CSIRO maps agriculture supply chain for savings

First report on TraNSIT initiatives identify efficiencies in transport across modes

CSIRO maps agriculture supply chain for savings
Rural transport looks set to gain from research


Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) researchers have mapped routes and costings across Australia’s agricultural supply chain.

Using the Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT), they hope the outcome can provide agriculture and transport industries alike will gain from the potential efficiencies identified in a report released this week.

As the organisation describes it, TraNSIT identifies ways to reduce travel distance and time, save fuel costs, cut down on wear and tear to vehicles and produce and minimise stress for both truck drivers and livestock.

"Farmers will be saving money on transport as well as being able to deliver food to the market faster and with less damage and disruption," TraNSIT project leader Dr Andrew Higgins says.

"We expect these savings will eventually be passed onto the consumers."

CSIRO developed TraNSIT in 2013 to provide a comprehensive view of transport logistics costs and benefits based on infrastructure investments in agriculture supply chains in Australia

An initiative of the federal government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the tool was originally applied to the beef industry before being extended to all agriculture transport across Australia.

The first project under the $100 million Beef Roads program will be the sealing of 17km of the Clermont to Alpha Road in central Queensland, due to start early next year.

The $8m works aims to improve road safety and access for oversize vehicles while reducing freight and maintenance costs.

Besides the latest TraNSIT agricultural report focusing on each agricultural commodity, it also features a flood case study and rail to road scenarios.

"Several case studies were identified by industry and government for this final report, representing TraNSIT’s diversity of applications across Australia," Dr Higgins said.

Researchers applied TraNSIT to evaluate the impact of road closures and detours on the transport of valuable crops and livestock during flood events, using Forbes in central west NSW as a case study.

From early-September to mid-October last year, severe rainfall caused extensive road closures throughout NSW with Forbes becoming particularly isolated.

"The Forbes area is a diverse agricultural region of grain production, beef cattle, poultry, dairy and pigs," Higgins says.

"There was about a $2m increase in transport costs created by the short-term and long-term road closures from this flooding event, and about another 500 vehicle trips that could not occur as there was no alternative routes.

"The cost would have been even greater if the floods had occurred during harvest season where more cotton and grain are being transported in large volumes on the roads."

Using TraNSIT, researchers can analyse several ways to reduce the economic impact in country regions and throughout Australia including upgrading or raising particular bridges to reduce the frequency of closures from flooding.

This should, in turn, reduce the occurrences where cattle or harvested crops cannot reach their market.

The rail-to-road hypothetical scenario looked at the impact of shifting all agriculture – grains, beef, sugar, cotton – that currently use rail to be road only.

Grains were more expensive, at $208 million, when transported by road while cattle (or beef) was much less expensive, at about 70 per cent less. These differences were primarily due to rail wagon capacity versus semi-trailer capacity.

TraNSIT is now being applied overseas, particularly in Indonesia, Laos and Vietnam to address supply chain inefficiencies and cross-border bottlenecks, CSIRO says.

More information on TraNSIT and the final agricultural report can be found here


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