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Freight industry needs increased digitalisation: study

Embrace data and increase information sharing along supply chains, iMove MD says


A new study has identified opportunities such as increasing digitalisation of supply chain processes and freight consignment information to improve productivity across the industry.

The study involved freight data sharing trials with companies including Woolworths, Nestle and Toll Group.

The aim of the research was to investigate, develop and demonstrate the capability for supply chain partners to share freight consignment information in real time and assess the feasibility of aggregating freight consignment event/message data to produce aggregate outputs that help inform infrastructure planning and policy priorities.

The Freight Data Exchange pilot projects summary report, which was produced in collaboration between the Bureau of Infrastruture, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) and iMove Australia, briefly outlines some of the key outcomes of the three projects and suggests directions for further work.

“For industry, increasing digitalisation can improve visibility of freight consignments and interoperability between supply chain partners, and aid industry in responding to supply chain delays, bottlenecks or errors – and thereby improve overall freight industry efficiency and productivity,” BITRE notes.

“For governments and transport planning agencies, the increasing digitalisation of freight supply chain information can potentially provide more timely strategic-level information to help inform planning and investment, and at less cost.”

Transport and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack says the study will lead to improvements in getting goods to customers by improving access to real-time supply chain freight data.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted more than ever the critical importance of our freight supply chains and all those involved,” McCormack says.

“The study provides insights for governments and industry for infrastructure planning and delivery.

“It shows how increasing digitisation can improve visibility of freight for supply chain partners to decrease unexpected delivery disruptions.

“The study involved three parts: two pilot trials with industry operators Nestle, Woolworths, Toll and Infrabuild and a third pilot working with GS1 Australia dealing with data aggregation.

“The Australian Government has committed $8.5 million to fund projects such as these that are enhancing the collection of freight data across the nation and settle the design of a National Freight Data Hub.”

Assistant road safety and freight transport minister Scott Buchholz says the report could open the door to improved productivity and efficiency for the freight industry.

“The report noted sharing real-time freight data would mean our supply chain operators could respond to delays and errors quickly, which will help our truckies do their crucial job getting goods to businesses and consumers,” Buchholz says.

“We want to ensure our freight is moving efficiently across the country, getting to our doors as smoothly as possible.

“This study has given the Australian Government a deeper insight into ways we can improve our freight supply chains.”

iMove MD Ian Christensen is calling on the industry to take bolder steps to embrace data and increase information sharing along supply chains or risk being out-competed by overseas operators who are already reaping the efficiency benefits.

“Freight operations overseas are working vigorously to reduce ‘transactional friction’ along supply chains,” Christensen says.

“Australian businesses need to catch up and recognise the importance of sharing data to maintain the competitiveness of local supply chains.

“State and federal governments in Australia are also focused on achieving stronger supply chain performance.

“Their interest is in making informed decisions on new infrastructure and better freight policy and to do that they need a clear view of the overall picture.

“This is best achieved by aggregating (anonymised) real operational data from the freight industry itself.

“iMove wants to find ways for governments and businesses to work together to make this happen.”

The Freight Data Exchange pilot projects summary report can be viewed here.


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