New seafood research centre

Australia’s seafood industry will benefit from a new research centre in South Australia that will focus on value-adding seafood products, better management practices, and improved access to premium export markets.

Scientists from the new Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre (Seafood CRC) will benefit the seafood processing industry in particular by looking at processing along the supply chain and developing better approaches to marketing seafood, as well as examining critical issues in managing delivery along the value chain for the aquaculture and wild-catch industries.

The Seafood CRC brings together the expertise of universities, research organisations, peak bodies and seafood industry stakeholders to increase the sustainability and profitability of the seafood sector.

Warehouse staff productivity boost

Leading UK retailer of value books, crafts and gifts, The Works is optimising labour productivity at its 24 x 7 Sutton Coldfield distribution centre using Workforce Management from RedPrairie.

With annual revenues of £100 million and 2,500 employees, The Works stocks items from 500 suppliers and introduces around 100 new product lines each week at its 300 stores.

The company implemented Workforce Management to build on the 25% increase in picking efficiency already achieved with RedPrairie’s Warehouse Management solution and to transform the performance of its warehouse operatives.

The Works Supply Chain Manager Diane Smith says managers now benefit from dynamic workforce reporting functionality via a PC-based user interface that delivers accurate expectations for picking tasks, taking into account preferred work methods, such as travel distances, weight and environmental factors.

In just five months, operator productivity has grown by 25% while increased employee motivation has reduced staff turnover.

In addition, new starters are trained faster and with best-practice operating methods that enable them to be productive from day one. The system has already paid for itself and there are further benefits expected.

Real-time monitoring enables team-leaders to measure the up-to-the-minute performance of individuals or teams and alerts them to potential problems before they disrupt warehouse operations.

Workforce Management’s job costing functionality ensures that labour costs are allocated correctly while its web-based reporting tools provide timely insight into irregularities.

“Implementing RedPrairie’s Workforce Management solution has created a performance-focused culture at the Works that supports the company’s commitment to developing employees potential and rewarding their loyalty and dedication to serving customers,” Smith comments.

“As a finalist in the 2005 Investors in People Award for Business Improvement Through People™, The Works has already been recognised for the value it places on staff training and development.”

Following the implementation of Workforce Management, operatives now fully understand expectations and opportunities and are better motivated to contribute at a higher level than ever before in a fairer system that rewards above-average performers.

Workforce Management also helps managers identify process weaknesses and other problems that prevent staff from reaching their targets and enables less productive team members to be given the assistance they need to reach their potential.

With the success of RedPrairie’s Workforce Management solution at Sutton Coldfield, The Works plans to capitalise on its investment and maximise the benefits to its business.

The company is evaluating RedPrairie’s retail workforce solutions for its 300 retail outlets that are set to increase in number to 400 over the next few years.

Leveraging its investment in RedPrairie’s productivity-enhancing solutions will help boost employee performance and efficiency throughout the entire supply chain and retail operations.

“RedPrairie’s workforce management suite reinforces our position as an employer who recognises that staff motivation and development are key to business productivity and growth,” says Smith.

“Workforce Management makes workers self-accountable for their performance, enabling supervisors to become coaches and mentors, which results in a more efficient business and rewarding workplace.”

Workforce Management’s sophisticated work forecasting capabilities will optimise use of personnel resources at The Works, resulting in improved delivery times to stores and a better service to end customers.

The Works Chief Executive Derek Hine says implementing Workforce Management builds on the company’s strategy to maximise the value of RedPrairie’s Warehouse Management solution (WMS).

“This will help us meet our growth targets while continuing to reduce order fulfilment and labour costs.”

“We are delighted to have increased operative performance by 25% within a few months of go-live and confidently expect even greater workforce efficiencies with Workforce Management in the years to come,” he says.

RedPrairie Managing Director and President International says The Works’ success testifies to the deserved reputation of RedPrairie’s workforce optimisation solutions for retail and our undisputed market leadership in this sector.

“We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial partnership with The Works as they continue to drive revenues and profitability through innovation in their stores and supply chain operations.”

Consumers go green

An increasing number of Australian consumers are becoming ‘eco shoppers’ and don’t mind paying a little bit extra to clear their conscience, according to organic retail success story, Pierce Cody, Director, Macro Wholefoods.

Having effectively expanded an organic food store in Bondi Junction into a chain of eight supermarket/cafes in Sydney and Melbourne, Cody believes that consumers are becoming more environmentally aware and are looking to retailers for eco-friendly stores, products and experiences, regardless of the bottom line.

“Retailers need to stay attuned to customer feedback, and ‘conscious consumers’, as I like to call them, are impressed by eco-friendly retailers,” said Cody, who will present Price is not as relevant when your store is in tune with your customers at Australia’s leading retail conference.

Eco-shoppers tend to ‘interrogate’ product labels, marketing campaigns and staff, all with the planet’s wellbeing in mind. They are however, willing to overlook higher prices if retailers offer genuine ‘green’ options.

“Today’s conscious consumers expect retailers to be ‘green’ and are willing to pay for that because they also get the ‘feel good’ feeling that comes with making the choice to look after the environment,” he said.

“Like all things, some consumers will see eco shopping as a passing fad, whilst some others have it truly embedded in their psyche, and they are becoming a growing majority.”

Cody will feature amongst an impressive line up of speakers at the National Retail Forum, including one of Al Gore’s Climate Change Leaders, Gilbert Rochecouste, Director, Village Well. Rochecouste will discuss examples of Australian, European and US retailers that are profiting from making environmental statements.

Running alongside the National Retail Forum is Retail Expo Australasia, Australia’s largest retail exhibition. Showcasing environmentally friendly products including energy efficient lighting systems with 50,000 hour life and solar guard roofing that blocks over 99 per cent of ultraviolet radiation and 95 per cent of infrared heat, Retail Expo will offer retailers the information and products they need to respond to this growing window of opportunity.

Kennards rolls out the forklifts

Kennards Hire has introduced new-model Toyota forklifts into other parts of its extensive branch network after a successful start in Melbourne.

Dual-powered (LPG and petrol), 42-7FG25 model forklifts, which are road registered and can fit inside a container, can now also be hired from Kennards’ outlets in Sydney and  Perth.

Because Kennards has so many locations – more than 90 across Australia – the machines can be accessed quickly, particularly for short-term needs such as emergencies, overload, seasonal requirements and casual hire.

Brisbane-based Hedgehog Events used the new forklifts to erect and dismantle a stand at the Queensland on Show jobs expo, which was staged in Melbourne in August and Sydney in October.

More than 5000 people in each city visited the expo to explore the opportunity of starting a new life up north. Hedgehog Events had responsibility for the Queensland Government stand.

“We use Kennards because they have locations wherever we work throughout Australia, and we know we are going to get good quality equipment,” Hedgehog Events’ managing director Shane Rushbrook said.

Other forklift models are available elsewhere in the Kennards’ network.

CHEP snares Woolworths deal

CHEP has announced a six-year service agreement with Australia’s leading fresh food retailer Woolworths Limited.

Under the agreement, CHEP will supply and manage its specially-designed collapsible produce crates to Woolworths’ Vendors who will exclusively provide Produce packed in the new crates to Woolworths supermarkets across Australia and New Zealand.

The president of CHEP Asia-Pacific, Howard Wigham, said the agreement was the largest in the history of CHEP in the Asia-Pacific region, and would double CHEP’s ‘Fresh’ business.

“This agreement will set a benchmark in supply chain efficiency, safety and environmental performance, placing leading-edge foldable crates into Australia’s fresh produce supply chain, delivering best-in-class performance for the first time,” Mr Wigham said.

“It covers the supply, tracking, retrieval and inspection of used crates, and the repairing, washing and relocating of the crates for their next use.

The reusable, returnable and recyclable crates will carry produce from farm to supermarket shelves.

Mr Wigham said CHEP Asia-Pacific searched the globe to develop a fresh produce system that delivers optimal value, helps reduce OH&S risks associated with manual handling, is environmentally efficient and protects the quality of produce from the farm to the supermarket shelf.

As part of the undertaking, CHEP will upgrade its crate-washing service centre network with recycling systems that cut water usage and sewer discharge by up to 90 per cent.

“This major initiative will help us work towards our vision of leaner, greener and safer supply chain solutions across Asia-Pacific,” Mr Wigham said.

IDSnet integration drives automated line

Coca-Cola Amatil’s Northmead plant will have the first highly automated, very repeatable processing line that’s virtually free from human intervention — from cans unloaded on the dock, to end-product stored in a high-bay warehouse.

Earlier this year, Matthews Intelligent Identification worked with Coca-Cola Amatil’s Northmead, NSW, plant to integrate coding equipment across its small PET bottle line. The resulting streamlined production offers major cost and output benefits in a plant that runs 24/7.

Northmead plant’s manufacturing manager, Cameron Tully, says besides the financial benefit, two other valuable gains have been peace of mind and noise avoidance.

“What it means is that when we are running, we are getting it right first time. It avoids the likelihood of product re-work, or even product write-off, just because of the wrong code being applied. That is a major contributor in achieving manufacturing lean practice.

“So there’s peace of mind there, but the other thing is that it has taken away a lot of ‘noise’ — or problems —  on that line. That too, has been very beneficial. We see some real advantages in the integrated system.”

Using iDSnet, Matthews integrated some 8 Linx coders, which it had supplied earlier, linking them all back to a central PC control.

Peter Evans, CCA’s site electrical engineer at Northmead, says the integration has achieved many goals.

“Since the integration, we’ve had no instances of re-work. Previously, if an encoder or trigger pulse failed, someone on the floor would have to physically see there was no code on product before we caught it.

“Complicating that, was operators individually adjusting all machines. The wrong code could potentially be entered into one machine, and if the codes on the carton and bottle were different, the pack would have to be pulled to bits, with all those bottles re-packed.”

The IDSnet integration sees a single operator, from the central PC, selecting which products will be run just by pushing one button. Information sent to the coders includes ink colour, and downloads to all the machines on that line.

“So in the case of Coke Zero, which needs a white code on the black lid, it tells only the white machines to run.

“The software can also do a check between two coders to make sure they are running the same code. It also does check counts between the sensor and the print signal.”

The savings were immediate in potential human error and production uptime.

Another goal of integration was to minimise machine downtime.

“If there’s a fault with a coder,” Peter says, “it will send a message through to that central control PC that a jet’s not running for example.” 

The software allows CCA to drill down on the health of each machine to detail previously unobtainable. For instance, each encoder and sensor, on individual machines, can be checked for operability. Monitoring depth also means operators can see what a single jet is doing from the control room, right down to how the ink is reacting on the machine.

Simplified maintenance is another benefit.

“Each coder also automatically generates an e-mail via the central PC on run hours, alerting our maintenance planner that it is due in so many hours time. Our planner then organises with Matthews to do the service. From a maintenance perspective, because we run 24/7, it’s a big plus.”

The IDSnet integration that has streamlined CCA’s small PET bottle line production activities will soon be extended to Northmead’s large PET bottle line and a new can line, including integrating fillers, right through to encompassing SSCC palletising labels.

Cameron Tully says, “We are putting the Matthews system on our new can line. This will be the first Coca-Cola plant in the southern hemisphere, probably one of the first in the world, where product processing will not be touched by any human intervention. It will be highly automated, and very repeatable.”

It will work like this: when a truck pulls up, cans are automatically unloaded off the dock; the cans go right through the line, then the finished product will be picked up by an automatic guided vehicle (AGV), transported a few hundred metres to the end feed of an automated, high-bay warehouse, and stored. A truck delivering for a major customer, such as Woolworths or Coles, can then pull up, and be loaded with pallets of product.

“It will be a showpiece line for CCA and the Coke system,” Cameron says.

Cameron says CCA Northmead began looking at Matthews’ system in terms of coding.

“The ideal being that we hit one button in terms of code and all the relevant coders on the line are updated. It’s a good system, so we’ve looked at where else we can apply it.”

Kinglifter in Australia

The KingLifter is designed and manufactured by Terberg Machines (based in the Netherlands) and comes to Australia with an impressive and proven track record throughout Europe. According to Clark Equipment, Australian transport and logistics operators have been impressed by its outstanding power-to-weight ratio, fast mount and dismount (less than 60 seconds), minimal overhang (1080mm) at the rear of a truck or trailer, and ergonomic design with safe driver position.

The KingLifter is available in three basic dimensions that can be tailored to any specific application, and delivered in custom livery. The KingLifter S is the most compact in the range and is ideal for restricted access and confined turning spaces. Its low tare weight and excellent load capacity make it a viable alternative to fixed loading devices such as the tailgate loader.

The most popular all-round machine in the range is the KingLifter M with its impressive list of drive and mast options to suit a wide range of applications. It has been successfully employed in transporting beverages through to building materials, agriculture and horticulture, chemicals and waste collection, petrochemical products, public works, internal transport and logistics, and long loads.

The KingLifter L is the most powerful all-round machine in the range. Operators can specify their machine from a comprehensive list of options including 38.0 hp or 50.2 hp direct-injection diesel engine, 1-wheel or 3-wheel drive, 4-way steering, 2000kg or 2500kg lifting capacity, 2800mm to 4050mm lifting height, super reach for loading from one side only, fixed or retractable legs, plus fork and wheel options. 

Visit www.clarkequipment.com.au.

Mobile forklift goes nationwide

Specialist Australian forklift manufacturer, DMA Mobile Forklifts Pty Ltd, has experienced strong growth in the last eight months following steady enquiry about the company’s unique mobile ‘forktrucks’. 
 
What began as a simple business idea only two years ago has blossomed into a burgeoning business, seeing deliveries of the versatile forktruck all around Australia, as well as generating widespread interest as far away as New Zealand.
 
Combining the lifting power of a forklift with the convenience and road going capability of a small truck, the mobile forklifts are well suited to a large variety of tasks and applications.
 
Manufactured in partnership with TMF Engineering Solutions in Shepparton, Victoria, DMA Mobile Forklifts are designed on the Isuzu NKR 200 cab chassis and feature a rearward facing 2-tonne forklift capable of lifting up to 4.8 metres.
The vehicles feature dual gearing, brakes and steering allowing complete control from both the forklift and the truck cab, while a reversing camera helps ease of use and improves safety.
 
The latest trucks also have a tow hitch fitted rated at 3,500 kg, enabling owners to tow materials to the site, which can then be unloaded once the trailer is unhitched.
 
Whereas traditional forklifts need to be loaded onto a truck or trailer, transported to the work site and then unloaded, with the process reversed once the job is completed, the DMA forktruck can be driven straight to where it’s needed at legal road speeds.
 
Once the fork truck arrives on site it can begin the job immediately, allowing for timelier job completion and far less expense to the client.
 
According to DMA Mobile Forklifts’ proprietor, Ray Cox, recent demand for the forktrucks has been strong. "Trucks have already been delivered to just about every state with several more on order," Mr Cox said, "there’s even been keen interest from New Zealand where we soon hope to send our first shipment of trucks.

World

After groundbreaking research and development, the structural design team at Dematic has created a new drive-in rack system.  According to Dematic, the new drive-in system is the lowest cost solution for high density storage on the market, and the new design has been optimised by using stronger and bigger components, but less of them.
 
Drive-in pallet racking is the lowest cost and most popular form of high-density pallet storage. While providing excellent storage capacity, drive-in racking does restrict access, with the first pallet in being the last pallet out. Drive-in racking is ideal for many industry sectors including general manufacturing, food manufacturing and the cold storage industry.
 
According to Dr Murray Clarke, Dematic’s structural design manager, the challenge for the design team was to examine ways of improving the structural efficiency of the system and standardising the component designs and manufacturing processes whilst not compromising on load capacity or safety.
 
“Four years ago we sat down with a blank piece of paper and an overarching philosophy to make the drive-in system bigger, better and stronger whilst reducing the number of components to ensure it remained cost competitive,” said Clarke.
 
“We examined the key components and looked at ways of simplifying their design and manufacture, as well as installation. We started with the uprights, which were previously available in 90 mm and 110 mm configurations, and increased these to 125 mm and 150 mm in width. This has enabled us to reduce the number of uprights, cantilever brackets and beams in a system. At the same time, the components we have developed have applications in other areas such as mezzanine floors and high rise racking as well,” he said.
 
Probably the most innovative element of the new system is the new and patented pallet runner. According to Dr Paul Berry, senior structural engineer, the new pallet runner is the result of extensive theoretical analysis, supported by prototype testing, to optimise the design.
 
“We spent many hours examining the shape and configuration of the pallet runner, and we are confident we have designed the most advanced one in the world,” said Berry. “The new patented design is capable of large spans, easily managing spans of 2400 mm, and it minimises the vertical deflection and virtually eliminates horizontal deflection and twist. Also, the pallet runner is bolted from underneath, avoiding any catchpoints, and has holes punched at 50 mm intervals, providing greater flexibility in frame depth,” he said.
 
The new system also includes innovative, one-piece, formed cantilever brackets that wrap securely around the upright, ensuring negligible rotation under load. The streamlined ‘Protect-a-Rack’ wraps around the base of the upright with the angled profile deflecting impacts and the streamlined design maximising clear bay entry.
 
Heavy duty bracing connects symmetrically to the upright, which increases the strength and load-carrying capacity while reducing the amount of bracing needed. A backstop is positioned at the end of the pallet runner to prevent pallets being pushed too far into the depth of the rack, eliminating potential damage to spine bracing and further increasing safety. Heavy duty, purpose designed floor channels help guide the forklift, ensuring quick and easy alignment, safer handling, and greater protection of the rack.
 
“The inherent flexibility within the system’s design makes it modular and capable of accommodating most customer requirements, including custom pallets,” said Berry. “For example, we’ve had great success in the cold storage industry where pallet density is the key issue and we’ve had to construct the drive-in around cooling fans.  It hasn’t been a problem, and because everything is so modular we are able to provide faster installation times,” he said.
 
An additional tool developed by the Dematic team is the sophisticated design software program ‘Rackman’, short for rack manager.
 
“The ‘Rackman’ program provides Dematic and the Colby distributor network with a very valuable tool and a marked competitive advantage,” said Clarke. “By entering the customers’ requirements, we are able to configure the best and most cost effective storage solution. ‘Rackman’ configures the system and carries out advanced structural calculations to ensure it is compliant with design standards.
 
“The customer can tweak the design and change the height and weight of pallets and the program will check the design and calculate the required floor loading. Finally, the cost of the storage system is calculated, all in a matter of a few minutes. This would have taken hours not so long ago,” he said.
 
 “The market has responded in a positive manner to the new drive-in rack and we already have a number of happy customers in a range of installations, across a number of industries,” said Clarke.
 
(end)
 
Caption (1): Dr Murray Clarke (left) and Dr Paul Berry with the new drive-in rack system installed at Dematic’s Belrose manufacturing facility.
 
Two more images to come.

Outsourcing logistics functions: examining the trend

Shams Rahman
 
The logistics sector in Australia worth approximately A$57 billion or 9% of Australia’s GDP (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002). The significance of logistics as an economic activity is obvious when comparing its contribution with economic contributions of other sectors such as construction (5.9%), retail (5.2%), tourism (4.5%) and education (4.4%) (ABS, 2000). Of the A$57 billion logistics sector, approximately A$26 billion (or about 46%) worth of logistics functions are currently being outsourced to 3rd party logistics (3PL) providers and the market is growing.
 
In this study we have adopted the following definition of outsourced logistics functions:
 
“The outsourced logistics involves the use of external companies (3PL providers) to perform logistics functions that have traditionally been performed within an organisation. The functions performed by the 3PL providers can encompass the entire logistics process or selected activities within the process.”
 
Using a sample of companies listed in Australia’s top 500 companies, this study examines the following:
•           Level at which the decisions to outsource are made.
•           Length of contracts with 3PL providers.
•           Types of logistics functions outsourced.
•           Satisfaction level of customer with 3PL providers.
•           Organisational impact from using 3PL services.
This study was conducted in 2003. To assess the trend in the outsourced services, the results of this study were compared with two previous studies in Australia conducted in 1995 and 1999.
 
A total of 200 firms were selected for the study. Logistics/operations managers were identified and sent copies of survey questionnaires, together with a cover letter and a pre-paid reply envelope. In order to maximise the response rate and to avoid non-response bias affecting the transferability of the findings, the following procedure was used: first, companies listed in the database of participants were contacted by phone. The names of the relevant managers and their current contact details were obtained. Where possible, an attempt was made to speak to the relevant manager about the aim and the content of the survey. Then a reminder call was made to the relevant managers approximately two to three weeks after the mail out. Those who had not responded were encouraged to do so, and those who had not received the package were sent a second copy. The survey resulted in a response rate of 18%. A large proportion of the companies who responded had between 101 and 500 employees (39%). Thirty per cent of the companies had over 1,000 employees, and about one-quarter (25%) of the companies had between 501 and 1,000 employees.
 
Trend in the usage of outsourcing logistics functions over the period of 1995-2003
 
The survey revealed that 66 per cent of the respondents use outsourced logistics functions from one or more 3PL providers. Of those companies currently outsourcing, about three-quarters (74%) indicated that their companies use services of more than one contract 3PL provider. Compared with a 1996 study, this study showed a slight increase (from 61% to 66%) in the extent of the use of 3PL services. However, this increase is not as significant as in the case of US where the use of 3PL services increased from 65% to 83% between 1991 and 2003. This could reflect the expansion of service offerings by providers to users, an increase in specialised 3PL services, and the competitive nature of Australian companies. This supports an earlier theoretical proposition which suggests that one important reason for the growth of 3PL services is that companies compete in a number of businesses that are logistically distinct due to varied customer needs.
 
At which organisational level the decisions to use outsourced logistics services are made?
 
The surveyed firms were asked to indicate the organisational level (corporate, divisional, and local level), at which the decision to use outsourced logistics services originated within their companies. In 65% of cases, this decision was undertaken at the corporate level. This finding represents a significant departure from both the 1995 and 1999 studies, where the figures were 38% and 51% respectively. These results indicate that the decision to use outsourced logistics functions are becoming the realm of the corporate, rather than the divisional or local level.
How long are the contracts with the 3PL providers?
 
The respondents were asked to indicate if their current contracts were less than one year, between one to three years in length, or over three years. The results showed that of respondents who used 3PL contracts, 61% had been using them for more than three years. This result is consistent with the findings of previous studies. However, compared with the previous two studies, this study recorded a significantly larger percentage of respondents using 3PL contacts for less than one year. This is an important observation which was not reflected in the previous Australian studies.
 
Which logistics functions are being outsourced?
 
The typical user of 3PL services purchases multiple logistics services and thus the range of services used is quite extensive. Respondents indicated that the most frequently used logistics functions were: warehouse management (64%), order fulfilment (59%), fleet management (41%). Product returns, shipment consolidation and order processing all recorded 27%. There appears to be a sharp increase in the use of warehouse management and order fulfilment compared with the previous Australian studies. Fleet management has fallen but the relationship between fleet management and shipment consolidation has remained consistent.
Are customers satisfied with 3PL providers?
 
About 86% per cent of respondents claimed that they were satisfied or very satisfied with using 3PL providers. Compared with the finding of the 1995 study, the level of satisfaction has dropped (from 96% to 86%). The results also show that the satisfaction at the ‘very satisfied’ level has dropped, and the level of dissatisfaction has increased. However, Lieb and Kendrick (2003) have observed that an important indication of the satisfaction of a firm with 3PL services is its plans for future usage of such services. This information was captured by asking: ‘How would you modify your company’s use of contract logistics companies if given complete responsibility for the decision?’ Of the companies who responded, 81% indicated they would moderately or substantially increase the use of 3PL services. This finding is comparable with the finding of the 1995 study (84%).
What are the organisational impacts from using 3PL service providers?
 
Historically, the negative impact that accompanies a decision to use a 3PL provider relates to the downsizing of the logistics workforce of the user. Fifty-five per cent of participants in this study indicated that the use of 3PL service providers had permitted their organisation to reduce the number of full-time logistics positions. It showed that 80% of the users reduced up to 20% of their full-time logistics staff. This figure is higher than the results found in the 1995 study. In one-fifth of the firms, over 40% of the logistics staff was eliminated. This is larger than the 33% indicated in the 1999 study and the 22% in the 1995 study.
 
This study reaffirmed a consistent consensus that the major positive impact from using 3PL services relates to performance (86%), costs (82%), and customer satisfaction (82%). These findings are consistent with the results of the 1999 study. However, employee morale has been adversely affected in 50% of users. This is not unexpected, given the elimination in logistics headcount accompanying outsourcing. The study shows that most users perceive a very positive impact from system performance but this may be indicative that performance measures are anecdotal rather than objective.
Implications
 
The study’s findings have significant implications. We observe that the decision to use outsourced logistics functions is becoming the realm of the corporate, rather than the divisional or local level. This study indicates that a great many users are relinquishing in-house operations and using 3PL service providers and the main 3PL services used were warehouse management, fleet management and order fulfilment. The level of satisfaction with 3PL service providers is high and is reflected in the indication to continue their use in the future. Thus, it appears that the use of 3PL services will continue to grow over the next several years. However, it does not direct our knowledge as to what areas of the logistics services will be outsourced the most.
 
The choice to retain more than one 3PL provider may reflect the caution of Australian businesses in retaining a ‘fall back’ 3PL in the event of uncertainties. The use of multiple contractors may also reflect the specialist nature of logistics providers in Australia. The providers may specialise in only one or two functions such as transport and warehousing, and not in other functions that the user may require. Given the small industry syndrome in Australia compared with the US and European industries, this feature is quite understandable.
 
The results show that the use of 3PL service providers is increasing in two ways: first, more firms are beginning to use 3PL services and second, more Australian firms are using 3PL service providers for more functions along their supply chains, i.e. the scope and depth of outsourcing logistics services are increasing. This indicates that the trend has changed over the past seven years from an increase in usage of 3PL services to an increased usage as well as increased depth of usage of services along the supply chain.
 
Shams Rahman is the director of the Logistics and Supply Chain Management Program at the School of Management, RMIT University in Melbourne. Email shams.rahman@rmit.edu.au. Space constraints prevent us from reprinting the full reference list, please contact the author for further information.

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