Ports of Auckland has released its results for the 2017/18 financial year.
Chief Executive Tony Gibson said, "We've had a busy year, some interesting challenges and a good deal of success. We're making a significant investment in our people, technology and infrastructure to establish a platform for sustainable future returns with multiple projects, including automation, underway this year. At the same time we delivered great service to our customers and a strong result for our owner."
"Volumes, revenue and profit were all up, as was capital expenditure as our investment programme accelerated. We made significant progress with work to automate our container terminal, having taken delivery of 25 of our 27 new automated straddle carriers (container moving machines) and plan to go live with automation in the second half of 2019."
"We continued to perform well operationally and make a significant economic and social contribution to Auckland and New Zealand. Despite the fact that we are automating a working container terminal, with all the disruption that implies, we improved the speed with which we load and unload ships.
"Our crane rate - measured by the number of containers moved on and off a ship in an hour - increased to 35.63 moves per hour, compared to 34.67 the previous year. The next 12 months will be more challenging in this regard, as the automation project picks up pace and volumes increase."
"For the third year running, we were voted Best Seaport in Oceania by our customers and industry peers in the region, reflecting the commitment and skill of our staff."
"The most unusual challenge this year was the arrival of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug on vehicle ships from Japan. The bug is a major threat to our horticultural sector so had to be kept out of the country, but the measures taken to keep it out caused significant delay and disruption to the import of vehicles. It was a testing and costly time for the industry, and we can all be proud of the way everyone worked together to get through the problem.
"Automation brings significant productivity and sustainability benefits, but it also impacts some of the traditional roles in our industry. We believe that a business like ours which is adopting new technologies has a responsibility to help staff and their families adapt. We have initiated a Future of Work programme where our staff can learn and manage these new opportunities.
"We continue to value and empower our people by focusing on maintaining a positive safety culture, embracing diversity, and investing in training and development. Our new lash platforms emphasise our commitment to safety, as they physically separate pedestrian stevedores from straddles thereby eliminating one of our 'critical risks'. We are the first port in New Zealand to introduce this innovation, and one of only a few in the world."
"We are making good progress on our rail-linked network of Inland Freight Hubs. We completed earthworks at our new 33 hectare Waikato Hub and started construction of a facility for our first major tenant, Open Country Dairy. We are working on road and rail connections and the site will be operational by the middle of 2019."
30-year Master Plan
"One of the most significant events of the year was the development of our 30-year Master Plan, which we shared with Aucklanders in November 2017. The plan was widely publicised and we received largely positive feedback on it. I'd like to thank Aucklanders for taking the time to get involved and comment on our Master Plan.
"In May, Auckland Council endorsed the plan and we will seek consent for several new master plan projects over the next year. The importance of this can't be understated. Since 2011, there has been significant uncertainty about the port's place in Auckland which has undermined our ability to meet future freight demand. That uncertainty is now gone, and we have a mandate for the next 30 years
There has been further consolidation of container shipping lines from mergers and acquisitions. We now have eight container line customers compared to 14 in the 2015/16 year. Container lines are facing higher costs and a difficult market, so put us under pressure to reduce costs. We are focussing on delivering fast efficient service in order to retain value."
"We are also very aware of the increasing uncertainty in the global economy and the potential for a downturn as a result of increasing protectionism. We are well positioned to weather a downturn should one arise and our investments in people, technology and capacity will leave us well positioned to take advantage of any upturn."
"Overall, it was a great year at the port. It is an exciting time to work in this industry, and we look forward to the year ahead."
Read a full copy of Ports of Auckland's annual report.