The Australian Transport and Infrastructure Council recently released the first National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy (Freight Strategy), with goals and targets set out to 2024.

In the second of our four-part series taking a close look at the Freight Strategy’s four critical action areas we look at the topic of ‘enabling improved supply chain efficiency’.

The desired outcomes for this action are:

  • decreased transaction costs and other barriers to moving freight seamlessly along supply chains
  • an appropriately-skilled freight workforce-now and in the future
  • technologies to improve freight outcomes
  • building community acceptance of freight

This action puts the focus on supply chains themselves and recognises that the Freight Strategy must focus on the whole of supply chain approach to planning and not just look at separate aspects in isolation. This is perhaps the greatest challenge of the strategy overall given the somewhat intangible nature of supply chains.

Supply chains bring together all aspects of procurement and logistics. They are international and domestic; proprietary, and private; involve transport, manufacture and storage; and rely on physical infrastructure, but increasingly rely on data transfer.

Supply chains are made up of multiple actors, often invisible to each other and in different disciplines and jurisdictions operating across different contractual and regulatory environments.

And yet they are critical to the operation of the Australian economy.

The Freight Strategy sets out four goals with respect to supply chains:

  • adopt and implement national and global standards, and support common platforms to reduce transaction costs and support interoperability along supply chains: This will include development and utilisation of block-chain and other pre-competitive technologies. Examples include improving agricultural export systems to modernise agricultural trade
  • promote training and re-skilling of industry and government workforces appropriate to current and future needs: The Australian freight industry is experiencing shortages of skilled workers across all sectors. This spans heavy vehicle drivers to software engineers. Addressing this issue will include development of the Commonwealth Transport Sector Skills Strategy
  • facilitate new and innovative technologies that improve freight outcomes and understand the deployment, skills and workforce requirements for operators and infrastructure: This recognises that Australia needs to be a leader in new transport technologies including automation, drones, and hydrogen refuelling
  • build community acceptance of freight operations: The freight industry is often misunderstood in the wider community, with many people experiencing noise and congestion as well as sometime intimidating heavy vehicles.

Like many industry sectors, the freight industry needs to engage with the broader community in which it operates to better explain its critical role and negotiate its social licence.

Click here to read our previous article on introducing the new Freight Strategy and first critical action, and stay tuned for our third part next week.