Western Australia Supply Chain Intelligence Hub

Project summary

The Fremantle Port Authority has developed a central data hub, referred to as the WA Supply Chain Intelligence Hub (Hub), to inform government and industry action in response to the COVID-19 emergency. As the pandemic emerged, a lack of credible and coordinated information threatened to impede Western Australia’s ability to manage the emergency and mitigate its impacts on the community. The pandemic heightened the need for technology-enabled real-time information to facilitate supply chain visibility and assist understanding, monitoring and prediction of current and future supply chain disruption and efficiency impacts.

The Hub is an extension of exploratory work undertaken by Fremantle Port Authority to develop and pilot a suite of Smart Port digital initiatives such as the 3-D Digital Twin and Trade Data Visualisation Tool. It is capable of analysing and integrating large data sets provided by government and industry stakeholders to deliver insight and intelligence to allow for the mitigation of COVID-19 impacts and future similar exceptional events. It identified essential commodities at risk and allowed governments and industry to anticipate the timing, location and nature of potential freight supply chain failure. The project involved the development of a central data hub, modelling capability and visual dashboards, including charts and heat maps, to support informed decision making within government. A comprehensive knowledge base has been built, with the flexibility to expand and include disparate sources of data, should it be required over time.

Closer look

Impact on freight and supply chains

The Hub provides a landscape of new information, insights and intelligence. It enables carriers, shippers, transport operators and other supply chain participants to potentially improve their operational efficiency and capacity utilisation through better visibility and predictability. By working together to collaborate and share information in support of the Hub, supply chain stakeholders have the potential to recover faster post COVID-19 and build upon their resiliency.

Details at a glance
Action Area/s Enable improved supply chain efficiency & Better freight location and performance data
Delivery model Rapid development and deployment of an intelligence hub in response to the pandemic crisis and associated State of Emergency.
Location 42 Fremantle Ports, Western Australia. Local government areas in the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.
Timeframe Project concept, design, user acceptance testing and go-live were all completed within 6 weeks.
Benefit Extent realised Description
Intended Strategy Objective
Enable improved supply chain efficiency All benefits realised The Hub’s historical and predictive trade data provides trends and patterns enabling insights and intelligence about markets and commodities at risk (e.g. the Hub has informed import and export diversification strategies by identifying potential market opportunities to mitigate the impact of China’s 80 per cent tariff on barley).
Better freight location and performance data All benefits realised Selected Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data enables scenario simulation to identify hot spots and contributes to resolving issues of major concern. It provides visibility of WA infrastructure, boundaries and demographic dispersion.
Project benefits
To inform Government and industry action in response to the COVID-19 emergency All benefits realised Various supply chain stakeholders have access to the Hub and are analysing and interrogating the data to anticipate potential current and future supply chain failures, and inform strategic decision-making and day-to-day operations.
Connecting COVID-19 data and trade data All benefits realised Visibility of affected regions and countries enables trade (imports and exports) impacts and potential shortfalls of essential commodities to be identified.
Trade prediction modelling Minor benefits realised The current model uses historical data and applies simple mathematical, statistical and probability methods to the observed trends and patterns to predict future trade volumes. Potential exists to further evolve the Hub to include machine learning and deep neural network artificial intelligence to identify real-time economic, social and environmental shocks and refine accuracy of the predictions.
Input Forecast Actual Description
Delivery time 5 to 6 weeks. 5 weeks. Project concept, design, user acceptance testing, and go-live were all completed within 6 weeks.
Project cost. N/A On track. Project costs include initial Hub development, data preparation, uploading and creation of visual dashboards, and a monthly operations and maintenance cost. Priority datasets are incorporated, and dashboards developed, according to the value they add to the Hub, its users and WA’s response to the current State of Emergency.
Data governance 4 weeks. 4 weeks. External advice sought in developing “Data Access Agreements” and “Data Licensing Agreements”. The purpose is to protect the licensor, licensee, data owners/custodians and data hub users.

Lessons Learned

Treat the crisis as an opportunity

The COVID-19 emergency has reduced traditional barriers between stakeholders, as supply chain participants have collaborated and adjusted in response to challenges posed by the crisis. This has been evident in the way the Hub has developed and evolved. There is potential for this experience to influence the way in which stakeholders interact in the future, including the opportunity to retain, maintain and further develop the Hub, and/or potentially pave the way for the development of a Trade Community System.

The critical importance of data architecture

The data architecture guides how data is collected, integrated, enhanced, stored, and delivered to the users. It helps make data available, accurate, and complete so it can be used for rapid decision-making.

Data integrity and privacy

For organisations, protecting data is an issue of risk and trust. Protecting privacy and ensuring integrity mitigates risks of costly incidents, reputational harm, regulatory penalties, and other harms.

The value of data

People often over-estimate the value of their own data and under-estimate the value of pooled/federated data. This is reinforced by findings of a 2019 study as part of the national iMOVE project that concluded, while data is a unique commodity that can be used by multiple platforms along a supply chain, the real value is created when this data is aggregated and analysed.

Resiliency and innovation

The Fremantle Port Authority discovered its ability and agility to respond to emergency situations; in this case, the COVID-19 pandemic. The capacity to effectively respond was enhanced by the early development work the Port had embarked upon in the digital space over the preceding 18-24 months. In an environment where the complexities of the current crisis and supply chain impacts were unknown, the simple philosophy - anticipate/optimise/automate – that had been developed and embraced through previous digital exploration, prepared the Port to innovate quickly and inexpensively. Port staff already had an existing method and mindset to understand and evaluate digital opportunities of a similar nature.