Northern Australia’s supply chains need a shake-up, finds CRCNA study

A new report from the Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) has found that if the region is to capitalise on its huge economic potential, its supply chains need a comprehensive re-think.

The ‘Reframing smart supply chains in Northern Australia’ report identifies significant potential for economic growth in the region across various industries, provided existing supply chains can be bolstered, smart digital technologies adopted and a more targeted market approach taken, especially with respect to exporting goods to our South-East Asian neighbours.

The report also highlights the need for stronger multi-sectoral supply-chain collaboration across Northern Australia to drive economic recovery post-pandemic.

“COVID-19 has caused significant disruptions to domestic and international supply chains and shown the critical role they play in our lives,” says project lead and report co-author Hurriyet Babacan, a professor at  James Cook University’s The Cairns Institute.

“The challenges have highlighted the need to shift our supply chain thinking to look at ways more sectors and supply-chain participants can work together – to create scale, resilience and persistence in the market,” Professor Babacan says.

“A new demand-led approach is needed to drive critical mass and optimisation of the entire supply chain network.”

Professor Hurriyet Babacan from The Cairns Institute at James Cook University led the research team investigating supply chains in Northern Australia. Credit: James Cook University (JCU)

A transformational approach to supply chains

CRCNA CEO Jed Matz says the project findings show that improving Northern Australia’s supply chains requires addressing freight and transport costs – and taking a broad perspective.

“These are big issues to overcome and can’t be resolved in isolation of other challenges identified in this report,” stresses Matz. “Taking steps to reframe Northern Australia’s supply chains requires a transformational approach.

“This is why the CRCNA strongly supports calls for the establishment of a Northern Australian supply chain fund which would support the identification, prioritisation and development of freight and non-freight business-case options or models.

“The fund would focus on building stronger supply-chain collaborations at the right scale and test the feasibility of these investments.”

According to Australian Logistics Council CEO Kirk Coningham, it’s crucial Northern Australia’s supply chains be modernised if the region is to compete on the world stage.

“The enormous global opportunity in the COVID-19 ‘new normal’ will only be realised if we get supply chains right,” Coningham contends.

“And the timing is perfect to leapfrog into a new future, embracing a sophisticated, collaborative, connected approach powered by technology and a sense of urgency.

“If we get this right now, Northern Australia will earn a reputation as a reliable supplier of the quality produce the world craves. That will serve the North, and Australia, for decades to come as we trade our way out of the COVID-19 recession.”

Further research under the CRCNA will drive the implementation of key recommendations from the reframing study. Already, work is underway to foster cross-sectoral collaboration among stakeholders from various regional supply-chain projects.

Further information

Read the full report here.

For more information on this and other CRCNA projects, contact Carla Keith on +61 (0) 499 330 051.

Source: Call to smarten up Northern Australia’s agricultural supply chains I Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Australia (CRCNA)