Smash on M4 Widening Project Highlights Wild West Nature of Government Construction Sites

Transport Workers Union NSW Secretary Michael Aird has said that safety procedures on Government infrastructure projects must be put under the microscope in the wake of revelations of a smash between a crane working on the M4 widening project and a passing B-Double truck that have only come to light ten days after the incident.

"How does a crane working on a construction site smash into a passing truck driving past on one of Australia's busiest roads, and how come the public doesn't hear about it for ten days?" Mr Aird said.

"Tens of thousands of commuters drive past the M4 construction site each day. Mike Baird must reassure them of their safety by launching a full and thorough public investigation of exactly what happened and what steps he is taking to make sure it doesn't happen again.

"It's a miracle no one was killed in this incident -if there had been a passenger in the B-double they would have become another tragic statistic."

Mr Aird said the public needed reassurance that safety was being taken seriously on State projects.

"This smash took place 10 days ago, but it's only coming to light because of today's media report. The public needs reassurance that similar incidents on State projects are not being swept under the carpet," Mr Aird said.

Mr Aird said that the TWU owner drivers had been raising concerns about safety on Government construction projects for several years, but it had fallen on deaf ears. 

"It's like the Wild West on many Government infrastructure projects, with no enforcement of safety procedures or independent auditing of contractors on site," Mr Aird said.

"We're blue in the face from telling Mike Baird's Government about the problems, but there's been asbolutely no action."

"We need proper, independent auditing of all transport operators on Government sites, to ensure that drivers are properly trained and not pressured by clients. We also need to ensure that billion dollar corporations are paying a safe rate which can allow mom-and-dad owner drivers to safely maintain their vehicles and to put food on the family table."

TNT opens 78,000 square metre “super hub” at Erskine Park, Sydney

has opened its state of the art, 78,000m2 ‘super hub’ at Sydney’s Erskine Park,
the first of three super hubs to be opened by the global express delivery company
this year.

With warehouse space
of over 30,000m2, TNT anticipates growth in capacity of 50 per cent
thanks to the adoption of advanced parcel sortation technology that can process
up to 25,000 parcels per hour.

The company’s investment in the new facility is part of a broader investment in
other super hubs in Melbourne (which will be TNT’s largest in the world) and
Brisbane, both due for completion later this year.

TNT Australia managing director Peter Langley said meeting and exceeding its
customers’ expectations was the prime motivation behind building the new
Erskine Park facility.

“This new super hub enables us to streamline processes and implement some of
the most advanced parcel sortation systems available,” Mr Langley said.

“The reduced processing times, increased accuracy and faster delivery outcomes
will help us to provide even better and more efficient service to our

The Erskine Park super hub includes Australia’s first high speed automatic
sortation system for so-called ‘incompatible’ freight (items in excess of 1.5
metres and 30kg).

The new depot also features an automatic pallet deconsolidation process that
reduces the need for manual handling, increasing speed and accuracy while reducing
OH&S risks.

Mr Langley said the Erskine Park site in western Sydney was chosen in part for
its proximity to many of TNT’s high volume customers.

“It is also in an outstanding position for direct freeway connectivity to both
Brisbane and Melbourne – the major freight corridors from Sydney,” he said.

“Erskine Park also has the capacity to absorb high volumes of Domestic Priority
freight, making it well equipped to handle freight from the proposed Badgery’s
Creek airport nearby.”

The new Erskine Park super hub has achieved a best-practice ‘4 Star Green
facility’ rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

450 TNT staff work at the new facility, many of whom have been recruited from
the local area.

Mr Langley said TNT’s significant investment in Erskine Park and its other
super hubs addresses rapidly changing customer needs.

“This has been brought about by the growth in e-commerce and a shift towards
lighter weight, higher volume consignments,” he said.

“Erskine Park and our soon-to-be-completed super hubs in Melbourne and Brisbane
have been purpose-built to address these changes and will enable us to meet the
needs of our customers for many years to come.”

DHL launches new supply chain facility

DHL Supply Chain have launched a new 90,000 square metre supply chain campus in Sydney's western suburbs this morning, with NSW premier Mike Baird MP presiding over the opening.

The NSW Premier congratulated DHL Supply Chain on the creation of 500 new jobs at its new warehousing sites at Horsley Park.

DHL’s expansion plans over the next few years means that number will continue to grow,” Baird said.

The NSW Government’s massive infrastructure program for Western Sydney is giving companies like DHL the confidence to invest in this vibrant region.”

The $120 million DHL Campus features some of the company’s most innovative technological developments, including measures to reduce costs and create new sustainability initiatives.

A multi-million dollar automation solution has provided retailers with improved speed to market whilst significantly reducing the warehousing labour requirements.

To support environmental objectives, DHL has invested in a polystyrene extruder, capable of reducing a semi-trailer load of foam packaging down to one pallet of solid material.

DHL senior solution design manager Mark Hopes said the extruder not only decreased landfill output but also recycling the waste into a “viable and valuable product” which is resalable as a building material.

The campus also has a biomass facility which reduces 60 per cent of landfill produced down to 5 per cent, and fuels water heating for washing pallets and crates.

The new DHL facility is also closely involved in supply chain logistics for Australian airline Qantas, ensuring full supply of above-wing products for all of their domestic and international flights.

DHL national quality manager for airline business solutions Michael Bowels said DHL Supply Chain was closely involved in the planning of supply for Qantas, forecasting the needs for individual flights based information gathered by the airline.

We are privy to that information via monthly reports,” Bowels said.

Qantas are our main airline customer, so we're a lot more engaged in this than our traditional business units.

There's the added pressure that if we don't do our job properly, you don't get a meal on your flight.”

DHL have plans to continue expanding the new supply chain campus, from the four buildings now in place to a further two in the next year which will bring the facility to more than 100,000 square metres.

DHL Supply Chain Australia managing director Saul Resnick said DHL was experiencing continued demand for warehousing space in Sydney.

Our customers are increasingly more willing to go into multi-user warehouses as they value the flexibility in overhead and labour costs to accommodate their changing business requirements,” he said.

With expected new business and customer expansion, we are looking to build another three facilities in the coming years,” said,

DHL is proud to support continued growth and employment in Western Sydney and more importantly, help Australia’s leading companies supply products to consumers, from toothpaste and snacks, to computers and life-saving medications.”

Resnick said DHL Supply Chain had 600 staff ten years ago, a labour force which has grown to more than 3000 staff across 50 locations nationwide, supplying Airline, Automotive, Consumer, Energy, Healthcare and Retail industries, with a warehousing footprint currently in excess of 570,000 square meters.


CHEP launches national Logistics Control Centre, improves service delivery

Yesterday global Group President of CHEP Pallets, Peter Mackie, officially launched CHEP Australia’s national Logistics Control Centre at Erskine Park, NSW.

Peter Mackie (pictured left) said: “Using our data, network knowledge and logistics management expertise, the CHEP Australia team has designed a sophisticated logistics management system that will improve the level of service we provide our customers.”

The new system uses detailed real-time information from multiple sources, including video feeds from CHEP yards and live network data, to predict up to three hours in advance whether a delivery of CHEP equipment will be impacted by events in the network. The new control centre not only provides a greater level of network visibility, it features mechanisms to help manage issues as they arise.

If a delivery is impacted by issues such as traffic congestion, the system triggers an alert which assists the team in proactively managing the situation. In the event of a delay, the team is significantly better enabled to quickly contact customers with a new expected delivery time.

President of CHEP Australia & New Zealand, Phillip Austin (pictured right) said: “The unique thing about CHEP Logistics is that we only carry pooled equipment. We devote our resources and expertise in network planning, efficiency and safety to ensuring CHEP equipment is where it needs to be, when it needs to be there.

“The Logistics Control Centre enables us to offer the personal service of a smaller operator with the benefits of larger logistics provider such as scale and network capacity, with the potential for enhanced Chain of Responsibility compliance. We believe this will not only improve the service to our existing customers, but also encourage others to consider using CHEP Logistics for their pooled equipment movements.”

To see the Logistics Control Centre in action, click here:

T4 coal loader at Newcastle gains environmental approval

The T4 coal loader on Kooragang Island is a step closer to reality after being approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

Port Waratah Coal Service's long-awaited loader is set to increase export capacity at Newcastle by 70 million tonnes and the project will now head to the Planning Assessment Commission for an independent review.

Now that the project has been referred to PAC, a further 28 days of public exhibition are expected, including the opportunity for individuals and organisations to provide written submissions and presentations through public hearings.

PWCS CEO Hennie du Plooy said the approval and assessment process for the project was nearing the four year mark.

“We look forward to this next step and the opportunity for an independent review of the proposal and assessment thus far,” du Plooy said.

“Projects of this scale require long lead times for approval and construction. Approval of this project now will position the Hunter Valley coal industry for opportunities that might arise in the future.

“By having a Terminal 4 master plan in place, certainty is created for the industry, businesses, community and government around what will happen on the site.”

The loader has been a contentious issue for Newcastle, drawing criticism from environmental groups, particularly over its dust management claims.

The Hunter Community Environment Centre said it plans to have its case heard at PAC, Necastle Herald reported.

‘‘The community feels the marginal economic return isn’t worth the costs to public health and our environment,’’ spokesman John McKenzie said.

‘‘T4 is a project whose benefits were overstated from the beginning.’’

The project will be subject to strict environmental conditions aimed at mitigating potential air quality impacts.

PWCS spokesman Mark Baker said state-of-the-art technology would be used to comply with the conditions.

‘‘Weather monitoring systems will be used to minimise dust,’’ Baker said.

The company will also create an on-site green and golden bell frog corridor and biodiversity offsets comprising of 851 hectares.

“We understand that dust is a concern for the Newcastle community, and communities around Australia. We also know that NSW has some of the strictest air quality standards in the world and Port Waratah complies with these standards as measured by the recognised and approved methods,” du Plooy said.

Plans to build the T4 loader begun in 2011, when it was identified that more capacity at Newcastle was required to meet future demand.

PWCS says that at peak construction of the T4 Project, the Hunter will be experiencing an injection of $770 million per annum, with over 2,900 direct and indirect jobs.

It says that once the loader is full built it will create over $400 million in business turnover for the local economy.

Autonomous truck trials flagged for BHP coal mines

In an attempt to improve productivity and reduce costs, BHP’s trial of driverless haul truck technology is set to expand from Pilbara iron ore mines to east coast coal mines.

BHP coal boss Dean Dalla Valle has revealed two coal mines in the company’s portfolio are set to test the autonomous trucks after successful trials in New Mexico.

“We’re looking at two opportunities in coal to do the same thing, in Queensland and NSW,”  Dalla Valle told The Australian.

“There’s no doubt it will happen, and I’d like to think that within 12 months we will be running trials.”

Last month the company announced it would expand its autonomous truck trials at iron ore sites across the Pilbara citing a number of reasons including safety and productivity as part of its push to implement the technology.

In mid-2014 the trial will include a second circuit at Jimblebar mine and an increase to the fleet, with six new trucks operating in the pits at nearby Wheelarra mine.

Dalla Valle said the technology would work well to haul coal.

“It’s slightly different but once the system’s up and running, it should work effectively in both,” he said.

“They are effectively the same model of trucks, just carrying a different product.”

While automation is becoming the norm in Western Australia, with Gina Rinehart’s Roy Hill mine being purpose-built to accommodate the technology, coal trials on the east coast are still in their infancy.

The Meandu coal mine, run by Stanwell Corporation, was an early adapter, starting a three-year trial  in 2013 in conjunction with Hitachi Construction Machinery (Australia).

Accenture mining program and project manager Nigel Court told Australian Mining the way automation is being implemented by companies is changing.

"Automation is now being looked to not as a panacea to fix productivity and efficiency on site, rather "people are focusing on how it can be applied to solve specific problems encountered on site,” Court said.

EDI Downer’s Bathurst factory closes

EDI Downer’s operation at Kelso in Bathurst ceased production yesterday and the company’s 14 remaining staff members lost their jobs.

The Western Advocate reports that the soon to be redundant workers shared a barbecue breakfast together, packed up, and headed home at about lunchtime.

EDI Downer will now consolidate its operations at Cardiff near Newcastle. The company claims that the plant closure will save it $6 million.

Up until yesterday, the remaining workers were involved in maintaining locomotives and rail traction motors. However, at one point, the factory employed about 96 people, including boilermakers, electrical mechanics, spray painters, fitters and admin staff.

The company announced its intentions to shut the factory in October last year.

Speaking to the Western Advocate, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union site delegate and machine shop supervisor Andrew Dundas summed up the feelings of the workers.

“The mood was pretty sombre, but it has been that way for the last two weeks. It’s a difficult sort of thing to grasp,” he said.

“We had more than 90 workers here back in October last year, but everyone was slowly put off bit by bit.”

According to Downer EDI spokesperson Michael Sharp, most of those workers accepted redundancy. However, half a dozen chose to move to Cardiff to take up jobs in production.

Explaining the fact that most workers did not decide to make that move, Mr Dundas said, “While they were offered jobs in Newcastle, a lot of people have families, mortgages and kids here, they are based here and it is difficult to go.”

Port of Newcastle privatised in $1.75 billion deal

Hastings Funds Management and its backer, China Merchants, have won a bid to lease the Port of Newcastle for $1.75 billion.

NSW Premier Mike Baird described the 98-year deal as a “momentous result”.

“Transactions such as this bring enduring benefits to communities and the economy…that will unlock opportunities for growth, jobs and economic development."

Baird said Hastings and China Merchants were “equal partners” in the investment, with the state government retaining responsibility for a range of maritime safety and security functions, including emergency response, harbour master, port safety operating licence and pilotage functions.

Around $340 million from the sale will be invested into upgrades for Newcastle’s CBD, while $1.2 billion is earmarked for various other infrastructure projects in NSW.

Newcastle is the world’s biggest coal export terminal with more than 2200 vessels passing through carrying more than 150 million tonnes of cargo in the past year.

The Hunter Business Chamber has welcomed the announcement of the long term lease.

“We are pleased the day has arrived, this is a great result for the Hunter Region,” Hunter Business Chamber President Richard Anicich said.

He said the money put aside to revitalise Newcastle’s CBD “will go a long way to kickstarting the much needed rebuild of our city”.

The NSW Government reached an agreement with Port of Newcastle Investments for the lease following a competitive five-month bidding process.

Other groups reported to have been involved in bids included ATEC, Cheung Kong Infrastructure and Macquarie Infrastructure.

Port Botany and Port Kembla were privatised last year for $5 billion.

Government pours $125 million into freight productivity

National freight productivity will get a shot in the arm with the Federal government pledging $125 million to roll out several new projects.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss announced the money will be used to start the rollout of the Advanced Train Management System across the national rail network and for the next stage of the Port Botany Rail Line Upgrade.

“The Advanced Train Management System will lift innovation in the sector by replacing current high-cost, low-reliability track-side signalling with a state-of-the-art computer system that will underpin the national network's future operations,” Truss said.

“This will increase the capacity of existing networks by allowing trains to run closer together, as well as improving safety by allowing greater control over trains by network operators.

Truss advised the Australian Rail Track Corporation that $50 million is immediately available project.

While $75 million will go towards getting Stage 3 of the Port Botany Upgrade underway which will see the upgrade of the Port Botany Rail Line on segments that have sub-standard track condition, such as poor ballast, replacing the last remaining timber sleepers with concrete, and replacing sections of worn or low weight rail with higher grade steel to increase load capacity.

“By including these projects into our $35.5 billion Infrastructure Investment Programme we recognise the importance of freight rail to our national prosperity and in unlocking our constrained economic productivity,” Truss said.

“Enhancing the efficiency and productivity of our freight network is a basic principle behind delivering the infrastructure for the 21st century. This will improve the efficiency of Sydney's freight network.”

Company slugged with $50K fine for pressuring workers to sign new contracts

Material Handling has been fined almost $50,000 for pressuring three workers to
sign workplace contracts.

The Newcastle
reports that aluminium smelter technicians at Kurri Kurri were told they’d
be taken off their continuous shift roster if they didn’t sign on to new

to the report, Federal Circuit Court judge Kenneth Raphael ruled that a “substantial loss of earnings”
of between $500 and $600 would have been suffered by the workers if they were
taken off the roster, with Raphael saying that the conduct of Toyota Material
Handling was “unconscionable or illegitimate”.

The ruling came after complaints to and an investigation by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“Given the large number of employees on the payroll of TMH it
is important that the company understand its obligations and that it
appreciates that if it contravenes the relevant workplace laws, it will be
subjected to penalties for doing so,” said Raphael.

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