An Information Sharing protocol has been developed between three of the Bay of Plenty region's biggest freight movers in an effort to increase efficiencies and productivity across the region.
The protocol has been established as an initiative by the ICT Working Group, under the Bay of Connections Freight Logistics action plan.
The Bay of Connections is the industry-led growth strategy for the wider Bay of Plenty region. As part of the strategy, sector-focused action plans have been developed for the key industry areas in the region, including forestry, aquaculture, energy, and freight logistics. Work is in progress on Maori Economic Development and Sport and Recreation strategies.
The chair of the Freight Logistics action group, John Gordon, says the protocol is a significant milestone in the progress of the action plan. Mr Gordon is a specialist in freight logistics law and a partner in Sharp Tudhope.
"The Freight Logistics strategy was launched late in 2011, with the first meeting of the action group held early in 2012.
"Freight Logistics is a competitive industry, and while we had a group of very committed people and organisations around the table, understandably there was some hesitation about sharing information in a competitive context.
"The group has developed to such a point this year, that these same people and organizations are comfortable to share certain levels of information, in order to try and achieve a common goal - future growth for the region driven by world class logistics."
Mr Gordon says the purpose of the project is to share freight movement data to help with planning cycles, maximize efficiencies and inform future discussions with the Government and New Zealand Transport Agency.
The information is shared through an independent party - Cucumber Software, a Tauranga-based information technology company (ICT) which is also a member of the Freight Logistics Action Group - to ensure confidentiality and legal compliance.
The project identifies 36 road data and six rail data freight points around the wider Bay of Plenty region, and records freight movements across those key points. The data includes road and rail movements, and whether a truck or train is empty or carrying freight during that particular movement.
Mr Gordon says the data programme is in its early stages, but it has already collected data representing approximately five million tonnes of freight movements through the wider Bay of Plenty region every year - that represents about one third of the volume exported through the Port of Tauranga.
He says the current focus is on achieving a good base level of information, which will eventually be shared with the rest of the industry for wider benefit.
"The long term objective of the programme is to identify efficiencies, save organizations money, and ultimately increase productivity and profit."
Mr Gordon says now that the base protocol is up and running, the group will be seeking input and agreement from other stakeholders in the freight logistics sector, including the fuel transport and forestry industries.
The Information Sharing Protocol caps off a successful first year for the Freight Logistics group, after also playing an instrumental role in seeing the Okere Falls Bridge on State Highway 33 opened up to High Productivity Motor Vehicles.
Restrictions on the bridge prevented the larger trucks using the key access route from Taupo and Rotorua to the Western Bay of Plenty and the Port of Tauranga. The Bay of Connections Freight Logistics and Forestry action groups lobbied to have the bridge reclassified, making a submission to the Bay of Plenty Land Transport Plan. NZTA then carried out structural assessments on the bridge, lifted its restrictions, and opened the route to HPMV freight.
"This is an active and passionate group, who are very focused on delivering tangible actions out of the Bay of Connections strategy. We have had a good year, and look forward to more developments in 2013," says Mr Gordon.
The Bay of Connections is driven by a Governance Group representing Eastern Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Taupo, and Western Bay of Plenty, in partnership with the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the region's economic development agencies.