activism may have been heard by QRC’s largest member companies.

During a whistle-stop visit to Brisbane, Rio Tinto boss Tom Albanese told reporters that the backlog plaguing Australia’s east coast ports is among the top five problems facing the mining giant’s global operations.

Albanese said Rio Tinto will redirect its expansion plans offshore if the Queensland Government does not provide vital infrastructure, prompting Queensland Premier Peter Beattie to meet with him to smooth over relations.

Roche says that unprecedented growth in the industry is responsible for the delay in haulage capability up to a point.

“There’s no embarrassment in saying that the demand for coal has caught both the industry and logistics suppliers by surprise,” Roche says.

“However, there is embarrassment, coupled with major financial penalties for service users, when infrastructure providers cannot manage to deliver contracted capacity.”

“Resource companies should not be hamstrung by their logistics suppliers. Communication must extend to customers, regulators and shareholders to eliminate ‘suprises’ which cost throughput, drive up demurrage bills and encourage buyers to look elsewhere for reliable supply,” he says.

Expressing disappointment with Roche’s comments, Queensland Rail says QR and industry partners

are midway through the independent review of the Goonyella Coal Supply Chain.

“We’ve received a lot of attention recently about performance in the coal business and we’ve certainly heard our customers’ concerns,” says the QR spokesman.

“QR has always accepted that we could have performed better, but like all industry players the size and scope of global demand for coal was not forecast.”

“QR’s attention now is finding short term gains in the supply chain to meet immediate customer needs and to roll out long-term infrastructure and rolling stock upgrades to meet growth through to the end of the decade and beyond.”

The QRC’s independent review of the Goonyellla coal supply chain, due early August, has been supported by the Queensland government and QR.

According to Roche, the review is expected to highlight the need for strategic coordination of the coal chain master planning process, greater transparency on operational issues and performance, and an agreed set of measures to asses how the system is operating.

n www.qrc.com.au

n www.qr.com.au

Critical mass drives Toyota

Four years have passed since Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) commenced the integration process of its Australian wholesale and retail forklift business units into a single entity.

After working out of 3 separate facilities in New South Wales, which included the National Headquarters in Caringbah and two retail facilities, coupled with the acquisition of the BT and Raymond forklift brands to its portfolio of products, it was inevitable that a move had to happen in order to accommodate such a rapid growth.

“Since 2003 Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) and TMH NSW have achieved an increase in volume of business of approximately 250%,” says company president Steve Harper.

“The brand new state of the art facility at Moorebank NSW combines both TMHA’s National Headquarters and retail areas on one 34,000 square metre site”.

The new Moorebank headquarters was officially opened on 1 May 2007 by visiting President of Toyota Material Handling Group and Vice President for Toyota Industries Corporation, Mr Tatsuo Matsuura together with TMHA Chairman Terry Unnai, President Steve Harper and State Member for Menai, Alison Megarrity MP.

The opening was celebrated by management as the fulfilment of a significant phase of a long term corporate vision to continue a drive towards an increase in market share of the Australian materials handling equipment market, currently estimated to be 30 percent.

According to Steve Harper, the combined resources within NSW is now 2-3 times bigger and currently has the capability of handling an annual vehicle throughput of up to 3,000 units which includes, not only the 3 major forklift brands of Toyota, BT and Raymond, but also aircraft towing tractors and ‘Huski’ skid steer loaders for the construction industry.

After being completed in an extremely short lead-time of 6 months, this custom built headquarters provides every conceivable resource necessary to manage a significant amount of activity.

It is clearly evident that TMHA has all the tools it needs to set the highest customer service provision standards available in Australia

Facilities at the new building include a 5,000 square metre parts centre, designed to accommodate anticipated growth over the next 10 / 15 years.

There is also a 59 bay workshop area to maximise space and efficiency for safe working practices when conducting pre-delivery, service and repair work on new machines, as well as servicing a rental fleet of approximately 4,000 units for NSW customers.

The service workshop also carries out important preventative maintenance and repairs on equipment which cannot be done in the field by field service technicians.

The workshop area is currently completing an average 200 jobs per month and supporting a formidable team of field service technicians operating out of a fleet of 99 custom built service vehicles throughout NSW which has a current capacity to manage a work load of 76,000 service jobs per annum.

THMA is committed to holding stock of new equipment in every state and has a current stock holding at Moorebank reported to be valued at approximately $5 million.

The average value of the machines stocked is $18,000 which includes machines with book values of over $100, 000 each.

TMHA management places a special emphasis on staff training, particularly for service technicians and related technical staff.

For this purpose, TMHA holds on average of 2 training sessions per week in a classroom facility which can accommodate 100 students and incorporates the latest in audio/visual equipment.

For smaller sessions, the room can be adapted and reconfigured into 3 separate purpose fitted classrooms to manage up to 30 people each.

Additional training resources include an online E-Training facility which includes course curriculum material for technical training as well as all up to date technical manuals and product literature which can be accessed through an on-line portal by staff and dealers throughout Australia.

“Technological advances are increasing at a rapid rate and THMA has the largest selection of materials handling equipment in Australia,” Steve Harper says. “In order to ensure we have the most skilled technicians available, we invest heavily in staff training.”

“We look at the operational support as an evolving science with the objective of giving our customers a service support level through ongoing improvement activities that enables them to be confident in the fact that whatever brand of Toyota Material Handling equipment they use, we will ensure their machines are maintained to operate at the highest level of efficiency and safety.”

Further Information Toyota Material Handling Free Call 1800 425 438

Next-generation RFID

RFID is a powerful technology that offers significant business advantages when the functionality is matched by the application. Broader adoption of passive RFID technology may be limited due to the range and reliability shortcomings of this technology.
 
Next-generation radio frequency identification (RFID) products that bring affordable intelligence to the Australian supply chain sector have been introduced by Datanet. The Intelleflex tags offer a number of innovations to RFID that address these shortcomings. Their battery-assisted passive technology delivers long range and high reliability and provides a host of enabling features such as user memory, security and sensors. Instead of forcing business applications to fit the RFID technology, the systems fit current business flows.
 
The EPC-class battery-assisted smart passive tags (Class 3) and multi-protocol 3.2.1 RFID readers, provide the performance advantages of Class 4 RFID active systems at a price closer to Class 1 passive RFID. The technology enables more data (64KB) to be stored and read from tags, while remaining compatible with RFID standards, including EPCglobal.
 
The Intelleflex technology is available at about 20 per cent of the cost of an active system. It is claimed to have 10-100 times the range of passive RFID, to offer a 10-100x improvement in read-write accuracy, and to hold far more intelligence and information. As well as supporting long read-ranges, the technology features rewritable tag memory for storing manifests, maintenance records and custody information, and can serve as data loggers for sensor-based applications.
 
Perhaps more compelling than its price/performance advantage over Class 4 active, is the Intelleflex Class 3 system’s compatibility with Class 1 passive. The system supports passive C1G2 mode between tags and readers, allowing operations in either pure-passive or battery-assisted mode. This compatibility affords transport and logistics carriers the flexibility to combine Class 1 and Class 3 tags and readers within a single, interoperable infrastructure. In other words, it allows users to adopt EPCGlobal standards-based products with flexibility, while future-proofing their technology investments.
 
The emergence of Class 3 signals that RFID is reaching maturity, by delivering more intelligence for track-and-trace operations. Traditionally, RFID implementation has depended on the validity of stored intelligence, and now Class 3 has the intelligence to ensure that accuracy.
 
Intelleflex supplies the next-generation RFID chips to, among others, Boeing Corporation, to enable ‘smart labels’ on maintenance-significant parts of the new 787 Dreamliner. In the Australian marketplace, battery-assisted smart RFID systems will offer a huge advantage in asset visibility for sensitive freight such as pharmaceuticals, and temperature-sensitive, time-sensitive, returnable goods. As well as storing more intelligence, the technology reads chips in difficult, previously inaccessible areas.
 
Battery-assisted smart passive tags are capable of resolving security pressures from emerging mandates on the traceability of products, especially food, wine, drugs, etc. The technology is also suitable for other applications including e-manifest, ASN, product information, maintenance records, nested supply chains, cold supply chain, asset management and yard management.
 
The Class 3 battery-assisted passive RFID systems can enable key functionalities for transport and logistics carriers in the areas of yard management, nested visibility, and mobile asset management. Key functions include:
•           Checking vehicles in and out of entrances and exits.
•           Providing time-critical information to support loading, staging and put-away activity.
•           E-manifest for proof of delivery, increasing supply chain accuracy.
•           Returnable container tracking.
•           Tracking indoor and outdoor assets over large areas in real time.
 
The smart tags overcome the disadvantages of ordinary passive tags that are ID-only, difficult to read in RF-unfriendly environments, and have a low (60 per cent) read-reliability through water and other liquids, and metals. Assets are visible only at choke-points.
 
The new technology also eliminates the problems of Class-4 RFID (fully active tags), which are high-cost and not EPC compliant. In contrast, EPC-class battery-assisted smart passive tags comply with the latest standards framework and feature application-specific security.
 

Auto sector skills shortage

A Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce’s latest Automotive Industry Economic Survey shows skills shortages are emerging as a significant problem in the retail and service sector of the automotive industry

According to the survey, 36 per cent of respondents report unfilled job vacancies. In those businesses with unfilled job vacancies, 45 per cent have struggled along, short-staffed, for more than two months and some reported vacancies unfilled after two years

VACC Executive Director David Purchase says the worsening shortage of skilled labour may soon begin to seriously undermine competitiveness.

“It has become a critical issue for small and medium businesses in the automotive sector. However, if things do not improve, it will also become a critical issue for consumers.”

“They will experience delays in getting their cars serviced, it will put upward pressure on costs, and it will have a flow-through effect to the transport and freight sector and begin to also undermine its competitiveness,” Purchase says.

“In Australia, in this big country, we rely on being able to keep the wheels turning the services provided through the automotive service sector have played a key part in freight cost efficiencies and the competitiveness of the economy.

“Increasing apprentice numbers is the key to retaining competitiveness. VACC, through its group training program, employs over 400 apprentices.”

However, it is increasingly difficult to find suitable applicants.

“Unfortunately, traditional trades are being affected by a declining interest in trade careers among school leavers despite the opportunities they afford,” Purchase observes.

“Clearly, if the automotive industry is to remain competitive, and continue to provide the levels of service and convenience it has traditionally provided, the skills challenge is one the industry, and Government, must meet.

“So much of the economy relies on keeping the wheels turning. Regrettably, the skills issue is not going to be an easy one to solve.”

Source: Industry Week

Supply Chain Executive Devlopment Program

The University of Melbourne and Michigan State University, with support from specialist consulting group GRA will combine to present a challenging supply chain Executive Development Program.

The Executive Development Program, to be held on October 28, will present a contemporary view of integrated supply chain logistics management, and will explore functional areas of the supply chain as well as demonstrate the importance of integration.

The University of Melbourne offers its expertise through the Freight and Logistics Group, Department of Civil Engineering & Environmental Engineering, with key presentations from Senior Lecturer Dr Russell Thompson, and Senior Fellow Peter Dapiran.

Presenting also, will be international experts Dr Bixby Cooper and Dr Don Bowersox of Michigan State University USA, who have led executive programs in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

To facilitate understanding of integrated supply chain management, participants will take part in an advanced logistics management computer simulation.

“The simulation realistically replicates the competitive environment of a manufacturing industry in which managers (course participants) design and operate all aspects of a logistical system for two products across 36 markets,” explains Sean Maynard from Melbourne University’s Department of Information Systems.

“Participants design the logistical system, procure material, schedule production and deliver goods to customers’ satisfaction.”

“Undoubtedly, effective management of an organisation’s supply chain is a necessity in today’s complex business environment,” says Peter Dapiran. “Demographic and geographic factors, the influence of the global economy and rapidly changing technology make such effective management a challenge.”

“This program will be valuable for senior executives with a responsibility for managing an integrated supply chain or a functional area within it, from procurement to distribution,” he says.

For further information please contact:

Lisa Kalms, Project Officer T: + 61 3 9810 3146 or

E: l.kalms@soe.unimelb.edu

Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team on the job

With excess demand and a highly visible queue of ships off the Newscastle coast, the capacity of

the world’s largest coal chain operation is under fire. The Hunter Valley Coal Chain Logistics Team (HVCCLT) is on the job.

The first of its kind in Australia, the HVCCLT plans all the region’s coal industry exports. Initially created in 2003 as a trial between Pacific National (PN) and Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS), the Logistics Team was set up as a response to increasing demand from the industry to improve capacity.

HVCCLT general manager Anthony Pit tells Logistics magazine that from inception, the collaborative HVCCLT model was expected to deliver significant capacity by running coal chain operations as a system rather than a series of component parts, as the practice had previously been.

Pitt, a speaker at the recent IQPC Performance Based Logistics Conference, is proud of the results. “Both our short term goal of increasing throughput and the longer term objective of providing investment planning advice to the industry have been realised,” he says.

About 90 per cent of the Logistics Team’s resources are put towards improving system capacity. “We’ve seen a spectacular 20 per cent increase in productivity from existing infrastructure,” Pitt says. “The vast bulk of that benefit is generated by unlocking latent capacity through greater coordination of things like maintenance

programs on the track and at PWCS.”

In terms of the longer term initiative, our advisory service directly contributes to the efficiency of members’ capital expenditure,” Pitt enthuses. “Members are modifying and even adding new infrastructure initiatives in the knowledge that those changes are in the interests of the coal chain as a whole. We’ve also helped prevent investment in infrastructure that might otherwise be under-utilised.”

On a handshake, PWCS and PN agreed to colocate their planning teams to enable more effective communication and the generation of new ideas about how to increase system capacity. Joined by ARTC, the trial was expanded and formalised in 2005 as a joint venture with stated objectives and governance.

HVCCLT members now include PN and QRNational as the train operators, Australia Rail Track Corporation and Rail Infrastructure Corporation as the track owners, PWCS as the operator of cargo assembly and ship loading services and Newcastle Port Corporation who manage vessel movements.

The functioning of the HVCCLT system completely relies on the participation of members, however, as Anthony Pitt explains, the truly cooperative model doesn’t legally compel any of the group to cooperate in daily planning, or to comply with associated instructions.

I won’t say that it’s been without its challenges,” Pitt admits, “But everyone quickly came to the conclusion that it was the only sensible way to operate the coal chain. The profit generated from this approach to planning was immediate.”

Despite strong pressure on member organisations resulting from bullish growth forecasts from the industry, Anthony Pitt is confident the collaborative HVCCLT model will prevail.

“In the current market place, where the demand for coal out of Newcastle is exceptionally high, the need for more capacity certainly creates an environment with the potential for tensions and competition,” he says. “But I think the success of the model has been the glue that’s kept the team together, and will lead to greater cooperation into the future.”

“There’s a high level of common sense and maturity across participating organisations within the HVCCLT,” Pitt says. “Members acknowledge that they can’t afford to allow this cooperative planning model to be compromised, because the cost of it falling apart would be catastrophic to the industry.”

Anthony Pitt says current infrastructure initiatives have the potential to create capacity approaching the more optimistic forecasts from producers, suggesting in some cases, the need for up to 170 million tonnes of capacity by 2012.

“There are a few steps that need to take place between now and any final investment decisions,” he says. “However, $700-800 million of new infrastructure will be delivered in the course of this year, which will increase system capacity towards 100 million tonnes of throughput for 2008. Beyond that, PWCS has announced

a half a billion dollar upgrade to take port capacity to in excess of 110 million tonnes and the new Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG) terminal is targeting about a 30 million tonne capacity by 2010.”

“The challenges for the HVCCLT moving forward are now in the detail and refinement,” Pitt says. “Our biggest uncertainty is around how to operate the model given any new or potentially competing terminals alongside PWCS, such as the NCIG development although that’s several years away from operation.”

“We have an outstanding invitation to NCIG to participate and we’ve already had constructive dialogue with them,” Pitt adds. “I think it’s very important that we commence the planning process arising from possible changes to the model early, to ensure we ultimately get the best outcome for the coal export industry.”

Retail industry supports Wesfarmers bid for Coles

While the outcome of the Wesfarmers bid has been clouded by the sharp fall in the West Australian company’s share price, the takeover has backing from the majority of 200 retail industry respondents in an online survey.

In the survey, 67% of respondents agreed that the takeover of the under-performing Coles Group businesses was a positive development for the retail industry while just 17% thought it was a negative or backward step.

Reflecting the fact that the takeover is prospectively the largest on-shore corporate acquisition in Australian history, a relatively large 17% of respondents acknowledged they were uncertain whether the Wesfarmers bid was good or bad for the retail industry.

Respondents were evenly divided on whether or not the takeover should be re-shaped by requiring Wesfarmers to divest any of the individual Coles businesses, a question currently being examined by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

According to the survey, 43% of retail industry respondents want Wesfarmers to be required to divest at least one of the businesses while 41% did not believe the acquisition needed to be modified.

Views on which of the Coles chains should be divested to enhance retail competition in Australia were divided with 26% and 21% of respondents respectively suggesting that the discount department store chains, Kmart and Target, should be excluded from the acquisition.

The divestment of liquor stores was supported by 20%, Officeworks by 15% and the supermarkets and fuel businesses by 18%.

The supermarket and fuel result was higher than expected and possibly reflects concerns about the dominance of the chain retailers, Coles and Woolworths, in fuel retailing.

Asked how long it was likely to take Wesfarmers to achieve a significant and sustainable improvement in the trading performance of the Coles Group businesses, 43% of the industry respondents forecast a three year turnaround period.

Twenty five per cent think Wesfarmers could achieve improvements in two years and 7% within a year while 14% expect the turnaround to take five years and 11% predict a sustainable recovery to take more than five years.

Despite the challenge of reinvigorating the Coles Group businesses, 46% of survey participants said the acquisition would have a positive impact on the performance of Wesfarmers existing retail business, Bunnings Warehouse.

The number who thought the takeover might have a negative impact on the Bunnings Warehouse hardware chain was 25% with 28% unsure about the implications.

Recognising that the Wesfarmers share price fall has led to speculation that the takeover bid might not proceed, the Inside Retailing Online survey asked respondents if Woolworths should be allowed to acquire Officeworks, Target and some Kmart stores.

A large majority of survey participants opposed Woolworths acquiring the discount department store chains but most were less concerned about Australia’s biggest retailer buying Officeworks.

Sixty three per cent opposed Woolworths buying Target and some Kmart stores while 31% believed Woolworths should be allowed to buy the discount department stores if the Wesfarmers takeover bid collapses.

Just 7% of respondents had no opinion either way on the Target/Kmart question.

For Officeworks, 57% of survey respondents agreed there should not be any impediment to Woolworths buying the chain if the Wesfarmers takeover collapsed while 39% opposed such a deal.

Drivecam reduces warehouse vehicle collisions

Toll Contract Logistics, Australia’s premier logistics company, has revealed the findings of a three month trial of DriveCam, a new technology from Traffic Intelligence.

Over the duration of the trial, conducted at its Woolworths Distribution Centre in Minchinbury, a fleet of 58 participating vehicles showed an appreciable reduction in collision rates as well as a significant reduction in the severity of collisions that did occur.

Following the successful evaluation, Toll Contract Logistics have committed to a twelve month implementation of the solution, with a roll out to include all new vehicles based at Minchinbury.

“We are thrilled with the improvements DriveCam has made to our on road safety record,” says Toll Grocery Manager, Mick Cronin. “Reducing the number of collisions and collecting indisputable evidence of accidents caused by third parties, has provided significant cost reductions to our overall business. DriveCam has truly exceeded our expectations.”

Unlike systems that address the road or the vehicle, DriveCam focuses on the driver and incorporates a corrective and preventative approach.

The technology consists of a palm sized event recorder mounted behind the rear view mirror. Unsafe driving behaviours such as hard braking or swerving trigger the recorder which saves critical seconds of footage before and after an incident.

Events are downloaded wirelessly and reviewed by DriveCam behaviour analysts who make recommendations for specific driver coaching.

The footage of the incident and accompanying analysis is forwarded to fleet managers to provide drivers with feedback and appropriate coaching, ensuring long term improvements in driver behaviour.

Prior to commencing the evaluation, Toll engaged in lengthy discussions with the NSW Transport Workers Union to address any concerns over the impacts of the solution.

Toll and the TWU reached a working arrangement that enabled both parties to approach driver safety issues on a united front.

David Quayle, Managing Director of Traffic Intelligence, the Australian provider of DriveCam says Toll is a perfect example of the way an integrated approach to innovative risk mitigation solutions can have a direct impact on improving road safety and provide a substantial reduction in operational costs.

“I congratulate Toll, the TWU and the drivers for embracing this solution for the benefit of all road users,” he says.

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