Empowering tomorrow’s supply chain

It began with a keynote address from Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, and was capped off with the Mercury Awards, a ceremony celebrating excellence in the logistics, materials handling and supply chain: Technically a three-day event scheduled to run from 10 to 12 May, the first-ever MEGATRANS2018 in Melbourne proved to be much more than just a traditional trade show – fuelling inspired discussions and connecting people both before and long after it opened for business.

Over the ‘official’ event period, some 200 exhibitors convened at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to showcase the latest in manufacturing, supply chain technology, aftermarket services, parts, electronics, telematics and road transport – making MEGATRANS2018 one of Australia’s most ambitious and broad-based supply chain events to date.
The goal, according to organisers, was to depict the entire breadth of modern supply chains under the one roof, thus allowing for a less restrictive, more inclusive view of the transport and logistics space and giving industry more room to expand and innovate.

Platinum sponsor, Isuzu Australia, took the brief to heart and kicked off the event with the unveiling of two new electric rigid truck models. Based on existing Isuzu cab-chassis, the concept vehicles are currently undergoing rigorous testing for urban applications across Australia, according to Simon Humphries, Isuzu Australia Chief Engineer Product Strategy.

Humphries told Global Trailer he expected the vehicles to be particularly useful in parcel and food delivery applications – a space that is under close observation by trailer manufacturers from around the world as logistics continue to evolve. “The advances we’re seeing in lithium-ion batteries are helping drive the design and manufacturer of electric vehicles (EVs, ed.),” he said. “The density in battery power improves every six months. That’s something we have seen working closely with [Australian company] SEA Electric.”

Both EV concept models were powered by direct-drive, permanent magnet motors that enable longer battery life. “We’re looking at an EV to travel 200km before each charge. That covers an entire day’s work”, he said. “In cold chain applications the battery can even power the fridge unit, absorbing no more than 10 per cent of the power.”

Humphries anticipated the life of a lithium-ion battery would exceed eight years when its capacity reduced to 80 per cent of its original specification. In regard to other technological advances, he expected electric propulsion to play a much more prominent role in the near term than autonomous heavy vehicles, where the infrastructure was still “a way off,” as he explained.

“Its impact will likely be felt in the US before it is here in Australia. Driver input will be a staple of the industry for at least another 30 years. Telematics is fast becoming the norm, though – it will be standard within the next five years.”

Isuzu rival, Hino Australia, also focused on expanding the traditional notion of road transport – again with a special focus on the medium-duty segment. While a Hino 700 Series SH 2045 took centre stage at the stand, General Manager Bill Gillespie said the real hero was Hino Advantage, a ‘solutions package’ now available across the Australian continent.

“We’re talking about something beyond the truck itself,” he said. “We’re talking business solutions such as capped price services, Genuine Parts, telematics, financing and customer support through a dedicated Customer Care Centre.”

Gillespie said Hino was the only truck OEM in Australia to offer a capped price service program, stressing the new Melbourne event provided the perfect opportunity for customers to compare next-generation solutions directly.

“MEGATRANS2018 is an opportunity for Hino Australia to showcase our unique service offerings,” he shared. “For customers who find themselves stranded, we offer peace of mind as they are kept informed of the location of their service technician via SMS link, for example. Hino Traq, our telematics system, provides companies looking to conserve fuel and reduce maintenance costs with the ability streamline efficiency and monitor truck performance.”

Next to several major product launches, MEGATRANS2018 also saw the re-launch of the Diamond Reo brand by Melbourne truck manufacturer, Daysworth International. One of two new models unveiled was the Diamond Reo Giant, a 6×4 cab-over model spec’d for use in truck-and-dog applications. Daysworth International CEO, Christopher Catto, said the Giant – unlike the original models from 1960s, 70s and 80s, which were often associated with line haul – had been specifically remodelled with “urban heavy-duty” application in mind.

“This has been nine years in the making,” he commented. “The Diamond Reo, as a brand name, has a real legacy of reliability in the marketplace. It was important for us to make sure the new version lived up to its name. For Daysworth it’s something like going back to the future.”

Also on show was an 8×4 tilt tray from the Diamond Reo Construction range, saddled with a terminal tractor from the local Daysworth range. It will be available as a tipper, water tanker, hook lift and crane truck going forward.
On the trailing equipment front, a wide variety of local and international trailer builders and component suppliers exhibited at MEGATRANS2018 – most notably Vawdrey Australia, the country’s largest privately owned trailer OEM, local rival Barker Trailers and Panus Oceania from Thailand. Global suppliers SAF-Holland and SSAB were also part of the new Melbourne event.

In line with the urban logistics trend, Australian company Quality Transport Refrigeration Services (QTRS) used the occasion to showcase the Mitsubishi TDJS50, an electric standby refrigeration unit, fitted to a Fuso Canter 515 – stating it was the “ultimate combination” for the supermarket home delivery market.

Local OEM, TransKing, also added to the list of urban transport innovations on show, unveiling a new, fully automatic curtain-locking system called Quickloc Urban.

TransKing Managing Director, Lindsay King, said the load restraint-rated system was more economical than competing solutions by reducing the number of hooks required to automate truck curtains – adding the elimination of repetitive manual labour tasks would make it safer to use.

“Our new automated curtain system typically has one lever at the front of the curtain-sider that engages all buckles along one side of the vehicle simultaneously, significantly reducing the manual handling of numerous buckles for each delivery,” he said. “The system encompasses only one pneumatic cylinder per side, which locks either two or four curtain hooks into position or unlocks the hooks at the flick of a switch. A membrane at the rear of the curtain enables it to be tightened, leaving a taut finish when the automatic system is activated.”

Following three days of creating cross-segmental business opportunities, the first-ever MEGATRANS2018 was brought to a celebratory climax with the Mercury Awards, which rewarded some of the key players in the local logistics and supply chain industries for outstanding achievements and successes.
According to the organising team behind MEGATRANS2018, the night helped spotlight one of the industry’s most valuable resources – its people.

“Recognition for teams and individuals, some of whose contributions often go unsung during the evening, served as a timely reminder that the many moving parts of technology, regulation, innovation and investment in this $7 billion industry are shaped by the workers who use them,” they explained.

Local transport company, Kings Transport, was presented with the Safety Advocate Award and named Supply Chain Innovator of the Year. The Victorian Government’s Contribution to Industry Award went to Dr Peter Hart, Chairman of the Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA).

“To me, this Award is encouragement to keep trying to do useful things,” Dr Hart said. “The road freight sector of the Australian economy is dynamic, efficient and in many respects world-leading. But there are still many challenges to overcome, and it is important that industry groups and companies contribute to help improve the performance and the reputation of our industry.

Fast Fact
Australian trailer manufacturer, and third-generation business, Barker Trailers, celebrated 25 years of successful partnership with national dealership, Brown and Hurley at MEGATRANS2018“The Brown and Hurley partnership reinforces the essence of Barker history, being that of family business with passion for providing customers with quality and efficient products and support,” said General Manager – Sales and Marketing, Rod Cunningham.

Fast Fact
Australian OEM, Tefco Trailers, turned heads with the Trail King Live Bottom trailer range, featuring remote-controlled, heat and oil resistant continuous belts, hydrostatic drives coupled to planetary gearboxes, and heavy-duty chains with easy oiling systems.

Fast Fact
According to Show Director, Simon Coburn, MEGATRANS2018 attracted 9,604 attendees over the three days. “This is a significant achievement for an inaugural event and delivered a quality and business-oriented event for the nation’s freight capital, establishing a strong platform for future events.”

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