MEGATRANS2018: professionals gather in Melbourne for must-attend networking event

The inaugural MEGATRANS2018 held in Melbourne from 10 – 12 May, brought together Australia’s supply chain and logistics industry under one roof for the first time in Australia.

Used by many businesses as an opportunity to launch new products, communicate with others in the industry and to network with delegates and exhibitors alike, the first-ever MEGATRANS2018 was hailed as a great success for the industry.

Attended by senior leaders, decision makers and business owners, this was the first time in Australia where the premier freight, transport, logistics and supply chain management organisations could be found together under one roof.

A rare opportunity for all modes of transport and logistics to get together and discuss common concerns such as productivity, safety and efficiency, MEGATRANS is now firmly placed as a must-attend networking event in the logistics and supply chain events calendar.

Across the three days various seminars, briefings and knowledge sharing events took place, and Logistics & Materials Handling was on the ground reporting back the latest developments, opportunities and innovations across the logistics industry.

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What’s in store for the future of Australia’s ports?

Held in partnership with MEGATRANS2018, the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) assembled a list of senior leaders from the Victorian Ports communities to address the future of Australia’s ports industry.

Peter Anderson, CEO at VTA spoke of the need for more collaboration across the entire supply chain, freight and logistics industry. “We all have a common goal of driving for improvement, productivity and efficiency, but the hard part is for us to coordinate and work together,” he said.

Peter spoke of the importance of the port industry to Australia’s economy and how without the work of the ports a sustainable economy is impossible. He stressed the importance of communication and commented that “open discussion, clear thinking and a can-do attitude is needed to improve processes and ensure economic prosperity.”

Tony Sparkman, Head of Continuous Improvement at DP World, told delegates of the investments happening at Swanson Dock. DP World has identified a total of 57 projects that need addressing and a total of $70 million dollars has been allocated. Included in this is the recent addition of two new key cranes at Swanson Dock. “We are constantly challenging the way we do things, we need to prioritise where we spend our money and where we get the best value,” he said.

Similarly, Port of Melbourne CEO Brendan Bourke spoke of the importance of collaboration within the industry as well as the larger community. “We need to listen better and communicate more. How we connect across the supply chain and grow as a city port is fundamental to our shared vision to prosper and grow,” Brendan said.

Brendan informed delegates that by 2065 it is expected there will be a demand of around 12 million TEU at the Port of Melbourne. “People are moving to Victoria at a fast rate, immigration is up and we need to cater for that demand.”

Preparing for the future is a priority at the Port of Melbourne, and the privatisation of the Port has allowed for some long-term certainty, with the Port currently being leased for 50 years. As a result of this the port is working on a 30-year plan as well as a large-scale study to track a container from origin to destination, last done in 2009. “We will make this data available to all, this is an expensive and vast project that will only be done once in a decade. We want to work closely with all of our stakeholders and minimise impact for the community,” Brendan said.

A social licence to operate

For the Port of Portland, connecting with its local community via social media has had a great impact on stakeholder and community engagement.

“As a private asset, of course you need to give returns, but delivering good news is also an important factor. It’s about communicating what you are giving back – it’s not just about dust and noise complaints,” Jim Cooper, CEO of the Port of Portland said.

“We have been sharing interesting stories about the Port’s history, its restoration and the people who are involved in the daily activities,” Jim said. This has been a great asset for the Port, if the Port has a bad day with dust or noise, it is able to capitalise on some good stories to reinforce the greater aim of the port and its work. “When you have a noisy or dusty day, you have a positive asset to lean back on. These good stories have been good capital for our business,” Jim explained.

Interacting on social media has also enabled the Port of Portland to react to customer complaints much quicker than previously done so, increasing engagement and dealing with issues as they happen.

Ministerial breakfast briefing

To mark the official beginning of the show, MEGATRANS2018 hosted a breakfast briefing where business leaders, influencers and government came together to discuss the latest developments and opportunities for logistics and transport in Australia.

Kicking off the discussion was Hon. Luke Donnellan MP, Victorian Minister for Ports, Roads and Road Safety. Commended for his commitment to the logistics industry and the greater community, the Minister offered his vision for the future of freight and logistics in Victoria. He congratulated delegates for their hard work in establishing Victoria as the freight capital of Australia and spoke of the significant investments that the Government will be delivering in rail, ports and infrastructure. These include $4.3 million to better roads in Victoria and $500,000 to review truck licences in order to keep heavy vehicle driving as an attractive career option.

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Safety first

Sal Petroccitto, CEO of National Heavy Vehicle Regulator used MEGATRANS2018 as an opportunity to launch a new Safety Management System (SMS) for the industry. “Everybody working within the supply chain wants to see a safer and more productive model for drivers and workers,” Sal told delegates.

Sal encouraged all attendees to take a moment to look at the new material launched and spoke of the need for a strong safety culture driven across the entire industry, whether that be maritime, aviation, road or rail. He explained that in 2017 there were 211 fatalities and 1,400 hospitalised cases due to interactions with heavy vehicles and recommended that delegates use MEGATRANS2018 as a platform to open discussion and work together to create a safer environment for all.

Raising the profile

A common theme across the three days was the need to raise the profile of the industry and the contribution it has to GDP and the community. This was stressed by Michael Kilgraff, CEO of the Australian Logistics Council (ALC). “People don’t understand how their food gets there, it’s important for us to have these kind of conversations with consumers and policy makers about how our industry works,” Michael said.

Michael spoke of Australia’s growing population and informed there is a need to build a city the size of Canberra every year to deal with the projected increase in population and that this will place a huge task on our freight and logistics networks. Efficient supply chains create efficient economies and Michael spoke of the importance of engaging with consumers, policy makers and industry to create a productive and efficient freight network.

An ageing fleet

The influence of technology and what that means for Australia’s fleets was also discussed. With Tony McMullan, Chief Executive Officer of the Truck Industry Council, presenting the case for a fleet refresh in Australia. He informed delegates that the average age of a truck in Australia is 14.9 years and fleets are getting older each year. According to Tony, current fleets are not as safe, environmentally friendly, nor productive as they could be.

Tony referenced a study from Monash University which found that 104 lives could be saved if more advanced technological safety systems were implemented into fleets. He also found that a failure to modernise fleets and to introduce technology will have an impact on the industry’s ability to realise these safety advances.

Freight and liveability

Caryn Anderson, Executive General Manager, Strategy and Business Development for the Port of Melbourne spoke of the need to better integrate all modes of the supply chain, both domestically and internationally.

The Australian logistics industry accounts for 8.6 per cent of GDP and contributed $131.6 billion to the Australian economy in 2013. According to Caryn, freight drives the liveability of a city and with Australia’s projected growth it is more important than ever that all aspects of the supply chain work together.

Networking opportunities

As the entire industry gathered in one place, many businesses used the opportunity to showcase their latest products and developments as well as to engage with potential business partners and suppliers.

Feedback echoed by all delegates and exhibitors alike was that MEGATRANS is a well-needed event for the Australian logistics and supply chain industry. A common message was that having the entire industry in one location for three days presented networking opportunities that have never been realised in the industry before.

“The show has been fantastic for us, we’ve been able to establish joint ventures as well as positive leads. Another benefit of networking events like this is to catch up with businesses we are already working with and to see what they are showcasing,” Derek Packer, Construction Manager at BHD Storage Solutions said.

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For sensor, networking and control systems supplier, ifm, the show was a great chance to connect with the right people. “This is different to any other show we have exhibited in that it is specific and targeted. The delegates are the right people who want to know how they can improve their processes,” Glenn Thornton, National Product and Brand Manager at ifm said.

For Joost Bekker, Business Development Director at PTV the show presented the opportunity to not only speak with new contacts but to reconnect with current connections. “We’ve been able to connect with businesses we are already talking with as the whole industry is here,” Joost said.

Commenting on the success of the event, Simon Coburn, Show Director said: “It has been great to hear all the feedback from the industry and to realise that this was a much-needed event for the logistics and supply chain sector. We look forward to working with you all on the next MEGATRANS event.”