The transport and logistics industry is fluid by its very nature. Our customers’ freight needs are constantly evolving in line with consumer demand, while shifts in the wider economy are constantly at the influence of periods of growth and contraction on a fairly large scale.
The importance of agriculture to the Australian economy
Seasons, too, can have a significant influence on the volume and pattern of freight needs. Why? Well, while technologically driven companies are playing an increasingly large role in the Australian business landscape, traditional sectors remain key pillars in supporting the economy, and have even managed to thrive despite challenging market conditions.
The value of rural exports grew by 7 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
Agriculture, for instance, has seen impressive growth over the last year or so, with Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce noting that the value of rural exports in 2015 grew by 7 per cent from a year earlier.
“Rural goods contributed $43 billion in exports in 2014-15 at a time when the value of all goods and services decreased by 4 per cent,” Minister Joyce said.
Naturally, livestock makes up a significant portion of this figure, but it’s the more seasonal consignments – such as fruit, vegetables and grains – that are particularly challenging for freight providers to accommodate. This is because the volume of such cargo can fluctuate so much from month to month, requiring transport and logistics companies to respond fluidly in order to ensure they have the capacity to meet demand in these busy times.
How does Pacific National handle the seasonal spikes?
Having processes in place to deal with the spikes in demand is an integral part of providing consistent service throughout the year. One of the ways we’re able to achieve this is by hiring casual talent during seasons when the need for freight is high.
For example, earlier this year we ran an incredibly successful project, recruiting a number of new employees to help us accommodate the freight needs of our clients operating within the grain sector. According to figures collated by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, this is a fairly high volume industry, with grain, sugar, fertilisers and other bulk products accounting for around 8 per cent of all rail freight in Australia.
What’s more, grain freighting needs are particularly pronounced in the last few months of the year, as farming businesses seek out reliable ways to transport their cargo.
The Grain Flow campaign enabled us to capably meet our customers’ requirements. Beginning in late August, the Pacific National Careers Team set about hiring a number of Casual Experienced and Trainee Locomotive Drivers in five different locations across Victoria and New South Wales. Working in close collaboration with the wider company, the team recruited quality new talent via a carefully developed attraction, screening and selection process.
There’s no denying that the Grain Flow campaign was a fantastic success. As a direct result of the initiative, by mid-October Pacific National had 45 new casual employees ready to tackle the challenges of life in the world of transport and logistics. With the new members of our workforce already proving to be instrumental, they have enabled Pacific National to satisfy the freighting needs of our customers across the grain season.
The dynamic nature of the seasonal freight industry isn’t going to disappear any time soon. In fact, fluctuations in demand may be even more severe in the future.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development asserted that this could be due to climate change, which may impact the geographical location of grain production, as well as shape grain growth patterns. Both these factors may have further influence on the demand for freight in the years ahead.
Only time will tell how environmental conditions will change the world of freight, but recruiting the right talent to deal with spikes in demand today will provide us with the capacity we need to deal with seasonal fluctuations for the future.