Federal Budget. A timeline of small business incentives.

federal budget updates - money notes

Federal Budget Update: 2019-2020

The delivery of the Federal Budget one month early means business owners now have more time to consider the merits of a new investment under the expanded instant asset write-off.

In a move that isn’t dependent on the upcoming Federal election, the new write-off threshold took effect on Budget night, 2 April.

The threshold has been expanded to $30,000 and the write-off is now available to any business with an annual turnover of less than $50 million, expanding access to medium-sized businesses to encourage growth.

Businesses can purchase assets valued at up to $30,000 and write the investment off against their 2018-19 tax return. There is no limit to the number of investments that can be made.

ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie said the move to expand the write-off scheme was a win for fuel retailers.

“The increase in the threshold is a major win for businesses in the fuel retail industry and has come, at least in part, through the combined advocacy efforts of ACAPMA and the Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia over the past 12 months”, he said.

The National Farmers Federation has also praised the expansion of the scheme.

“We’d requested an extension of that program. It sounds like a small commitment, but it’s a really big one for small businesses and for farmersm” said President Fiona Simson.

Ms Simson also welcomed funding particularly dedicated to horticulture and barriers associated with that industry.

“Horticulture is one of our fastest growing industries — recording double-digit growth over the last decade.”

Other key budget measures include:

  • Company tax rate for small and medium business with annual turnover less than $50 million lowered to 27.5 per cent and will be further lowered to 25 per cent by 2021-22.
  • Improving freight routes by committing a further $1 billion to improve network of Roads of Strategic Importance, on top of existing $3.5 billion investment. This will better connect communities and make it easier for regional businesses to access markets.
  • An additional $550 million will be targeted at accident black spots, and an additional $571 million will be provided for bridge renewals and heavy vehicle safety including the establishment of an Office of Road Safety with $15.2 million for innovative safety research.
  • Provision of $6.3 billion in assistance and concessional loans to support those affected by drought.
  • $100 million for regional airport infrastructure upgrade.

Federal Budget Update: 2018-2019

Tax cuts for small business have continued in 2018-2019 as part of the government’s Ten Year Enterprise Tax Plan.

The plan increased the unincorporated small business tax discount rate from 5 per cent to 8 per cent, up to a cap of $1000. This rate will increase to 16 per cent by 2026-27. By lifting the small business entity turnover threshold from $2 million to $10 million, access has also been extended to a range of small business tax concessions.

Small businesses will also benefit from the extension of the $20,000 instant asset write-off for a further 12 months to 30 June 2019.

The budget also includes:

  • $24.5 billion for new nationally significant transport projects and initiatives.
  • $225 million to improve the accuracy and availability of satellite positioning across Australia, enhancing use of GPS to increase productivity including in the agriculture, construction and logistics industries.
  • Improving access to water infrastructure for farmers.
  • Increasing access to a broader range of agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
  • New funding of $102 million for biosecurity and $26.6 million to better manage costly pests and weeks and help farmers maintain access to valuable export markets.

Federal Budget Update: 2017-2018

Expanding on last year’s small business initiatives, the government has announced it will extend the $20,000 instant asset write-off for a further 12 months to 30 June, 2018. The turnover threshold will also be lifted to $10 million, five times higher than was originally available.

KPMG tax partner Simon Thorp said the extension of the write-off is “very significant.”

“This will provide a much needed shot in the arm for many small businesses across the country and will stimulate the economy and increase the investment and productivity of small business,” he said.

The Victorian Farmers Federation called for the scheme to be extended indefinitely to ensure real benefits for rural business.

Federal Budget Update: 2016-2017

FUEL retailers looking to upgrade ageing fuel storage tanks or buy new tanks for unmanned sites have been handed the perfect opportunity after the May budget.

2016-2017 budget for fuel retailing graphic

The Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association has welcomed changes to the definition of small business that will mean more qualify for a range of tax concessions on offer, including the $20,000 instant asset write-off.

Excluding fuel revenue is the game changer

From July 2016, businesses with a turnover of less than $10 million qualify for the write-off.

Even more relevant to fuel retailers, the determination of the annual earnings threshold excludes revenue earned from fuel sales, opening the door for many more small retailers to take full advantage of the benefit.

ACAPMA chief Mark McKenzie says the change means a fuel retail business with a total annual turnover of $18 million, where fuel revenue totals $14 million and convenience store and other business revenue $4 million, would be deemed to be only earning the $4 million.

That means it could claim benefits including the instant asset write-off, a lower company tax rate of 27.5 per cent, and an 8 per cent unincorporated small business tax discount of up to $1000 for small businesses with a turnover of less than $5 million.

Also in 2016-17, the tax rate for companies with an annual turnover less than $10 million will drop to 27.5 per cent. Unincorporated businesses with an annual turnover of less than $5 million will benefit from an increased unincorporated tax discount of 8 per cent.


Federal Budget Update: 2015-2016

From Budget night, all small businesses will get an immediate tax deduction for any individual assets they buy costing less than $20,000, up from $1000.

The $20,000 small business tax break budget incentive means any small business with a turnover of up to $2 million can fully deduct the purchase price of any new assets valued at up to $20,000.

There is no limit on the number of items valued at up to $20,000 a business can purchase and deduct, and the break remain available for two years until June 2017.

The rebate, which expands on the ATO’s accelerated depreciation measures, will apply to anything from new cars and machinery to sheds and storage, including fuel storage tanks.

Business will also benefit from a 1.5 per cent tax cut for small companies, down to 28.5 per cent – the lowest small business company tax rate in almost 50 years.

Unincorporated small businesses, including sole traders, will get a tax discount of 5 per cent of business income up to $1000 a year. This means the amount of tax unincorporated businesses pay on their business income will be reduced by 5 per cent, capped at $1000.

Institute of Public Accountants chief executive Andrew Conway said the deductions delivered real help for small business.

“The immediate write-off of an asset under $20,000 provides real, direct benefit and cash flow to small businesses now,” he said.
“The ability to purchase a small asset to grow a small business will encourage people to become more efficient and more productive.”

NAB Agribusiness general manager Khan Horne said June had already been a busy month, and the signs were there that the budget had boosted confidence.

“There are definitely people looking at the tax incentives and how to make the most of them as they assess their business earnings and borrowing position at the end of the financial year,” he said.

Fuel Security Report Delayed

oil tanker

Only three months into 2019 and Australia’s liquid fuel security has again reared its head as a critical issue, with the Federal Government under criticism for failing to publish the promised review of Australia’s liquid fuel reserves.

oil tanker

Then Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg ordered the urgent review of Australia’s liquid fuel reserves last May after the country dipped below 50 days’ supply. This has since been delayed, but the Department of Environment and Energy has promised the review will be delivered early this year.

Most recently, Resources Minister Matt Canavan has signalled the review will consider whether a commonwealth reserve is needed.

Senator Canavan said a reserve was only a temporary solution, and the key to fuel security lay in boosting domestic oil production in the Great Australian Bight and the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory.

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t necessarily think of national reserves or stockpiles but obviously by definition they only provide temporary relief,” he said.

“If we can boost domestic production, that can ensure that however long a crisis eventuates, we can ensure our fuel security.”

Liquid fuel such as petrol, diesel and jet fuel accounts for 37 per cent of Australia’s energy use, including 98 per cent of transport needs.

The International Energy Agency mandates that countries hold at a stock in reserve equivalent to 90 days of net imports. Australia does not meet the standard with 56 days of import coverage.

In January, latest Department of Energy figures showed Australia’s reserves were sitting at 22 days of petrol, 17 days of diesel and 27 days of total petroleum products.

There’s concern that with instability in the Middle East and tensions in the South China Sea and on the Korean peninsula there is a real threat to the security of transport fuel imports.

“With increased uncertainty in the Middle East, from where much of our oil and refined fuel comes, and the growing uncertainty in our own region due to great power tensions and the unpredictability of the US as a stabilising force, a review of Australia’s liquid fuel reserves is more important than ever,” Coalition Senator and retired Major-General Jim Molan told The Australian.

He said Australia was one of the few places in the world without a government-mandated strategic reserve of fuel.

Meanwhile Australian Strategic Policy Institute head of Risk and Resilience Dr Paul Barnes said Australia’s position at the end of a supply chain means we are particularly vulnerable to geopolitical disturbances.

New solutions for waste oil storage

waste oil storage tanks

Oils ain’t oils, and not all waste oil storage tanks are the same

Whether you’re a service station, a lube shop or a mine site operating heavy diesel machinery, if your business generates used oil you need waste oil storage.

waste oil storage tanks

If you’re operating a mine site, a single oil change on a haul truck could generate 250 litres of used or waste oil that needs to be stored in a way that makes sense for your business and complies with environmental and safety legislation.

Whether your business is big or small, you’ve probably already thought about investing in quality oil storage to prevent degradation, protect your product and keep your machinery ticking over. What many businesses often miss is that getting used and waste oil storage right is just as important, and can make a huge difference to your bottom line – particularly with the Federal Government offering incentives to recycle waste oil.

Given our increasingly tight environmental regulations to prevent water and soil contamination, and the growing trend towards waste oil recycling, it’s worth thinking about the most efficient and effective storage system for your operation.

What contaminates oil?

Modern engines may be efficient, but the heat they generate still changes motor oil, causing a breakdown of additives and other key properties. This creates acids that combine with other contaminants including dirt, dust and rust, along with small amounts of water. Add to this exhaust gases that leak past the piston rings and you have contaminated oil that could contain cadmium, aluminium, lead, steel, iron and chromium as well as arsenic and benzopyrene.

It’s a list of chemicals you wouldn’t want in your drinking water, which is why waste oil storage is heavily regulated.  It only takes one litre of waste oil to make one million litres of fresh water undrinkable, so preventing spills has to be a first priority.

Waste oil storage –the basics

In Australia, the standard for waste oil storage is set in AS1940,with each state and territory creating itsown legislation based on the national standard.

Essentially, the legislation forbids the disposal of waste oil into the soil or into stormwater and outlines the requirements for the prevention of any spills by ensuring oil is stored in a bunded and covered area and in appropriate containers.

Depending on state legislation, you may also need a licence if you’re storing large quantities of waste oil, and in some cases there will be a levy on liquid waste. The transport of waste oil may be subject to hazardous waste tracking.

Across the board, the basics around waste oil storage are:

  • Don’t mix waste oil with other substances
  • Label waste oil containers correctly
  • Never store waste oil in a rusted or damaged container or tank
  • Know your state or territory legislation around waste oil storage

The NSW EPA says importantly, you should minimise the number of liquid waste containers you’re storing and use spill containment systems that minimise the likelihood of drums tipping over and causing a spill outside the designated containment area.

Storing waste oil in drums

Drums are a traditional form of oil storage, but there a few pitfalls to be aware of when using drums.

Apart from being a less space-efficient storage method, summer temperatures can make leaks more likely, particularly if the drums are exposed to weather. As it rains, water can be trapped on top of the barrels and submerge the bungs. As the drum heats and cools, air is exchanged between the air space above the waste oil and the atmosphere. This can result in water that is sitting on top of the bungs being pulled into the oil, ultimately settling at the bottom of the barrel and raising the overall fluid level. As the process continues and more water is accumulated, the barrel can become deformed and push oil out of the bungs, causing a potentially harmful and expensive spill.

A new trend in waste oil storage tanks

Given those requirements, F.E.S. TANKS Managing Director Craig Cygler says it’s no surprise self-bunded waste oil tanks are an increasingly popular alternative to traditional drum storage options.

Designed toAS1940 and AS1692 (tanks for flammable and combustible liquids), an F.E.S. waste oil tank ticks all the regulatory boxes in one step, reducing the need for multiple barrels and for a designated bunded storage area.

“We’ve got more and more business customers looking to our 1000-2500 litre Bloc tanks as waste oil storage tanks,”Craig said.

waste oil storage tank - 1000l
Bloc1000 (1000 ltr. Waste oil storage tank)

waste oil storage tank - 2500l
Bloc2500(2500 ltr. Waste oil storage tank)

“Unique to F.E.S. TANKS, our waste oil tanks are designed for safety, efficiency and long life and comply with all Australian regulations.

“Our waste oil tanks are built to the highest quality standards with a heavy-duty 300 micron paint finish and stainless steel fittings that won’t react with the chemicals that can be found in waste oil.  With an in-built bund capable of taking 110 per cent of the tank’s capacity, they can be placed wherever they are needed on site without the need for building work, concrete walls or excavations and are also easy to store, relocate and transport.

 “The 6mm steel double-walled construction and the design of this range makes them easy to service and means waste oil can be stored outside while minimising the risk of corrosion, water contamination, and leaks. Because of their capacity self-bunded Bloc tanks also eliminate the spills and safety risks that come with using multiple barrels.”

The cube styling of the F.E.S. waste oil tank range also gives maximum volume with a small space-saving footprint.

BLOC 1000 waste oil storage tank

Ask the fuel experts at F.E.S. TANKS for the right solution to your waste oil storage requirements on 1300 651 391, or email us your requirements.

Jetstream Electrical Appointed NT Distributor for F.E.S. Self-Bunded Tanks

JETSTREAM- self bunded tank distributor for darwin, nt hero image

New self bunded tank distributor appointed in Darwin, Northern Territory

F.E.S. TANKS, Australia’s market leader in self-bunded fuel storage tanks, has expanded its reach in the Northern Territory through a new distribution agreement with respected operator Jetstream Electrical.

JETSTREAM- self bunded tank distributor for darwin, nt hero image

F.E.S. TANKS is an Australian-owned, trusted supplier of professional-grade self-bunded fuel storage tanks and mobile refuelling solutions to the commercial, industrial, mining, agricultural, aviation and fuel retailing industries.

Jetstream Electrical Director Kevin Pettitt said his team had been using F.E.S. TANKS for many years, particularly for remote refuelling solutions.

“F.E.S. TANKS are based in North Queensland and their products are well suited for remote installations,” he said.

“They are superior to other products in terms of their volume and range and the way they are constructed – they’re a really robust tank and value for money.

“We have installed many F.E.S. TANKS already over the years, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’re pleased to now be distributors for this industry-leading product.”

F.E.S. TANKS Director Daryl Cygler said building on the longstanding relationship between F.E.S. TANKS and Jetstream Electrical was good news for Northern Territory businesses.

“The team at Jetstream are experts at designing and installing fuel systems, particularly in remote locations,” he said.

“They know and trust our tanks because they are built to last, with practical features that make them easy to use, transport and maintain – ideal for responding to the challenges of temporary and remote power requirements in the Northern Territory and across regional Australia.

“We look forward to working with Jetstream Electrical to give Northern Territory customers access to a top quality, Australian-designed fuel storage solution, backed by local technical know-how.”

About F.E.S. TANKS

F.E.S. TANKS has become the market leader in self-bunded storage tanks in Australia.

Established in 2013, their reputation for offering environmentally-friendly fuel storage tanks with unique fuel dispensing and management solutions has led to fast national growth and expansion.

F.E.S. TANKS works with industries on the move to provide innovative, next-generation fuel storage solutions designed to take business into the future.

For more information go to www.festanks.com.au

About Jetstream Electrical

Jetstream Electrical is a Darwin-based business servicing all areas of the electrical and petroleum services fields.

Their team of A-grade licensed tradesmen are specialists in remote electrical services and have the skills, knowledge and adaptive ability to meet the changing needs of Northern Territory businesses.

Find out more at www.jetstreamelectrical.com

Record truck sales bring new technology to Aussie roads

Record Truck Sales Bring New Technology to Aussie Roads-hero image

Record truck sales bring new fuel saving technology to Aussie roads

Transport fleets are increasing their rate of adoption of fuel-saving technologies – and enjoying the benefits in fuel economy – according to the annual fleet study in the USA.

Australia has already seen trials of innovations like platooning, and our Truck Industry Council (TIC) says investment in new vehicles and their accompanying new technology is up in 2018.

New offerings like the Man TGX D38 are bringing latest fuel efficiency technology to Australian transport fleets.
New offerings like the Man TGX D38 are bringing latest fuel efficiency technology to Australian transport fleets.

What US transport fleets are doing with fuel-saving technology

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s (NACFE) 2018 Annual Fleet Fuel Study, which looks at the adoption of products and practices to improve freight efficiency among 20 major North American fleets, found the overall adoption rate for 85 currently available technologies grew from 17 per cent in 2003 to 44 per cent in 2017, with economic benefits totalling more than $636 million across the fleets in 2017. Fleet vehicles that were latest models were delivering up to 4.25kpl.

Let’s put the survey in context. In the United States, fuel costs over the past decade have fluctuated from around 20-40 per cent of the total cost of operating a commercial vehicle. While fuel-saving technologies have increased, barriers to adoption have included a lack of data about performance gains and a lack of confidence about the payback on investment.

Investment in proven technologies that let fleets do the same amount of business while spending less on fuel are a promising option, but the needs of operators are vastly diverse. The NACFE research aims to provide the information the industry needs by gathering information around the purchases of 20 fleets that involve any of the 85 relevant technologies.

The 2018 report found fleets that successfully adopted the technology tried to make the new specifications their norm, recognising that implementation was not always easy and involved a change management process including driver and technician training and new suppliers.

“ContinuiNACFE's 2018 report summarises adoption of key fleet fuel-saving technologiesng to make investments in technologies that improve fuel efficiency makes good sense,” a senior executive at one of the large US carriers told NACFE.

“Given the historic volatility of oil prices, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see the price of diesel go up, (and) fleets that have improved their fuel economy will be at a competitive advantage when that happens.”

Technologies that had the largest gains in adoption rate were cab extenders, lower viscosity engine oil, shift to neutral, direct drive transmission, in-cab cameras, high efficiency alternator, engine start-stop for HVAC, trailer tail fairings, trailer solar panels, two-speed/modulated cooling fan clutch, two-speed/variable speed water pump and trailer lift axle. Smaller fleets were higher adopters of cab insulation, tyre pressure monitoring and wide-base tyres.

The Australian story – a bumper year for truck sales

The good news in Australia is that truck sales results for 2018 suggest a record investment in new trucks, with their accompanying fuel saving features.  This year’s January to June result – with 19,970 heavy vehicles delivered – smashed the previous mid-year peak and bodes well for a more fuel-efficient industry.

Truck Industry Council (TIC) President Phil Taylor says it’s the first step in a long road– the average age of Australia’s truck fleet is 14 years for trucks above 3.5t GVM, compared with seven years in Western Europe, and the TIC argues adoption is being slowed by technical restrictions which mean we are out of step with global dimensional and axle mass limits, making it expensive to import some vehicles without expensive modifications.

“We need regulators to work more closely with truck manufacturers, the companies developing these technologies, to develop processes that could see the streamlining of new regulation development and introduction in Australia,” Phil says.

“Most importantly, we need these new technologies and features to filter through our nation’s truck fleet far more quickly than is currently happening, and that can only be achieved with a newer, younger truck fleet.”

Consider upgrading fuel storage and systems

If new vehicles are not yet an option, managing fuel quality through storage and monitoring fuel use through fuel management systems are proven options to improve fuel efficiency.

Poorly managed diesel fuel is responsible for about 80 per cent of engine failures in the transport industry, and in a time critical environment these failures can cost a business much more than the price of engine repairs.

Find out more about keeping fuel costs down from the fuel storage specialists at www.festanks.com.au

Farmers stay resilient in face of drought


Farmers stay resilient in face of drought

Australian farmers resilient as more drought assistance announced

Australia’s 135,000 farmers are tightening their belts as the severe drought gripping the eastern states deepens and forecasts point to a dry, hot spring and summer – but it’s not all bad news.

While the Rabobank rural confidence index survey signals an expected drop in positive sentiment across regional Australia over the past three months – with 100 per cent of NSW and much of Queensland and Victoria in drought – it shows most farmers believe their businesses are well-equipped to weather the storm.

More than 93 per cent of around 1,200 farmer surveyed around Australia said they will remain viable for the next year even if the big dry continues or an El Nino event develops.

Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said farmers across the country are showing great resilience and adaptability to manage their businesses through worsening drought conditions.

“Parts of central and western Queensland have been in drought for seven years with only sporadic short-term relief, while the whole of NSW is drought-declared and its reach is spreading into South Australia and Victoria,” he said.

“(But) the outlook for Australia’s ag sector is fundamentally very sound, with strong commodity prices – particularly for lamb, bee, wool and cotton and, more recently, grain – ensuring the majority remain in overall strong positions.

“Farmers have managed through droughts before and have put in place the infrastructure and systems to try to mitigate the impact as best they can. That is not to say it isn’t extremely challenging, especially in areas where it has been so prolonged.”

Western Australia was the only state that bucked the trend, with improved conditions meaning 48 per cent of the state’s farmers were expecting an increase in gross farm incomes.

Farmers in Tasmania and Western Australia were more likely to be planning to increase investment in their farm business.

New drought assistance measures announced

Meanwhile, while farmers in some areas are celebrating their first taste of rain in a long while, the Federal Government has appointed a new national drought co-ordinator and increased direct assistance and concessional loans to $1.8 billion.

Under the next phase of drought assistance:

  • The Drought Communities Programme will be expanded and receive an additional $75 million to help support 60 councils in drought-stricken areas, funding local community infrastructure and other projects, such as emergency water supply.
  • Primary producers can immediately deduct (rather than depreciate over three years) the cost of fodder storage assets, such as silos and hay sheds used to store grain and other animal feed storage, making it easier for farmers to invest in and stockpile fodder. The deduction will be available for storage assets first used or installed ready for use from August 2018.
  • The instant deduction is in addition to the $20,000 instant asset write-off already available for small businesses to support capital investment in infrastructure. The write-off is one way farm businesses can take measures to improve cost-efficiency, including upgrading farm fuel storage to maximise efficiency and reduce farm fuel costs.
  • The Government is doubling the amount a farmer can borrow in low-interest loans to $2 million and increasing the total amount available for these loans to $500 million in any one year. These loans will assist with financing immediate needs such as purchasing feed and fodder. The first five years of these loans will remain interest only. Farmers with existing government loans will also be able to refinance to take advantage of the interest-only concessional period.
  • An additional $23.7 million will be provided to improve drought resilience by extending the Great Artesian Basin bore capping program that plugs abandoned bores and replaces free-running channels with new water-efficient piping.
  • There will be a special drought round under the National Water Infrastructure Development Fund that will provide up to $72 million for water infrastructure in drought-affected areas.
  • An additional $2.7 million will be provided to allow the Bureau of Meteorology to develop new finer scale regional weather and climate guides, helping farmers make decisions about crop planting and stocking levels by better understanding their local climate risks.

NSW freight changes support hay transport to drought-affected farmers

In NSW, the State Government has taken action to change freight dimension allowances to reduce prices for farmers forced to look further afield to source cattle feed.

The change will allow eligible vehicles transporting hay to travel under notice and without a permit with loads 2.83m wide and up to 4.6m high on approved roads.

Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, said for vehicles that weren’t eligible the process for obtaining a permit would be made easier.

NSW is also offering a transport subsidy of $20,000 per farm business to cover 50 per cent of the full cost of freight up to a maximum of $5 per kilometre and 1,500km per journey.

Fuel security review to report this year

New mandatory reporting laws for petroleum stockpiles support better fuel security

2018 Fuel Security Review for Australia

New mandatory reporting laws for petroleum stockpiles support better fuel security

Regular readers of our blog will know fuel security is an issue we’ve been monitoring for some time.

A while ago, we highlighted the potential for a major shortage in an interactive infographic.

This year, as part of the Federal Budget, the Australian Government announced it would be fast-tracking a review of liquid fuel security.

The review, which is due to release results by the end of this year, will look at issues including the resilience of our liquid fuel supply chains to withstand disruptions internationally or within Australia.

Liquid fuel including petrol, diesel and jet fuel accounts for 37 per cent of Australia’s energy use, including 98 per cent of transport needs.

Earlier this year Senator Jim Molan raised concerns about Australia’s fuel supply potentially being affected by conflict in the Middle East.

“At the moment, from my estimations, in relation to petrol we have something between 19 to 24 days,” Senator Molan told 2GB in April.

“In relation to diesel we have something between 12 to 17 days and in relation to aviation fuel… we’ve got something like 17 to 19 days.”

The comments follow an August 2017 report from the Department of Environment and Energy showing that while Australia produces its own crude oil, around 75 per cent of local production is exported and refined overseas.

“In addition, domestically produced grades of crude oil are generally not as well suited for use by local refineries as those sourced from other countries,” the report said.

We know our fuel consumption is heavily reliant on imports, with South Korea supplying 27 per cent of Australia’s refined product imports by volume in 2016-17, closely followed by Singapore with 26 per cent. Japan supplied 14 per cent, Malaysia 10 per cent and China 8 per cent.

The executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, told the ABC’s Fact Check a lack of refineries and fuel farms meant Australia would not have the capacity to store large quantities of fuel.

“We would not be able to actually keep much in-country stock because our fuel farms are now so decrepit and falling out of service that we wouldn’t have the capacity to store it all,” Mr Jennings said.

“It would take several billions of dollars to get us to a point where we’d have the storage capacity.”

In May 2018, Australian Petroleum Statistics show Australia had a 28 day stock of petroleum at current consumption levels.

The fuel security review now being undertaken will consider how fuel is used in Australia, threats to supply and the potential impact of liquid fuel disruptions to dependent sectors of the economy.

The Review will consult with key stakeholders and is inviting feedback.

Find out more at https://www.energy.gov.au/government-priorities/energy-security/energy-security-assessments/liquid-fuel-security-review

Reducing Farm Fuel Costs – Tractor Tips for Broadacre Farmers

Reducing Farm Fuel Costs - Tractor Tips for Broadacre Farmers

Reducing Farm Fuel Costs – Tractor Tips for Broadacre Farmers

Broadacre farming is a fuel-intensive business. In fact, the fuel used to run farm vehicles represents more than one third of the energy consumed in the NSW agricultural sector (Energetics 2013).

If you’re a large-scale farmer, you’ll know six figure fuel bills are common, and getting the greatest fuel efficiency from your farm vehicles is critical. The NSW Farmers farm Energy Information Program AgInnovators says for the average broadacre farmer in NSW, fuel costs are one of the top three direct cash costs.

Factors that influence fuel use can be as varied as the type of fuel used, equipment maintenance schedules, the machinery you use and how you buy, measure and store your fuel. AgInnovators says efficient operation and set-up of tractors can save broadacre farmers up to 15 per cent on fuel costs.

Choose your tractor carefully

Much of the information available when buying a tractor is geared to the US and European markets, so if you want to optimise your fuel efficiency it’s important to do some homework based on your operational requirements. The most important rule is to match your tractor horsepower to equipment or loads. Tractor expert Mark Francis says the area of power ratings requires serious professional advice. The key steps to estimating your tractor power needs are:

  • Identify your priority critical field operation
  • Estimate the time you will have to complete the priority task
  • Fine the work rate (hectares per hour)
  • Determine the width of the implement required
  • Determine soil resistance
  • Determine the power required at the drawbar
  • Determine PTO power required
  • Adjust for further considerations.

Buy the right tyres

Will you buy bias ply or radial ply tyres for your vehicle? Radial ply tyres were introduced in the 1940s and can make a difference of 6-14 per cent in traction, fuel efficiency and reduced wheel slippage. You should also consider tyre size. As a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to err on the side of the larger tyres that work for your machine and your operation, because this will allow you to maximise traction and efficiency by employing a wider range of pressures.

Analysing performance – getting wheel slip right

Extras like a radar can be valuable tools in improving fuel efficiency. For example, a radar can help determine the tractor’s forward speed and compare it against tyre rotation, allowing you to better calculate wheel slip and make the most of performance.

On the paddock, wheel slippage helps realign soil particles and the right balance is important. Too much wheel slip uses more fuel and reduces tyre life. Too little will increase wear, reduce drive-train life and potentially waste fuel if there is too much ballast and the tractor is pulling excessive weight. The operator’s manual is a good guide here, and NSW Farmers also has an excellent information guide.

The tractor ballast balancing act

You can make great improvements to fuel efficiency by adjusting the weight of your tractor according to the task it’s performing. Standard weight distribution should be about 60-40, with 60 per cent of the weight on the rear axle. If you’re ploughing and are not getting the right wheel slip, adjusting the weight is critical to ensuring maximum fuel efficiency.

Get your tyre pressure right

Farm machines perform many different tasks and can operate under a wide range of loads, speeds and ground conditions. Inflating tyres to optimal pressure can make a huge difference to fuel inefficiency – up to 30 per cent. In general, tyre pressures should be lower in the paddock and higher on the road. Check your tractor manual to get your pressures right, and make sure staff get in the habit of adjusting. For a radial tyre, at least two tyre lugs should be firmly in contact with the ground.

Use adaptive Driving

In Europe, research has shown using methods like gear up, throttle down make a huge difference. Proper gear selection and throttle operation can save you up to 20 per cent in fuel efficiency. Basically, gear up throttle down means using the highest gear the machine will allow without overloading the engine, and decreasing the throttle. This is particularly effective when the tractor is underloaded. The tractor should be running at 80 per cent load for maximum efficiency.

Modern diesel engines are most efficient between 1400 and 1800 rpm. It’s a good idea to run the engine at around 1600 for best results.

Maintain, maintain, maintain

A solid program of preventative maintenance can save a world of hurt. Be sure to maintain a schedule that includes lubricating grease fittings daily, draining and refilling the transmission every 100 hours, replacing the fuel filter every 500 hours, changing the crankcase oil and filter every 100 hours, checking belt tension every 250 hours, checking batteries and checking and adjusting brakes monthly.

Document your tractor fuel efficiency

Make a fuel management plan – basically this means answering the when, where and what of fuel usage. Good fuel use records can help keep track of fuel use on different jobs or under different conditions.

Litres per hectare is the key measure when costing production of your crop.

Electronic fuel management systems can help you monitor and note when there are changes in fuel efficiency. Ideally, you should take note of factors including date of use, time elapsed, where the work was completed and over what area and amount of fuel consumed.

It’s also important to record data and keep receipts for fuel deliveries, keep log books for your tanks and ensure gauges are in good working order. Keeping accurate records helps minimise the risk of theft and aid early identification of leaks.

Get your storage right

In the past, the cost of purchasing compliant fuel storage tanks and installing bunding to ensure compliance with state regulations has made large-scale fuel storage cost-prohibitive for some farmers. Keeping tanks clean and maintained to protect fuel integrity has also been an issue. Fortunately, new products including fully-transportable self-bunded tanks not only make it possible to change your refuelling location depending on the job, but also dramatically reduce the cost of being environmentally compliant.

Ask the experts at FES about the right tank and pump options for your business.

Autonomous Truck Refuelling: The Robot Revolution

Autonomous Truck Refuelling - hero image

Autonomous Truck Refuelling: The Robot Revolution

TAKE a flight up to any mine across the country and its clear the industry has seen a massive shift in technology over the last five to 10 years.

Autonomous Truck Refuelling - hero image

Automation has disrupted the way the majors and juniors are doing business and having an impact on their bottom line, not to mention significantly improving safety.

In the WA Pilbara alone, three-storey high trucks are driving themselves around across Rio Tinto, FMG, and BHP’s iron ore mines, drills are now autonomous and the trains hauling the ore from pit to port are beginning to operate without a driver– instead run by a team in a remote operations centre more than 1000km away. (crazy, right?).

Rio Tinto was one of the first players to enter the automation game. Now, driverless vehicles are becoming synonymous with the mining industry. And while it may take a while for the cash-strapped juniors to get there, from what we hear it’s just a matter of time.

So what’s the next step for automation, beyond driverless trucks?

You may have heard of the buzz word Industry 4.0 (also known as the fourth industrial revolution) incorporating cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things into mines. There’s also an emerging trend in robotics that will drive further efficiencies across operations, namely autonomous truck refuelling technology.

Truth is, there are still a number of challenges that exist with current refuelling methods. First up, the current process involves a handful of risks to staff who are working around the truck’s wheel base (where there can be potential fuel spillages). Manual fuel stations are also generally located a long distance from the mining pit, meaning there can be up to an hour a day in lost production time—bad news for miners that are working around the clock to meet their production guidance.

It is clear autonomous truck refuelling is the next natural step in the automation chain to add even more value to an operation.

Autonomous truck refuelling: How it works

In a nutshell, autonomous truck refuelling technology involves a robotic arm that removes the manual aspect of hooking up a truck to a diesel tank to refuel. The good news is that the technology is already readily available.

There are a small group of innovators, both here and abroad, that have pioneered solutions for existing autonomous haulage systems.

Australian-based Scott Automation + Robotics is one example. The technology company has developed Robofuel; an automated refuelling system that can be paired with an ABB or KUKA robots and self bunded fuel storage tanks to remove the manual aspect of refuelling. Robofuel uses an innovative vision sensing and detection system to locate the position and orientation of the truck’s fuel tank.

“This information is used to couple the fuel nozzle with the tank. Fuel spillages are minimised through the controlled coupling and pumping, mitigating the risk of environmental contamination,” Scott Automation + Robotic said.

robofuel-robotic refuelling arm
Robofuel is suited to all commercial fuel nozzles and receivers with no additional equipment required on the vehicle. Image: Scott Automation.

Robofuel has been proven to increase productive hours and the efficiency of trucks, all while reducing on-site costs. And, if you’re not already convinced, in 2016 the technology was nominated as a finalist in the Australian Mining Prospect Awards in the Innovative Mining Solution category alongside heavyweights such as Caterpillar, Komatsu, and Enerpac.

Check out the below demonstration of the truck refuelling technology in action. Impressive stuff!

International company Rotec has also developed a Robotic Fuelling System (RFS) of a similar scale. Its system connects in 75 seconds, has a 300 gallons per minute fuel rate, and can disconnect in an impressive 30 seconds, and is made up of a horizontally placed delta robot with three driving mechanisms mounted on a sub frame that moves six arms.

Productivity gains, reduced risk

According to McKinsey & Company the deployment of data analytics, robotics and other technologies will unlock between $290 billion and $390 billion in annual savings for producers in 2035.

Autonomous truck refuelling technology will be one of the key contributors to these cost savings, and is now being trialled and tested across mine sites globally.

The Benefits of Autonomous truck refuelling

  • Increased productivity and cost savings with refuelling stations located closer to mining activities, enabling trucks to complete one additional cycle per shift.
  • Ability to refuel without local operators coming in contact with live autonomous vehicles.
  • Safer working environment.
  • Minimised spillages and exposure to hazardous liquids.
  • Greater refuelling speeds of up to 300GPM.
  • Flexibility: stations can easily be relocated and hooked up with fuel farms or mobile tankers.
  • Reliability through climate control and ingress protection systems.
  • Easy to operate and monitor for drivers, and fully automated for autonomous trucks.

Just ask the team at Gina Rinehart’s $10 billion Roy Hill mine in the Pilbara. The mine has been testing an in-pit robotic refuelling device at the project since 2016.

“The truck drives up to the device and a robot opens the door of the sea container,” Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald told The Australian Financial Review.

“It then undoes the fuel cap, connects the fuel hose and fills the truck. We see some timing benefits in the sense it can fuel trucks at about a third of the time, also occupational health and safety issues in not handling the hoses, and it gives us greater flexibility to move it around the pit.

“My view about autonomy and robotics is that it is a fact of the way of the future.”

Integrating autonomous truck refuelling with your existing system

You’re now familiar with the benefits, but how do you introduce a new system like this into your existing operation?

It’s really quite a simple process. One of these bad boys can be bolted into an existing flexible fuel storage system, like our self-bunded tanks. In fact we have been supplying self bunded tanks to the mining sector for years.

Autonomous Truck Refuelling set-up
Image: Scott Automation.

With more than 100 years combined experience in the diesel fuel game, we are excited by the opportunities in the autonomous truck refuelling space and can’t wait to work with more mines to meet their fuel storage needs, and partnering with METS companies developing this new technology.

Join the conversation: What’s your thoughts on autonomous truck refuelling? Have you or do you know of a company already using this?

Fuel Storage Challenges In Remote Locations

fuel storage tank in remote locations

Remote control – getting fuel storage right in remote locations

When you’re a regional council or a transport business operating in a remote location, fuel usage is a significant cost.

fuel storage tank in remote locations

Our experience working with remote operations means we know where your pain points are, and we can help you design solutions that are right for you.

Broadly, some of the most common problems our remote customers face relate to fuel theft and inefficient refuelling logistics.

Think creatively – explore the latest fuel storage options

Losing fuel by theft from your tank or your vehicle is a common problem.
Many operators try to run fuel levels down at the end of every day to minimise the attraction for would-be thieves, but fuel storage has come a long way and the range of fuel theft solutions available is as extensive as the different needs of remote operations.

If you want to make a positive change that will help contain fuel costs and boost your bottom line, a good starting point is your fuel storage tanks. It may seem obvious, but this is an area where upgrading to newer solutions can have a huge impact.

For example, we’ve worked over the last several years with a local council covering a region of 94,000 hectares in outback Australia. When they first came to us, their fuel storage systems consisted of old-style, single skinned tanks in frames mounted to semi-trailers. While the trailers could transport the tanks to their various work locations, they were then there for the duration of the job – often several months. What’s more, the tanks weren’t secure and could easily be drained by thieves.

Upgrading to our aboveground fuel storage tanks that are self bunded and fully transportable meant not only was the fuel far more secure in dual-walled environment with lockable access hatches, but the tanks could easily be transported between work sites and left on-site while the truck and trailer went back into the fleet, maximising use of their equipment.

What’s more, moving from old-style cylindrical tanks at their depots meant they could significantly increase their storage capacity without increasing their storage footprint.
Finally, fuel theft was reduced because, after all, it’s a lot harder to break into a fuel tank that’s double-skinned and has lockable access doors. Using a modern, integrated fuel management system that can monitor usage to the litre also makes it easy to identify and address problems early.

Act logically – getting the logistics right

Once you’ve considered the tanks you’re using, the next step is to look at the location of your storage and your fuel management systems.

If your vehicles have to travel long distances to refuel, that’s an inefficient use of time, fuel and plant resources.

There’s a human resources element too – when you’re covering large distances and have fuel stored at one or two sites, sending somebody out to read fuel levels and monitor usage can be a significant task.

Talking to an expert about the best solution to suit your workflow can help you find new ways to maximise efficiency and minimise waste.

Using a combination of fixed fuel storage at depots or bases, with mobile tanks that can be dropped at remote work sites and moved to meet work requirements, is often a good choice. And with the introduction of modern level gauging systems that can monitor fuel levels remotely, it’s now easier than ever to monitor fuel levels and usage at all your storage locations without the expense of manual checks on site.

Ask us about a solution for your business

Whatever your business, if you’re working in a remote environment there’ll be challenges.
With more than 100 years combined experience in the fuel industry, our technicians are experts in remote refuelling solutions and can work with you to plan the best solutions for your operation.
Call us on 1300-651-391 or get in touch here.