2018 Australian Logistics Council Forum report
The Australian Logistics Council has just wrapped up its annual ALC Forum, at Randwick, Sydney. It took place over two days, March 6 to 8, and iMOVE’s Ian Christensen and Barry Comben were in attendance, and amidst a busy schedule they took the time to make a few notes from the Forum floor.
Before we get to the notes, here’s the ALC’s ‘welcome’ video to the 2018 Forum delegates:
The national freight and supply chain inquiry being conducted by DIRDC is now nearly finished. The extensive consultation process that has been deployed has engaged many industry participants and the dialogue at today’s forum showed many benefits from that. In particular there is widespread acceptance of the strongly growing freight task and a recognition of the imperative requirement for increased efficiency (without sacrificing safety).
There is growing recognition that the past focus on individual modes and jurisdictions is no longer appropriate. Many, if not most, supply chains incorporate multiple organisations, modes and jurisdictions and to deliver the desired efficiency will require an approach that is holistic and consistent.
Marika Calfas, CEO of NSW Ports went further and called for coordination between transport planning and land use planning.
Qube’s CEO Maurice James observed that whilst some of the data needed for good planning is available there are many gaps and it is not currently possible to measure the competitiveness of the Australian transport sector. He called for the formation of a new independent entity to collect the necessary data.
There is still significant uncertainty about the impact of disruptive technologies and a wide range of scenarios are still ‘on the table. This will push planners towards more modest’ no regrets’ initiatives. But all agreed that corridor preservation is important and urgent.
Other blips of information from what was a busy day:
- national freight task to double over the next 40 years
- planning for preservation of land corridors to allow the employment generating activity of freight transport to develop is absolutely essential
- development of a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy is paramount
- recognition of the importance of data collection, data analysis and open access is now more widely recognised
- Greater emphasis on communicating the importance of ‘freight’ to the national economy, to the community, Governments, planners, and to tertiary institutions (to educate the planners of tomorrow)
- development and implementation of technology will be a game changer\primary road infrastructure investment and road use charging models
- autonomous vehicles – out of mines, onto public roads
- growing impact of on-line purchasing on delivery methods
- to facilitate technology usage requires significant infrastructure investment
- long-term stability of infrastructure investment planning requires bi-partisan political support
- generational trends: ‘want it now’, high-density urban development, deliver-to-customer methods changing
- new / higher impacts on CBD infrastructure: roads, footpaths, loading zones, loading docks, parking restrictions — electric vehicles for noise abatement, smaller commercial vehicles, multi-dwelling building delivery “lockers” with frozen food compartments, drones for outside CBD areas.
The second day of the ALC forum focused on some particular aspects of supply chains in Australia: Rail, Ports, Intermodals, as well as sessions on diversity, infrastructure investment, and data.
A key question that underlies the performance of ports, rail and intermodal facilities is the extent to which rail can, or should, be used to move containers from wharfside to inland interchange depots.
Paul Scurrah MD of the stevedore company DP World Australia was articulate about the pressure from shippers for expeditious transfer of landed containers from wharf to receiving customer. The point being made was that the simplicity of putting each container on a truck and transporting it directly to the customers location makes this an easy and attractive process. As Maurice James MD of Qube described, the alternative model of using rail from wharf to intermodal exchange, then truck from intermodal to customer has to be competitive with the direct truck trip in order to be adopted. Given the number of transactions that have to take place in the alternative model, the pressure for operational efficiency is intense and will require excellent co-ordination between all the operating parts.
However it was observed that the direct truck transfer may not be as simple as first thought because it is exposed to delay and uncertainty from urban congestion. It generates substantially more emissions and if unchecked it is likely to create community opposition to the noise and congestion caused by the increasing number of truck movements. The conclusion was a recognition of the need to step back from the comparison of road and rail freight to address in a more holistic way the challenge of moving increasing numbers of containers (by whatever modes) in a manner that provides a high level of service but remains socially and environmentally acceptable.
It was recognised that to achieve consistently high levels of service using multiple modes (to achieve adequate social and environmental performance) requires excellent communication and data sharing between participating parties.