Linfox on a steady ascent

Lindsay Fox has had his eye on the burgeoning Westgate Logistics business for a decade. But his patience was finally rewarded when Westgate CEO Sam Tarascio agreed to sell the company to Linfox, retaining the Victoria Dock and Westgate wharf cartage businesses.

In March 2006, Lindsay Fox enunciated his desire to see Linfox grow substantially through acquisition to reach a goal of $ 4—6 billion revenue by 2010. Since then, the company has been steadily executing this strategy with the acquisition of FCL in October 2006, New Zealand company Provincial in May and now Westgate Logistics.

Linfox CEO Michael Byrne says Westgate is a strong cultural fit with Linfox, being a family owned private business. “Culturally and behaviourally the (Westgate) business is very similar to ours,” he tells Logistics Magazine. “Like our other recent acquisitions, FCL and Provincial, it’s a family business which shares our ethics and sense of obligation to customers.”

“Linfox has spent the last four years focusing more than ever on customer needs,” Byrne says. “So after the culture, the second most attractive thing about the Westgate business was the sheer quality of its customers, such as Coles, Woolworths, Franklins, IGA and Metcash.”

“Linfox is very interested in companies that have quality long term sustainable customer relationships. Looking after the customers is about the best way we can make money and create jobs. We see ourselves as a service company rather than a trucking company. If you’re looking after the customers you’re going to go okay.”

According to Byrne, Linfox is also looking to develop its interest in high SKU, high volume retail warehousing; a particular strength of Westgate Logistics.

“The Tarascio family is renowned for building an outstanding property portfolio,” Byrne adds. “That helped drive this transaction, and I think you’ll find the two families working together to continue improving the standard of specialised warehousing and industrial property in this sector, leading to better industrial property solutions for the market.”

Michael Byrne has given the company a tight deadline of 100 days for the integration of Westgate Logistics.

“We need to compact our integration process so we don’t interfere with our customers’ summer season,” Byrne explains. “Close to two thirds of the Westgate business is retail, to be assimilated in to the Linfox Retail division.”

“Retailers don’t like anything to affect their sales between October and Christmas. Our customers want us to be really focused on their businesses, getting the stock on the shelf to provide fantastic availability for Christmas.”

Over the next three months, the Westgate business will be broken up to fit three of Linfox’s four verticals: FMCG, Retail and Industrial. “Westgate Logistics doesn’t have a Line haul division, so the majority of the business will go in to our Retail division. Another big chunk will go into FMCG and the remainder in to our Industrial division,” says Byrne.

In addition, Westgate Logistics will be re-branded Linfox to capitalise on a name that Michael Byrne believes is synonymous with operational and execution excellence. “The company brand is over 50 years old,” he says. “It’s associated with Lindsay Fox and the Fox family but Linfox is the best operational execution company in the region.”

In relation to Westgate’s people, Michael Byrne asserts that in his nine years at Linfox, he can’t recall the company ever making any blue collar workers redundant.

“I can’t imagine any truck driver, warehouse people or junior management who wouldn’t have a job here,” he says. “Linfox is hungry for new people. In 2003, the company had 5000 people working for it and since then, we’ve employed 8000 people. We’ve recruited 8 people every day of the year for the last 18 months across 11 countries of operation.”

“In terms of senior people, we have to see if they can fit our structure,” Byrne says. “Linfox has a very lean structure; there are only five layers of management between a driver and me.”

“By its nature, our industry doesn’t have a clear ladder overhead, so we have to really think about senior people and where best they can be best be deployed to allow fulfilling jobs without burdening the business with overhead cost.”

Moving forward, Michael Byrne says the Fox and Tarascio families intend to investigate property construction, development and ownership. “There’s an understanding that Linfox will utilise opportunities to subcontract Westgate’s Victoria Dock and wharf cartage businesses,” he says. “We also hope to explore the use of inland ports and stevedoring.”

“The two families have a lot in common,” Byrne enthuses. “We’re really pleased with this result. Linfox intends to treasure the Westgate business and look after its customers and we very much look forward to a continued relationship with the Tarascio family.”

Brewing competitors join forces

When Australia’s two largest brewers needed help in continuing to reduce the high risks associated with handling beer kegs, they joined forces and asked CHEP for assistance.

Foster’s Group and Lion Nathan are significant competitors supplying beer, wine, ready-to-drink spirits and mixers, cider and non-alcoholic beverages to the Australian market, as well as a range of related services including bottling and distribution. Between them they account for approximately 97% of the Australian beer market.

Both companies had identified a risk associated with the storage, transportation, delivery and collection of 50 litre draught beer kegs. The shape and weight of the kegs combined with transport methods used, and the sometimes problematic access to the available storage at the destination, affect the potential risk of injury. Those at risk of injury include company employees, third party logistics service providers, venue staff (those employed at pubs, restaurants and clubs) and the general public.

The brewers joined forces and issued a challenge to CHEP to lead an initiative utilising 6Sigma methodologies to help reduce this risk. This was the first joint safety project the two companies had undertaken and the first time they had been exposed to the 6Sigma approach utilised by CHEP.

6Sigma methodologies draw on proven statistical and quality improvement tools to achieve operational excellence by reducing variation and defects in processes.

CHEP’s Wyn Daniel, Perfect Trip Project Manager, and his team worked together with the brewers over a nine month period to develop a number of short-term recommendations.

“These recommendations were either implemented or tested immediately and several concept designs for lifting devices and containers for storage, transportation and dispensing of kegs were also developed and are now being investigated further,” Wyn says.

“This project started off as something of a test to see how CHEP could utilise the 6Sigma and project management tools at its disposal to bring together two significant market place competitors to work on a project of mutual interest,” says Lion Nathan’s Logistics director George Bearzot.

“We were very pleased to see how successful the project has been and are very appreciative of the leadership and management resources provided by CHEP.”

The project team also produced the National Guide for Safe Handling of Beer Kegs, a comprehensive guide that will form the basis of training for all venue staff.

“Many projects tend to lose focus, run out of steam, or fail to deliver significant benefits,” says Fosters Group general manager supply chain James Houston.

“It’s refreshing to see how a difficult project, the first joint project between our two companies, has delivered real results in a timely manner using the 6Sigma methodology and tools. I’m very appreciative of the resources and leadership provided by CHEP.”

CHEP is continuing to work with the brewers to provide further assistance and technical guidance as they implement these recommendations and standards.

“By working collaboratively, CHEP has gained invaluable insight into the issues that critically impact on these customers and is able to make a real and positive difference to their business.”

NTC reforms fall short

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) says new National Transport Commission (NTC) reforms for heavy vehicles fall short.

The design ‘blueprints’ for quad-axle semi-trailers, quad-axle B-doubles and a B-triple are now available on the NTC website. The designs are pre-approved to meet Performance Based Standards (PBS).

The NTC announced truck operators can use the blueprints to apply for access on approved routes. If operators prefer to develop a different vehicle design to suit their specific needs, its road safety must be similarly assessed using the PBS process.

“In our view, these reforms fall short of the changes needed to improve safety through productivity for the majority of trucking operators,” says ATA chief executive Stuart St Clair.

“Performance Based Standards (PBS) should apply to new, innovative vehicles and not a tool to constrain existing, proven and safe combinations.”

“Burdensome administrative hurdles may ultimately thwart the PBS. A case in point is the constraints proposed for a 19 metre B-double in South Australia — it would need to be compliant with PBS, IAP and NHVAS to operate. Yet, this well-proven vehicle has broad access in other jurisdictions,” St Clair says.

“Our member organisation, the South Australian Road Transport Association provided the SA Government with comments that the proposed compliances make the 19 metre B-double economically unviable, even if it is safer.”

“The NTC’s generic PBS B-triple is a specific vehicle,” St Clair points out.

“In answer to questions by the ATA, the NTC advised that all other B-triples would need to be passed through the PBS approval in their own right. But what of the hundreds of existing B-triples currently in operation and capable of being deployed throughout Australia?”

According to the ATA, the national B-triple network is smaller than the existing road train networks and does not even include some existing B-triple routes. B-triples and AB-triples have been proven safe by years of experience on road train routes and some other routes under permits.

“The ATA believes B-triples can be safely operated on a far wider network of Australian Roads than that currently being offered by the state road agencies,” says St Clair.

“The NTC’s charging proposals for B-triples and other high productivity vehicles, if carried forward will impose significant financial barriers to operators.”

The ATA is very clear about what industry expects to make up modular B-triple combinations. B-triples can be safely formed from existing legal 26, 25 and 23 metre B-double component units. Provided these component units have adequate combination mass ratings they should be allowed to form modular B-triple units.

“Modular combinations reduce the number of truck movements, which in turn reduces accident risk and increases task efficiency,” says Stuart St Clair.

“The ATA encourages more modular combinations, as they are the safe means for converting existing legal fleet units into more efficient combinations to be used on suitable parts of the network — thus, delivering real productivity and safety with existing equipment.”

“Quad axle groups on semi-trailers are not new. Hundreds operate nationally on proven networks for low loaders. The ATA is concerned at protracted delays in specifying road networks for quad-axle general freight vehicles.”

Long distance RFID

Assa Abloy Identification Technologies (ITG), one of the leading providers of products and services in the RFID market, has launched the Sokymat branded InLine 55/86 UHF EPC Gen 2 transponder, designed for the long distance reading required for asset tracking, logistics and supply chain applications.

The transponder, working at frequencies from 869 to 915 MHz, has the size of an ISO card and can be easily attached to pallets, crates or other assets that need to be reliably identified at long distance.

With an attractive price performance ratio, the transponder can be read at a distance of up to four to six meters when mounted on wood or plastic.

The Sokymat Inline 55/86, ITG completes the UHF offering in the company’s broad transponder portfolio. Customers; system integrators and OEM partners now have the possibility to access a complete RFID portfolio at ITG from Low Frequency to Ultra High Frequency.

Samples of the new transponder will be available end of July 2007.

Assa Abloy Identification Technologies (ITG) is a leader within the ID management and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) markets.

Located in Walluf, Germany, the company develops, manufactures and markets RFID components, products, and services typically deployed within national ID and e-passport programs, corporate access control, supply chain management, animal tagging, financial transactions, transport and various industrial or manufacturing solutions.

Assa Abloy ITG is a merger of ACG Identification Technologies, Aontec, OMNIKEY, Sokymat, VisionCard and former Brazilian based and operating Novacard do Brasil (acquired in 2006).

Bulk bag conditioner

A new Bulk Bag Conditioner-Unloader System from Flexicon Corporation (Australia) Pty Ltd. loosens bulk solid material that has solidified during storage and shipment, allowing the material to discharge through a bag spout.

The integral configuration of the conditioner eliminates the time, labour and equipment needed for separate loading of bulk bags into a stand-alone conditioner.

The design also consumes significantly less floor space than two separate pieces of equipment and requires less material and labour to construct, reducing initial cost, according to the company.

Two hydraulic rams with contoured end plates press opposing sides of bulk bags, which can be raised and lowered for conditioning at varying heights using an electric hoist. The hoist assembly also includes a motorised trolley to allow loading and unloading of bulk bags without the need for a forklift.

The conditioner’s controller and hydraulic pump can be mounted on the exterior of the unloader or remotely. Safety interlocks disallow operation of the conditioner when the unloader’s doors are open.

The unloader also features a Spout-Lock clamp ring that forms a high-integrity seal between the clean side of the bag spout and the clean side of the equipment, while a Tele-Tube telescoping tube maintains constant downward pressure on the clamp ring and bag spout, elongating the bag as it empties to promote complete discharge.

Immediately above the clamp ring is a Power-Cincher flow control valve employing a series of curved, articulated rods that cinch the bag spout concentrically, allowing dust-free retying and removal of partially-empty bags.

The surge hopper is equipped with an optional dual-shaft agitator that de-agglomerates material and promotes flow into an optional, integral auger conveyor to feed a downstream process.

The entire unloading frame is mounted on load cells that transmit loss-of-weight data to a controller that starts and stops the auger conveyor, allowing programmable weigh batching directly from bulk bags.

Other equipment manufactured by the company include bulk bag fillers, flexible screw conveyors, pneumatic conveying systems, manual dumping stations, drum tippers, multi-ingredient weigh batching systems, and automated plant-wide systems integrated with new or existing processes.

Express industry sorter

Australian materials handling specialist ICA in conjunction with FKI Logistex, is supplying two S3000CB Cross Belt Sorters with accompanying sub-systems for the express freight industry.

The S3000CB Cross Belt Sorter is most suited for this application with its capability to sort an extremely wide mix of items including fragile, small, large, non rigid and all types packaging materials.

The S3000CB Cross Belt Sorter comprises separate carts coupled together in a continuous loop, each with one or a number of cross-belt units, and can be configured to suit existing or new facilities due to its flexibility.

The total system occupies a minimum of floor space and can incline and decline as required to suit every situation. Future upgrades can be carried out with a minimum of down time.

The S3000CB Cross Belt Sorter can be optioned with various sizes of cross belt units which increase the range of items to be sorted and the throughput capacity.

Typical applications where the sorter is used are freight processing centres, warehouse and distribution, textile industry, mail order companies, book and newspaper industries, periodical distribution companies, shoe distribution companies, retail distribution companies, CD music industry and many others.

Accurate control of the cross belt acceptance speed, discharge speed, acceleration and deceleration means it is particularly suited for sorting unstable and fragile items. This accuracy of discharging items allows discharge outlets to be located at close pitch thereby decreasing floor area of the system.

Total sorter throughput capacity is dependent upon cross belt size, speed of sorter carts, number and configuration of inductions but can be up to 15,000 items per hour or more if required.

The design has a minimum of contact parts and therefore requires minimum maintenance. A defective part can be automatically disabled by the control system and replaced during a scheduled stop.

Replacement of most items can be carried out without the aid of any special tools or skills. As a result of modular construction only a minimum inventory of spare parts is required.

The extremely low operating noise level of 65dB(A) means the S3000CB sorter can be installed in all processing areas and working environments.

The basic elements of the control system consist of a personal computer and the applicable machine control software.

This control system communicates with locally positioned input/output blocks via a standard industrial network, and controls the sorter tables, compilation of statistics and surveillance reports, and data exchange with the host computer and other connected control systems including modems.

Express services for Vietnam

In a first for Asia, TNT, leading provider of global express services, will provide premium express post in Vietnam, with an investment of more than 7 million Euro over the next four years.

The launch follows increasing demand from customers in the region for efficient and reliable transportation of goods in Vietnam.

Part of the investment will go towards additional vehicles and new hires. The company will also open five more branches in Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Vinh, An Giang and Ca Mau province to support the service, thereby increasing the total number of TNT’s branches in Vietnam to 23.

According to regional managing director for TNT Asia Onno Boots TNT aims to expand its presence in key emerging markets by growing its domestic footprint and regional capabilities to support intra-regional and international trade growth.

“With GDP growth rates projected as high as 10 per cent by analysts, Vietnam is a rapidly emerging economy. More than USD13 billion in foreign investments is also expected to pour into Vietnam’s economy this year to further boost its manufacturing and industrial sectors,” he says.

“Given the tremendous business opportunities, TNT will continue to invest in developing innovative solutions so that businesses in Vietnam can enjoy the greatest flexibility in choosing the right and most cost-effective transportation solution to meet their business needs.”

“Fast tracking our growth in Vietnam also supports our growth strategy to focus on enhancing the efficient flow of goods and information across borders, thereby facilitating companies’ access to other international markets, in particular China,” Boots says.

This initiative also supports the recent expansion of TNT’s Asia Road Network into Vietnam which will prepare the company for accelerated high double digit growth as part of its strategic agenda for the next three to five years. TNT also plans to extend the Asia Road Network to reach China through the north-eastern border of Vietnam by the end of 2007.

As with all its services, TNT will offer an integrated and comprehensive range of services for time definite door-to-door express delivery of documents, parcels and freight in Vietnam.

Customers can expect full track and trace visibility, round the clock support as well as a 60-minute pick-up service for consignments from the moment TNT is notified.

Customers can also look forward to additional benefits such as a ‘receiver pays’ solution where receivers are invoiced the transportation charges for added convenience.

New billing options for 3PLs

RedPrairie Corporation’s Warehouse Management (WMS) and Workforce Management solutions provide new features and billing options to support third party logistics (3PL) providers.

The new user-defined billing options span all operations including receipt check in, putaway, picking, loading, storage, and value-added services.

Together, the new features and billing models provide more flexibility and configurable workflows to third party providers.

“RedPrairie is proud of its history of providing specific supply chain solutions for 3PL providers,” says Tom Kozenski, Vice President of Product Strategy for RedPrairie.

“With an increasing percentage of companies outsourcing their logistics to third party providers, we saw a further opportunity to provide additional tools and features that give 3PL providers the flexibility they need to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.”

Included in the offering are features created for 3PL’s that focus on specific vertical industries including Automotive OEM suppliers, food cold chain storage providers, co-packers that operate in the CPG industry and retailer cross-dock facilities.

according to Senior Vice President of Tippmann Group/Interstate Warehousing Matt Helbling Interstate Warehousing is one of the largest public refrigerated warehouse companies in North America, with a long history of providing superior customer service.

“RedPrairie’s ability to provide Interstate with flexible third-party billing solutions and innovative development processes has been instrumental to our ability to exceed our customers’ expectations,” he says.

Airfreight fleet for Toll

Unveiled at Brisbane airport, Toll Holdings’ new dedicated air fleet includes three Boeing 737-300F and two ATR42 aircraft.

The company says the new planes, together with its 50 charter aircraft, would provide a key platform for freighter services.

A significant milestone for Toll, the agreement brings together the vital core components required to provide a seamless efficient air-freight network.

According to CEO Paul Little, Toll now has the capability to provide efficient and competitive air line-haul services to support the growth in the air express market.

“We expect the business to grow strongly,” he says.

In addition, Toll and discount carrier Virgin Blue, in which Toll has the majority stake, have agreed to enter into a long-term deal for the provision of freight capacity on the Virgin Blue fleet.

“This agreement enables Toll to secure important belly space capacity and operational management throughout the Virgin Blue network, whilst providing Virgin Blue with a strong revenue stream anticipated to grow rapidly,” Little says.

Source AAP newswire

Sanitarium automates

Sanitarium, home of ‘Australia’s favourite trademark’, Weetbix, is making a multi-million dollar upgrade to its historic Cooranbong, plant in NSW.

The development will transform Sanitarium’s production and warehouse processes into one of the most modern and efficient in the world.

Since opening on the site of an old sawmill in Cooranbong, NSW, in 1899, Sanitarium has now been producing cereals there for well over 100 years.

To this day, the company proudly remains 100 per cent Australian owned and has now appointed another big Australian, Robotic Automation P/L, to design and install new systems that will take the company forward to meet the challenges of an increasingly competitive marketplace.

“The drivers behind this project include a need to reduce manual handling functions on the Cooranbong site leading to a reduced risk of injuries as well as productivity improvements,” says Sanitarium general manager of operations, Darryn Woolley.

“The Robotic Automation solution is right for Sanitarium as it provides a ‘whole of project’ approach, taking responsibility from packet receival to warehouse storage coupled with space efficiency, given the site’s limited available footprint.”

Robotic Automation, Australia’s largest supplier of robotic solutions, will use a combination of robotics, automatic guided vehicles (AGVs), labelling, and pallet-wrapping technologies to provide a seamless chain of automation through the production line and on through warehouse and despatch departments. This turn-key solution is set to deliver new levels of safety, efficiency and commercial viability.

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