New CSIRO tool to substantially reduce cattle transport costs in Australia

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TRANSIT mapped the path of about 60,000 origin-to-destination movements representing 20 million cattle transported in Australia per year Image credit: www.csiro.au

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has developed a new tool which identifies ways to reduce the cost and time of transporting cattle in Australia.

TRANSIT mapped the path of about 60,000 origin-to-destination movements representing 20 million cattle transported in Australia per year Image credit: www.csiro.au
TRANSIT mapped the path of about 60,000 origin-to-destination movements representing 20 million cattle transported in Australia per year
Image credit: www.csiro.au

Cattle in northern Australia travels an average of about 1000 kilometres and as much as 2500 kilometres to get to east coast abattoirs.

The tool – called TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TRANSIT) – is able to establish the most direct transport routes and account for up to 40% of the market price by reducing travel distance and time, saving fuel costs and cutting down on wear and tear.

“In developing this tool we completed the most comprehensive mapping of the cattle supply chain in Australia,” lead researcher Dr Andrew Higgins said.

“We can now use TRANSIT to identify key investments, large and small, at critical points in the supply chain, along with policy changes that might allow for better planning.”

TRANSIT also has the ability to identify the best opportunities for infrastructure and policy development, including increased access for higher productivity vehicles on some roads, and improved links to rail.

“By providing a holistic view of the direct and indirect transport costs across the entire road network, TRANSIT has informed many infrastructure and policy opportunities under consideration by governments, industry and community in northern Australia,” it says in the CSIRO news release.

“For example, TRANSIT has modelled the potential benefits of sealing the remaining 105 kilometres of the Hann Highway north of Hughenden in central Queensland.”

TRANSIT also identified that the number of road trains using the fully sealed Hann Highway would increase by 25%, removing heavy vehicles from the congested coastal highways.

The CSIRO estimated that these benefits would allow for cost savings of approximately $1.23 million per year, plus the additional savings from shorter return journeys for empty trucks and benefits to other road users.

“Other advantages from a more efficient supply chain are improved safety and welfare of the live animals and the truck drivers themselves taking these long journeys, reduced emissions, and a more sustainable industry at a time of growth,” Dr Higgins said.

According to him, aside from cattle, TRANSIT will also be applied to other agricultural transport, especially degradable produce.

“Our hope is that this tool can make every long journey as short as it can be, and help to expand sustainable industry,” Dr Higgins said.