by the Australian Logistics Council (ALC)

The federal, state and territory Governments have published their first annual report for the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy. The report highlighted the need for sharing data in a consistent manner to improve industry efficiency and productivity.¹

Asurvey conducted for the strategy’s Industry Reference Panel found that one of the issues constantly raised is the need to share data in a consistent manner and this cry is echoed across the industry at ALC events including annual ALC forums, technology summits and Inland Rail conferences.

This led the Australian Logistics Council to develop a policy to encourage the development of a common set of open data standards, and in December 2020, it released its Single Freight Data Standard policy.

The data standard is designed to provide the framework for the interoperable sharing of information about the movement of freight and vehicles as they travel the supply chain.

In development, ALC liaised with industry and government partners including GS1 and Transport Certification Australia (TCA) to develop a data standard for capturing information in a uniform way that is also fit for purpose for the industry.

GS1 global data standards offer the EPCIS standard and associated Core Business Vocabulary, which provides the framework for the interoperable sharing of information about the physical movement and the status of objects including products, materials and shipments as they travel the supply chain. It links the what, where, when and the why dimensions that are so important in ensuring freight visibility.

The National Telematics Framework is administered by Transport Certification Australia. It is aligned with ISO 15638, which establishes the framework for collaborative telematics applications for regulated commercial freight vehicles and is designed to capture data that can be used for safety, compliance and planning purposes.

Uses of the standard

These data standards would be used to collect information in a standardised fashion so the information can be used throughout the supply chain for a variety of purposes including:

  1. Assisting in the collection of statistics for government purposes
  2. Providing a uniform data format that can be used for those wishing to enhance the visibility of freight in which they have an interest
  3. Presenting information to road managers in a way that would facilitate decisions relating to access to routes by
    heavy vehicles
  4. Assisting compliance with legislation
  5. Facilitating planning by both industry and governments

The document is designed to be used in a modular fashion, with data elements separated into data ‘layers’ which may be used independently or collectively, depending upon the needs of the user.

For example, a freight forwarder may be primarily interested in data relating to the goods being transported, while another might seek to combine this with data relating to the vehicle carrying the freight.

However, all the relevant layers are contained in a single framework allowing safe and efficient data sharing between commercial entities, government entities, data aggregators and technology providers.

Who in the freight and logistics industry would use the standard?

Some possible users of the standard include:

  • Freight customers, who may use this document as a reference or requirement for contractors and telematics service providers to comply with when providing services
  • Logistics managers, who may elect to use this document as a reference to ensure interoperability with other systems relevant to the movement of freight
  • Transport operators, who may be asked to ensure their own commercial systems, or the data services they procure from third parties, comply with the standards underpinning this document
  • Data aggregators
  • Telematics service providers, who may be asked to comply with the standards referenced in this document when constructing data schemas, exchange systems and analytics for clients
  • Road managers or government agencies, who will be able to access, compare, aggregate and analyse data efficiently for regulatory, planning, policy or transport operational purposes
  • Governments may elect to reference this document as a standard to be used for entities in the freight supply chain wishing to share data with the government for public purposes

The standard answers a need recognised by both industry and government.

Data is the new oil

At a meeting held on 7 December 2020, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack MP, said, “The Australian Government acknowledges the need for a single data standard to enable governments and industry to make data-driven decisions.”

While Kirk Coningham OAM, CEO of ALC, said, “Data is the ‘new oil’ for the supply chain industry.” As the Productivity Commission said in its recent report on national transport regulatory reform, “governments should prioritise uses of data with the greatest potential to improve productivity in the transport sector in ways that can inform the provision and management of infrastructure, inform decisions around planning and technology, and assist in the development and implementation of other future legislation, with the information forming part of the proposed federal Freight Data Hub.”²

ALC encourages industry and government to consider adopting the standard to exchange freight and supply chain information.

  1. https://www.freightaustralia.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/strategy-2020-annual-report.pdf, page 5
  2. Inquiry report – National Transport Regulatory Reform Productivity Commission (pc.gov.au), page 33
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