Ports of Auckland scraps terminal automation project

An image of the Auckland docks

Ports of Auckland has decided to scrap its Fergusson Container Terminal capacity and automation project.

The initiative first commenced back in 2016 and aimed to future proof the capacity of the port. The project also included the automation of some straddle operations to achieve significant capacity upgrades. Targeted delivery was originally slated for late 2019/early 2020.

Completion is now more than two years overdue and is still unable to meet operational targets.

“We have made this decision after careful consideration of the current status of the project, advice from independent experts, and the work required to achieve full terminal automation,” said Ports of Auckland Board Chair Jan Dawson.

“Our review indicated that despite the best efforts of our team and our supplier, the project is experiencing continuing delays to full terminal roll out, the system is not performing to expectations, and we do not have confidence in the projected timeline or cost to completion.

“With these uncertainties and the need to transform the Port’s performance, the Board has determined the best course of action is to cease automation of the Container Terminal.”

Chief Executive Roger Gray added: “This is a positive decision which will come as a relief to many at Ports of Auckland and in the wider supply chain. It gives us certainty about the future and allows us to focus on our core job: safely providing a great service to New Zealand importers and exporters. It will also help us get the business back to the level of profitability we have delivered in the past.

“The end of automation does not mean the loss of all the investment and work that went into it. The new infrastructure built as part of the project – for example the new wharf and cranes – provides extra capacity which is essential for future growth.

“We will, however, have to write-off approximately NZD$65 million ($42 million) in investments which will no longer be used, mainly the automation software and guidance system.

“Ports of Auckland attempted automation for the right reasons: to lift capacity, productivity and profitability without further port expansion or reclamation. I am confident we can still meet those aims; we will just take a different path. It was a bold and innovative project, but one that – despite the hard work of many – was unable to be delivered.”

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