The Federal Court has dismissed the ACCC’s proceedings against rail companies Pacific National and Aurizon, which related to control of Acacia Ridge Terminal, a key asset in Australia’s intermodal rail network. Read more
The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) has expressed concern regarding the lack of focus from all sides of politics on Australia’s supply chain and freight in election campaign policy announcements. Read more
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Australia Post has announced a four-year partnership with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) with a focus on truck safety on the roads. Read more
Australian Logistics Council
Freight: Delivering Opportunity For Australia identifies 39 priority actions for the incoming Federal Government to pursue that address challenges and opportunities relevant to all modes of freight transport.
“The priorities ALC is releasing have been identified by industry participants as critical to improving the efficiency and safety of Australia’s supply chains, and meeting a growing freight task,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“With our industry having received a bipartisan commitment to finalise the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy, the first priority for whichever party wins on 18 May must be to work with state and territory governments to finalise and implement action plans that will ensure the strategy delivers for industry.
“In that context, the priorities ALC is now putting forward will help to bolster the effectiveness of that strategy by addressing some of the long-term infrastructure, investment and regulatory issues that act as an impediment to a seamless national freight network.
“Enhanced supply chain performance is not a niche issue. Every individual Australian relies on freight every day, no matter where they live. If we are going to meet the challenges that arise from a growing population and changing consumer expectations around rapid delivery, it will be necessary to implement the sorts of reforms ALC has set out.
“The priorities that ALC has identified touch on a range of issues, including a more consistent national approach to planning and investing in freight infrastructure, enhancing the productivity of our road and rail networks through regulatory reform and strengthening our export performance through enhanced freight infrastructure in Northern Australia.
“There are also suggestions for improving the industry’s environmental performance by encouraging uptake of electric freight vehicles, ensuring the industry is able to access data that will allow more effective monitoring and measurement of supply chain performance, improving the wider community’s understanding of this industry and enhancing its ability to interact safely with freight vehicles.
“While many of these reforms will be challenging, they are absolutely essential to securing Australia’s continued economic success and creating more liveable communities.
“Although this reform agenda must be led by whichever party forms government, success will ultimately depend on cooperation and collaboration with all members of the 46th Parliament. It is important that all parliamentarians recognise that responsibility, whatever their political stripe.
“To that end, ALC will seek to work closely with all political parties in the next Parliament to secure these policy reforms, and implement a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy that allows this industry to keep delivering for all Australians.”
Australasian Railway Association
The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has also released its priorities policy development paper for the 2019 federal election.
Titled Rail: Creating Vibrant Cities, Thriving Regions and a Connected Nation, the paper sets out key transport infrastructure challenges facing the Australian government and offers practical, affordable and achievable policy solutions where rail can play a key role.
“As our cities continue to grow and our freight task increases the pressure on our existing infrastructure network also increases,” said ARA CEO Danny Broad.
“Avoiding and reducing congestion is one of the biggest benefits that can be achieved by moving passengers and freight onto properly planned and funded rail solutions, integrated with other transport modes.”
The ARA’s five priorities are:
- Making cities liveable: the Australian government must continue to increase funding of urban passenger and freight rail projects which are essential to reduce road congestion, improve quality of life and increase productivity.
“With increasing support from both main political parties for passenger and freight rail projects, we look forward to this continuing and urge against stop start approaches to rail infrastructure funding.”
- Connecting our regions: the Australian government must plan and resource inter-regional fast rail projects and east coast high speed rail through a national planning agency.
“Pleasingly, both major political parties now support the establishment of a national planning agency to underpin their respective visions for inter-city rail connectivity, examine funding options and acquire the sought-after corridors.”
- Supporting employment: Skilled labour shortages threaten the delivery and cost effectiveness of new and existing rail infrastructure projects. The Australian government needs to lead the response to critical rail skills shortages by formalising a high level taskforce to lead reforms, build partnerships and implement expert recommendations to deliver fit-for-purpose education and training.
“If we are to reap the benefits of rail, industry and government need to make the necessary reforms together and increase investment in fit-for-purpose education and training.”
- Strengthening our economy: We need safer, more sustainable and efficient ways to move freight by rail. The Australian government needs to implement the national freight and supply chain strategy and incentivise jurisdictions to support its delivery. The ARA urges continued funding and political support of the Inland Rail project to ensure its timely delivery.
“The government also needs to level the playing field between road and rail. We need independent price regulation of heavy vehicles and mode neutral policies. Freight rail operators, charged at full market rates to access infrastructure have endeavoured to compete with heavy vehicles that access publicly subsidised roads.”
- National coordination to support industry: Rail contributes $26 billion to the national economy, while employing thousands of Australians in many small to medium size enterprises. However, its efforts are dissipated by fragmented approaches to investment, procurement, construction and regulation across eight different jurisdictions.
“Strong industries don’t develop by chance. The Australian government must lead the development of a national rail industry plan to achieve a coherent national approach to rail, covering procurement, local content, manufacturing, innovation and research, and harmonisation of standards.”
“We look forward to working with government to realise the full national benefits of these rail policies,” Mr Broad concluded.
Australian shoppers will be just as likely to open their wallets for online shopping as they will in-store in a decade’s time, with new research by Australia Post revealing that by 2030, it is expected that one-in-two purchases will be made digitally.
The survey of almost one thousand small and mid-size Australian businesses across retail, manufacturing, logistics, financial services, education, health and utilities found that almost half (49 per cent) expect online retail to reach parity with bricks and mortar retail sales in 2030.
The findings come as online shoppers are invited to celebrate their favourite online retailer by voting in the Australia Post ORIAS People’s Choice Award. Voters have the chance to win the ultimate online shopping spree, an opportunity to spend $10,000 in 60 seconds on a range of products across travel, technology, fashion, homewares and leisure.
Australia Post general manager of segment development & marketing Rebecca Burrows said consumer habits have changed significantly over the past few years, with retailers evolving to find new ways that encourage people to buy.
“People want an in-store experience but in the comfort of their own living room – they want to see, touch and try. Trends such as Augmented Reality (AR) are bridging the gap between online and in-store shopping, and AI-driven personalisation and biometric payments are all shaping the way we shop. Leading retailers are also embracing mobile commerce and voice-activated shopping. It is those in tune with customers and willing to embrace the latest online technology trends who will have the winning strategy.”
One company doing this is fashion-tech company GlamCorner, a contender for this year’s Australia Post ORIAS People’s Choice Award.
Co-founder & CEO Dean Jones said GlamCorner’s vision is to revolutionise the way Australian women think about their wardrobes by providing a smarter and more sustainable alternative that is better for the community and the environment.
“One of the most important initiatives we’ve implemented over the past 12 months has been in direct response to customer feedback. We’ve introduced a monthly subscription box service, which gives our customers near-unlimited access to three pieces of designer clothing each month for formal occasions, workwear or everyday wear,” he said.
“The service is growing at an exponential rate, contributing significantly to the 30 tonnes of clothing we process each month. As a result, our customers are telling us their wardrobes are shrinking, while they still have a fresh new look every day.”
Voting for the Australia Post ORIAS People’s Choice Award for 2019 runs from 1-31 May via www.auspost.com.au/shoppingspree.
Key logistics market growth rates fell in 2018 according to Transport Intelligence’s (Ti) global market size & growth forecast data.
- The Global Freight Forwarding market grew 3.9% in 2018, a marked decline from an expansion of 8.0% in 2017
- The Global Contract Logistics market was 4.9% bigger in 2018.
- At 8.5%, the Global Express & Small Parcels market had the quickest rate of expansion amongst the logistics markets.
- Slowing volume growth in the European Road Freight Transport market saw the growth rate slow to 2.9% in 2018.
Global Freight Forwarding
In a market heavily reliant on global trading conditions, growth in the global freight forwarding market fell from 8.0% in 2017 to 3.9% in 2018. The slowdown is not altogether surprising given the exceptional performance in 2017 when demand for air transport services surged as shippers rushed to re-stock inventories and move goods to market. As the restocking cycle drew to a close in early 2018, market expansion reduced substantially. Trade tensions between the US and China have had far-reaching implications for regional and global supply chains, which has affected forwarding growth across different countries.
Global Contract Logistics
While global contract logistics growth slowed in 2018, the change was very slight – the market grew by 4.9% in real terms, down from 5.0% in 2017. The US market performed relatively well, whilst China’s market is continuing show remarkable vigour. Manufacturing has previously been (and continues to be) a strong base for China’s contract logistics growth, but a growing consumer market led by internal investment, growing wages and a boom in e-commerce has created a vibrant opportunity in Chinese retail contract logistics.
Global Express & Small Parcels
An 8.5% expansion saw the global express & small parcels market grow rapidly in 2018, although the growth rate is a slowdown on the 9.7% seen in 2017. e-commerce is continuing to drive rapid growth in China’s express and parcels market, which is expanding much faster than the global growth rate. Although there are significant bright spots in areas such as healthcare and cross-border e-commerce, weaker macroeconomic conditions have played their part in slowing market growth, affecting major players, including FedEx.
European Road Freight Transport
Europe’s road freight market expanded 2.9% in 2018. Macroeconomic performance has been relatively limp compared against the rest of the world. The region’s major markets are facing significant headwinds – Germany sits close to recessionary territory as a result of softer external demand and disruption in its automotive sector, Italy is feeling the effects of mounting public debt, while Brexit uncertainty continues to harm investment into the UK economy.
“Ti’s new figures show robust growth across major global logistics markets. Growth rates are not flattering when compared against the previous year, where global GDP growth was the fastest it had been since 2011. Nonetheless, there have been significant opportunities for LSPs to grow top-line figures through the course of the year,” said Andy Ralls, analyst at Ti.
Note: All growth rates mentioned are in real terms (holding prices and exchange rates constant at 2018 levels) unless stated otherwise.
Kalmar, part of Cargotec, has introduced a fully electric version of the Kalmar Empty Container Handler. The launch represents another step on the company’s journey towards offering an electric version of every product in its portfolio by 2021.
The all-electric machine is the latest addition to Kalmar’s Eco Range, which already includes the Kalmar Eco Reachstacker with a fuel-saving guarantee. In addition, Kalmar has already launched fully electric versions of its light and medium forklift trucks, Kalmar Ottawa terminal tractors, shuttle and straddle carriers, automated guided vehicles (AGV) and yard cranes.
Based on the Kalmar ECG90-180 medium electric forklift, the new machine is designed to help customers reduce overall fuel costs and comply with increasingly strict airborne and noise emissions standards without compromising on performance. It can stack containers up to four high and is available with a choice of battery technologies to ensure a clean, efficient lift every time. With fewer moving parts and lower rates of wear and tear than a diesel-powered machine, the Kalmar Electric Empty Container Handler is also simpler and more cost-effective to maintain.
The electric driveline provides full torque immediately and is smoother to operate than a diesel driveline, making operating cycles shorter and increasing the potential number of container moves per hour. Fully charged, the battery has enough power to last a whole shift.
Vice president of forklifts at Kalmar Stefan Hultqvist said: “We firmly believe that electricity is the power source of the future and have committed to make our full portfolio available as electrically powered by 2021. We have been developing electrically powered machine technology since the 1980s, and the Kalmar Electric Empty Container Handler is the latest in what will be a long line of eco-efficient solutions. We know that operational cycles differ from customer to customer, so we’re pleased to be able to offer a choice between lead-acid and lithium-ion battery technologies to allow customers to specify the option that best fits their requirements.
Bridgestone Corporation will take part in an international space exploration mission with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota). Announced by JAXA and Toyota, the goals of this mission include expanding the domain of human activity and developing intellectual property on space exploration. Bridgestone’s involvement in this mission will include researching the performance needs of tyres for use on manned, pressurised lunar rovers to help these vehicles make better contact with the surface of the moon.
Bridgestone partnered with the two organisations to research this next phase of human exploration, building on a joint research partnership with JAXA in the 2000s to examine the contact patch between rovers and the lunar surface, and serve as a technical partner for the Toyota rover project.
Bridgestone’s expertise and knowledge of tyre contact patch will help explore the mobility challenges faced on the lunar surface, with the development of an Elastic Wheel to support the rover’s weight, acceleration and braking, minimise shock absorbance, and improve manoeuvrability, enabling the rover to cruise more than 10,000km on the lunar surface, required to accomplish the mission.
Faster, cheaper, smarter. Feeling the squeeze from international competition, a growing number of Australian businesses are investing in warehouse automation to gain an edge.
Retail giant Coles is the latest to announce it’s bringing in the robots. In a bid to lower supply chain costs and increase competitiveness, it will pour almost $1 billion into two automated distribution centres in Queensland and NSW.
It’s jumping on a bandwagon that its main rival, Woolworths, got rolling last year. Woolies’ $562 million investment in a fully automated, 40-metre-high warehouse – the largest in the country – is expected to go live within weeks.
Both businesses are under pressure. Australian sales have tripled in six years at US giant Costco, which is now in the best financial position it’s been in since arriving on our shores more than a decade ago. German grocery retailer Kaufland is expected to further shake up the market by opening up to six sites starting this year. Amazon is also making inroads into the Australian market.
“The shift to automation is all about reducing costs and time to market in a highly competitive industry. But poorly understood and managed risks threaten to send these advantages up in smoke.”
Reducing costs and time-to-market are the order of the day. Coles CEO Steve Cain cited “lower supply chain costs” and enhanced “overall business competitiveness” as the driving forces behind Coles’ big spending.
It’s not alone. Warehouse and supply chain consultancy TM Insight predicts that automation will be the buzzword for the Australian industrial property market in 2019 as manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers look for more efficient ways to deliver goods quickly to customers. The consultancy has recently designed and delivered new hi-tech warehouses for the likes of Woolworths, The Reject Shop, Bunnings and Kmart.
Amazon’s entrance into Australian retail is already credited with encouraging Coles and Woolworths to move to a same-day delivery model for those who spend more than $150 and $300 respectively. In China, the country’s leading online marketplace, Alibaba opened a warehouse late last year staffed with more than 800 ‘automated guided vehicles’. It’s been designed to deal with China’s annual ‘Singles Day’ shopping festival.
New risk profile
Those managing automated facilities must balance their business interest in greater efficiency, increased profitability and fewer human errors with minimising new risks. The scale, speed and increased use of automation inside a modern warehouse alters the risk profile. Traditional warehouse fire protection strategies including using ceiling-only sprinkler systems must be revisited.
Large numbers of expensive robots in densely stacked warehouses pose a greater fire risk and increase the likelihood of it spreading faster. The use of open-top plastic containers, rather than traditional closed-top cardboard or wooden containers, is another trend that ramps up risk. These open-top containers capture sprinkler water that’s being used to fight fires and prevents it from flowing down through to the lower levels of the warehouse.
Risk managers must strike a balance that delivers effective mitigation without unnecessarily increasing costs or limiting storage potential, as this would negate the purpose of shifting to automation in the first place.
The human element
Working with a specialist partner significantly reduces risk. For example, FM Global data shows the difference between an adequate sprinkler system and an inadequate one – either non-existent or with insufficient design – is massive. The difference over a 10-year period can be as much as fivefold, with average losses rising to almost $AU6 million within inadequately protected facilities.
In a robotic warehouse, the cost of equipment alone is enormous. The gadgetry that now goes into a modern logistics facility can be worth three times the value of the real estate, according to TM Insight.
FM Global has invested heavily in developing warehouse fire protection guidelines. Based on five years of research, these guidelines are intended to help risk managers and warehouse managers minimise the fire risk associated with automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS).
In designing the Protection for Automatic Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) data sheet, we’ve discovered that it’s possible to:
- Optimise fire protection through careful storage design choices.
- Reduce the cost of fire protection systems including piping, pumps and water tanks.
- Improve environmental sustainability by using less water.
- Develop fire protection strategies which are based on evidence (full-scale fire testing) rather than guesswork.
Simple steps, such as having reasonable gaps between boxes, can make it so much easier and less costly to protect a facility from massive fire damage. Such gaps reduce the ability for a fire to spread horizontally and also allow sprinkler water to penetrate down to the seat of the fire.
The shift to automation is all about reducing costs and time to market in a highly competitive industry. But poorly understood and managed risks threaten to send these advantages up in smoke. As traditional distribution models are overturned by automation, it’s imperative that businesses also take a second look at how they are addressing risk.
Paul May is the operations engineering manager at FM Global. For more information visit www.fmglobal.com.