All the way to Mexico

Emirates SkyCargo is fast-tracking its expansion into the Americas, offering offline cargo capacity to Mexico from 14th November, after having launched direct non-stop services to Sao Paulo and Toronto in October.

Emirates SkyCargo has appointed Mexican Cargo Sales Representative as its Cargo Sales Agent and its Mexican operation is now officially open for business. Cargo from Mexico will connect to Emirates’ route network from New York and Frankfurt, using interline partners such as Atlas Air, Aeromexico and Mexican. The Atlas Air freighter capacity will be offered every Thursday from Frankfurt to Mexico and on the return flight every Friday.

Fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, coffee and cotton; temperature sensitive products; and oil industry machinery are expected to dominate exports from Mexico. Aircraft and auto parts, metalworking machines, agricultural machinery, electrical goods, electronics and various manufactured goods from Emirates SkyCargo’s network are expected to make their way into Mexico.

Emirates SkyCargo’s cool chain solutions that maintain constant temperatures for shipments throughout its transportation cycle, across countries and different climactic conditions, are slated to become a huge success in the Mexican market.

Emirates SkyCargo now serves the Americas with belly-hold capacity in three daily services to New York; six non-stop weekly services to Sao Paulo; and three non-stop weekly services to Toronto. On 3rd December it will launch thrice-weekly non-stop services to Houston.

Singapore Airlines Cargo launches e-freight program

Singapore Airlines Cargo is replacing the paper documents that typically accompany airfreight, with electronic information.

Over the past several months, the airline has been working closely with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and actively engaging key industry players like freight forwarders, ground handling agents, local customs administrations and airport authorities at several locations to prepare for the pilot programme.

Yesterday, the paper-free era for SIA Cargo began with the simultaneous launch of e-freight shipments between Singapore and London, and between Singapore and Amsterdam. The airline also plans to commence e-freight trials between Singapore and Hong Kong from 16 November 2007.

Goh Choon Phong, president of SIA Cargo commented: “Pushing for cost efficiency is a key priority for SIA Cargo, and the e-freight initiative will benefit all partners in the airfreight supply chain by eliminating cumbersome documentation that costs the industry over a billion dollars a year.  I thank all the key industry players for their dedication, teamwork and commitment to make this historic project a success.

“Moreover, replacing paperwork with electronic information is also in line with our corporate mission to keep our operations environmentally friendly,” he added.



Collision avoidance technology for trucks

Today’s mine haul trucks are massive vehicles in which drivers have limited vision and cannot see anything within around 30 metres. If a smaller vehicle on the mine site gets in the way of one of these monsters, the consequences can be dire.

CSIRO Exploration & Mining’s Dr Patrick Glynn is leading a research project to help solve this problem by developing a 360 degree proximity detection system.

"We took a standard Doppler radar system and adapted it with integrated signal processing," Dr Glynn said.

"The technology will alert the driver if a hidden object is moving relative to the mine haul truck, what direction it is moving, what its rate of change is, and whether a collision will occur. In all cases the system reports to the driver in one tenth of a second, far shorter than the average reaction time for a driver of about one second."

The Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP), which is funding this research, awarded Dr Glynn a 2007 ACARP Award for Research Excellence.

In his citation for Dr Glynn, ACARP Executive Director Mark Bennetts said, "Given the competence of the science providers engaged in the 175 current ACARP research projects, it is a real accomplishment to win this award and a strong vote of confidence in your team."

While the research is still in its development stage, a prototype has been tested at Goonyella riverside, one of the largest open cut coal mines in Australia, located in Queensland’s Bowen basin south west of Mackay.

Current plans are to tie in the system with an existing reversing camera and monitor. Additional video cameras will automatically display a detected vehicle on the monitor, along with its speed and position.

"The real challenge is to provide information in a natural way so that the driver does not have to take their eyes off the road. Drivers already have a lot on their hands and should not be overloaded with information," Dr Glynn says.

"In a recent accident in South Africa, a light vehicle came between two haul trucks. Dust hid the light vehicle from the second truck which ran straight over it.

"I want to avoid a repeat of any incident such as this. If they had effective collision avoidance technology on board, they could have taken evasive action."

For more information contact Patrick Glynn, CSIRO Exploration & Mining on (07) 3327 4636 or email

Photo: Side looking Doppler radar antenna mounted on a mine haul truck at BMA Goonyella coal mine.

Leaner means greener

Maersk Logistics, part of the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group, has launched a new carbon footprint reduction service worldwide. The new service – the SupplyChain CarbonCheck – is a consulting service aimed at supporting companies in reducing carbon emissions from their supply chains. The service is claimed to be the first of its kind developed by a logistics provider specifically to address global supply chains.

Maersk recognises that global warming is one of the largest challenges of this century. Carbon emissions are the main contributor and are a key target in its efforts to provide environmentally friendly solutions.

“An increasing number of customers are showing interest in their carbon footprint from supply chain-related activities and are asking us for ways to reduce it”, said Henrik Ramskov, global head of Maersk Logistics. “Traditionally, efforts for reducing carbon emissions have focused on manufacturing processes and domestic distribution. However, for our customers involved in international sourcing, the global supply chain holds significant potential for reducing carbon emissions; potential that has so far largely gone untapped.”

“With our new service offering, Maersk Logistics identifies and implements solutions for reducing carbon emissions in our customers’ supply chains,” said Erling J. Nielsen, global head of supply chain development for Maersk Logistics. “And for our customers, there are additional benefits from conducting a SupplyChain CarbonCheck and putting the findings into practice. In supply chains, leaner means greener. This is why reduced carbon emissions typically come along with lower overall logistics costs and maintained or even improved service levels. A win-win situation for our customers and the environment!”

Once it has calculated a customer’s current carbon footprint, the service simulates carbon emissions for alternative supply chain scenarios and compares the results with the current footprint. This comparison reveals potentials for reducing carbon emissions, which are then evaluated in terms of ease of implementation and cost savings. Finally, Maersk assists the customer in putting the recommendations into practice.


Etihad and Virgin Blue form interline partnership

Etihad Airways and Virgin Blue today announced a comprehensive interline agreement which will provide travellers, and presumably air cargo, with seamless connectivity to 22 Australian cities and from Brisbane and Sydney to Abu Dhabi and beyond.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ chief executive officer, said, “The closer cooperation with Virgin Blue will enhance significantly the travel experience and potential destinations for Etihad customers flying to Australia.

“Etihad strives to make as many global destinations available to our customers whether it is opening up new routes of our own or through strategic agreements with other airlines.”

Virgin Blue Chief Executive, Brett Godfrey, said,“The new interline partnership means Virgin Blue Guests who also choose to book international travel with Etihad can travel from anywhere on our network to any of Etihad’s 45 international destinations with ease.”

Etihad launched its daily service from Abu Dhabi to Sydney in March 2007, which was followed in September by the opening of its three flights a week servicing the Brisbane.

The Sydney route has proved such a success, with more than 60,000 passengers flying on the sector since its launch, that in March 2008 Etihad will increase the service to 11 flights a week.

Trucking association calls for reduced train speeds

A review of high train speeds on routes with only passive level crossings and frequent vehicle use has been called for by the Australian Trucking Association, (ATA).

In a submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Inquiry into Improving Safety at Level Crossings, the ATA has outlined high train speeds should only occur where grade separation or active crossings with suitable clearance times are present.

With level crossing crashes likely to increase without intervention, due to increasing transport demand across the board, the ATA has addressed the importance of road rail crossing design and appropriate train speeds.

"The ideal situation for any crossing is grade separation, thereby avoiding any potential for direct impacts between trains and motor vehicles," said ATA chief executive, Stuart St Clair.

The ATA notes the subsequent release of a report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on the Results on Trails for Heavy Vehicle Clearance Times at Level Crossings.

The ATSB study targeted the Fountain Head Road Level Crossing in the Northern Territory. Its final analysis identified the Australian Standard used to assess lines of sight as ‘probably inadequate’ for the

large truck combinations tested. The time taken for road trains to traverse the level crossing was recorded and assessed against available time given the sight distance and train speed of 115 kilometres per hour, which showed inadequacies, such that any driver would be unable to make an informed decision on whether it would be safe to proceed into the crossing.

Although this particular study took place at only one level crossing, the ATSB report explained similar issues are likely to exist at other level crossings used by road trains and where train speeds are relatively high. A risk-based approach is required that considers frequency of use of passive level crossings by road users.

"The ATSB findings only enforce the ATA’s position that trains are simply going too fast through some passive level crossings," said Mr St Clair. "We do not want to see yet another avoidable level crossing accident or even a near miss; there is a need for road and rail providers to step up and adopt more effective risk minimisation programs," he said.

The ATA understands that level crossing incidents represent a relatively small percentage of road user crash rates; yet they continue to remain a significant issue for rail and road operators.

The ATA believes that train speeds could be adjusted to match the available ‘line of sight’ at passive crossings with high traffic flows to improve safety.

"It is simply too dangerous and unacceptable if drivers, who are fully adhering to the road laws, cannot clear a crossing before a train travelling at high speed consumes the available line of sight," said Mr St Clair. "Rail operators need to match train speeds to level crossing types and available lines of sight and develop a further awareness to the traffic mix using the crossings."

Port Kembla car terminal open

New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma has unveiled the new car handling terminal at Port Kembla, beginning a new era in the state’s shipping industry.

Car carriers will soon start unloading the bulk of their cargo at Port Kembla’s inner harbour. The new terminal will handle all car imports from next year, when the city’s terminals at Glebe Island and White Bay close.

Premier  Iemma claimed the decision to move imports was not just about solving space problems at Sydney Harbour.

"We picked Port Kembla for a very deliberate reason and that was that we wanted to boost jobs in the Illawarra."

He says the move will also make use of the available land and facilities at Port Kembla.

Two 55,000 tonne carriers have already arrived at the port and will start unloading their cargo later today.


GrainCorp to acquire Hunter Grain

The acquisition, for $26.5 million (subject to any final purchase adjustments), is part of GrainCorp’s strategy to increase utilisation of port facilities and increase services to the domestic market, as well as to diversify earnings.

Mr Don Taylor, chairman of GrainCorp, says this acquisition complements GrainCorp’s port, international and domestic marketing and road transport capabilities, and provides further expansion into domestic markets on the east and west coasts of Australia. “The synergies in storage and handling, logistics and marketing activities enable GrainCorp to secure new earnings from trading co-products, increasing market share in domestic grain and further utilising the extensive bulk handling infrastructure network.

“This acquisition allows GrainCorp to further diversify into other agri-products and port activities, generating countercyclical earnings during poor seasonal conditions such as we are experiencing now. It also strengthens relationships with existing stockfeed customers through the supply and distribution of imported and domestic feedstuffs” said Mr Taylor.

Hunter Grain is Australia’s largest distributor of imported protein meals principally operating from port distribution centres at Kooragang (Newcastle), Brisbane, Geelong and Perth. Furthermore, it also operates a transport division comprising company-owned and sub-contractor trucks, and a trading business for grain. Hunter Grain has a turnover of $250 million and employs 30 staff with trading offices in Sydney and transport offices at Cowra. Hunter Grain will operate as a discrete business unit of GrainCorp, to be headed by the existing Chief Operating Officer Mr Malcolm Berry, and will continue to trade as Hunter Grain. The acquisition is expected to be completed, subject to customary conditions, by November 2007.

McArthur workers now political hot potato

The federal Workplace Relations Minister has told a group of people protesting outside his office it is up to the New South Wales Government to help owner drivers who worked for failed trucking company McArthur Express.

The Transport Workers Union wants a Federal Government scheme that has secured the wages and entitlements of the company’s employees expanded to include owner drivers and subcontractors.

Joe Hockey told protesters outside his North Sydney office that owner drivers were covered by the state industrial relations system.

Mr Hockey called on the State Government to protect the workers.

"They can’t pass the buck," he said. "They actually have to do their job and they leave poor people like [these people] here out in the lurch.

"I’m not going to let the matter rest and I’m not going to let the State Government off the hook after they demanded responsibility for this area of law and now they are walking away.

"I think that is terrible."

But the NSW Industrial Relations Minister, John Della Bosca, says he will not budge, despite a second day of demands by the Federal Government.

He says it is not the State Government’s responsibility to help the owner drivers.

"Mr Hockey is playing political games with these people’s livelihoods," he said.

"He could fix this scheme with the stroke of a pen. He knows the point that they are treated by state legislation and all other practical purposes as employees.

"He’s stubbornly refusing to vary his legislation because he is playing politics with hardworking Australians livelihoods."

Port Kembla govt rail infrastructure handed to port corporation

Port Kembla Port Corporation has taken control of all government rail infrastructure and land in Port Kembla, on the New South Wales south coast, after a transfer from the State Government today.

The transfer involves rail assets, including 25 kilometres of rail track and sidings, being handed over by the Rail Infrastructure Corporation.

The chief executive officer of Port Kembla Port Corporation, Dom Figliomeni, says the network now includes the coal and grain rail systems, as well as the rail link to the new port car handling precinct in the inner harbour.

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