Australian rail group calls for satellite monitoring of trucks
In Australia, rail companies and associations are calling for satellite monitoring of trucks in order to charge them at rates that better reflect their road use.
Rail companies Aurizon and Asciano, along with the Australasian Railway Association and the Australian Rail Track Corporation, want satellite technology to monitor the distance trucks have traveled in order to charge accordingly.
Those making the calls claim investment in the country's railways will be hamstrung until heavy vehicles are charged at rates that reflect their use of the roads.
In in a submission to the Productivity Commission's inquiry into public infrastructure, the group called for trials of what they describe as ''direct mass-distance location'' charging over the next year.
They propose to use global positioning systems and other technology to set charges linked directly to the size of heavy vehicles, the type of road they drive on and the distance traveled.
They claim the present charging system does not charge truck operators enough to cover the cost of their road use and the existing system did not link the funds raised from road charges with investments made in roadways.
In Australia, the federal government collects a fuel excise from truck operators, while State and Territory governments charge an annual registration based on vehicle size.
''As long as the cost of road investments is not accurately reflected in road prices and cross subsidisation between heavy-vehicle users continues, it makes commercial investment in competing rail infrastructure very challenging,'' the rail companies said in the submission.
''Because the charges are calculated for the national network as a whole, there is no direct connection between the amount of road-user charge paid per kilometre, and the condition or capability of the road being used.''
The group added that heavy vehicles bore only a ''minimal proportion of joint costs'' for the upkeep and development of the roads.
In response, the Australian Trucking Association said that while the proposals were ''theoretically fair'', yet charges based on the actual cost of roads would be too high for users of regional roads. It added that marginal-cost road-user charges would cause ''unintentional welfare effects due to the vast population spread in Australia''.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.