Phosphoric Acid, Phosphates & Fertilizers Experts

Rise of the machines – the automated supply chain

LONDON (ICIS)–Once the dream of science fiction authors, autonomous vehicles now look set to be the next ‘great leap’ in transportation, and while autonomous automobiles built by the likes of global tech giant Google are mere years from production, similar technology could soon also change the chemical and fertilizer supply chain forever.

The cost of bulk transportation is a considerable drain on any chemical or fertilizer producer’s resources, with the pursuit of good netbacks a vital consideration for ensuring a healthy profit margin.

Added to this concern is the cost of employing, training, and retaining the highly-skilled staff required to operate the chemical and fertilizer supply chain’s immense logistical operations – but what if the trucks, tankers, and trains ran themselves?

The creation of a global network of autonomous vehicles may be closer than you might think. For example, on Monday, mining giant Rio Tinto announced the successful test of its ‘AutoHaul’ project – an autonomous bulk freight train system set to revolutionise the producer’s Australian iron ore operations.

The three AutoHaul locomotives and their accompanying freight cars successfully completed a 100km (62 mile) pilot run between Wombat Junction and Paraburdoo, before coming to a safe stop – and all without a driver at the controls.