Wi-fi rolled out at CBH bins

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
CBH's wi-fi tower at Calingiri.
Camera IconCBH's wi-fi tower at Calingiri. Credit: CBH

The great CBH supply chain efficiency drive continues with the rolling-out of a $200,000 wi-fi network across 58 bins and three remote sampling sites in WA.

The bulk handler hopes the wi-fi, which automatically connects to CBH’s CDF app, will iron out connectivity issues affecting growers using the app last harvest.

About 65 per cent of all loads delivered to CBH last harvest were processed through the app, which was designed to eventually phase out the Carter’s Delivery Form paper trail.

CBH has spruiked the app for its ability to give growers real-time information, including sampling results and details of the driver’s arrival and departure time.

It also shows which sites are open, which grains are being accepted at each site, and approximate waiting times for deliveries.

The wi-fi installation comes as CBH rounds out a $100 million cost-cutting drive as it battles to remain cost-competitive among stifling competition from the Black Sea.

The installation is separate from the handler’s recent completion of its biggest permanent storage upgrade in history, which boosted storage at nine sites at a cost of $150 million.

Perth-based Cirtek and Merredin Telephone Services built the wi-fi network, with the $200,000 bill including equipment, installation and developing new software.

The software itself has been designed so the CDF app automatically connects to the wi-fi without having to rely on other networks and growers’ data.

CBH was quick to point out the networks did not cover the whole site, but did cover “critical functional locations” including sample huts and weighbridge areas.

Several farmers from Geraldton to Esperance told Countryman the CDF app worked smoothly last harvest, aside from a Statewide, half-day outage on November 16.

CBH operations general manager Ben Macnamara said 38 of the selected sites or remote sample huts had been identified as having “poor or no mobile phone reception”.

He said the app was crucial to help CBH “accurately measure” the performance of sites during harvest.

“We know poor internet connectivity on site has been an issue for growers in some areas,” Mr Macnamara said. “We can use this information to get a better understanding of how to further improve turnaround times during harvest, and where to prioritise future investment in the network.

“We appreciate long wait times at site can impact growers and grain transporters and the CDF app provides us with information to better manage this for everyone’s benefit.”

The lion’s share of the 61 sites are in the Albany port zone (13 and one remote sampling hut) and the new Kwinana North port zone (13 sites). This is followed by Kwinana South Zone (12 sites), Esperance port zone (nine sites and one remote sampling hut) and Geraldton port zone (eight sites and one remote sampling hut).

Countryman can reveal four additional locations were also pegged for wi-fi, but CBH decided not to open the receival points this harvest.

Those sites were Dudinin, Hollands Rocks and Marvel Loch, as well and a remote sampling hut location on Valentine’s Road in the Geraldton Port Zone.

Newdegate’s grain Ian Chamberlain welcomed the wi-fi installation at his local bin and has registered to use the CDF app for the first time this year.

However, his internet connectivity issues start at home. He plans to encourage his truck drivers to fill out the CDF app in town before arriving at the Newdegate bin.

“As far as wi-fi was concerned... we never had the opportunity to use the app, because there was no signal out this way,” Mr Chamberlain said.

“Newdegate is a big site and it definitely needs wi-fi.”

“We plan to give it a go this year, but might have some trouble filling it out at home... we need to get the truck drivers onto it.”

Grass Patch farmer John Sanderson was on truck-driving duties last harvest, and would enter the details into the CDF app while filling up a road train with grain.

Aside from the Statewide, half-day outage, he found the app “really easy”, and did not experience any connectivity issues.

“It was fine at Grass Patch because we have a tower in town, we use a normal Telstra phone signal and it worked fine,” Mr Sanderson said.

“I would fill it out as I was filling up the road train, it would take me a minute between moving the auger around.

“By the time I left it was done and they knew I was on the way.”

Mr Sanderson said he felt for growers who experienced difficulty with the app and delivery wait times last year.

“Every year we get asked about our waiting times and I might spend ten minutes there... our bin is run so well,” he said.

“The app changed it from good to really good.

“I get moving I enter it in and the bin knows how far away I am, that I am on the way... it was better than having to carry books.

“I had my reservations about them bringing the app out and I found it really easy.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails