Road and rail freight managing COVID-19 well

Road and rail freight managing COVID-19 well

Coronavirus
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With the aid of exemptions allowing trucks to move across the country freely, road freight is handling COVID-19 well.

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Jonathon Hewitt, Rural Bank, says disruptions to the road freight sector as a result of COVID-19 have been relatively minor compared to the impact in other industries.

Jonathon Hewitt, Rural Bank, says disruptions to the road freight sector as a result of COVID-19 have been relatively minor compared to the impact in other industries.

AUSTRALIA'S upcountry freight logistics systems are managing the added layers of complexity presented by COVID-19 well, with only low-level disruption.

Jonathon Hewitt, Rural Bank head of sales, eastern division, said freight operators had been exempted from travel restrictions imposed at some state borders, while there was still good availability of trucks and operators, meaning there were unlikely to be any bottlenecks in the supply chain created from upcountry freight constraints.

Along with the exemptions, he said road freight had adapted well to the increased need to limit contact due to the virus.

This week the National Grower Register (NGR) which is the administrator in charge of grower commodity cards used for payment of grain deliveries, said the system was now fully contactless.

NGR's business and product development manager Jay Holland said the program was working well and keeping face-to-face interaction to a minimum.

"The NGR card can be sent electronically to the delivery site instead of the grower or delivery driver physically handing over the card for processing on arrival," Mr Holland said.

"Our system means growers can SMS or email their card details to the receival point directly."

"Beyond rolling back your tarp on arrival at a site you may not need to get out of the truck again."

Mr Hewitt said rail freight networks were also working relatively as per normal.

In terms of processing agricultural commodities Mr Hewitt said grain, as a non-perishable commodity, was better placed to weather any potential impacts from outbreaks of the disease at processing points than sectors such as horticulture.

"You could see challenges in getting labour for things like fruit picking."

In other areas he said the livestock industry had adapted well with a switch to online sales.

"They've innovated well in a bid to keep it as business as usual as possible."

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