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RAIL is the most economical and safest way for Woolworths to transport from distribution centres to stores.
The multi-national supermarket giant’s chief supply chain officer, Paul Graham, told the 400 participants of the recent Inland Rail Conference in Parkes recently.
“However, the reliability factor is still an issue and a challenge,” he said.
Mr Graham was a member of the first panel discussing “Customers” during the two-day talk-fest.
Chaired by Deakin University Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics Director, Industry Professor Hermione Parsons, the panel also included Australia Post’s General Manager Transport, Road and Air Networks Group Chief Operating Officer, James Dixon, and NSW Farmers Association president, Derek Schoen.
“Rail is for us a very significant part of our overall supply chain,” Mr Graham said.
“We (Woolworths) spend about $140 million a year on rail and would like to spend more.
“We’re also excited to see the commitments being made to infrastructure, particularly in the inland rail project.”
However, when rail links go ”down” through natural disasters or other he said that caused significant disruptions to their network.
“I would like to see a greater focus on the end-to-end time it takes for us getting the rail from Melbourne to Brisbane in to a 22 hour window because as fresh food people we pride ourselves to making sure we’ve got fresh product available on the shelves.”
He said rail was the “two-way” connection – not just about moving products into metropolitan and regional centres, but as one of the largest buyers of produce in this country, “we look to try and help our suppliers and our farm community bring those products into the markets, into our distribution centres, and also help encourage them to our export business stores to look at global markets, particularly the Asian-Pacific region.”
“So for us rail is a key supply-chain strategy, we are investing significant amounts of money in building up our network with the use of automation and technology, and a critical component of that will be infrastructure to move significant volumes every year on rail.
“I think one per cent improvement in supply-chain efficiencies is $2 billion of GDP growth and we think that rail can be the most significant driver of supply chain efficiency in the country, not just in the short term, but in the years ahead.”
James Dixon told attendees that night and most nights Australia Post would run 350 B-Doubles between Melbourne and Brisbane.
“So we’re looking forward to the inland rail network being implemented,” he said.
The benefits Australia Post sees from inland rail are capability, capacity, safety and economics.
“With safety, the road transport industry has eight times the national average in road fatalities and there is a shortage of drivers across the network.
“So it would be advantageous for safety to remove many B-Doubles roads.
“The benefit for Australia Post is h we improve the capacity and move that volume through different modes and different means.”
He said Australia Post services 11.3 million households across Australia and this year close to five million letters and 400 million parcels would move across the network.
“So we’re looking for increased capacity, economics, safety and a better alternative up and down the eastern seaboard.”
Derek Schoen said transport was vital to the rural economy.
“We are away from ports so logistics has to be efficient for us to compete against competitor countries who have infrastructure that is superior to what we have currently in Australia.
“That is a big impediment to our trade with international markets. For rural economies and communities to survive and to increase in size, we do need this inland rail infrastructure.
“However, the majority of this rail’s infrastructure will be built in NSW and a large portion will have major impacts on the people that are actually producing and benefiting whether on groundfield sites or existing corridors, and on new greenfield sites where new corridors will be put.
“Just getting their stock across the rail will be real problematic for some.”
He said those issues had to be addressed and must be addressed now.
Prof Parsons said supply chain logistics know no borders.
“That includes the border from rural areas where rail lines come in and metropolitan areas where there often is a very significant impasse as trains come through,” she said.
“Through the Wayfinder supply chain careers for women program supply chain logistics will become an exciting career opportunity.
“There is a wide variety of jobs that will be created or needed to fill vacancies.”
Deakin University in conjunction with 15 Wayfinder industry sponsors is now seeking women to participate in this three-year initiative.
“So we are asking women to start thinking about the supply chain logistics as a career opportunity to fill the many vacancies,” she said.
“Whether its driving, working in IT systems optimisation, whatever, there is a great opportunity here for women to be part of this new supply chain network.”
This article first appeared on www.northerndailyleader.com.au
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