E-commerce giant JD.com picks VIC for regional HQ

JD.com, one of China’s largest online retailers, will open its regional headquarters in Melbourne, the Victorian Government has announced.
JD.com has over 266 million customer accounts, and operates China’s largest nationwide fulfilment network, with seven fulfilment centres and more than 400 warehouses in 2,830 counties and districts throughout China.
The company sells a wide range of goods, including vitamins, electronics, clothing and books.
Following a visit by representatives from JD.com to the Food and Beverage Trade Week in Victoria in October, the Andrews Labor Government has been working closely with the company to encourage it to establish a presence in the region.
“This announcement will give more Victorian businesses the opportunity to take their products to the world and is a clear indication that we’re leading the nation on the digital economy,” said Victorian Minister for Trade and Investment Philip Dalidakis.
“We welcome JD.com with open arms and look forward to all the opportunities that this new regional HQ will bring to Victoria, including strengthening our economy and creating more local jobs.”
Patrick Nestel, Manager of JD.com Australia, added:
“Victoria’s wealth of high-quality suppliers, supportive government, 24/7 airport and largest container port in the southern hemisphere made it the obvious choice for JD.com’s new regional HQ.”

New Infrastructure and Transport Minister issues first statements

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce has hailed progress on the Inland Rail project and safety upgrade works on the Western Highway in his first official communications as the Federal Government’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.
Joyce announced that the first delivery of steel for the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project has arrived on site.
“This project is a game-changer for our regions,” said Joyce. “[On 15 January], we have seen the first 14,000 tonnes of steel to be delivered just for Parkes to Narromine section. We’re still on track for works to begin in May this year.”
He also issued a statement on the beginning of the $20 million safety upgrade of the Western Highway between Stawell in west Victoria and the South Australian border, jointly funded by the Victorian and Federal Governments.
“The Western Highway serves as a key transport corridor through Victoria’s western district and upgrading this section of the highway will significantly improve safety for all users including farming, tourism and manufacturing interests.”

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Image courtesy: Parkes Shire Council

SCT Group expands VIC Heinz DC

The Victoria-based national distribution centre of food manufacturer Heinz is to be expanded by owner SCT Group.
The Heinz Altona Distribution Centre will be expanded to 45,700m2 of warehouse space, and receive upgrades to energy-efficient LED lighting, new rapid doors, additional recessed loading docks and bird-netting to the 3,400m2 of existing canopies.
“Our national DC has been at SCT’s Altona intermodal facility now for over 15 years,” said David Moyle, Heinz’ logistics boss. “We’re looking forward to benefiting from the new rail services to Brisbane and direct rail port shuttles in the future.”
The expansion is set to be completed in October 2018, reportedly making the facility one of the largest warehouses in Melbourne’s western suburbs.

TMHA equips new NewCold Melbourne facilities

Toyota Material Handling Australia (TMHA) has supplied equipment to new cold storage market entrant, NewCold.
NewCold Melbourne opened its two warehouses in August and September, with 45 leased Toyota and BT forklifts.
Netherlands-based NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics reportedly decided to approach TMHA for its first Australian operations due to its relations with Toyota in Europe.
The 34-metre-high warehouses have a combined 40,800m2 of floor area, storage for over 200,000 pallets, 39 loading docks and operate around the clock.
One is a cold store at minus 23oC, the other a chilled store with two, eight and 11oC environments.
“This makes Toyota our material handling partner of choice, while the comprehensive service offering is unique and cost effective as well,” said Ray Perry, Director – Oceania, NewCold.
“We appreciate that Toyota does not only supply the forklift [equipment] but will also service the equipment as and when we need it.
“Being a logistics and warehouse service provider, Toyota shares common customer values with NewCold. We trust that we will benefit from TMHA’s wealth of knowledge in the industry in Australia to increase our productivity, while staying ahead of our competition.”
Jason Fennell, Corporate Account Manager at TMHA, said local discussions with NewCold began in October 2016 and a decision was made in May 2017.
“We received a request to assist NewCold from our corporate division and worked from there,” he said.
“NewCold uses a variety of suppliers and products in Europe. However, the core business is to be able to pick orders, replenish stock, load and unload required deliveries, and store required long-life stocks on a 24/7 basis.
“This is the company’s first development in Australia, so we are committed to working with them to develop the relationship and ensure we cover all the material handling requirements, as well as making this process easy for the customer.”
The initial equipment roster for NewCold’s Melbourne facilities includes 21 BT electric pallet jacks, 10 Toyota 8-Series FBE18 three-wheel electric forklifts, seven BT RRE140H reach trucks, four Toyota 32-8FG30 internal combustion forklifts, a pair of 32-8FG18 Toyota forklifts, a BT RRE250H reach truck and four battery chargers.

West Gate Tunnel a mismanaged waste

Construction of the West Gate Tunnel will begin next month, with the Victorian Government signing contracts to build the alternative to the West Gate Bridge. The contracts were signed just as a new report raises serious concerns about the West Gate Tunnel.
The government line
The six-lane tunnel will take thousands of trucks off residential streets in the inner west, slash congestion along the M1 corridor from Pakenham to Geelong and create thousands of Victorian jobs.
The project will stop rat runs in the inner west for good – and 24/7 truck bans will be enshrined in law.
The government said it has negotiated a fairer deal under the Market-led Proposal guideline, including making the toll recovery system fairer and removing clauses that compensate Transurban for road projects that divert traffic off its network.
Construction of the new road tunnel will be partly funded with a ten-year extension of the CityLink Concession deed. This partnership has been assessed as high-value for taxpayers and for drivers, with tolls increasing at a lower rate than agreed by the previous government to fund the CityLink-Tulla Widening Project.
Legislation to operate the new road tunnel, and amendments to the CityLink concession deed, will be introduced into Parliament before the road is complete in 2022.
There have been massive improvements to the project’s scope after five design updates, through two years of community consultation and a comprehensive Environment Effects Statement process, the government said.
The final design approved for construction will cost $6.7 billion, due to tunnels now twice as long as the original business case to improve traffic flow and protect homes, better city connections, additional noise walls, the creation of massive new open spaces and more cycling paths, and extending air quality monitoring for 10 years.
In addition to the business case released in 2015, the Government today released key documents, including a project summary, concession deed amendments, an exposure draft of the West Gate Tunnel Bill and the value for money assessment. The Government will also shortly release the contracts between Transurban and the State.
Early works will start in January, with the first of two massive Tunnel Boring Machines to be ordered in the next few weeks. The project will be complete in 2022.
Don’t do it: new report raises serious concerns about West Gate Tunnel
The West Gate Tunnel Project could worsen Melbourne’s traffic congestion, increase car dependency and should be rolled back, according to a new report from six leading planning academics.
Other concerns raised by the report include:

  • The project’s overreach and overstatement of benefits.
  • The poor planning process and lack of overall strategy.
  • A lack of transparency in the market-led proposal.

The report, a joint publication between RMIT University and the University of Melbourne, argues that the project will not meet three of its key objectives and only partially meet two others. It recommends that Parliament instead limit its support for strategic road investment in Melbourne’s inner west to building the $500 million West Gate Distributor – a project that addresses access to Port Melbourne and trucks on inner west roads.
The report’s authors note that the proposed tunnel will not improve transport capacity along Melbourne’s M1 corridor, and will not reduce reliance on the West Gate Bridge. The project will fail to give residents in Melbourne’s fastest growing region better access to employment opportunities via public transport.
The report also warns that freight access to the Port of Melbourne and the rest of the city will only be partially improved by the tunnel, and that the plan’s ban on trucks will only slightly improve community amenity and local streets in Melbourne’s inner west.
Co-author, RMIT University’s Dr Ian Woodcock, said the project’s inability to meet its key objectives would have major consequences for many Melburnians, particularly those living in the city’s fastest growing metropolitan area – the west.
“International and local evidence overwhelmingly shows that when it comes to improving traffic congestion, building new roads is only a short-term solution,” Woodcock said.
“By building extensive new road capacity that simply entrenches car-based transport, the West Gate Tunnel Project will introduce new transport complexity to the west and the rest of the city, and will compromise many decades of carefully developed aspirations for the central, inner-west and north Melbourne.
“The project’s massive $5.5 billion budget will severely limit options available to future governments to create better public transport, and to meet demands for investment in health, education and regional development.”
Dr Crystal Legacy, from the University of Melbourne, said the West Gate Tunnel was a clear case of ‘overreach’ and the government should revert back to the 2014 West Gate Distributor plan.
“For too long, Victoria’s transport planning and infrastructure investment has occurred in a policy and planning vacuum.
“We therefore call on Parliament – and all sides of politics – to support urgent action for the preparation of an integrated Victorian Transport Plan, as required by the Transport Integration Act 2010.
“This can be done through transparent, strategic and vision-led infrastructure planning, based on an appropriate evidence-based assessment process. All alternatives must be considered to create the city in which its residents wish to live.”
The report also includes an open letter to Victorian State MPs signed by 22 internationally renowned academic leaders in transport planning, urban planning, engineering and safety about the direction of transport planning in Melbourne and Victoria.
Download the report at https://bit.ly/WestGateTunnelReport.

Port of Melbourne industrial action "sovereign risk": VTA

The Port of Melbourne risks becoming an “international laughing stock” if industrial action that has disrupted stevedore Victoria International Container Terminal (VICT) is permitted to continue, according to the Victorian Transport Association (VTA).
The VTA’s warning is in response to VICT’s revelation that the person the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) is pressuring the stevedore to employ is ineligible to work on docks under Australian law because he failed to obtain a Maritime Security Identification Card.
“It is an affront to every Port of Melbourne stevedore and freight operator working in and around the port that the Victorian economy is continuing to be held to ransom by the MUA over what we now understand is a legal reason for this individual being ineligible for employment at the docks,” said VTA CEO, Peter Anderson.
“The effects of this ongoing action at our busiest time of the year are being felt right throughout the economy when you consider that the more than 1000 containers and their contents sitting idle at Webb Dock cannot be brought to market and sold to consumers during our peak retail trading period.
“Not only are VICT and the hundreds of freight operators that cannot move containers in and out of the terminal being impacted by this recalcitrant industrial action, so too are hundreds of small business operators and their families that are being denied access to goods demanded by Victorian consumers.”
Anderson said it was a potential sovereign risk to the broader Victorian economy and the Port of Melbourne’s position as the nation’s largest port if the action is allowed to continue.
“VICT is already losing business to other Port of Melbourne stevedores through this action, but if foreign exporters determine Melbourne is an unreliable destination for freight forwarders they will send their business to ports in other states, at a massive cost to our economy,” said Anderson.
“So, while this action may be confined to VICT for now, the real risk as we see it is the long-term reputational and economic damage the action will create for Victoria as a place to do business.”
Anderson implored all stakeholders involved in the action to put the interests of the Victorian economy first and work constructively to bring an end to industrial action that is undermining the state’s hard-fought reputation as a reliable place to do business.
“This is not the time for our leaders to run and hide but rather confront the real issue of adverse union action that is brutal and selfish, and has a negative effect on the livelihoods all Victorians,” he said.

Route confirmed for North East Link

The Victorian Government has confirmed the route for Melbourne’s North East Link, which it anticipates will be the biggest transport project in the state’s history.
The North East Link will begin on the Eastern Freeway at Springvale Road, where the capacity of the Eastern will be doubled with six extra dedicated lanes to eliminate some of eastern Melbourne’s worst bottlenecks.
A statement from the office of Premier Daniel Andrews said the expanded Eastern Freeway section will remain toll-free under the Andrews Labor Government.
Heading west, the freeway will connect to a new six-lane tunnel at Bulleen, with local underground connections at Banksia St and Manningham Road.
The five kilometre-long tunnel will then travel deep beneath the Yarra River, protecting environmentally sensitive parkland and residential areas.
There will be a local connection at Lower Plenty Road, with the North East Link then running north alongside the existing Greensborough Highway, which will stay open for local traffic.
A new interchange will see the North East Link travel beneath Grimshaw Street in Watsonia, before seamlessly connecting to the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough, which is also being widened.
“People have been talking about connecting the Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway for decades but it’s always been put in the too-hard basket – not anymore,” said Andrews in the statement.
“This is the biggest transport project in Victoria’s history – our state needs it and only Labor will get it done.”
The statement said the travel times between Melbourne’s north and south will be cut by up to 30 minutes in each direction, with travel time savings for people travelling to Melbourne Airport from the south and east.
It also anticipated that congestion on local roads in the north eastern suburbs will also be slashed, with up to 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and more than 9,000 vehicles taken off hotspots like Rosanna Road.
The business case is yet to be finalised, but the statement said early cost estimates on the project range up to $16.5 billion – the single biggest transport infrastructure investment in the state’s history.
Detailed design will now get under way and the business case, including finalising cost estimates, will be released ahead of the 2018/19 Victorian Budget.

MNX Global Logistics acquires Logical Freight Solutions

Melbourne-based logistics provider to the life sciences industry Logical Freight Solutions (LFS) has accepted an offer to be acquired by global logistics services provider MNX Global Logistics.
“The pace of growth in patient-centric medicine, with its strict requirements for temperature-controlled transportation and time-definite delivery, underscores the role that specialty time-critical logistics providers will continue to play in the life sciences and healthcare industries,” said Paul J. Martins, CEO, MNX. “LFS shares our customer-centric culture and geographic footprint. This combination allows our new and existing customers to experience an expanded suite of logistics services tailored specifically for the healthcare, life sciences, and medical device industries around the world.”
Steve Cheetham, CEO, LFS, is enthusiastic about the potential for the combined business.
“Since its inception, Logical Freight Solutions has steadily built an infrastructure and specialised expertise that provides our customers with true door-to-door service, from internal supplier to end-user,” said Cheetham. “Joining MNX further propels the growth of our business and service offerings across new geographies, and gives our customers access to a diversified range of logistics services and new technologies.”
The acquisition is part of a series of strategic moves to drive global growth and provide exceptional service to healthcare and life sciences customers, LFS said in a statement.

Inland Rail project to impact industrial market: report

The Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Rail project is anticipated to transform the movement of freight around the country and significantly impact industrial property, its users and providers across regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, as found by research carried out by commercial real estate company, Colliers International.
According to the findings of the Colliers Radar: The Melbourne – Brisbane Inland Rail report, the 1,700km Inland Rail project – planned for completion in 2024/25 – is expected to result in potential creation of new intermodal facilities and transport and logistic hubs in key strategic locations; the relocation and/or emergence of inter-capital freight users to key strategic locations; potential uplift in industrial land values for precincts in proximity to the rail route (occupier-led demand); and higher importance placed around the existing Ports of Brisbane and Melbourne.
“From commercial property perspective, the regions which are most likely to benefit from the completion of the Inland Rail are Darling Downs, Acacia Ridge and Bromelton in Queensland, Tottenham in Victoria and Parkes in New South Wales,” said Malcom Tyson, Managing Director – Industrial, Colliers International.
“We are likely to see increased activity along the Inland Rail route from the inter-capital freight users such as Linfox, CEVA Logistics, Toll Holdings, DB Schenker, DHL, Woolworths, Coles, GrainCorp, Bluescope and Visy.”
Tyson noted that the benefits for these users would range from operating cost savings, time savings, improved reliability, improved availability and resilience to incidents.
“In line with this, providers of the intermodal transport and logistic hubs and industrial estates may also emerge to cater for the increased demand and relocation requirements from these users,” he added.
“These providers might fall into service industry sectors such as cold-store warehousing, grain and commodities storage, rail maintenance, container park, food processing facilities, freight handling facilities, distribution centres and inland container storage facilities.”
Matthew Frazer-Ryan, National Director – Industrial, Colliers International, added, “There is compelling evidence pointing towards the positive correlation between new infrastructure projects (i.e. when committed and under construction) and associated uplift in industrial land value in a region.
“The importance of these projects to improve accessibility of freight to the area is also likely to positively impact on the potential rental value of the industrial property in the region.”
Frazer-Ryan added that this has been evidenced Melbourne during the CityLink Tulla Widening project and the beginning of the West Gate Tunnel project – directly impacting transport and logistic operators in the region and leading to an uplift in values.
In Brisbane, he added, this was evident with the completion of the Gateway Upgrade, which saw land values in the Australia TradeCoast rise upon announcement of the project.
In Sydney, the Westlink M7 Motorway construction saw average annual land value growth in the M7 catchment area of around 22 per cent over the three-year period.
“As a result, we would anticipate that as firms begin to look to these middle suburban ring and outer regional areas supported by the completion of the Inland Rail, stronger demand should lead to increasing land values and overall industrial property performance over the long-term,” added Frazer-Ryan.

VTA calls for safety rethink on Port of Melbourne access

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) has labelled plans to develop an on-road cycling path on Lorimer Street in a future Fishermans Bend precinct “irresponsible recipe for disaster.”
A draft of the Fishermans Bend Framework released late last month by Planning Minister Richard Wynne and Member for Albert Park Martin Foley contains recommendations for cycling and other infrastructure to support the 80,000 people and jobs the Victorian Government hopes to attract to the new precinct.
The draft contains a map of existing and proposed cycling infrastructure, including a north-south strategic cycling corridor connecting to a new Lorimer Street on-road cycling path between the Bolte and West Gate Bridge.
“Lorimer Street is a gazetted freight route for heavy vehicles and is intensively used by trucks of up to 70 tonnes travelling between Webb Dock and road and rail freight infrastructure closer to town,” said Peter Anderson, CEO, Victorian Transport Association.
“It is also home to numerous concrete suppliers that are visited by hundreds of trucks every day that deliver to building sites throughout Melbourne.”
He added that while the VTA fully supports infrastructure that encourages commuters onto bikes and away from cars, the only gazetted freight route servicing the south side of the Port of Melbourne is “the last place we should be putting a shared path.”
“It’s an irresponsible recipe for disaster to encourage cycling on a road so intensively used by heavy vehicles, and is the precise opposite of what we recommended in early consultations,” he added. “For planners to have included an on-road cycling path on Lorimer Street in the draft framework defies logic.”
The VTA has previously advised the government in its precinct planning to encourage cycling and pedestrian traffic to Williamstown Road, and to actively separate heavy vehicles from cyclists where possible, as is happening in Melbourne’s west.
“Regardless of who is at fault, the cyclist will always be worse off in a collision with a truck, so why on earth would you encourage their close interaction on a shared roadway?” Anderson said. “Elsewhere in Melbourne, we are actively separating bicycles from trucks on freight routes so it stands to reason we should be doing this in Fishermans Bend precinct planning.”
Anderson welcomed objectives in the draft to safeguard port access by preserving a direct road and rail corridor between Webb, Swanson and Appleton Docks and the Dynon Road freight terminal.

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