Are Australian road trains the solution to the US truck drivers shortage?
Story by: Barry Hochfelder @ supplychaindive.com
North Dakota approved legislation to pilot the “Road Trains” freight method as a way to deal with truck drivers shortage.
In solving for crucial supply chain issues, Australia found a workaround that could have implications for driver shortages and transportation hurdles in the U.S.
Australia’s supply chain must navigate its landmass of 2.96 million square miles, people and businesses dispersed through the Outback and infrastructure better suited to nimble vehicles. While most of the population lives in coastal cities, many live in villages widely separated by deserts and connected by highways and dirt roads. Residents in these areas work on cattle and sheep farms or in mining, which requires the movement of large equipment.
The Aussies found a unique solution to transport items such as excavators, hydraulic shovels and dozers: road trains.
A road train is an engine with a string of trailers attached, a mega-tandem, said Michael Notarangeli, executive vice president of logistics at Maine Pointe, a global supply chain and operations consultancy. The trailers are known as dog or pup trailers because they were historically used at dog farms. Australia has the longest and heaviest road-legal road trains in the world, weighing up to 200 tons, according to Vintage Road Haulage in Perth.
The ability to transport multiple trailers with one engine holds promise for optimizing supply chain operations and increasing efficiency in rural areas — so much so that a North Dakota state senator introduced a bill to pilot road trains in the state. The method isn’t perfect for every scenario and comes with limitations and drawbacks. According to Barry Hochfelder and his article in supplychaindive.com
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Source and credits: supplychaindive.com / Barry Hochfelder @barryhoch21 / iTrucker / Mario Pawlowski / Photo Credit: Norman Patrick Trickey Blake