The Australian federal government is to spend AUS$8.5m this year to transform freight sector planning and operations.
Announcing the move this month, the government confirmed it will invest AUS$5.2m to create a National Freight Data Hub. This will gather and process information to help the private and public sectors in their planning as well as their operational and investment decisions.
A further AUS$3.3m will be spent on developing a pilot study to examine ways in which industry can access freight data in real time.
The announcement has been prompted by a government-funded study by the iMove Cooperative Research Centre, which was released this month.
This analysed how freight industry data is currently collected and the additional data needed to improve freight-related planning, operations and investment.
It estimated that improving capital and labour productivity in the freight supply chain by 0.5% would increase industry gross value added (a measure of the value of industry production) by almost AUS$400m annually.
The study recommended that the government implement a national policy on freight data to improve collection, hosting, access and analysis of information relating to the movement of freight.
Michael McCormack, minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development, said: "Industry has called for better freight data and we are delivering. We know better data makes better decisions and that means jobs and opportunities can flow, especially in the regions."
Responding to the government's announcement, Kirk Coningham, chief executive, Australian Logistics Council, said: "Industry has continually emphasised the need to improve the quality and quantity of available data regarding the operation of our supply chains. "
He added: "Better data allows industry to more effectively monitor and measure performance and permits better decision - making around investments in equipment and infrastructure."
The new funding is part of the federal government’s AUS$100m infrastructure plan to coordinate investment, regulation, and planning across road, rail, air and maritime to drive improvements to freight productivity.
Scott Buchholz, assistant minister for roads and transport, commented: "Our commitment to the National Action Plan includes investing to remove pinch points in key freight corridors, improving heavy vehicle access to local roads and improving the availability and ways we can share freight data.”