PORTS of Auckland is handling increasing trade volumes as the city grows, and it is looking to the future with increasing automation and environmental programs in place.
Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said ongoing growth in the Auckland region’s economy and population has led to steady growth in all the cargo types the Port handles.
“Container volumes are up 3%, general cargo is up nearly 5% and cruise ship visits are up 50% for the half year,” he said.
“This growth looks set to continue into the second half of the year, with a strong result in January and good volumes forecast for February.”
Net profit after tax was down slightly over the period at NZ$29.2 from NZ$29.27m for the six months to 31 December 2016. The port explained that it had embarked on an investment program to become “future-fit”, able to handle Auckland’s steady growth.
“Auckland is growing by around 50,000 people a year and is expected to have a population of two million people by 2028,” Mr Gibson said.
“While Auckland Council and the Government are looking at relocating Auckland’s port over the next few decades, in the interim additional investment is needed so the port can handle the increased demand for freight that will come from this population growth.”
Mr Gibson said the company had made good progress toward becoming the first automated container terminal in the country.
“We received our first two automated straddle carriers and testing will begin shortly,” he said.
“We have started work to convert our truck handling lanes to automated operation, have installed many metres of ducting for a new fibre-optic network, built a new (temporary) engineering workshop and have many other infrastructure projects underway. Automation in on schedule to go live in 2019.”
Mr Gibson acknowledged that automation of the port would mean fewer workers at the Port, but a training program would help some gain new skills.
“There will be a reduction or elimination of some roles, while other new roles will develop,” he said.
“It can be difficult for people to navigate these changes and we are committed to helping our people and their families adapt and prosper.”
Mr Gibson said the port had been working with a “futurist” to develop a training program which is to be available to staff this year.
“Change can be daunting, but it can also be exciting and rewarding if you have the skills you need to make the most of the opportunities change presents,” he said.
Ports of Auckland is working towards being a “zero emissions port” by 2040, with the first step taken with a program to accurately measure emissions and developing a plan to reduce them.
“We are using the Certified Emissions Measurement and Reduction Scheme (CEMARS) to measure and manage our greenhouse gas emissions and are the first port in New Zealand to become CEMARS certified,” Mr Gibson said.
“Our first steps toward reducing emissions include moving to electric vehicles in our light vehicle fleet, a shift to LED lighting and developing a detailed business case for the installation of shore power, initially at one cruise berth.”