Solving Australia’s freight and supply chain challenges
In a country as large as Australia, reliable transport infrastructure is essential. More than 1.5 billion tonnes of freight are moved around the country each year. Commodities including food and forest products, fuels, minerals, construction materials and general freight are often transported along complex routes of 1000km or more before reaching their markets. This can be very expensive for producers and manufacturers, and there is high risk of transport disruptions.
Modelling transport options to reduce costs and improve efficiency and resilience
Since 2012, CSIRO’s Transport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TraNSIT) has been used nationally and internationally to improve supply chain efficiency and help identify options for transport and logistics investment.
Originally developed to reduce the cost of transporting cattle from farms in northern Australia to their domestic and international markets, TraNSIT is a computer model that creates detailed maps of Australia’s supply chains, freight movements and costings.
For each supply chain path, TraNSIT selects the most cost-effective route that accounts for travel distance and time, vehicle configuration, road conditions, driver fatigue regulations and vehicle decoupling costs. As well these outputs, the models generated by TraNSIT enable national and local governments to direct road and rail investment to the areas where it will have most impact.
More than ten years on from its initial development, TraNSIT now accommodates over 185 commodities, representing more than 25 million truck trips and 200,000 rail trips per annum. More commodities continue to be added. It incorporates information and expert knowledge from over 450 agencies and organisations across Australia.
The tool has been adapted for a range of applications including biosecurity, climate and disaster resilience, tourism, and infrastructure planning and investment. Its has also been used internationally in Indonesia and Vietnam.
More recently, TraNSIT has been extended to understand the impact of extreme weather events on our supply chains. In partnership with the Australian Climate Service (ACS), the tool has supported improved decision making in the face of natural hazards. We have assisted the National Emergency Management Australia (NEMA) in its role as national responder to these disasters. This has reduced the impacts of extreme events on communities.
TraNSIT also has a role to play in longer term planning, and prioritising investment that will improve the resilience of Australia’s supply chains into the future. In partnership with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, we analysed 52 key freight routes and 13 rail routes across Australia. This provided a better understanding of the impacts to communities and freight movements from a wide range of disruptions to these freight networks.
CSIRO’s approach to research is a collaborative one. The success of TraNSIT demonstrates how much can be achieved when researchers, industry and government work closely together.
Through the development of our easy-to-use TraNSIT Web and the Supply Chain Benchmarking Dashboard, a wide range of government, community and industry decision makers now have the tools to analyse Australia's supply chains to identify key trends and pinch points for improving freight transport both now and into the future.
The TraNSIT team remains committed to working collaboratively with government and industry and looks forward to further expansion of the tool’s capabilities in coming years in order to meet Australia’s needs.
To view a timeline of TraNSIT and its activities over the past 10 years, view our capability brochure PDF (3 MB).
Applications of TraNSIT include:
- Analysing the impact of road upgrades such as sealing, first/last mile improvements, access to higher-productivity vehicles
- Informing improvements to rail infrastructure including line upgrades, new freight hubs and integration with road transport
- Testing the sensitivity of the road and rail network to natural disasters or other disruptions and their impact on freight access to markets
- Forecasting freight volumes, supply chain dynamics and bottlenecks under future production and climate scenarios
- Testing regulatory changes such as driver fatigue, road and rail pricing and tolls
- Addressing supply chain inefficiencies and cross border bottlenecks in Indonesia and Vietnam
- Estimating the impact of road improvements for the Australian tourism industry
- Supporting the Australian Government’s resilience initiatives.
Related to this page
- Better roads for beef transport in northern Australia
- Boosting Australia's freight and supply chain performance
- Road and Rail Resilience Review [pdf · 37MB]
- Inland Rail Supply Chain Mapping
- Dr Andrew Higgins
- TraNSIT report: Unlocking options for efficient logistics infrastructure in Australian agriculture
- TraNSIT report: Modelling the supply chain of Australia’s plantation forestry