Sunday 18th Nov, 2018

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SPECIAL REPORT: Vic report points to the role of technology in freight

Port of Melbourne
Port of Melbourne

A FOCUS on information technology is a feature of a recent report into the future of freight in the state of Victoria.

The Victorian freight plan, entitled Delivering the Goods, was announced recently by state ministers Luke Donnellan (ports) and Jacinta Allen (public transport).

The report notes so-called “e-commerce changes” mean consumers expect greater levels of service and faster delivery of products.

“Consumer expectations are already having a major impact. For example, Australia Post saw a 5.6% increase in domestic parcels in 2016-17,” the report authors stated.

“This trend is also reflected in Victoria’s vehicle registration data, where the growth in LCV or “small white vans” has outstripped the growth in other freight vehicles in recent years.”

Significant growth in urban freight volumes is expected to generate increases in demand for first and last mile delivery.

“This will drive innovations in automation to reduce costs in both urban and rural areas. The trend towards faster, lighter and smaller freight is also likely to favour air freight operators,” the authors wrote.

A congestion solution?
Technology is predicted to help with challenges of higher freight volumes and congestion on transport networks.

“Emerging technologies have the potential to assist us to make better use of existing network capacity,” the report’s authors wrote.

“In the future, Victoria will need to work closely with all levels of government to co-ordinate efforts and target investments. We will need to harness technologies on a scale not previously considered to address our key transport challenges.”

New technology and big data
The report’s authors noted how new technologies and big data applications are transforming every aspect of transport and logistics.

“These technologies provide vast opportunities to improve performance and serve customers better,” the authors wrote.

“However, the rapid pace of technological change makes government investment and planning more difficult.”

Technology and freight implications
According to the authors, transmitting designs for new objects worldwide will enable the manufacture of customised products.

“While this will change the specific elements of the supply chain, it will mean that first and last mile challenges continue until the point where 3D printing is available in transit and/or in homes,” the authors wrote.

“The raw materials still need to be imported in bulk or produced locally.”

Autonomous vehicles and AI
Meanwhile, driverless vehicles (trucks and trains) are expected to reduce or alter the need for labour, enabling automated delivery networks to improve safety and efficiency.

Artificial intelligence, it is noted, supports infrastructure from automated vehicles to robotics.

“It will also help make sense of big data by converting it from just data into models that can predict consumer demand and the resulting logistics tasks, and network user behaviour,” the authors note.

“Driverless vehicles (trucks and trains) will reduce (or change) the need for labour, enable automated delivery networks and improve safety and efficiency on our transport networks.”

Several electric and hydrogen powered vehicles are noted to have been commercially developed by vehicle manufacturers and have become more popular in other corners of the globe.

“These fuel sources provide a cheaper, lower emission and quieter alternative to petroleum vehicles,” the authors note.

“Enabling infrastructure (such as charging stations) is needed to effectively implement this technology.”

This article appeared in the August edition of DCN Magazine

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