E-commerce giant Amazon has been recruiting workers in Queensland to join a new, and as-yet-unannounced, team in Australia since early 2016. The company has remained quiet about its ambitions for entering Australia, while it has offered cloud computing services for several years and maintains a .com.au domain with orders handled overseas, speculation about its apparent plans to enter has centred on unease for retailers currently operating in the country.
The jobs postings advertise positions working with a local arm of the company’s AmazonFresh grocery business. At present, there are 12 roles listed for the Brisbane-based venture, including several software development positions, down from over 100 roles advertised when news outlet Business Insider discovered the recruitment campaign this week.
Of the jobs found by Business Insider, the earliest posting appeared to have been put up as early as February 2016, though the recruitment drive appears to have been ramped-up in September and October.
“As a member of a team focused on innovation, you will responsible for building a system to support a new and confidential AmazonFresh initiative that will help revolutionise the grocery shopping experience,” said one now-removed listing for a software development engineer, with several of the listings calling for “experience taking a project from inception through launch.”
AmazonFresh has been available in the US since 2007 for US$14.99 per month for Amazon Prime members, and to-date it has only been launched in one other location, London, where it costs £6.99 for Prime members.
No Amazon Prime membership is currently available to Australia-based users of the site, though they have been able to subscribe to Prime Video since a surprise local launch in November 2016. The New Daily and the Australian Financial Review expect Amazon to launch the full gamut of its services – Prime, Prime Now and PrimeFresh – in late 2017, certainly no later than early 2018.
McCain Foods Australia today announced a contract agreement with cold storage provider NewCold.
NewCold’s will manage the storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products at the storage provider’s new warehouse in Truganina, Melbourne, as part of a 10-year agreement commencing in July 2017.
Construction has significantly advanced on the automated facility, which will consist of an integrated system combining automated, state-of-the-art pallet handling systems, using in-house warehouse and control software developed by parent Dutch cold storage innovator, NewCold Advanced Cold Logistics.
Taso Kourou, Supply Chain Director at McCain Foods ANZ stated that the facility upgrade will drastically improve logistics capabilities, meeting the needs of local and international customers, demanding improved efficiency from production to distribution of frozen products. “The storage and handling of McCain’s frozen products in the new automated facility will give us a more stable temperature regime and highly accurate stock control,” he said.
Louis Wolthers, Regional President for Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India & China at McCain Food said that the McCain team is keen to see the outcomes of the new agreement take effect. “From a sustainability perspective, through the use of the warehouses’ highly controlled in-and-outflows combined with efficient cooling equipment, energy usage per pallet stored is up to 50 per cent lower compared to a conventional storage option,” he said.
The warehouse’s unmanned stacker cranes, conveyors and automated truck unloading systems will handle receipt, storage and retrieval of palletised products, all together dealing with more than 11,000 pallet movements per day.
Following the resignation in late 2016 of Russell Sturzaker, the Refrigerated Warehouse and Transport Association of Australia Ltd (RWTA) is on the lookout for a new Executive Officer.
Chairman David O’Brien thanked Sturzaker for his work on the association’s website, events and fundraising, and wished him well for the future. “On behalf of the RWTA Board and all members and associate members of the RWTA, I wish to thank Russell for his professionalism, thoroughness and dedication during his two-year tenure with the Association,” he said.
The search for a replacement is ongoing, and O’Brien expects the position to be filled early this year.
The e-commerce giant Amazon has announced that it ‘employed’ 45,000 robots in 20 of its fulfilment centres during the 2016 holiday season, up from the 30,000 working alongside 230,000 human colleagues during the 2015 holiday season.
The amount of human workers employed in the last holiday season is to be announced at the company’s earning calls in early 2017. The Seattle Times noted that the company’s 2016 robot workforce has a bigger ‘headcount’ than the armed forces of the Netherlands.
The robots in question are Kiva Robots, made by the robotics firm bought by Amazon in 2012, Kiva Systems.
Amazon has reportedly filed a patent for a flying warehouse to support the company’s drone delivery technology, CNBC reported at the end of December.
Referring to a patent filing from April 2016 that was not publicised by Amazon at the time, CNBC said the US e-commerce giant was picturing the airborne fulfilment centre (AFC) to float at an altitude of 45,000 feet (ca. 13,000m) – much like an airship or blimp.
Drones would be able to access the flying warehouse to carry out local deliveries within minutes, for example to supply food or merchandise to fans at a stadium, CNBC reported.
“When a customer places an order, a drone or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will fly down and deliver the package. Amazon insists that this would require little power because the drone would be gliding down rather than having to take off and land,” CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal reported.
“Amazon’s filing explains that the blimp would remain in the air and be refueled and replenished using a shuttle. This could be a smaller aircraft capable of docking onto the AFC and unloading products as well as fuel.”
Whether or not the plan is feasible may be up for debate, though, according to US logistics news service Heavy Duty Trucking. “The logistics of placing a large blimp thousands of feet above a populated area for long periods of time would require regulatory approval, not to mention the fact that Amazon’s drone delivery system is still in its infancy.”
In July, Amazon had already caused headlines with a patent that revealed it was thinking about using tall buildings and structures such as lampposts or churches as docking stations for drones to recharge.
Another patent described how drones would ‘talk’ to each other to plan routes and communicate.
In the UK, Amazon officially delivered its first package by drone in December, and the company said that it expected to expand trials in the near future.
Smart machines, comprising artificial intelligence, intelligent automation, machine learning and deep learning, are to go mainstream by 2021, with 30 per cent adoption by large companies, according to US research firm Gartner, Inc.
“The use of smart machines by enterprises can be transformative and disruption,” said Susan Tan, Research Vice President, Gartner. “Smart machines will profoundly change the way work is done and how value is created. For service providers, smart machines represent opportunities to help enterprises assess, select, implement, change and adapt talent, and for IT and business processes, the opportunity to successfully adopt smart machines for business benefits.”
Gartner predicts spending on smart machine consulting and system integration (C&SI) services to increase from $451 million in 2016 to almost $29 billion by 2021, with the main window for technology adoption occurring between 2020 and 2025. “Enterprises’ investments into smart machines will span more than a decade, implying that the smart machine consulting and system integration (C&SI) service market will be a long-term one,” the company wrote.
Logistics & Materials Handling (L&MH) has been selected as official media partner for the 2017 Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Forum.
The event will focus on issues identified in the ALC’s election priorities document ‘Getting the Supply Chain Right’.
A key recommendation in the document, the development of a national freight and supply chain strategy, was embraced by Infrastructure Australia in its Australian Infrastructure plan in February 2016, and endorsed by the Federal Government in November 2016.
Following on from the success, leaders and key policy makers in the Australian logistics industry will gather at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 7–9 March 2017 to discuss and debate the issues that will shape the nation’s supply chain strategy in 2017.
According to the ALC, L&MH has been selected for its role as a thought leader in the Australian logistics and supply chain scene. According to publisher, John Murphy of Prime Creative Media, the selection goes hand in hand with a planned relaunch of the title in 2017.
“Along with an increased print run to six editions per year, the new-look L&MH will keep you informed, interested and involved with more curated news, thought leadership and hands-on industry insight,” he said.
“On the back of that commitment to the growth of the logistics industry, we are especially proud to have been selected as the media partner for the 2017 ALC Forum.
“Working alongside the ALC, the peak body representing the nation’s freight transporter and logistics supply chain industries, will enable L&MH to benefit from the expertise of the country’s premier minds on logistics, and give the ALC a platform to celebrate industry best practice.”
CEVA Logistics (Ceva) has further expanded its presence in West Park Industrial Estate in Truganina, Victoria by leasing two new premises from Frasers Property Australia’s.
The company entered into a three-year lease for two facilities with a total lettable area of 22,840 sqm. Warehouse A comprises 10,892 sqm including a 10,593 sqm warehouse and 301 sqm office. Warehouse B includes a 11,948 sqm building comprising 11,647 sqm warehouse and 301 sqm office.
Key features of both facilities include 120 car spaces, 10 metre warehouse, 35-metre wide awnings and eight recessed loading docks. Ceva will manage a contract for Toyota in these facilities and the leases will commence this month.
Earlier this year, Ceva secured another automotive contract with Nissan, Infiniti and Renault, pre-committing to lease another 23,035 sqm office and warehouse space on Efficient Drive in West Park Industrial Estate. This facility will be completed in the first quarter of 2017.
Combined with Ceva’s super site which was completed in July 2016, the company has committed to 136,073 sq m in West Park Industrial Estate.
Anthony Maugeri, General Manager Southern Region C&I for Frasers Property comments, “We are delighted with current inquiry levels in West Park Industrial Park and equally pleased that Ceva has committed in this estate for the third time in 18 months. Truganina is one of the fastest growing industrial precincts in Australia and continues to attract major Australian transport and logistics businesses.
Within the logistics arena, there are a myriad of scenarios where safety can be compromised. In a highly controlled environment like a warehouse, accidents are still highly likely to occur and even more so if the cargo stored consists of hazardous goods. In the US alone, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) indicated that across the United States, there were over 150,000 people working in warehouses across the country. So if one considers the immense amount of cargo movement all across the Asia Pacific region, these numbers would easily surpass the US.
With the Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and mining sector growing rapidly, 3PLs have had to increase their agility in terms of turnaround times. The result is a surge in workload in this region, which in turn creates a simultaneous focus on the safety and ergonomics in the warehouses. This then brings about key concerns centring around operations involving lifting actions, vehicular movement and electrical functions, or a combination of all.
Forklifts, electrical and wiring, hazard communication, exits, mechanical power transmission and respiratory protection are just some of the hotspots identified by Safework Australia over the years that can be applicable to a warehouse just about anywhere. Thus it would be bad for the business if an employer ignores these elements that constitute a good and safe work environment.
Infusing the mindset of the integration of a pro-active approach to the management of safety, providing due attention and budgets on injury prevention into corporate culture would go a long way in reaping productivity and efficiency in the facility. Nobody would be looking forward to a 3PL version of Deepwater Horizon.
Safety guidelines in most industrial facilities are mandatory especially when it comes to hazardous materials. Attention needs to be given to liquid spills, which should to be cleaned as soon as possible because the exposure to workers is very high and can cause many problems so fixing damaged equipment is paramount. Preventing or reducing the chances of injury can be as simple as optimising procedures to manage the physical layout of the warehouse, reduce walking times and making sure access to equipment and material is easy.
In the Asia Pacific, German chemical producer BASF utilises its own Warehouse Safety Assessment (WSA) tool – a standardised questionnaire designed to assess the quality, safety and environmental management systems of third-party warehouses. The trained safety adviser will be responsible for undertaking these WSAs. At the end of each review, corrective and improvement actions will be discussed and agreed between the assessor and the assessed company.
In the packaging arena, containers have been undergoing a redesign because of the introduction of weight limits on containers. On paper, this will look to provide easy access to the product and reduce the stress due to lifting.
Replacing wooden pallets and corrugated boxes to reusable plastic containers will reduce or stamp out the possibilities of injuries. The key is to reduce the bending, reaching, and pulling associated with the tasks in warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
Looking for ergonomic options that increase the comfort of the operator when choosing a new forklift or automation technology for your warehouse will likely see higher productivity together with improved health and energy levels. The assist devices for moving containers could also include vacuum lift machines that use a vacuum of air to grip and lift boxes, or even computer-controlled assist devices that are sensor guided and can make fast, automatic adjustments for accurate container placement.
Manual handling has seen a steady recently as there has been a shift towards the investment in automation of order picking – especially forklifts. For the sake of efficiency these machines are designed for heavy lifting in distribution centres (DCs). Looking at the downside, without proper training and instruction, they can also cause injury to persons and damage to property so manufacturers of this equipment have been looking at ways to prevent these outcomes occurring. One tip is to invest in impact shock switches, which automatically switch the vehicle off upon any collision.
Models by leading forklift producers Junghenrich, Crown and Toyota offer impact resistance, which has increased up to threefold combining aluminium and cast iron in the manufacture, helping the trucks to cope with the normal bumps and scrapes of everyday applications. Linked suspension castors have been fitted to provide maximum load and truck stability on any surface.
Let’s not forget that workers in a warehouse also exert themselves on strenuous ergonomic activity that stress the body, which offers up risks such as repetitive motion strain and other potential injuries. The only way around this is education even if employees should be able to identify tasks that may involve higher risks in the warehouse. Employers need to be proactive and identify tell-tale signs of the symptoms of discomfort.
It is important that employees should ensure that any incident, accident or symptom be reported to their supervisor so that the appropriate measures can be put in place. Following this, the management has to give the appropriate attention to these incidents with documentation for follow up and action.
In Australia, with workers being aware of their rights to a safe work environment, plus the increasing insurance coverage of workers in a workplace, a safe warehouse environment will ultimately see that important cost savings are maintained with increase productivity and reduced equipment downtime.
United Forklift and Access Solutions have released the Elevah range of ladder systems and access equipment to prevent accidents and falls from low heights; one of the leading causes of serious workplace injuries.
The range includes the Elevah 40 Move, a self-propelled aluminium personal access lift with a four metre working height that has won the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) Product of the Year award for low-level access.
The first vertical mast (access) and order picker (forklift) products to be distributed in Australia will also include the Elevah 40 Move Stock Picker for safe access to stored products, as well as the Elevah 51 Move Stock Picker with up to 5.1m working height and the Elevah 65 Move Stock Picker with a working height of up to 6.5 m, the largest lift height in its class.
Elevah products feature safe working platforms with built-in protection cages for operators enabling safe operation even in crowded or restricted spaces. The compact and versatile access machines each feature tight turning performance with a high turning radius that enables the machinery to turn virtually within its own footprint.
The range provide higher productivity than conventional ladder systems and have safety features including a side entrance with sensors which stop the cage opening; dual operator presence device; anti-tilting device; electronic slope monitoring; and overload monitoring.
In NSW between July 2011 and May 2016, 3168 workers were injured in falls from ladders, including two fatalities.
Nationally, in the eight years from July 2003 to June 2011, 37 workers died following a fall from a ladder.