Transport costs and carbon emissions could be slashed via a new Intelligent Fleet Logistics project under development by National ICT Australia (NICTA).
The project is being trialled by two major transport companies - which NICTA has declined to name. According to the agency's project leader, Dr Andrew Verden, both have made significant cost savings thanks to the rollout.
"By modelling a larger part of the system [through our project], we were able to achieve a further saving of between 5 and 8 per cent. To them, when taken nationally, it is a major saving because they spend up to $100 million a year on transport," Verden told Computerworld Australia.
"The companies are from a billion dollar industry...both companies were well managed, using current software systems and were experiencing supply chain operations."
Verden said the project, which began in 2008 and is being supported by data from Sensis, could improve the rigid nature of current software packages used in the logistics sector.
According to Verden, software packages in the past have only been to model a small number of variables.
"Where the technology has taken us, and where the team have got to is being able to factor in multiple constraints at one time to link to far better outcomes," he said.
"...To take a software package and apply it to a [transport] business is a very complex thing, and there are lots of things to juggle. How many trucks are in our fleet? How many can we deliver? How can we deal with customer demand? This can make the operating environment quite complex."
The project recently won the research and development category at the NSW iAwards, with NICTA's director of infrastructure transport and logistics, Rob Fitzpatrick, saying that despite a lack of software programs able to help the transport sector, many companies are still crying out for new ways to save money.
"There are a lot of organisations who can benefit from optimising their logistics," Fitzpatrick said. "The traditional way is operations research, and there are a lot of packages out there but its a fragmented industry. Unlike other areas of IT, there aren't a number of dominant players."
The project is set to compliment NICTA's logistic living lab that was launched earlier this year, with Verden saying the project has the capacity of being scaled to suit smaller enterprises'.
"In the future, the customisable nature of the project will make it more appealing to smaller customers," Verden said. "Our effort in setting up the system will make it applicable to 20 plus vehicles, whereas the current system is working on the basis of 100 plus vehicles."
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