Report finds visibility key to freight supply chain efficiency

forklift handling container box loading to freight train

Austroads has released its findings from a review into end-to-end visibility in supply chains. The report, ‘Research Report AP-R538-17 – Investigating the potential benefits of enhanced end to end supply chain visibility’, was produced in collaboration with GS1 Australia, the Australian Logistics Council (ALC) Supply Chain Standards Working Group and the Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics.

The Australian Government welcomed the report, and Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the findings of Austroads’ report were in line with the Government’s commitment to develop a comprehensive national freight and supply chain strategy.

“Improving the ability of businesses to keep track of freight from the time an item leaves the farm or factory gate until it is delivered, is crucial to improving the operational efficiency of supply chains in Australia,” he said.

“To help make this a reality, we will be asking the independent inquiry into the establishment of the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy to consider Austroads’ findings.”

During the course of preparing the report, several major pilot studies examined the effect of adoption of ‘visibility’ technologies using Global Data Standards (GDS) on the ability to track freight along a supply chain.

“Austroads’ pilot studies showed that larger transport businesses which have adopted GDS-based technologies effectively build a capability to create connectivity and improve visibility throughout their supply chains,” Chester said.

“This may increase costs over the short-term for smaller transport operators given the complexities of adopting the new GDS-based technologies, but those same operators will definitely see the benefits over the long term.”

The report was launched at the ALC Forum 2017 in Melbourne on Thursday 9 March to an audience of approximately 250 senior industry and government leaders, including ALC Managing Director, Michael Kilgariff, and GS1 Australia’s Senior Manager – Trade, Transport & Heavy Industry, Bonnie Ryan.

Participating in a panel discussion at the ALC Forum, Ryan said the report concludes an extensive body of work conducted by the ALC Supply Chain Standards Working Group and GS1 Australia.

“The industry pilots were across three logistic supply chains operated by Toll Group, Arrium OneSteel and Nestlé,” she shared. “The aim of the pilots was to continue the investigation of end-to-end supply chain visibility improvements on intermodal transport corridors using the comprehensive GS1 standards toolkit.

“GS1 standards enable information on freight, transport equipment and events along supply chains to be identified and shared among different parties and service providers. Based on the pilot findings using GS1 standards, the economic benefit to the Australian transport and logistics sector could exceed $1 billion.”

Kilgariff added, “This study shows that there are strong economic benefits where we can improve supply chain visibility. Industry should now work towards implementing greater supply chain visibility standards to the benefit of consumers.”

The research report can be found on Austroads’ website.