Airline staff stood down due to the current pandemic are being hired to help companies meet unprecedented demand.
A recent survey of requests for consultant skills in Australia found that the three top in-demand skills for the logistics and supply chain industry in 2017 are supply chain management, business analytics and process improvement.
The research, carried out by online consultant marketplace Expert360, analysed over project postings since 1 January 2017 from Australian corporates with more than $500 million in annual revenue.
“The current most in-demand skills include project management, process improvement, data science & analysis, financial modelling and business transformation,” said Bridget Loudon, CEO, Expert360.
“A big trend we’re seeing…is growing demand for data and analysis skills. Businesses are still grappling with how they can best store and use data to better improve a range of business functions, including internal processes, the customer experience and their go to market strategy. As a result, there is high demand for data and analytics consultants in Australia’s biggest companies across a wide range of industries from aviation to telcos.”
“Process improvement is also a key focus for many of Australia’s biggest enterprises across the banking, healthcare, logistics & supply chain, government and the consumer goods sector. As better business processes help boost customer satisfaction and revenue growth, businesses are turning to Expert360 to engage experienced consultants as a way of topping-up their workforce and driving change.”
Rail freight company Aurizon has announced major changes in its Queensland operations “to meet customer needs” which will see many of its full-time train crew members redeployed.
Aurizon reports that it is moving to a “more flexible” train crewing operations in Central and North Queensland and undertaking a staged closure of its rollingstock maintenance workshop in Rockhampton to address varying demand in the resources sector as well as changes to Aurizon’s operating footprint.
Carter said Aurizon would work to offset the losses of local jobs by undertaking a review of which metropolitan based roles have the potential to be relocated to Rockhampton and other regional centres.
The proposed changes will be phased through to late 2018, to allow all options to be explored for employees including retraining, redeployment and redundancy.
Mike Carter, Head of Operations, Aurizon, said the business has changed significantly in recent years in line with changing market demand.
“Aurizon needs to continue to change in line with what our customers need if we are to remain competitive,” he added.
“Historically, most of our train crew have been permanent full-time employees and we have been unable to match fluctuations in weekly and monthly demand in train haulage services from coal customers or contract wins or losses.
“As a result we are proposing to change the composition of our train crew workforce in Central and North Queensland. This will involve engaging more contractors to provide greater flexibility for our customers. This will result in reducing the number of permanent full-time train drivers.
“In addition we have also commenced consultation with employees on the staged closure of the Rockhampton rollingstock maintenance workshops by late 2018.
Carter noted that the amount of work required at the Rockhampton workshop has reduced significantly in recent years. “It is a legacy facility,” he said. “Designed for a different operating footprint in a different time – and [it] is not located close to our operations in the Central Queensland Coal Network.”
Aurizon has undertaken a review of core maintenance requirements for the Queensland rollingstock fleet and found that the company’s future maintenance task will be best delivered at newer facilities at Jilalan (Sarina), Stuart (Townsville), Willowburn (Toowoomba) and Callemondah (Gladstone), with components supply and non-core maintenance sourced from third parties.
More than 180 employees at the Rockhampton rollingstock workshop stand to be impacted by the closure, of these up to 40 are expected to have the opportunity for redeployment to Aurizon’s Jilalan facility.
Over 120 permanent train crew positions will be phased out progressively over the next 12 months at the depots of Callemondah, Bluff, and Stanwell, with approximately 70 locally based train crew contractor positions expected to be created over that period.
At the North Queensland depots of Mackay and Townsville, approximately 62 permanent positions including train crew, freight operators and leaders will be cut and the Mackay Freight train crew depot will close.
An additional 20 contractor train crew position will be created for the Coppabella depot near Moranbah in central Queensland to meet increased customer demand on the Goonyella and Newlands Coal Systems.
Carter said Aurizon would also commence discussions with local, state and federal government representatives on the opportunity for urban redevelopment in Rockhampton on land vacated by the workshops.
The Rockhampton Workshop was first established in 1870s and includes a heritage-listed and largely preserved ‘roundhouse’ previously used to move locomotives into various maintenance bays.
Aurizon’s presence in the Rockhampton region will continue, with more than 650 employees stationed across its various businesses in the area.
According to Hays’ latest Quarterly Report, covering April to June 2017, a continued availability of operational logistics roles continues to show that the manufacturing sector has improved – though these jobs include warehouse and transport roles rather than supply chain roles.
With organisations continuing to outsource logistics, the Report found that vacancy activity in 3PL companies remains strong.
Large logistics businesses are keeping salaries steady; instead leveraging their brand and the opportunity to join their team attract candidates.
While employers in the industry were found to be looking for candidates with relevant systems knowledge, SAP was found to be one of the most in demand systems.
Tertiary education, found to be in high demand in the previous Quarterly Report, is still highly valued by employers.
“The trend to employ tertiary educated candidates continues,” Hays said in a statement. “These candidates are viewed favourably by employers for white-collar roles managing teams – they’re perceived to be more adaptable to changing market conditions and more aware of new and ever-changing technology. They are preferred to those with a blue-collar background who have worked their way up.”
The demand for supply chain/inventory managers remains high for candidates with tertiary qualifications and FMCG experience, the company noted, adding that import roles remain a focus, but export roles have increased in response to Australia’s weak dollar.
Inventory controllers with operational experience and relevant licences, such as a forklift licence, are required too, as organisations are attempting to streamline processes and some are therefore combining warehouse supervisor and inventory roles.
The FMCG industry is in need of supply chain coordinators, the Report also found. “The planning area in FMCG organisations is always buoyant, however demand planner salaries have increased to an extent that employers prefer to recruit a coordinator to support the planning function,” the statement said.
Production managers are another ongoing area of demand. “We’ve seen a slight increase in the number of businesses of various sizes looking to employ tertiary qualified professionals at management level,” the company said. “Applicants with exposure to FMCG are in shorter supply than they once were.”
Soprano Design’s cloud-based Mobile Enterprise Messaging Suite (MEMS) platform has added a new business continuity app that enables logistics companies to provide real-time communications during threats and monitors their safety
Soprano RapidAlert – a crisis management tool and one of nine business app plug-ins for the MEMS platform – allows organisations to manage business continuity by deploying SMS alerts within seconds to incident first responders and standby teams.
Soprano CEO Horden Wiltshire said the development of RapidAlert was in response to market demand at a time where there is an increased likelihood of extreme events relating to natural disasters, the environment, civil unrest and cyber security.
“The ubiquity of text messaging means that messages will reached all those that need to be informed immediately and accurately, and can track whether they have responded to an alert on time,” Wiltshire said.
“Our crisis management system increases organisation’s agility and responsiveness during and after an extreme event, quickly reaching employees to help reduce the severity impact on damage to reputation, revenue and customer relationships.
“The inability of an organisation to quickly respond during incidents or disruptions directly correlates to increasing costs and damages.”
The RapidAlert solution’s key features include quick access to Business Continuity Plan (BCP) templates & contact lists, SMS delivery for rapid response, real-time acknowledgement and follow-up and real-time reporting to enable live monitoring of who has and has not responded.
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.