How safe is warehousing in Australia? The surge in online shopping has also put increased pressure on logistics providers and manufacturers with warehousing facilities to improve their operational efficiency and maximise storage space.
eCommerce giant, Amazon, is using thermal cameras in its warehouses to help screen workers. Read more
Victorian Minister for Roads Jaala Pulford has announced that on-road testing will get underway in an Australian-first trial of connected vehicle technology. Read more
Australia Post has announced a four-year partnership with the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) with a focus on safety on the roads.
The announcement coincides with National Road Safety Week, and includes a $200,000 sponsorship pledge for the rebranded Volvo ATA Safety Truck.
According to Australia Post, the partnership will have a focus on educating drivers on how to share the road safely with heavy vehicles through hands-on informative, small group presentations and virtual reality technology.
Australia Post Group Chief Operating Officer Bob Black said the new arrangement showcases Australia Post’s focus on road safety education, especially among younger drivers.
“We are always looking for ways to keep our people and communities safe. Every year over 1,200 people are killed and 35,000 seriously injured on our roads,” Bob said.
“Last year we experienced 768 road injuries across our workforce nationally. That means every workday three posties are injured in motor vehicle accidents – that is three posties too many.
“This is an important partnership to help end road incidents and trauma – especially involving heavy vehicles which are a big part of our network.”
Australian Trucking Association CEO Ben Maguire said the ATA was thrilled to have Australia Post’s support for this educational and behavioural change campaign, with the new truck set to be on the roads in October 2019.
“Official estimates show that about 80 per cent of fatal multi-vehicle crashes involving trucks are not the fault of the truck driver. 25 per cent of occupants involved in a casualty crash with a truck are aged 26 years or younger, however this age group only represents only 10 to 15 per cent of the driver population,” Mr Maguire said.
“Australia Post’s support for this project demonstrates a commitment to road safety and a shared vision of zero fatal or serious injury crashes on our roads.”
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.
LINX Cargo Care Group (LINX CCG) has created a Virtual Reality (VR) safety training platform in collaboration with Curiious and Samsung Electronics Australia which is the first of its kind in Australia’s supply chain and logistics industry.
The Gear VR training platform was designed to create an immersive VR experience to enhance LINX CCG’s safety training delivery and assessment. LINX CCG partnered with communication and technology company Curiious to conceptualise and build the immersive VR experience.
LINX CCG is committed to sending its 4,000 people home safely every day, across more than 70 sites in Australia and New Zealand.
Anthony Jones, LINX Cargo Care Group CEO, is passionate about safety. His dispersed and diverse workforce operate 24/7 in hazardous environments with large machinery. The key to improving safety is to create a compelling, simulated experience that cuts through and has an impact.
“Virtual reality training will enable us to immerse all our people in diverse situations and expose them to critical risks in our hazardous work environment,” he said.
This commitment to standardise is echoed by Peter Seaman, LINX CCG Executive General Manager Health, Safety and Environment.
“The Gear VR platform enables us to deliver consistent safety training across all levels of the organisation. Often some of the messages are lost in translation in safety training and delivered in different ways, whereas this Gear VR platform minimises room for miscommunication,” Peter said.
Anthony believes VR immersion is really powerful.
“To put people into different situations where they have the chance to see how it would play out and to immerse them in a scenario, showing them real dangers and consequences, is invaluable,” he said.
Michelle Schuberg, Curiious General Manager, also believes in the benefits the immersive Gear VR technology will bring to enhancing LINX CCG’s approach to safety.
“For LINX CCG, the platform’s end goal is to help deliver their ‘home safely every day’ promise,” said Michelle.
The latest number of data breaches in Australia have superseded previous quarterly figures, with most data breaches resulting from a malicious or criminal attack.
From October to December 2018, 262 data breaches were notified to affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), compared to 245 the previous quarter.
The latest quarterly report from the Office of the OAIC shows 262 data breaches involving personal information were notified between October and December 2018.
Under the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, organisations and agencies regulated under the Privacy Act must notify individuals and the OAIC when data breaches are likely to result in serious harm.
READ: Aussie businesses see themselves as a target for cyber attacks
The leading cause of notifiable data breaches in the December quarter was malicious or criminal attack (168 notifications), followed by human error (85 notifications) and system error (9 notifications).
Most data breaches resulting from a malicious or criminal attack involved cyber incidents stemming from compromised credentials (usernames and passwords), such as phishing and brute-force attacks.
Australian information commissioner and privacy commissioner Angelene Falk reinforced the need for organisations and individuals to secure personal information by safeguarding credentials.
“Preventing data breaches and improving cyber security must be a primary concern for any organisation entrusted with people’s personal information,” said Falk.
“Employees need to be made aware of the common tricks used by cyber criminals to steal usernames and passwords.
“The OAIC works with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to provide prevention strategies for organisations, including regularly resetting and not reusing passwords.
“If a data breach occurs, early notification can help anyone who is affected take action to prevent harm.
“By changing passwords, checking your credit report, and looking out for scams using your personal information, you can help minimise the harm that can result from a data breach,” said Falk.
The OAIC continues to work with entities to promote compliance with the scheme, and can take regulatory action in cases of non-compliance with notification obligations, she said.
The Toll Group has unveiled its first-ever Australian control room in Melbourne that the company says will enable improved safety and more efficient deliveries throughout the country.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the control room is the new nerve centre for Toll’s national road network, responsible for monitoring fleet location, delivery times, engine performance, driver fatigue and distractions, speed events, and incident analysis – all in real time.
Toll president of group operational services, Peter Stokes said the control room puts Toll at the forefront of transport technology.
“The new Toll Control Room is a major milestone for our company and the businesses we support throughout the country,” Mr Stokes said.
“Using data and digital technologies, the control room allows the Toll team to view and respond to any safety or operational issue across the country.
“Our team now has the very latest technology at their fingertips, enabling them to safely monitor and move our fleet across our national network like never before, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The new centre is an investment in the future of our transport network and will ensure Toll continues to deliver strong results for safety and on-time deliveries.”
The control room features a massive video wall with a 9.5 metre interactive touch LED display screen – the largest in Australia and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Smart software integrates data from multiple sources including Toll’s in-truck telematics, which is then displayed and interacted with at the screen.
The new control room comes as Toll gears up ahead of the busy peak holiday season, where the number of linehaul movements is expected to surge by up to 40%.
The control room is staffed by 24 specialist analysts, planners and operational personnel.
Toll also announced that it will partner with the Australian Government under a new telematics data sharing project that aims to improve road safety and infrastructure planning.
Among the technical features of the control room are:
- The first Australia-wide control room for Toll.
- Comprehensive monitoring of biometric eye-tracking technology that detects driver distractions and potential fatigue.
- Connection to GPS-enabled telematics to track truck location, and monitor driving hours to help manage fatigue.
- Oversees telematic systems to improve truck and operator performance to reduce fuel usage and carbon emissions.
- Remotely monitors road speed data in real time allowing intervention if necessary.
- LED interactive display technology for enhanced operator collaboration.
The control room is part of Toll’s broader eight-year, $1.6 billion investment in new fleet and equipment.
Workers protested at all main airports on Tuesday over poor pay and conditions as a report shows low standards are impacting on aviation safety and security. Protests also took place around the world as part of a global day of action by airport workers.
Protesters demanded an end to forced part-time hours that sees workers rostered to work as few as three hours a day and just 60 hours a month. Coupled with this, low pay and split shifts are forcing some workers to sleep at airports.
“My work roster changes week to week. Sometimes you can do overtime but it has to be on split shifts,” ramp and cargo worker Bob Popovski told media at the protest. “Split shifts are a major concern for all of us. Sleep patterns and family life are affected. Job security is really bad.”
A TWU report to the Productivity Commission inquiry on airport regulation links the poor conditions to safety and security breaches. The report calls on the Federal Government to mandate that airports and airlines take responsibility for labour standards in their supply chains.
“When service providers bid for contracts, workers are rushed in and there’s not enough time to train them,” Popovski continued. “That’s where accidents happen and that’s our biggest concern.”
“Airports and airlines are engaged in a public war of words over who is ‘gouging’ from who, but it is airport workers who are the real losers. Beyond the shiny facades of our airports and outside the slick airline lounges, workers are struggling to pay bills and are even forced to sleep at work. High staff turnover rates and poor conditions are impacting on safety, security and services. Airports and airlines at the top of the supply chain are highly profitable and they must be held to account for this,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
The TWU report shows some aviation companies have almost their entire workforce on part-time hours. At the same time profits for the main airports were over $2 billion in 2016-17, while Qantas Group made profits of $1.6 billion.
Glaring examples show the impact on safety and security. High turnover means staff without full security clearances are accessing secure areas of the airports; in Sydney airport there were 132 injuries among a staff of 324 over a one-year period; in Perth airport an Aerocare baggage handler forced to unload an aircraft alone allowed passengers onto secure airside to collect their own baggage. Overseas Jetstar cabin crew are working domestic routes with no training on how to board domestic aircraft and base pay as low as $100 per week.
The report also shows airports and airlines outsource much of their work to companies without any required labour standards.
“Billions of dollars in public money are being poured in to building airports and there should be a better dividend for the community than what is currently happening. Billions of dollars are also being poured into trying to make our airports more secure while poor labour standards are clearly affecting safety and security. The Federal Government must put a stop to the race to the bottom in aviation. It’s not just the workers that are at risk here. It’s only a matter of time before something gives and there are no second chances at 30,000 feet,” Mr Kaine added.
Transport workers are up to five times more likely to be injured at work than any other Australian worker, according to new Monash research, with rail drivers in particular 30 times more likely to develop a mental health condition than any other worker.
These are just two of many significant findings unearthed in the first report of the National Transport Industry Health and Wellbeing Study, released today by the Insurance Work and Health Group at Monash University.
The research, supported by Linfox Logistics and the Transport Workers Union, comes from the first stage of a detailed national study looking into the health of workers in the transport industry.
The Australian transport and logistic industry is very diverse, and encompasses drivers, logistics, storage and warehousing workers, managers and executives.
Alex Collie, professor and director of the Insurance Work and Health Group, said transport workers were subject to a unique set of health risks in their working environment, including sedentary jobs, long working hours and shift work, isolation, fatigue and sleep deprivation, among others.
“This study presents a national picture of the health of people working in the transport and logistics industry. Prior studies have focused on safety and on specific groups of workers. We used a large and detailed national database of work injury claims to examine a range of different injuries and diseases that affect workers across the whole industry,” Professor Collie said.
“Our ultimate aim is to develop programs and services that can prevent illness and injury in the transport sector, and help people recover and return to work when they become sick.”
There are strong links between people’s health and their ability to work, Professor Collie said, so understanding and improving the health of an industry which employs 1.2 million people is important for the workers, their employers and the Australian economy.
The Transport Workers Union national assistant secretary Michael Kaine said the report’s findings show that the “pressures on transport workers, including long hours away from family, chronic fatigue and the stresses of meeting deadlines, are clearly taking their toll”.
“It should serve as yet another example of the need for a check on the transport supply chain, to ensure that the major clients at the top are being held to account for the pressure they exert on the industry and its workforce,” he said.
Linfox Logistics general manager of HR Lauren Pemberton said working with Monash and TWU to investigate driver health and safety was the “next logical step in improving our staff health programs”.