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DOWN UNDER TRUCKING: locals shoot down drones

Residents have robotic drones in their sights… literally

Some Australians apparently think that drones are being put in the sky so as to give the local residents the  opportunity to carry out a bit of target practice. Local police in the nation’s capital, Canberra, say they are about to press charges against an as-yet-unidentified person who allegedly shot down a commercial drone worth about A$500k (US$350k or so).

Local media reports say that electricity and gas distributor, Evoenergy, was using drones to carry out surveying work. The company is apparently not answering questions on incident. In its last annual report the company said it would use drones equipped with light detection and ranging technology to inspect power lines among other things.

Local community groups have not been happy with the deployment of drones in Canberra. One group, “Bonython Against Drones” – which we mention here simply as an existing protest group and we make no allegations against the group or any of its members – have raised concerns about “noise, privacy, data collection, safety and impact on local birdlife, pets and lack of regulation”.

The group has complained of drone deliveries to the wrong address, bird strikes, spilt hot drinks, drones crashing on non-customer driveways, people being followed by drones, and a done flying so low that it nearly caused a resident to drive off the road.

Tech company Yojee attracts new international customers

Freight, last-mile delivery and vehicle management tech company, Yojee (ASX: YOJ) has announced that it is picking up a diverse range of international companies as customers. These include freight companies, retail groups and even bus companies.

A few days ago, Landmark Group, a major retail and hospitality group active in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and India, picked Yojee as a logistics technology partner following a successful trial in Malaysia “with a view to rolling out in other countries,” Yojee said in a statement.

Landmark’s senior manager, supply chain South East Asia, Eric Chua, said, “We chose Yojee to improve our company across B2B and B2C activity and have a single system for tracking purposes. Also, Yojee provides capabilities to grow or expand into other countries and territories… Yojee has available all the systems and modules to fix our business model and can be easily implemented without major customisation. It has also helped to partner with new logistics service providers through the Yojee Network. The system has helped to eliminate manual process such as creating reports and delivery notifications”.

Yojee announced back in May 2019 that it had signed a three year software as a service deal with global freight forwarder Geodis. Yojee will provide SaaS logistics and supply chain management technology on a case by case basis for multiple projects across the Asia-Pacific region. As at mid-May one project had begun.

“We… face challenges in cross-border trucking which is solved by Yojee’s enterprise grade solution,” said Geodis South East Asia Road Network Director Dinesh Kenapathy.

Yojee also reports that it is attracting interest from outside the traditional freight sector. For instance, the company says it has been approached by a number of bus companies (some of which have up to 5,000 buses) that are looking to use Yojee for planning and scheduling.

The software company uses a combination of artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain technologies to provide its services.

Driver fatigue tech investigated

The freight trucking watchdog, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, has appointed a joint team of academics and consultants to review fatigue monitoring technology.

The joint team will interview 13 companies using a variety of fatigue monitoring tech in the areas of fitness for duty tests; various types of continuous operator monitoring (eye motion measurements and brain waves, among others), performance-based monitoring and vehicle-related tech.

“Driver fatigue is still a significant factor in about one-in-ten heavy vehicle crashes,” said the Regulator’s fatigue specialist Andreas Blahous.

“Commercial studies suggest that fatigue monitoring technology can help identify and address incidents before they happen. While there is currently limited independent information available on the effectiveness of fatigue monitoring technology, users of this technology in the transport industry tell us that there are practical safety benefits, which warrant further study. [Our] review found that monitoring technology performed best as part of an integrated Fatigue Risk Management System, rather than as a stand alone tool; and this is the focus of the next phase of the Fatigue Monitoring Trial,” Blahous said.

The fatigue monitoring trial concludes in June next year.

Corporate merry go-round goes around and around and around…

AP Eagers (ASX: APE) has offered to sell its subsidiary business Kloster Motor Group to help it secure approval from the competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in its takeover bid of rival Automotive Holdings Group (ASX: AHG).

APE and AHG are the two largest retailers of new and used cars, trucks and buses, along with associated services, insurance and finance.

Kloster is an 85-year old automotive retailer based in the Newcastle and Hunter Valley region. It has a diverse portfolio of major vehicle brands. It employs 410 people and generates about A$420 million (US$295 million) in annual revenue.

AP Eagers entered into a “Heads of Agreement” to sell Kloster to the Tony White Group for A$54 million (US$38 million). The sale of Kloster is expected in November 2019, subject to due diligence and conditions such as approval from the competition watchdog.

In late June the ACCC said that it had preliminary concerns about APE’s bid for AHG, especially over the impact of competition in the Newcastle / Hunter Valley region of New South Wales. The combined entity would operate 46 percent of new car dealership sites in that region. In the city of Newcastle itself, the combined company would operate 77 percent of dealership sites selling the most popular brands.

“We believe that local consumers generally don’t travel beyond the Newcastle/Hunter Valley region to buy new cars, and it is difficult to find out the final price for a car without visiting a dealership,” the ACCC said.

Meanwhile, the target of APE’s takeover, AHG, has advised shareholders that the company has completed the sale of its interest in Motorcycle Distributors Australia to the Austrian company, KTM Sportmotorcycles.

AHG formerly owned a 74 percent interest in Motorcycle Distributors Australia, which imports and distributes KTM’s bikes across Australia and New Zealand. KTM already owned 26 percent of the business and will now own 100 percent. MDA had made a loss of about A$1.4 million in the ten months to the end of April 2019. The transaction values the business at A$18 million (US$25.6 million).

AP Eagers says that it is “supportive” of AHG’s decision to sell its interest in Motorcycle Distributors Australia. AP Eagers adds that the sale of the motorcycle business will impact AP Eagers’ bid for AHG.

Main image: Robotic delivery drone by Eduardofamendes available via Wikimedia. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.

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Jim Wilson, Australia Correspondent

Sydney-based journalist and photojournalist, Jim Wilson, is the Australia Correspondent for FreightWaves. Since beginning his journalism career in 2000, Jim has primarily worked as a business reporter, editor, and manager for maritime publications in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. He has won several awards for logistics-related journalism and has had photography published in the global maritime press. Jim has also run publications focused on human resources management, workplace health and safety, venture capital, and law. He holds a degree in law and legal practice.

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