200% productivity gain – $80 million per annum industry benefit.

With $15.9 billion of state income and 115,000 jobs relying on South Australia’s primary production sector, an efficient and effective road transport system is critical.

Fresh produce, livestock and other time sensitive commodities need to be delivered to markets quickly and safely, yet meet consumer demands for a low environmental impact supply chain.

Primary producers rely on heavy transport which puts pressure on regional road infrastructure and long haulage transport costs in Australia continue to rise as a result of increasing fuel and labour costs.

To identify and quantify the road transport issues that were limiting the operational efficiency within the state’s agricultural sector, the 90 Day Change@SA project ‘Improving Road Transport for the Agriculture Industry’ was established.

Identifying opportunities to improve efficiencies in the state’s agricultural supply chain

The aim of the project was to identify opportunities to improve efficiencies in the state’s agricultural supply chain, and to deliver significant benefits to primary producers and transport operators - in turn, benefiting the state’s broader economy.

Primary Producers SA (PPSA), Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) recognised that a partnership approach needed to be taken to develop a road transport system that would meet the existing and future needs of agriculture.

In particular, PPSA believed its members, as important users of regional and rural road freight services, should be engaged in the planning process and asked to share their views on how South Australia’s road transport could be made more effective and efficient.

Engaging with primary producers provides a clear picture of road access issues

As a first step, a detailed survey was developed and distributed to primary producers, transport operators, local government, Regional Development Australia groups and other key stakeholders.

The survey sought input on three key issues:

  • the movement of agricultural machinery on public roads
  • route extensions and allowable trailer combinations; and
  • short-distance or “last mile” access to properties or facilities.

A total of 680 responses were received, a strong response rate that provided government and industry with a clear picture of road access issues relating to the use of high productivity heavy vehicles in agriculture.

Building on the success and momentum of the first survey, in 2017, a second survey, ‘Improving Road Transport for Primary Production’, was conducted.

The second survey asked primary producers and industry groups in the forestry, dairy, fresh produce, fisheries and aquaculture industries to identify key issues affecting productivity. A total of 494 respondents participated in the survey.

Addressing issues results in productivity gains

Based on the issues raised through the two surveys, 65 projects have been completed by the Government in conjunction with Primary Producers SA.

As of February 2018, these include:

  • The addition of 7,200km of new freight routes to the restricted access vehicle network, including 3,760km of outback track access.
  • Reduction of the environmental impact and road wear per unit of freight carted - the environmental impact of a type 1 road train tri-axle dolly heavy mass limits (HML) is 57% of the emissions/per 1000 tonnes compared to a semi-trailer.
  • Introduction of tri-axle dollies into road train combinations.
  • Log book exemptions to reduce workload.
  • The upgrade of access to a number of Viterra grain receival sites, improving efficiency for producers at harvest.
  • Addressing ‘missing links’ has extended freight transport routes.

Overall there have been significant productivity gains, with less vehicles required for the same freight task, providing an estimated benefit for both the transport industry and primary producers (as at January 2018) is $80 million.

Chair of Primary Producers SA, Rob Kerin, said the project was an excellent example of successful government and industry collaboration.

"This project shows what government and industry can achieve when we work together,” he said.

“The outcomes of this project have seen positive changes and reforms across the state – including agricultural machinery, road train combinations, and intersection and junction upgrades – which primary producers have clearly benefited from."