New strategy to manage Queensland's freight task

Queensland will put more resources into promoting greater supply chain efficiency as part of integrated freight strategy

New strategy to manage Queensland's freight task
New strategy to manage Queensland’s freight task

By Brad Gardner
| December 12, 2011

Queensland will put more resources into promoting greater supply chain efficiency, including removing constraints on higher productivity vehicles and addressing scheduling practices and after-hours operations.

The state’s newly-released Integrated Freight Strategy for Queensland emphasises the need to focus on improving access for larger trucks by working with industry and local government to resolve last-mile restrictions.

Designed to guide future freight planning initiatives, the strategy recommends developing policies and guidelines to enable the use of higher productivity vehicles.

"Higher productivity road vehicles offer freight operators the opportunity to achieve significant cost reductions and efficiency by providing greater volumetric capacity, thus reducing the number of trips for a given volume of freight," the document says.

"They also offer congestion and emissions benefits and other safety characteristics. Importantly, these vehicles are matched to roads assessed as suitable to their level of performance."

The strategy notes a shift in the road freight sector toward after-hours work and says it presents opportunities to work with the supply chain to improve transport practices.

"Key opportunities include better alignment of hours-of-operation within the chain, better load planning and coordination, and improved visibility of spare capacity between operators," it says.

The recommendations are part of a comprehensive examination of the road, rail and shipping freight task, with the strategy addressing a host of issues, from land use planning to alternative fuels and climate change.

The Department of Transport and Main Roads, which authored the strategy, says Queensland’s abundant natural gas reserves means the state is ideally positioned to encourage a shift away from oil to minimise the effect of price fluctuations.

"This could help to protect the transport sector from fuel price instability that arises from international oil demand and availability," the strategy says.

It says Queensland is already encouraging the use of natural gas for local deliveries and linehaul operations.

Highlighting a tendency among government investment to reflect the needs of passenger transport, the strategy urges a focus on freight requirements and preserving corridors and centres vital to the sector.

"This will be critical to minimising potential freight and passenger transport conflicts and preserving the co-existence of freight and residents in the community. It will also provide industry with a level of confidence to make informed long-term investment and operational decisions that deliver net cost reductions and productivity improvements," it says.

However, it also argues for the need squeeze the most out of the existing freight network by reducing part-loads and empty movements. In line with the approach taken by the Federal Government, Queensland will look at using technology to address congestion and streamline freight operations.

The strategy says a new online system for managing and issuing permits excess mass and dimensions trucks is currently being developed. Once completed, the new system will allow operators to view the status of permit applications and conduct route assessments before applying for a permit.

"This will enable industry to proactively identify the capability of specific routes for a freight task and inform options for efficient freight movement," the strategy says.

The document says technology and real-time traffic information could help improve end-to-end freight operations by alerting the supply chain to available or alternate freight routes and distribution centres, in turn improving practices around scheduling and loading requirements.

"Consideration is being given to the application of other forms of media such as SMS messaging and radio to better inform transport system use."

Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has labelled the strategy a comprehensive path forward for Queensland’s freight system. She says it is necessary to improve the running of the sector in light of a burgeoning population and growth in the freight task.

She says freight volumes are expected to grow from 865 million tonnes a year in 2009 to between 1.8 billion and 2.2 billion tonnes by 2031.

"This extraordinary growth will lead to increasing demand for freight, placing pressure on the transport system and potentially impacting on the competitiveness of Queensland industry. It’s critical that we manage this growth in freight effectively," Palaszczuk says.

Roads Minister Craig Wallace says the strategy will inform government policy, regulation and investment, adding that it ensures the state is well positioned to meet future challenges.

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