Australian team takes top Amazon robotics prize

An Australian robotics team has taken the top prize in the 2017 Amazon Robotics Challenge
Australian Centre for Robotic Vision from Australia succeeded in the Grand Championship Combined Task to win the overall challenge and the top prize of US$80,000 ($99,850), with Nanyang Technological University of Singapore taking the pick task and the US MIT Princeton team, winning the stow task.
“This year’s finalists demonstrated sophisticated solutions combining object recognition, pose recognition, grasp planning, compliant manipulation, motion planning, task planning, task execution, and error detection and recovery to successfully pick and stow unique items,” Amazon said in a statement. “Teams were judged based on how many items were successfully picked and stowed by their robots in a fixed amount of time.”
Joey Durham, Contest Chairperson and Manager of Research and Advanced Development for Amazon Robotics, added, “This year, we made some changes to the Challenge to make it even more difficult and to encourage broader participation from multiple robotics fields – and the response was exciting.
“The versatility of recognition capabilities in an unstructured environment and the dexterity of grasping mechanisms was truly impressive.
“What we’re most proud of with the Amazon Robotics Challenge is its celebration of robotic community and the venue it’s created to share and promote research in a fun and rewarding way.”
The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision team consisted of researchers, early PhD candidates and undergraduate students who combined computer vision, machine learning and a variety of robotic hardware to successfully complete both pick and stow tasks the fastest.
 

delivery curfew

CILTA to host regional logistics event

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILTA) will host an event in Wodonga, ‘The Next Generation of Logistics in Regional Victoria’, to discuss infrastructure, the commercial transport industry and more.
The event is timely as the face of regional logistics in Victoria is set to change, according to the CILTA.
“The prospect of the Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail project being realised and the expansion of the High Productivity Vehicle Network throughout the state and along the Hume corridor will bring a new dimension to freight productivity in regional Victoria,” said CILTA.
“Logistics in the Wodonga region has grown massively over the last decade and these new road and rail developments will propel the industry to new heights.”
CILTA has also stated that significant change will impact the Wodonga/Albury region as well as neighbouring regions and their logistics hubs and facilities.
“The logistics industry needs to do its strategic planning now,” said CILTA.
Speakers at the event will include road operators, warehousing specialists, economic planners, infrastructure providers, logistics trainers and other experts.
The event will be held on 8 August 2017 at The Cube, 118 Hovell Street, Wodonga, Victoria, 9am – 5pm.

VIC storage leasers may be eligible for refund

Companies leasing warehouse facilities in Victoria may be entitled to a refund from their landlords thanks to a recent decision made by the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal.
Essentially, the Court held that the lease of premises used to provide cold storage and logistics services was a ‘retail lease’ for the purposes of the Retail Leases Act 2003 (Vic), Hunt & Hunt lawyers has shared.
Hunt & Hunt noted that the decision has practical implications for warehouse operators and freight forwarders, making many entitled to repayment of expenses including land tax and repair costs going back six years.
The Retail Leases Act impacts all aspects of the formation, operation and ending of covered leases. In terms of costs for tenants, landlords are not able to pass on land tax liability or legal costs associated with the preparation of leases, and
landlord are responsible for maintaining premises in the same condition as at the beginning of the lease, this includes equipment, appliances and fittings provided on the premises under the lease.
For the case that brought about the decision, IMCC Group (Australia) Pty Ltd v CB Cold Storage Pty Ltd [2017], the Court had to consider whether a lease of premises used to operate cool storage facilities would be classed as a retail lease.
“The landlord argued it was not due largely to the nature of the services provided and the fact that almost all of the tenant’s customers were businesses,” Hunt & Hunt shared. “The Court of Appeal held that the lease was a retail lease and took the following factors into account: any person could purchase the storage services if the appropriate fee was paid; the tenant’s business was open during normal business hours; and the tenants customers were the actual consumers of the storage service.”
The Court was reportedly not concerned that the premises were acquired for a business purpose.
Hunt & Hunt advises that the criteria for ascertaining whether a warehousing and logistics business’ lease is eligible to be classified as retail will include the rental amount, the size of the premises, whether customers can attend the premises, the hours of operation, the services provided and the permitted use of the premises under the lease.
“Every tenant that provides warehousing and logistics services should have their lease reviewed to determine whether it is potentially a retail lease,” Hunt & Hunt noted. “If it is a retail lease under the law, but the tenant has been paying land tax and maintenance and essential safety maintenance costs, there may be a very strong case to demand repayment of those costs from the landlord.”

ASCO appoints new Australasia CEO

ASCO, provider of logistics, materials and warehouse management services, has appointed Michael Fulham as CEO of Australasia.
Recent changes to the Australian senior management team saw Fulham replace Matt Thomas, who has moved into a Global Client Director role within ASCO Group and is now based at its Corporate HQ in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Fulham, who will be based in Perth, WA, brings commercial supply chain management experience in both construction and oil and gas logistics.
He will play a role in the future growth and development of ASCO’s Australian business, working closely with the current management team to continue the growth of the region.
“Some of the largest operators in the industry have major interests in the Australasian region,” said Fulham. “As demand for ASCO’s services continues to grow, it is important that we continue to safely deliver the quality service for which we are known, providing operators with solutions that are project specific.”
Matt Thomas, Global Client Director, ASCO, added, “Australasia is a key strategic region for ASCO and we see significant opportunities to continue to grow our business. We are perfectly placed to provide operators with solutions that are both cost effective and operationally efficient. Michael’s experience will be key as we continue to develop and grow in this important market.”
ASCO will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2017.

Sydney, Brisbane industrial land active to ‘drying up’

Stockland has secured a major blue chip tenant for part of its 11-hectare industrial business park in Warwick Farm, with the remainder of the property set to be speculatively developed to meet leasing demand for opportunities in close proximity to the M5 and M7 orbital.
Daikin Australia has signed a 10 year lease 33,278sqm of Gross Lettable Area, at 200 Governor Macquarie Drive, with occupation set for early 2018.
Darren Curry, director of industrial and business services at Savills Australia said Daikin Australia plans to use the Stockland development to cater for the expansion of their current site, located at 62-66 Governor Macquarie Drive. The new lease will cater for predominately office, warehousing and the wholesaling of Daikin products to trade services.
Stockland purchased the property from the Australian Turf Club in 2013, it being originally used as a horse training facility known as ‘Coopers Paddock’. 200 Macquarie Drive is opposite the new Inglis thoroughbred horse stables and sale yard, who will relocate from their Randwick stables to Warwick Farm. In addition, Inglis is developing a conference centre and hotel that will be run by the Sofitel MGallery.
Brisbane industrial land supply dries up in the south west

Dexus Drive Industrial Estate, Richlands, Qld.

The prime south west corridor in Brisbane is experiencing shortage of large lot land supply, particularly for sites larger than 5ha and those with immediate access to the Logan, Ipswich and Gateway / M1 Motorways.
“We are now heading into single digit opportunities of available large lot land sites to develop,” said Matthew Frazer-Ryan, national director of industrial at Colliers International.
“This is leading to the increase in land values and driving occupier requirements further south to Yatala or further west to Ipswich, which is helping grow and develop these districts.”
According to Colliers International research, Brisbane industrial land values for 2.5ha serviced land lots have increased on average 16% over the last financial year, from $253/sqm in 2015/16 to $294/sqm in 2016/17.
Mr Frazer-Ryan added: “Occupiers and developers in these precincts are now planning up to ten years ahead and looking for sites to build on that are situated adjacent to existing transport nodes or future road network upgrades.
“They are land-banking to secure their future industrial footprint. Some of these occupiers who have less flexibility in choosing a location are also now starting to look at brownfield sites that provide short to medium term income, and that can become available for future redevelopment in lieu of the traditional land-bank strategy.
“Limited stock of quality warehousing facilities has meant that on the leasing front we are experiencing a flight to quality, with occupiers moving from older and less efficient facilities into modern A Grade facilities.
“Additionally, tenants are taking up space in the brand new spec developments providing easy access to major road networks and associated infrastructure.
“Considering existing A Grade facilities are tightly held in this precinct, the demand for design and construct product will increase, ensuring those developers that have landbanks leverage this benefit in the foreseeable future.
“Demand and take-up in the South and Logan Motorway corridor has been more subdued YTD, however ongoing negotiations for a series of new commitments are forecast to be completed in the coming quarter, and rebalance the take up across the southern market.”
Overall, the industrial market in Brisbane has experienced significant leasing activity in the first half of this year, particularly within the TradeCoast region with Colliers International research showing over 100,000sqm of leasing transactions (for warehouses 5,000sqm and above for YTD 2017) occurring.
Research shows prime grade net face rents in the Australia TradeCoast precinct increasing 3.11% over the YoY to June 2017.
Driving growth for industrial product in the Australia TradeCoast precinct is the significant investment in infrastructure projects underway including the duplication of the runway at Brisbane Airport and the upgrading of Kingsford Smith Drive, which will help improve the productivity of the region.
 

PFD Food Services commissions new NSW facility

Australian food distributor PFD Food Services will soon add a new cold storage and food production facility to its portfolio in western Sydney.
Frasers Property Australia will construct the $70 million, 22,208m2 development on a 60,000m2 plot at its industrial site in Chullora, 15km west of the Sydney CBD.
It is expected to be completed in mid-2018.
PFD also recently commissioned Vaughan Constructions to build a $36 million, 25,500m2 facility on a 74,400m2 site in Knoxfield, 27km east of Melbourne’s CBD.

Render of the Knoxfield, VIC, construction, supplied by Vaughan Constructions.
Render of the Knoxfield, VIC, construction, supplied by Vaughan Constructions.

It will comprise 20,900m2 of refrigerated, ambient and seafood storage, along with 3,000m2 of office space.
Scheduled for completion in late 2017, the development recently hit the halfway mark, and Vaughan Constructions has shared a time-lapse video of the project’s progress.
“Construction of PFD Food Services’ new Knoxfield facility is progressing well,” Andrew Noble, Managing Director, Vaughan Constructions told Logistics & Materials Handling. “Vaughan Constructions is anticipating project completion at the end of September 2017.”
 

German logistics group to enter Australian market

German logistics specialist the Rhenus Group signed an agreement to purchase Australian freight forwarding company O’Brien Customs and Forwarding Pty Ltd on 16 June, as part of its expansion strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Melbourne-headquartered O’Brien family business handles air and sea freight consignments and provides customs and warehouse services. It was initially founded as a customs clearance firm in 1996 and has been offering air and sea freight transportation in addition to customs services for seven years.
The Rhenus Group is planning to expand the firm’s current operations in future with its network and its services, including domestic traffic, support for imports/exports, buyers’ consolidation as well as warehouse and integrated logistics solutions.
“The takeover of O’Brien and the founding of the national company to be known as Rhenus Logistics Australia enable us to cover the whole of Australia with our services,” said Jan Harnisch, COO, Ocean Freight – Asia, Rhenus. “As a result of the acquisition, we’re gaining experienced employees with local expertise for the global operations of the Air & Ocean business unit at Rhenus Freight Logistics too.”
 
Image source: Wikipedia

Cloud software company wins New Zealand Post contract

Australia and New Zealand cloud software company PrimeQ has won a major contract with New Zealand Post designed to improve parcel and mail monitoring and deliveries.
PrimeQ will help the parcel service to deliver over 560 million items each year by automating its transportation and warehousing requirements through the Cloud.
PrimeQ will install, deliver and support cloud-based transport management system (TMS) and warehouse management system (WMS) software from Oracle.
“New Zealand Post will be able to monitor deliveries in real time, creating a better customer experience via the Cloud,” said Andrew McAdams, CEO, PrimeQ.
“PrimeQ’s installation of a state-of-the-art TMS will use the power of data to track the transportation of letters and parcels at every step of their journey and improve planning of bulk pick-ups and deliveries.
“PrimeQ is also consolidating and upgrading New Zealand Post’s WMS to better service e-commerce businesses seeking to outsource their warehousing and deliveries.”
Design work on New Zealand Post’s new TMS and WMS is now complete, with final configuration and pilot testing due to commence in the coming weeks.
“Our work with PrimeQ will contribute to improved parcel and mail deliveries across the country,” said Alan Court, General Manager – Transport and Logistics, New Zealand Post.
“It will also support the growth of New Zealand Post’s third-party logistics business, using the benefits of the Cloud.”
McAdams said PrimeQ would support New Zealand Post to become the first organisation in New Zealand to transfer a WMS into the Cloud.
“This is a major win for PrimeQ off the back of our rapid expansion in New Zealand and will create significant benefits for New Zealand Post,” he said.
“By replacing New Zealand Post’s legacy system with cloud-based Oracle solutions, PrimeQ can offer lower capital costs and rapid implementation times while creating greater delivery efficiencies.
“We will go live within six months, compared with 12 to 18 months for an on-premise system.
“Oracle has established a three-year SaaS subscription with New Zealand Post that includes technical support.”
PrimeQ is the only business in Australia and New Zealand to focus solely on Oracle cloud business solutions and services.

How will transport succeed in a ‘higher expectation’ future?

What will transport look like in the future? Will people and governments ever accept driverless B-doubles careering through city streets? Will we see flying delivery vans? Near-instant drone deliveries, or delivery by particle beam, Star Trek- style?
Change won’t be smooth. Driverless trucks might be available, but the regulators will be well behind. All of these innovations raise serious questions about safety and security, which will become political as the regulators and the public weigh up the pros and cons.
Rather than focus too heavily on what might be coming, we need to step back and consider the principles which will drive future developments.
The big picture tells us transport is often a source of great angst in the supply chain, as it’s one of business’s greatest costs. It also tells us that both B2B and B2C customers are becoming more savvy, and expecting more.
Our ability to succeed in this ‘higher expectation’ future will come down to applying timeless principles of successful delivery transport: the ability to offer personalised service, efficiently.
We need to continually ask: are we able to meet or even surpass the consumer’s expectations? Already, supply chain innovation from global behemoths such as Amazon is having a knock-on effect across many industries. We all need to put ourselves in the mindset of the ‘want-it-now’ shopper.
Consumers see innovations like next-day or half-day delivery, or parcel delivery tracking, and it becomes a standard expectation. Can same-day delivery become same-hour delivery? If consumers come to expect it, we will need to figure it out.
A key principle is that the wrong transport option fundamentally affects a product’s cost viability to market and the customer experience, both of which determine future sales. This applies to driverless vehicles, drones or standard delivery methods. If driverless trucks require a babysitter driver for safety reasons there may be some efficiency gains regarding fewer accidents and better fuel efficiency, but will there be big savings? How do we measure the performance? No matter what the method, you need a mentality to continually question and analyse to get results.
Unfortunately, many organisations fall over at the first step – not fully understanding their transport costs since many variables need to be accounted for. While technological tools are available, the knowledge to use these tools to their potential is often missing. Without this crucial starting point, it’s difficult to keep tabs on how your transport costs can be reined in and performance improved.
Greater efficiency and responsiveness is key, which means greater flexibility across the supply chain is needed. Technology plays a key role – in transport we are seeing supply chains across the board benefit from telematics and RFID technology to track deliveries. QR codes are good for inventory and protecting against lost or misplaced goods and play a big role in customer service by automatically updating customers on a parcel’s delivery status. It’s now a standard expectation among both B2B and B2C customers.
We can expect more data-driven decision-making in a quest to become more efficient. New technologies such as blockchain, a distributed ledger system, may introduce greater transparency and security for contracts.
You don’t necessarily need to be first to the market and take undue risks, but you do need a finger on the pulse to understand the changes and be open to new ways of doing things.
We can expect refinements in areas aside from technology, including more specialists in the market, more collaboration with clients, 3PL providers being more integrated and accountable, and collaboration between specialist suppliers across the supply chain.
This may include insourcing specialist teams which include back-up personnel for when you have absentees or when you need to increase resources quickly, working untraditional hours to increase delivery efficiencies, re-evaluating whether outsourcing the warehousing, transport and other supply functions is better than doing it in-house. While insourcing is nothing new, it remains underutilised by many.
With mounting pressure to be faster and more traceable, and the competitive pressure of global markets encroaching on traditional local areas, companies will increasingly avoid running an entire end-to-end service themselves. Partnering with the correct suppliers who specialise in areas of the supply chain will be just as critical to a client’s success in the future as it is now. The delivery method – whether it be a plane, drone, train, truck, driverless car or pushbike – is still inefficient unless the cornerstones such as correct processes, systems, management and KPIs are in place.
The good news is that many of the solutions which make you more efficient are becoming more accessible. Insourcing a dedicated transport team makes you more responsive, and gives you more flexibility with costs, while telematics technology is now available to everyone via smartphone, whereas previously it was only accessible to the larger freight companies.
A healthy supply chain benefits business like a healthy cardiovascular system benefits an individual. It’s inseparable from business success. Whether the crucial transport delivery happens via flying van or particle beam will be fascinating to see.

Walter Scremin, General Manager, Ontime Group.
Walter Scremin, General Manager, Ontime Group.

Walter Scremin is General Manager of national delivery transport company Ontime Group, which provides tailored, agile delivery transport solutions to a range of clients including SMEs and large listed companies.
Walter is passionate about measuring performance and leveraging technology and has overseen several technology projects including Ontime’s unique Fleet X-Ray analysis software, a telematics tracking system and smartphone app designed to track vehicles and deliveries.

Leadership change at ANC

Fleet home delivery company ANC has announced two new senior management appointments – Stephen Sloane has recently taken up the position of NSW State Manager, Operations, while internally, Brett Randall has been appointed National Manager, Innovation and Improvement.
ANC provides last-mile delivery for Australian and international brands such as Bunnings Warehouse, IKEA, Fantastic Furniture, Telstra, Australian Cement and Fuji Xerox.
Stephen Sloane joins ANC following a 19-year tenure at Startrack, most recently as National Fleet & Facility Manager, having started as a contracted driver.
“I’m impressed by ANC’s growth over the past two years, and its plans for the future, so am excited by the opportunities this role will afford everyone,” said Sloane.
He will oversee the state-wide delivery of dedicated fleet management, client and customer services and report to the National Manager Operations, Roger Cengarle.
Brett Randall has been with ANC for over 30 years, starting out in the business as a contracted driver, progressing through sales and operational ranks to his current role overseeing strategy through innovation and improvement programs nationally.
Randall is a member of the National Executive Team and reports directly to CEO Don Mills and MD James Taylor.
“This new role in innovation and improvement is testament to ANC’s focus on future leadership for the sector, ensuring that we’re providing the best efficiencies and service possible for our clients and their customers,” he said.
“I’ve seen this organisation grow from 20 vehicles dealing with small packages to a $69 million national business and I am excited to be part of the next strategic phase in a dynamic industry.”
Taylor commented on the new appointments, “We have recently redesigned our senior leadership structure to reflect our national approach, and welcome these two new roles which are part of a larger strategy. People are our biggest asset and we know that these new internal and external appointments are going to give us the edge in the delivery sector, which is changing at an extraordinary pace.”

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