The challenge

Efficient logistics management for the largest coal supply chain

In the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, more than A$15 billion in export revenue is generated annually from the coal industry.

It's the largest coal supply chain in the world and the Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC) is the consortium of coal mining companies that manages it.

Transporting the coal to port requires more than 18 000 train trips each year to transport coal from over 40 mines to the port.

Scheduling trains for the day ahead was traditionally a manual process which takes many hours.

Reducing the time it takes to perform this daily task, and addressing long-term strategic infrastructure planning would help manage coal export into the future.

Our response

Applying optimisation modelling

We used optimisation modelling to develop a series of tools which could maximise system throughput and provide time and cost effective solutions to deal with growing demand and expansion.

For example, we applied modelling techniques to identify the capacity requirements, and most cost-effective capacity improvement initiatives, that could meet the demand.

We developed a software tool for rail scheduling that helps schedulers create an optimal rail schedule in less time.

We also developed a tool that observes constraints on the use of machinery and loading facilities, helping HVCCC make strategic planning decisions around maintenance.

The results

Cutting scheduling time and improving strategies

These innovative tools have allowed HVCCC to optimise their infrastructure and rail scheduling.

By optimising these areas of the supply chain, the software developed can minimise the demurrage costs associated with delayed ship loading and help with managing disruptions for rapid recovery from unplanned outages and breakdowns.

This work contributed to HVCCC winning an award in 2009 for for excellence in supply chain innovation.

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