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The link between technology, operational efficiency and safe rates

Technology can play a pivotal part in relieving the pressure on professional truck drivers, say Alan Thomas, managing director of ORTEC ANZ.

Sydney, May 2013 - Truck drivers are the backbone of Australia. Without them there is no food on our supermarket shelves, no construction materials available to builders, and no petrol at the pumps.

But recent research by the National Transport Commission (NTC) shows low rates of pay can lead to risky work practices by drivers to make ends meet.

Factors contributing to the risk include financial pressures pushing transport operators to exceed allowable speed limits, driving hours, mass and dimensional limits, and unrealistic expectations or customers pressurising drivers to continue to drive when fatigued, or to speed.

A 2010 NTC survey showed that the truck driving sector had more fatal injuries than other industries, and the cost of accidents involving heavy vehicles that resulted in deaths or serious injuries topped $2.7 billion.

Last year the Federal Government passed the Road Safety Remuneration Bill 2012, dubbed 'Safe Rates' (Safe Rates Laws). The laws come equipped with a new industrial relations and safety tribunal with the power to inquire into all aspects of the road  transport industry, and to issue binding orders applicable across the industry, applicable to employees and contractor owner-drivers.

And these laws are intended to address those underlying economic factors that the Government believes encourage unsafe road practices in the transport industry, such as speeding, excessive working hours, and unpaid queuing time.

The Safe Rates legislation has introduced a ‘chain of responsibility’ requiring everyone in the supply chain, not just the driver, to prevent driver fatigue and ensure drivers are able to comply and operate safely and within the new laws. This includes those responsible for sending and receiving goods, the loaders, agents, schedulers, and operators, as well as the drivers.

Many distribution and logistics firms deploy technology to improve efficiency, but another benefit is that this technology supports compliance with safety rates by managing the complex relationships between all of the factors listed above.

One example is logistics giant LINFOX with its Vision Zero strategy for “zero fatalities, zero injuries, zero motor vehicle incidents, zero net environmental emissions and zero tolerance of unsafe behaviours.”

ORTEC is seeing more of its software customers investing in on-board computer (OBC) technology that is then integrated with its transport management system (TMS) technology.

There has been some push back by the transport sector on the cost of investment in OBC technology and associated training of drivers, but ORTEC has found that this investment is outweighed by a rapid return on investment (ROI) and by benefits such as reduced fuel consumption, reduce route times, lower maintenance costs, better engine diagnostics, better compliance with Safe Rates, and more.

A 2011 international study by the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which included Australia, confirmed that companies that have invested in technology to obtain operational efficiently are more profitable and have better safety and compliance standards.

The financial, safety and technology benefits all now seem to be aligned for Australia’s logistics and transport sector.







ORTEC is one of the largest providers of advanced planning and optimisation software solutions and consulting services. ORTEC systems optimise fleet routing and despatch, vehicle and pallet loading, workforce scheduling, delivery forecasting and network planning. ORTEC has over 1,650 customers worldwide and employs over 650 employees and offices in Europe, North America, Australia and Asia. For more information, visit www.ortec.com.

Media contact:
Alan Smith, +61 404 432 700. Issued on behalf of ORTEC Australia & New Zealand.