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.”

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).

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.”

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.

Transport mobility solution

Gamma Solutions and InterDev will join forces to exhibit their Transport Mobility Solution at Freight Expo 2007.

The partnership of InterDev’s extensive software knowledge with Gamma Solutions’ hardware and network expertise has produced a flexible and powerful mobile solution tailored to transport and logistics needs.

Xmotion Transporta software combined with the Intermec CN3 mobile device provides full electronic job dispatch and history, proof of delivery, real-time job status, signature capture, web-based interface, enhanced customer service and lower cost of operations.

InterDev managing director Andrew Rossington says flexibility is a key aspect of the Transport Mobility Solution.

“We provide an adaptable framework which allows the product to be deployed in a range of transport models,” he says.

With experience in both the software and hardware fields, Gamma Solutions and InterDev are able to provide the complete Transport Mobility Solution, including full service and support, at a monthly rental rate.

The Xmotion Transporta platform has already been adopted by Cootes Transport Group, the market leader in delivery of LPG and fuels to clients across Australia, including Shell, BP, Caltex, ExxonMobil, Elgas and Origin Energy.

Freight Expo 2007 runs from 19 to 21 September at Caulfield Racecourse in Melbourne.

Presented jointly by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) and the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), it is part of the Freight Week 2007 program of seminars, workshops and conference sessions from 15 to 21 September.

For details of the Freight Week program, visit www.freight2007.com.au or contact Rob Perkins by phone on 0411 402 832 or email robp@vta.com.au.

For more information on Gamma Solutions and InterDev visit www.gammasolutions.com and www.interdev.com.au

Linfox acquires Westgate Logistics

Linfox today announced that it has entered into an agreement to purchase Westgate

Logistics (Westgate) which is based in Melbourne, Victoria.

Linfox Logistics CEO, Michael Byrne says the acquisition will provide Linfox with

sizable growth.

“This acquisition cements Linfox’s position as a major operator of warehousing in

Australia and one of the leading suppliers of logistics to the retail and FMCG sectors in

the Asia Pacific region,” Byrne says.

“This is a major acquisition that increases Linfox’s annual revenue to over $2 billion by adding to Linfox’s core areas of expertise in distribution centre management and transport.”

“Westgate is a successful privately owned logistics business that predominantly provides warehousing services to a blue chip customer base. Westgate manages 11 distribution centres around Australia with a dedicated fleet and over 1,200 employees.”

“The acquisition provides a strong fit with our growth strategy of identifying strategic acquisitions in addition to driving organic growth,” Byrne says.

“Westgate provides excellent opportunities for organic business growth with existing Westgate customers, particularly in the retail sector. Its key customers are major Australian retailers that complement and expand Linfox’s existing customer base.”

“The combined Linfox Westgate business will offer customers a broad range of supply chain solutions that will accelerate Linfox’s growth prospects.”

According to Linfox founder, Lindsay Fox the acquisition is in line with Linfox Logistics’ strategic growth plan and follows the purchase of FCL in August last year and Provincial Freightlines in May this year.

“It is Linfox’s third acquisition in a year. We now have over 13,000 employees and operate in 11 countries across the Asia Pacific region,” Fox says.

Westgate founder, Sam Tarascio, welcomed the merging of the two businesses. “Both companies share a commitment to our customers and outstanding service,” he says. “We are proud of what we have achieved and look forward to the growth of our combined business.”

“Mr Tarascio will work with the Fox family to ensure the smooth integration of Westgate with Linfox,” says Michael Byrne. “Westgate Ports which will be retained by Mr Tarascio will continue to support Linfox with wharf, dockside warehousing and stevedoring services.”

In addition, the Fox and Tarascio families will explore other ways that they might work together.

Look Who’s Talking

Millions of cartons and products are picked each day in order fulfilment applications using voice-directed computing.

The hands-free, eyes free approach to order picking has quickly become a preferred order fulfilment solution for distributors around the world, saving thousands of dollars through enhanced order picking productivity and in the costs associated with rectifying picking errors every day.

Voice-directed computing prompts the operator through a series of tasks with clear, verbal commands. These are transmitted in real-time by a radio frequency (RF) system that interfaces with the user’s host platform, typically a WMS or ERP system.

The operator wears a small headset and the lightweight, portable voice-computer is attached to a belt around their waist. This keeps both hands free at all times while picking and, because the operator doesn’t need to waste time looking at and reading the data on a screen or picking list, this enhances OH&S and substantially increases productivity.

At Dick Smith Electronics (DSE) national distribution centre at Chullora in Sydney, the introduction of Voice Picking has well and truly exceeded expectations, delivering a 22%+ productivity gain and rapid ROI.

Alan Hicks, National Supply Chain Manager, Dick Smith Electronics, says: “Since introducing Voice Picking we have significantly reduced the cost per pick, and actually lowered our overall labour costs despite increasing throughput. Better job satisfaction and OH&S is a real bonus too.”

Trans-Tasman fashion and home décor catalogue distributor EziBuy has also achieved phenomenal results since introducing Voice Picking in its new DC at Palmerston North, New Zealand. In the largest application of Split-Case Voice Picking technology in New Zealand, EziBuy increased picking productivity from an average of 38 lines/person/hour to 89, and up to 160 in fast pick zones.

“EziBuy’s people took to Voice Picking very quickly. The feedback is always the same. They all love the hands and eyes-free picking opportunity that Voice Picking delivers,” says NZ logistics consultant responsible for the project, Scott Kerr, Managing Director, Kerrect Logistics (NZ).

In a different application of Voice Directed Computing, Melbourne-based discount variety retailer, The Reject Shop (TRS), is using the technology to facilitate a batch picking and “Put” order picking process.

In traditional retail distribution centres, the typical practice is to assemble a complete store order at a time. The Reject Shop has turned that principle on its head and instead of carting the entire order around the DC and picking products, TRS batch picks all of a single product for all orders at the one time, and then allocates the required stock for each store in a Voice Directed “Put” process.

“Using Voice Picking as the enabler for our ‘Put’ picking process has delivered excellent productivity gains, improved accuracy, reduced costs and increased throughput,” said The Reject Shop’s Logistics Manager, Philip Beckett.

Dematic’s Nathan Taylor will present detailed case studies on Voice Picking applications in Australia and New Zealand including Dick Smith Electronics, The Reject Shop and EziBuy (see sidebar for details).

Hear the latest information on:

• How Voice Directed Computing works

• How the benefits of hands-free/eyes-free technology delivers results in Logistics and Supply Chain applications

• How new hardware, software and interfacing techniques have greatly reduced the cost and complexity of systems integration

• Live demonstrations of Voice Directed Computing.

Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to find out why Voice Directed Computing offers the best business case in business, with ROIs from as little as six months.

Venue, Date & Time

Wellington: Thursday, August 23, Duxton Hotel, 170 Wakefield St, Wellington

Auckland: Friday, August 24, Langham Hotel, 83 Symonds St, Auckland

Brisbane: Monday, August 27, Queensland Cricketers Club, 411 Vulture St, East Brisbane

Melbourne: Tuesday, August 28, The Event Centre, 448 Epsom Rd, Flemington

Sydney: Wednesday, August 29, Waterview Convention Centre, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park

Time: 7:30am for 8:00am start. Seminars conclude at 9:00am.

Further information: Dematic Pty Limited, 24 Narabang Way, Belrose, NSW 2085, Australia. Tel: +61 2 9486 5555. Fax: +61 2 9486 5511. www.dematic.com.au

M3 Mobile Computer

Powered by Intel’s Xscale 520Mhz processor, Peacock Bros. M3 mobile computer offers fast processing and functionality combined with the pre-installed Windows CE Net 5.0 operating system. With a drop rating of 1.5 Meters onto concrete and a long life lithium polymer battery, the M3 will continue to work long hours in the most harsh of conditions without recharging or maintenance.

Peacock Bros. have seen a quick up-take of this device from companies within the Transport and Logistics markets, with the ability to offer the same value and productivity within fields such as Healthcare, Warehousing and Field Service. The M3 performs real-time processing, fast operation, rich multimedia playback and wireless web browsing with ease.

Peacock Bros. M3 is available in two models, the M3 and the M3+ depending on the connectivity, computing power and memory storage required. This mobile computer is taking the world by storm with overseas customers such as FedEx, Coca Cola and DHL placing orders.

The M3 ships as a complete kit including:

– M3 Terminal

– Charging Cradle

– Power Supply

– Earphones

– 2 x batteries

– 2 x stylus pens

The standard features match any other device in the market including: 19 button keypad, Bluetooth and 802.11g wireless connectivity, USB, Serial, IrDA connectivity, 1D and 2D barcode scanner, Colour camera (for proof of delivery and condition), 3.5 inch colour screen, SD and CF card slots, Minimum 64Mb RAM (up to 256Mb), Minimum 64Mb Memory (up to 512 Mb) and Microphone.

Accessories include:

– Vehicle cradle

– GPS antenna

– Vehicle Cigarette Jack

– Belt clips and holders

– Pistol Grips

– 4 Slot Ethernet cradle

Peacock Bros. also provide local service, maintenance and installation to make sure you get the very best performance from the M3.

Delivering on APS

Traditional planning and scheduling tools such as manufacturing resource planning (MRP) use cumbersome procedures based upon predefined heuristics. As a result MRP systems aren’t really capable of change in response to demand, or to shifts in material availability or capacities (be them plant or labour).

Predominantly these systems plan materials and capacity separately; one system ignoring the limitations of the other. The end result is a plan that can’t be executed in the real world and this leads to inaccurate production schedules, false delivery dates and some very unhappy customers.

Unlike MRP, APS plans and schedules all facets of an organisation by simultaneously taking in to account available materials AND capacity. The end result is a more realistic supply chain plan which means deadlines met and customer orders fulfilled on time.

APS provides value in specific environments where simpler planning methods can not adequately address the complex trade offs between competing priorities.

For example, APS can pay dividends to enterprises working with one (or more) of these characteristics:

•Requirement to trade off key costs across the supply chain (e.g. Procurement vs. Production vs. Logistics vs. Storage vs. Labour)

•Production intensive environment with multiple facilities, variable routings and recipes

•Asset intensive operations requiring maximum utilisation

•Seasonal behaviour of key drivers (demand, supply, and capacity)

•150 million turnover plus, with a large degree of operational variability

•Highly dynamic sourcing (where to make, make or buy, where to buy, where to ship-from decisions)

If your business features characteristics of this kind read on. If not, APS might be the equivalent of using a sledgehammer to crack nuts.

APS technologies can help a company at three planning levels within the business — strategic, tactical and operational. At a strategic level the system must look at long term success requirements such as infrastructure investment (i.e. demand network design) and market positioning (i.e. domestic / export, services / retail). At a tactical level that same business’ APS must focus upon mid term success requirements, how best to maximise returns within 12 – 18 month time frame (i.e. where to make, what shift patterns to employ, what downtime to schedule). And at a purely operational level the focus is much more immediate, maximising efficiencies in 1 — 6 weeks. (i.e. detailed production schedule, transportation schedule).

APS is not a ‘plug and play’ solution to all your planning and scheduling problems. Whilst the benefits are there to reap there is also a large potential barrier to consider:

The APS model serves as an interpretation layer, sitting between the mathematical solver engines which do the analysis and configuring, and the business. As a result,

APS is heavily reliant on the ability of practitioners to accurately model individual supply chains. Practitioners need to ensure that all material flows and corresponding costs and constraints are available to the system to accurately reflect business behaviour.

If for example, your team is in the habit of overstating capacity to secure a safety margin; your APS plans for scheduling to maximise efficiency will be inhibited. To that extent the system is as good as the information it is fed.

Further, the potentially large amount of data which the APS system may require to function effectively could be more than your existing ERP system can handle. This factor alone may prevent some businesses from ever realising the total benefits of APS.

APS solutions have no boundaries so it’s crucial to clearly define the scope of the challenge – otherwise modelling will be endless and the output useless.

It’s important to recognise that supply chain projects cross functional boundaries so a successful optimisation must ensure that all department parties are equally optimised. The most optimal solution for a business therefore, is one in alignment with supply chain and business goals.

When running a pilot, take a cross section of the business or product portfolio. Aim for a sample that is concise enough to evolve with the pilot but also exercises the most challenging constraints and costs within a supply chain. Analyse the results carefully before proceeding. If the pilot does not make sense then the confusion will only be magnified on a full APS rollout.

This article was written by Shaun Phillips, solutions architect, Infor. Shaun has delivered business benefits, using APS technologies, to companies across Australia, Asia, and Europe for more than 10 years.

Transport & logistics industry goes techno to find new recruits

The nation’s fastest growing industry, transport and logistics, is tackling its ‘blue singlet’ image head-on to attract young Queenslanders into its workforce.Low unemployment, an ageing workforce, and a poor image are among the factors that are making it tougher and tougher for transport and logistics employers to recruit new workers.

Queensland Transport, Trade, Employment and Industrial Relations Minister John Mickel said the Queensland Government was working closely with the industry on innovative recruitment techniques and improved career paths, as well as making a massive investment in training under the Queensland Skills Plan.

The latest recruitment tool is a five-minute DVD, "Get your career moving in T&L" that visually captures career opportunities in road, rail, sea, and air transport.

"Many people aren’t aware of the magnitude of the transport and logistics industry and the exciting opportunities it offers for people of all ages and at all stages of their career," Mr Mickel said.

“Unfortunately, there’s still the stereotype of the truck driver in the blue singlet, but a career in transport and logistics covers air, rail, road and sea and includes air traffic controllers, marine engineers and logistics planners.

“The amount of freight moved around the country is expected to double by 2020 and we need to replace and boost the current 112,000 Queenslanders who are working in the industry now.”

Funded by the state government and produced in partnership with the Transport Industry Workforce Advisory Group, the new DVD will be screened in wide range of forums to jobseekers of all ages and backgrounds.

The state government is also working with schools, local communities, training providers and industry on school-to-work training programs for transport and logistics that give young people the pathways they need to progress within the industry.

Mr Mickel said the transport and logistics industry contributed $37.9 billion to the Queensland economy and needed to replace and renew its multifaceted workforce to maintain its performance.

“I’d urge young Queenslanders to check out the opportunities that a career in transport and logistics can offer,” he said.

For more information about the DVD, and career opportunities in transport and logistics, contact Queensland Transport’s Industry Capability Unit on

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