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The ideal model of logistics success

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When an Australian transport company moving over 100 containers a week increased their labour productivity by 15 per cent, reduced trailer fleets by 26 per cent and increased turn around times of delivery fleets by 6 hours a day the industry stood up and took notice of what was happening at Toll SPD Brisbane.

As the ideal model of a successful restructure of operations and cost efficiencies Toll SPD was recognised nationally by the LAA for its achievements.

So how did they do it?

The original operational procedures were reactive at best with Toll SPD applying a band aid approach to a logistical and costly nightmare.

According to Mr Lee Metselaar, Operations Manager at Toll SPD Brisbane, they did not have the ability to handle heavy equipment and large forklifts in their Brisbane yard, which is a common problem for many companies.

Mr Metselaar added that this problem limited the abilities for loading and unloading 105 containers a week and high costs associated with labour, equipment, trailers and delivery ensued.

The old operation

· Due to yard restrictions incoming containers were being left unpacked on trailers. The driver of the incoming combination of prime-mover, trailer and container would park the trailer with the container on it, until the container needed unpacking.

· A yard prime-mover would then move the trailer with the container to a loading dock.

· One forklift would then take the goods out of the container and place them at the edge of the loading dock.

· Another forklift would then take the goods from the loading dock and place them where they needed in the warehouse.

· When the container was unpacked the yard prime-mover would then pick up the trailer with the empty container and park in the yard, ready for pick-up by the outgoing prime-mover.

The problems with the old operation

· There were too many freight movements involved when unpacking a container.

· The turn around time of the prime-mover/trailer combination was too long.

· The driver had to climb on the back of the prime-mover twice to couple and uncouple the air and electrical connections. This was a potential safety hazard.

· The driver had to wind the landing legs of the trailer down when parking, and up after coupling, creating a potential for back, arm and shoulder injuries.

· Parking a trailer against a loading dock is potentially dangerous, with the chance of damaging the rear of the trailer

· A forklift working on a loading dock has a higher risk for accidents than when working from the ground

· Freight was double-handled, taking valuable time and resources.

· The distance from the container to the storage area of the goods was too far, because of the position of the dock in relation to the destination of the goods inside the warehouse.

The solution

· Toll SPD acquired a Mobicon as it was the only container handler available on the market that had both the flexibility to handle all sized containers, including the curtain-siders, and is designed with ideal wheel loadings suitable for the Brisbane yard.

· The Mobicon is designed to handle any length container, from 6.1m through to 14.6m. This makes the Mobicon a lighter and safer solution than heavy container-handlers such as forklifts or reach stackers.

· The Mobicon can back containers in to tight spots and will pass through a 3.8m high by 4.7m wide door opening. This allows the operator to transport the containers inside sheds and unload into the doorways. It has the ability to move in restrictive areas and can fully utilise all areas of the yard.

The new operation

· After the Mobicon was commissioned the costs savings to the container handling operations was immediate. The Mobicon has enabled Toll SPD to improve safety, productivity and to dramatically reduce operating costs.

· The number of steps in unloading the freight was reduced from four to two steps.

· The incoming combination of prime-mover and trailer with container now drives close to the warehouse.

· The Mobicon takes the container off the trailer and places it close to where the freight is needed inside the warehouse.

· An empty container is then placed on the trailer and the driver leaves. This greatly reduces the container movements in the yard. The container is unpacked with only one forklift, which greatly reduces the time needed to empty a container because it is located close to the storage area.

Benefits of the Mobicon

Increased Productivity by 15 to 20 per cent

An important improvement was the reduction in the number of operators and forklifts needed to unpack containers. Only one forklift is now used for this task, compared to two previously. Toll SPD now handles more freight in less time.

Reduction of Trailer Fleet by 26 per cent

Toll SPD reduced the trailer fleet from 95 to 70 which saves them approximately $100,000 annually and $19,000 less in trailer registration fees.

Reduction of Dwell Times by six hours

The prime-mover/trailer combination turns around five minutes faster than with the previous system. Toll SPD now averages 60 turn arounds per day, which is an improvement of six hours a day. The idle time of a driver plus prime-mover and trailer is $65 per hour. The Mobicon saves Toll SPD approximately $100,000 annually.

Reduction of prime-mover usage

The yard prime-mover is now used much less which has greatly reduced its operating costs.

Increased Safety

By eliminating the use of the loading dock to transfer freight, the need to have fork lifts working above ground on a dock is eliminated. Safety for drivers and operators is improved.

Reduced risk of injuries

The need to couple and uncouple trailers from prime-movers is eliminated with the Mobicon. Operators do not need to climb on the back of prime-movers six times per container turn around. Also, the need to wind the landing legs of the trailer up and down six times is eliminated.

Less freight damage

As freight movements and handling are reduced there is less freight damage. Less freight damage and faster loading and unloading of the freight has also improved customer service levels.


The Mobicon has proven to be extremely reliable and durable. The combination of simple technology and proven, quality components has resulted in an extremely low unplanned downtime of .5 per cent

The Mobicon system was designed by Mr Tom Schults, and is 100 per cent Australian designed, owned and operated.

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