Time to Invest in Your Own Delivery Vehicle?

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Couriers and transport companies play a vital role in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer economy, picking up and delivering goods usually for a fraction of what it would cost the business to make the deliveries themselves. If you’re in the business of shipping out goods regularly to your customers (e.g. you are an online retailer) and the volume of your deliveries is increasing, then there may come a day when investing in your own delivery vehicle and employing a driver would result in a reduced cost overall.

However, before taking the plunge and splurging out on a new van, ute or truck, it’s important to take a good hard look at the characteristics of your deliveries, as this will provide some helpful pointers and enable you to make a smart and informed decision. This article describes some of the main things to consider.

Total Cost of Outsourced Deliveries VS Cost of Owning a Vehicle

If your total deliveries cost on an annual basis (i.e. the amount you’re being charged by the courier or freight companies you use) is not much more than the maintenance, insurance, registration and depreciation expenses on owning a vehicle, then it’s very unlikely that investing in a vehicle will pay off. However even if your freight costs are astronomical, and far exceed the combined costs listed above, there are still a couple more questions you need to ask yourself.

Could it be Worth Obtaining a Freight Quote from Another Transport Company?

Perhaps your current freight company is charging you more than its competitors. In any case, it doesn’t hurt to contact a couple of transport companies and request a freight quote, or estimate, based on your typical transport needs. If the prices are vastly different you have every right to switch. Having a conversation with your current transport company, informing them of your intention to switch, could mean they offer you better value for money.

Are the Outgoing Consignments Similar – or Vastly Different?

Let’s say you run a flat-pack furniture business out of a warehouse in Adelaide, and most of your customers are in the Adelaide and surrounds region. Assuming that most of your outgoing orders will easily fit into a small van, then as your business grows, there may come a day when it will be cheaper to buy a van and employ a driver, for the simple reason that this one delivery vehicle, will be able to accommodate practically all your outgoing shipments. Conversely if you are in the business of reselling all types of building materials – where the outgoing consignments might range from some buckets of paint and a few brushes, to multiple pallets of cement or 6m lengths of timber – – then the case for investing in a delivery vehicle might be hard to make.

Whatever your situation, make sure that your decision is based on sound logic and that all the relevant costs are factored into your calculations.

Options for Moving Freight

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Freight Quote sometimes gets enquiries from customers wanting to know the best way of shipping their items. The truth is that there is no one best method to transporting goods, as it comes down to what is most valuable to the customer at the time. It’s not uncommon to hear people who work with freight on a daily basis saying how much they love it because it’s so varied. This purpose of this article is to show customers that there are different ways to transport goods from A to B and suggests ways that they may be able to save on their shipping costs.

Door to Door Deliveries for Convenience

Very often the most convenient way to ship items is to have them picked up from the point of origin and delivered right to the door of the recipient’s home or business. This is referred to as door to door freight and while it can be a big time and effort saver, it might also be the most expensive option, depending on the location.

Taking Your Consignment to the Depot

Some transport companies will give you the option of bringing your goods to a central depot, where they will take over the delivery. Depot to depot freight may save the company significant resources in terms of logistics, organisation and driving time and they are likely to pass these savings on to you. If you have the time and means, find out if there is a cheaper option than having the shipment picked up from your home or business. A depot to depot delivery is also an option, but is not as common.

Packaging Your Items Securely

Regardless of whether you opt for door to door or depot to depot freight, there are certain things to always consider. One of the most important things to remember is appropriate packaging for your goods. Items to be transported will always be subject to a certain amount of handling, so adequate packaging provides protection for the items. Additionally, poorly packaged goods could potentially break open in transit and if the company has to spend time sorting through broken boxes and spilled goods, it could result in demurrage fees being incurred.

Allow a Generous Time Frame

Whether you are dropping off goods at a depot or have arranged for the consignment to be picked up from your home or business, it’s always recommended where at all possible that you leave yourself a decent margin to prepare or drop off the shipment. By cutting it too fine, you can risk not having the items ready for pick up in time. While this may not seem like a big deal, making a courier wait for you or, even worse, sending them away and rescheduling the pickup, usually ends up in demurrage fees being charged and you’ll simply end up paying more. By not making it to the depot on time, you risk the truck leaving without your goods, causing significant delays to your shipment.

Points to Remember:

  • Find out if you can save a few dollars by driving your shipment to a nearby depot, or even doing it as depot to depot freight
  • Always package your items securely
  • Leave yourself enough time to prepare your goods for pickup to avoid delays and demurrage

Working as a Truck Driver – It’s a Lifestyle

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Truck drivers provide essential services to Australian industries. They earn their living by moving goods and materials across land and typically drive between retail outlets and distribution centres. Being a truck driver is more of a lifestyle than a typical job and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Some drivers travel across the entire country, others provide interstate shipping container transport while some drive locally. Long distance truck drivers can be gone for weeks at a time. For people who love the open spaces, who enjoy spending time on their own and loathe being stuck in one place for too long, trucking could be a great career.

Skills a Truck Driver Should Have

A truck driver is not expected to be a mechanic, but he driver should know how to connect/disconnect the trailer from the cab and know some basic repair skills like changing a tyre. Usually the company has heavy-vehicle roadside assistance that can be sent to the truck’s location if the driver is unable to to a repair shop or a truck stop safely.

Driving a big and potentially fully loaded truck is totally different from driving a small car. A truck weighs 20 to 30 times more than a car. Truck drivers have to use good driving techniques for steep hills so the brakes do not overheat. They also need to know how to drive safely around curves without the load inside moving around. A truck has many gears in the transmission; commonly ten forward drive gears and two reverse gears, and some have up to 18 gears.

Long Hours for the Aussie Truck Driver

Drivers have many duties to fulfil and are responsible for their cargo and their truck, which must be in good and safe working order. They have to get their shipments to the destination on time and it is their responsibility to check that they have the correct goods on board and that they end up in the right hands. Truck drivers work exceptionally long hours and it is not at all unusual for a driver to work 70 hours per week. Truck drivers have to be prepared to work any hours of the day or night, and as a result they have quite an irregular sleep schedule.

Log Books and Regular Rest Periods

Truck drivers have mandated rest periods to make sure they are fit to drive and are expected to keep a record of their hours in a logbook. These laws protect the drivers themselves and other road users from accidents associated with fatigue. Although meeting tight deadlines may seem to be the only thing that matters to the driver in the moment, arriving alive could arguably be just as important. It is also important for the health of the drivers that they get enough quality sleep.

Where do Truck Drivers sleep?

Most long-haul truck drivers sleep in their sleeper cab, which is a little nook with a twin sized bed in it. They typically pull over at rest areas, truck stops or a sender or receiver’s property. Some drivers will sleep at a motel as they prefer to be away from their truck for a few hours.

Getting stuck behind a truck can be frustrating for smaller vehicles who are keen to be on their way, but as the saying goes, without trucks Australia stops.

4 Tips on How to Ship Big Items

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When you need to transport bulky, heavy, or oversized goods, you want to find an affordable and reliable shipping company. People who work regularly within the shipping industry have an advantage in that they know the ins and outs of the system. They know how it operates, what’s reasonable and what’s not. On the other hand, if you haven’t had any associations with freight transport and need some big items transported it can be difficult to know where to start and who you can trust. This article provides some helpful guidelines on how to go about engaging a freight company to transport your goods for you.

1. Know the Details About What You Are Shipping

Before you contact any shipping companies or obtain any quotes, it’s good to have written down detailed descriptions of your goods. Transporters need to know the size of their consignments to plan the most safe and efficient method of pick up and delivery, so they will guaranteed ask you about the dimensions and weight of your goods. You will also need your pick up and delivery addresses, and often a contact phone number. You should also note down a few pick up and delivery days, where possible, and time slots that will work for you. Deliveries with very little flexibility in terms of timing typically become quite expensive.

2. Shop Around for a Competitive Quote

When you have all the information you need, contact a few different transport companies. Make sure you talk to them, as this can give you an idea of the kind of people you are dealing with. Remember, you are entrusting them with your cargo, and you want to assure yourself that they will take good care of it and deliver as promised. Where possible, take your time when deciding who to engage. It doesn’t hurt to do a quick reference check by looking up online reviews on the company. And remember, the cheapest company is not always the best one!

3. Provide Comprehensive and Accurate Information

When you have chosen a shipping company, contact them directly with any questions, concerns or additional details you may have regarding your consignment. If you can provide them with a comprehensive and accurate picture of the freight you are more likely to experience a smooth pick up and drop off. Some people try to obtain a cheaper quote by making their goods out to be smaller or lighter than they actually are. This often leads to disputes and additional charges and is never recommended. Make sure you double check the agreed pick up and delivery times to avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings and potential delays.

4. Prepare and Package Your Goods

Make sure you package your items appropriately so that they stay intact throughout their journey. Have your items ready to be picked up well in advance and make sure the courier has clear access to them. If you have any further questions on how to ship big items, contact the friendly team at Freight Quote.

Support from Australian Government to Amend Coastal Trading Bill

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The Australian Government has indicated that it supports recommendations by the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee to pass the Coastal Trading amendment bill before parliament.

Simplifying Coastal Trading Regulation and Red Tape

The bill would remove the five-voyage minimum requirement to apply for a temporary licence, streamline the processes for making changes to temporary licences by creating a single variation process, amend voyage notification requirements so notifications are only required when voyage details have changed from those approved on the licence, and amend the tolerance provisions for temporary licence voyages to better reflect industry practice.

Expand Coverage of the Coastal Trading Act

The bill would amend the definition of coastal trading to encompass voyages commencing and concluding at the same port, ships engaged in dry-docking and include voyages between ports and other defined places in Australian waters such as offshore facilities.

Provide Clarity on Technical Issues and Reduce Administrative Impact

The bill would also make minor technical amendments to several definitions in the Coastal Trading Act that require clarification to assist with administration. Additionally, it would require temporary licence holders to provide a vessel’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number to assist with easy identification of vessels and finally it would allow for temporary licences to be issued in emergency situations.

Decision Welcomed by Ports Australia

Ports Australia chief executive Mike Gallacher believes that the nation needs a coastal shipping reform and that the issue is gaining momentum and he welcomed the decision of the Government to support the amended bill. He said that using the ocean is a smart way of keeping costs associated with freight Australia down and that this will contribute towards the lowest possible cost of living.

“Coastal Shipping will benefit Australians both regionally and in the city, the reform has the support of both business and now also government.

“If the cost of living in Australia is going to stay as low as possible across the board then we need to look at smart reforms that reduce red tape and allow business small and large to provide consumers with more for less.

“Coastal shipping is a smart reform, it will open up our blue highway which costs nothing to build, run or maintain allowing Australia’ supply chain to be more flexible and carry more capacity for less.

“The reforms are a step in the right direction but there is more work to be done before the full benefits of coastal shipping and Australia’s blue highway can be realised for Australians.

Gallacher finished by saying “It is our hope that now with the governments support the Senate can look at the merits of this reform for the supply chain and the benefits it will bring for Australians and pass these amendments without delay.”

Strong Opposition from the Labor Party

The response from the Labor Party made it clear that they oppose the amended bill altogether.

“The bill currently before the Parliament will only accelerate the industry’s decline, eventually consigning Australia’s status as a proud maritime nation to the history pages,” said the opposition response. “That would be an unbelievable development given we are an island continent, almost all of our imports and exports are transported in the hull of ships, and even more significantly, a tenth of global sea trade flows through our ports.”

Fast Courier Quote Australia Wide Essential with E-Commerce

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All over the world economic analysts are noting rising trends in online shopping. More and more people prefer to buy things online instead of the traditional method of visiting the stores. There are many benefits and advantages associated with online shopping and convenience is perhaps the biggest drawcard. Being able to do your shopping in the middle of the night from the comfort of your pyjamas is certainly an advantage to consumers who perhaps find themselves unable to get to the mall before closing time. Online shopping advocates typically refer to better prices, wider range and readily available reviews and price comparisons. In many online stores, shipping from manufacturer to consumer is a well-oiled process, but this is not always the case.

Save Money with Online Shopping

It can be cheaper to buy goods online for a number of reasons. Not only do customers potentially save on petrol, parking, eating out and impulse buys, but the products themselves can also be a lot cheaper online. Often the products go straight from the manufacture to the consumer, without the need for a middle man. In some parts of the world, online stores are only required to pay a sales tax if they have a physical location. These amounts are usually incorporated into the overall price meaning that the omission of the tax results in real savings.

Having Systems in Place for Smoother Transactions

In the world of online shopping a well organised delivery system is essential. Customers finalise their purchases, provide a street address and expect their items to be delivered within a given time frame. At the other end, there is no need for the seller to maintain an attractive physical shop front; a warehouse will often be sufficient. And in some cases, the sellers don’t even stock a single item themselves. They are simple a go-between, matching up merchants with consumers and taking their share of the profit. All this, however, is a trade off for providing consistently reliable shipping services, and it only takes a few mistakes for the store to lose favour with their customers.

Optional Delivery or Pick-Up

Some online stores offer a pick-up option with their products and customers looking to save a few extra dollars might opt for organising the collection of their recent purchases. GraysOnline is the largest industrial and commercial online auction business in Australasia and has pick-up points spread out across Australia. There is, however, a catch that customers should be aware of. GraysOnline states that:

“It’s very important that items are picked up as per the advertised pickup timetable. If you are not sure if you can pick up an item, please arrange for someone else to pick it up, book a courier … or do not bid on said item(s).”

They then go on to explain why customers should think twice about bidding for pick-up sales:

“This is because if you do not pick up your item within the stated timeframe your goods will then be deemed abandoned.”

Need Bulky Items Collected from GraysOnline?

Freight Quote receives a lot of requests relating to purchases from GraysOnline. Sometimes customers have had every intention of picking up their items, but are prevented by circumstances outside of their control. Freight Quote simply requires the winner’s email, along with written authorisation, photo ID and assurance that the items are packaged adequately to arrange the pick up and delivery. Need items picked up from GraysOnline? Contact us today for a fast courier quote Australia wide!

New $21.5m Rail Enhancement Project for NSW

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Plans for two new passing loops for trains were unveiled late last week. The $21.5 million rail project was announced by Freight Minister Melinda Pavey at the site of one of the planned loops.

The loops will be constructed between Blayney and Lithgow, one at Georges Plains and one a few kilometres south of Rydal Railway Station.

The purpose of the loops is to enable slower trains to move out of the way and allow faster ones to overtake. The Western Rail Line is currently shared by freight trains transporting nine million tonnes of freight every year and passenger trains such as the Indian Pacific, the Bathurst Bullet, Broken Hill Xplorer and the Central West XPT.

While the well known saying claims that sharing is caring, it’s not always easy when passenger lines and interstate freight transport services have deadlines to meet, timetables to stick to and passengers waiting.

Grainforce, based in Bathurst, is one of the businesses that regularly uses the Western Rail Line. They transport approximately 250,000 tonnes of freight into Port Botany every year.

Managing director Derek Larnach admits that rail congestion can make things difficult. He said that trains can miss critical dock loading times because of delays along the line and this costs the business money.

“The congestion on the lines at the moment can be a little challenging… Sometimes we’d have 30 minutes wait while trains pass each other,” he said. “We need to be on time every time, 95 per cent of our business is export to Asia.”

Trains play a critical role in the movement of freight in Australia and reducing the number of trucks on our roads. In fact, it would take 10,000 trucks to freight the amount of produce that Grainforce transports to the port every year.

Other businesses in the Central West and Bathurst regions will also benefit from the upgrade to the Western Rail Line. Melinda Pavey, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight in NSW said that the Main Western Rail Line Capacity Enhancement program will make it easier for the rail industry to cater for the growing demand for freight.

“The two loops will ensure the nine million tonnes of freight transported annually along the western corridor moves more efficiently, reducing the cost of getting export freight to port and domestic freight to markets,” she said.

Each of the loops will measure 1.8 kilometres of new track and will be able to cater for the passing of trains which are up to 1.5 kilometres long.

Ms Pavey said that increasing efficiency on the tracks would lessen the need for road freight without jeopardising the effectiveness of passenger trains that also make use of the line.

“It means important increased capacity for the minerals, agricultural and interstate freight moved along the western corridor, supplying domestic and international markets,” she said.

Since 2011, the NSW Government has spent more than $1.3 billion on the running and upkeep of the Country Regional Network.

Switzerland’s Railway Defying Predicted Energy Consumption

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Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) operates the busiest railway network in the world. Running approximately 10,000 trains on a daily basis, the SBB faces several challenges associated with increased rail usage and expansion of services.

One of these is the predicted rise in energy consumption, which is forecast to increase by 30 per cent from 2010 to 2030. This is unacceptable according to Oliver Johner, Head of the energy saving programme and Rudolf Büchi, Head of Operations and a Member of the Infrastructure Management Board at SBB AG. SBB is determined to reduce the predicted energy consumption and it seems that they will manage to do this, thanks to the adaptive control system (ADL) that is being developed.

The adaptive control system has been used since 2015 and effectively allows dispatchers and locomotive crew to collaborate more optimally. The priorities of both parties are safety, punctuality and economic efficiency, in that order. Due to the magnitude and complexity of the rail network, the slightest deviations can have negative consequences which can quickly develop into a domino effect and result in delays and demurrage.

What is the Adaptive Control System?

The traffic control system, with adaptive control is a system designed to allow rail services to carry out operations on a minimum energy, maximum capacity basis. The two main functions of the ADL is conflict optimisation and energy efficient driving.

How Does ADL Work?

The adaptive control system detects upcoming clashes well in time and calculates the optimal speed for the trains to travel at, so that they avoid the clash and arrive at their respective destinations without unnecessary stops.

The ADL also identifies trains that are predicted to arrive at their next stop ahead of schedule and calculates the most energy efficient speed for them to travel at, so that they arrive at the stop on time. The ADL carries out the following processes to achieve these two objectives:

  • Logging the locations of trains
  • Identifying potential conflicts network-wide
  • Anticipating unscheduled stops and their duration at signals
  • Calculating the section of track which can accommodate the train driving at an energy optimised speed, without interfering with other trains
  • Generating messages to inform the engine driver about the energy optimised driving profile
  • Communicating the calculated driving recommendation to the engine driver’s cab via LEA, smartphone, laptop or GSM-R CabRadio.

Calculations Are Received as Recommendations Only

The messages generated by the ADL are sent to the dispatcher in the train-control centre for approval, which in turn are passed on straight away to the train crew. These are treated purely as recommendations and not instructions set in stone. Engine drivers still treat track signals as the highest priority.

Energy Savings on the Swiss Federal Railways

Last year, 635,000 driving recommendations were delivered by ADL and resulted in energy savings of 74 GWh. This is equivalent to a nearly 50 per cent energy saving increase compared to the previous year. These savings are predicted to increase even more in the years to come, subject to the operational situation and the resultant conflicts.

Debris Continues to Wash Ashore After Shipping Containers Fall Overboard

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It’s now five days since 83 loaded shipping containers fell off a Sydney bound cargo ship off the New South Wales coast during wild weather.

Loads of rubbish have been collected by volunteers who are dismayed at the state of their pristine beaches. Concerns are also being raised for the safety of marine life in the affected areas, including turtles, sea birds, dolphins and whales. The NSW Greens have called on the state government to accelerate the clean-up to avoid further damage.

YM Efficiency, a Liberian-registered vessel operated by the Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation, encountered heavy seas and it appears that this has caused the ship to roll heavily, causing the containers to come off. A further 30 shipping containers have collapsed, but remained on deck, according to Steven Ka, managing director of Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp.

Mr Ka stated that the affected containers had not stored any hazardous material or dangerous goods. He said the ship itself had not suffered any damage, but deck fittings would need to be restored.

A massive clean up lies ahead as more and more debris continues to float ashore. Nappies, sanitary products and surgical masks were part of the first wave of wreckage that was washed up on New South Wales beautiful beaches.

Locals are working together to clear the rubbish coming in, but they admit that they’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. They say it’s devastating to see their beaches in such a condition and that it’s likely to take several months before all the debris is cleared from New South Wales’ waters.

So far containers of emu oil, toilet-paper packaging, car parts, thousands of red foil lolly wrappers, jars, packaged food and clocks still in their packaging have been collected from the affected beaches.

Gabrielle Upton, the NSW minister for Environment, said the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, the state’s Roads and Maritime Services agency and the NSW Environment Protection Authority were working together with local councils to ensure all debris was cleaned up.

The ship’s owner, Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation, is coordinating the search for containers. Local company Varley has been engaged by the ship’s insurer and has put out skips for locals to dispose rubbish they collect and are using a helicopter to locate the debris still floating out at sea.

Angus Mitchell, Roads and Maritime Services executive director, said that marine rescue authorities sighted four containers about one kilometre off Hawks Nest on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Mitchell said that it’s likely the containers were damaged before they even fell into the water, as they often fall on each other before they go overboard. He said that while it was not uncommon for shipping containers to fall off a ship at sea, it was rare for it to occur so close to the coast.

A serious maritime warning remains in place for Sydney’s coastline and boaters are being warned via marine radio to keep a sharp lookout for the 40-foot containers. The dispersed containers themselves, and the cargo they contain, including building supplies, now pose a hazard to other marine craft along the coast. Any sightings should be reported to a marine rescue base.

National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities Welcomed By ATA

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On 18 May 2018, the Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, released the report of the Inquiry into National Freight and Supply Chain Priorities. The report was presented in Darwin at the ministerial Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting.

The Inquiry analysed import-export supply chains, inter/intra state supply chains, urban supply chains and supply chain integration, which included resource and agricultural freight and regional and remote freight. Some of the expert panel members were Marika Calfas (NSW Ports CEO), Maurice James (Qube MD) and Nicole Lockwood (WA Freight and Logistics Council chair).

The final 54 recommended priorities categorised into five critical action areas were the result of 127 submissions and one-on-one meetings with more than 200 people representing 90 businesses and 28 key industry bodies. Many of these were welcomed by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) and the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

McCormack said that the report “paves the way for the development of a strategy which improves the competitiveness of Australian businesses and delivers for consumers by making it faster, easier, and less expensive to move goods.

“We know the national freight task will almost double over the next 20 years, which presents a challenge and opportunity to work with industry to maximise the benefit from the sector which already contributes around 10 per cent of our productivity.

“I thank the Panel for its report, which provides a platform for Government to look at opportunities to drive efficient and sustainable freight logistics while balancing the freight needs of a growing economy and ensuring the sector and the community share the benefits too.”

Many transport companies also depend on efficient freight logistics in order to be able to provide a competitive courier quote.

Good news for the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) was a commitment to improving productivity and access. The ATA particularly welcomed a promise to evaluate and streamline permit approvals, with the intention of reducing the processing time on main freight routes down to 24 hours.

Other priorities held in high esteem by the ATA were improving accessibility to roads, particularly last mile access and main freight routes, using road charges income to improving road infrastructure, sealing roads and providing mobile phone coverage and broadband.

Income generated through road charges should be reinvested in road infrastructure and should focus considerably on ensuring satisfactory maintenance.

Ben Maguire, CEO of the Australian Trucking Association said that “the ATA welcomes the report, which shows that Michael McCormack and the Australian Government understand the importance of trucking and the need to make the road freight transport regulations more efficient.”

“The report supports the ATA’s calls for an urgent, independent and agile review of the Heavy Vehicle National Law, including road access approvals.”

Proposed infrastructure investment programs will target oversize overmass vehicles and aims to increase productivity and improve access to roads. Regional supply chains will also be the object of upgraded infrastructure.

“The ATA welcomes the Government’s commitment to improving our national freight and supply chains,” said Maguire, adding that “This expert report will pave the way toward significant reform.”