Keep­ing it real ATA looks to the fu­ture with new strat­egy so we can plan for pro­duc­tiv­ity

Australian Transport News - - News -

“Tech­nol­ogy is not the goal, but it should be the means to the goal”

With the rapid growth of tech­nol­ogy, there’s un­der­stand­ably a lot of talk about the fu­ture. There are count­less ar­ti­cles, gov­ern­ment con­sul­ta­tions and pri­vate­sec­tor projects look­ing at is­sues such as driver­less ve­hi­cles, truck pla­toon­ing, in­creas­ing au­to­ma­tion and con­nec­tiv­ity.

But the fu­ture is shaped by ac­tual de­ci­sions be­ing im­ple­mented, not just be­ing talked about.

Let’s con­sider the con­cept of driver­less trucks pla­toon­ing on a ma­jor high­way for just a mo­ment.

Gov­ern­ments have a mixed record at best when it comes to in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and al­low­ing the use of modern, safer, more pro­duc­tive trucks that are avail­able on our roads right now.

The ve­hi­cles ex­ist and are be­ing used today. We know they’re safer, more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, re­duce the num­ber of trucks re­quired, and in­crease pro­duc­tiv­ity. But reg­u­la­tion, and in­con­sis­tent reg­u­la­tion at that, is lim­it­ing road ac­cess and rais­ing bar­ri­ers to their use.

Some in gov­ern­ment even use statis­tics show­ing the growth in per­mits is­sued as a sign of pol­icy suc­cess, rather than ac­knowl­edg­ing that high num­bers of per­mits il­lus­trate high reg­u­la­tory costs on busi­ness, the wider econ­omy and, ul­ti­mately, Aus­tralian jobs.

The cor­ri­dor be­tween our two largest cities of Syd­ney and Mel­bourne is a key, busy and du­pli­cated high­way. You can’t run a high-pro­duc­tiv­ity ve­hi­cle on it, yet gov­ern­ments talk a lot about the con­cept of driver­less, pla­toon­ing trucks. You have to won­der: which high­way will they ever be al­lowed to op­er­ate on?

Even if the tech­nol­ogy is one day de­liv­ered to mar­ket, and road ac­cess is al­lowed, it’s not hard to imag­ine that per­mis­sion be­ing de­pen­dent on ‘ driver­less’ and ‘pla­toon­ing’ per­mits be­ing re­quired.

Fail­ure to make the right de­ci­sions on pro­duc­tiv­ity today could sim­ply lead to the bans of to­mor­row on trucks us­ing driver­less or pla­toon­ing tech­nol­ogy. New tech­nol­ogy will not au­to­mat­i­cally solve the prob­lems of today, es­pe­cially if it’s buried un­der per­mits and reg­u­la­tion.

So the fu­ture is not just go­ing to ar­rive, it will be shaped by ac­tual de­ci­sions be­ing im­ple­mented. Tech­nol­ogy is not the goal, but it should be the means to the goal.

These goals must fo­cus on out­comes of im­prov­ing safety and in­creas­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity, and not on which gov­ern­ment agency can be the fi rst to reg­u­late what­ever tech­nol­ogy is to be in­tro­duced to­mor­row.

As an in­dus­try, we can’t af­ford to sit out of the process of de­ci­sions be­ing im­ple­mented as truck­ing op­er­a­tors are key to Aus­tralian sup­ply chains today and to­mor­row. It’s hard to see a drone or a train sup­ply­ing the lo­cal supermarket.

As the peak body rep­re­sent­ing the truck­ing in­dus­try, the Aus­tralian Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion is uniquely placed to help shape this fu­ture for our in­dus­try. With mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions in all of Aus­tralia’s states and ter­ri­to­ries, and sec­tor-based as­so­ci­a­tions, the ATA gives a na­tional voice to the is­sues and pri­or­i­ties of truck­ing op­er­a­tors.

In Au­gust, ATA mem­bers en­gaged in plan­ning the strat­egy to take the ATA for­ward into the im­me­di­ate- and longert­erm fu­ture. Our mem­bers will de­bate the strat­egy in the com­ing months be­fore fi nal­is­ing it in Novem­ber.

ATA mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions have al­ready made it clear that we need to place im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity fi rmly on the agenda for the in­dus­try and gov­ern­ments. We need to im­prove safety out­comes, im­prove ca­reer path­ways into the in­dus­try, lower reg­u­la­tory bur­dens and im­prove our ru­ral and re­gional sup­ply chains.

If you want to have your say on shap­ing the de­ci­sions that will de­ter­mine our in­dus­try’s fu­ture, now is the time to get in­volved and join an ATA mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tion.

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