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NZ container depots continue to struggle

1 September 2021

COVID19 Lockdowns across New Zealand are expected to create further pressure on an already heavily disrupted shipping logistics. ContainerCo managing director Ken Harris said exporters and importers continue to take the brunt of global shipping disruptions and the latest level 4 lockdown in New Zealand will have an impact on the availability of shipping containers.

“There is already a tight supply of shipping containers suitable for use by exporters and Auckland facilities holding other empty containers for sending offshore are full. Importers are required to return shipping containers to these facilities and face stiff costs if they are unable to do this.

Around 1 million TEU of shipping containers come into New Zealand each year, and movements out of the country are a similar volume. Ken says as a result of world-wide shipping disruptions key container handling facilities in Auckland have already been operating well over capacity.

ContainerCo operates several key container servicing facilities in Auckland as well as other parts of New Zealand, most of which are operating well above efficient volume levels, with several key yards holding over 130% of nominal capacity.

The company has been delaying needed substantial investment into engineering and technology projects to minimise supply chain disruption, however with a return to normal shipping patterns looking unlikely for some years ContainerCo has decided to progress this vital work.

“We will re-build specialised facilities covering around 8 hectares in Auckland, improving supply chain resilience and capacity as well as reducing carbon footprint. Our investment will double capacity within six years plus to greatly improve depot efficiency.

ContainerCo is looking to acquire additional land in Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Hamilton and long-term lease arrangements are also being looked at and where possible sites will be developed to accommodate specialised logistics facilities such as cross docks. “We are also looking to acquire land in other regions and locations to ensure that the company can efficiently support local container redelivery from importer to exporter.”

The ongoing growth of trade through Tauranga is also needing new container facilities to increase capacity and ContainerCo has plans to build an additional specialised facility in Tauranga over the next five years to improve the supply chain for exporters.

ContainerCo is also supporting the development of the One-Stop Modal depot management and will commission four new EV trucks in the next five months. A year-long trial of these systems at a ContainerCo depot in Auckland has demonstrated that this software is a significant step forward, eliminating manual processes and enabling increased depot automation.

“We have trialled an EV truck for over a year and the new units will offer better range and driver comfort. A further four are to be delivered in 2022, and it is expected the programme will continue. While shuttle operations are the primary design use, in the future units are expected to be able to cover freight legs between Hamilton, Auckland, and Tauranga.

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