Australian Border Force Establishment of Logistics Management System


Rows of shelves with boxes in modern warehouseCordelta was engaged by the Australian Border Force’s (ABF) Marine Logistics Unit to undertake business improvement activities within the unit, this included the need to investigate and implement a Logistics Management System. Cordelta found that many policies were either non-existent or out of date, leading to a lack of standardisation in support of vessels, in the Darwin warehouse or in the Canberra head office. The imminent delivery of the Cape Class Patrol Boats (CCPB) and establishment of a second warehouse served as catalysts for a more unified solution.
Cordelta’s consultant met with each stakeholder group, both in group workshops and individually. Using an approach of looking through individual stakeholders’ world views, user stories and current state process diagrams were created.

The existing warehouse in Darwin was small and it wasn’t clear what supplies were regularly needed or the quantities required. A Logistics Management System (LMS) was required to ensure that ships could receive the stores they needed when requested. Initially a Commercial-Off-The-Shelf application was investigated. After working with stakeholders within the warehouse, it was determined that the application was too inflexible to meet the requirements.

In a previous workforce modelling project Cordelta completed for the ABF, an Excel based solution was designed and delivered. After engaging with stakeholders in the vessels, warehouse and head office, it was determined that a bespoke Excel solution with an MS SQL backend would be the most suitable to meet requirements, and would eliminate unnecessary functions that cluttered the system.

The first iteration included an automated stores order for the CCPB. This iteration helped to standardise the available supplies, including naming conventions. Stakeholders on the vessels were pleased because it made tracking and ordering supplies easier, stakeholders in the warehouse were pleased because it made filling orders more straight forward and faster, and stakeholders in head office were pleased because it helped to make invoicing more straight forward and reduce waste that occurred with “emergency” purchases that weren’t good value for money. This initial win led to approval to proceed with a full inventory Logistics Management System. This system has been named the Stores Inventory System (SIS).

The full SIS was released in February 2016, and has been running successfully since that time. A further iteration was released in August 2016 incorporated additional features requested from stakeholders.

Stakeholder engagement and training was key to final user acceptance. By investing time in this area at the beginning and middle of the development, user acceptance was high upon release of the final solution.

The SIS now fully integrates the entire Australian Border Force fleet, the now three warehouses to support the fleet. Additionally, the SIS has enabled the implementation of centralised procurement for all warehouses allowing the ABF to optimise procurement and maximise value for money.

With the wider use of SIS across the Marine Logistics Unit a small enhancement package was released in October 2016, following interviews with both central office and warehouse staff to identify and understand what existing SIS features should be tweaked to optimise performance.