Ports of Auckland and the National Road Carriers Association are combining forces to improve delivery times and prevent delays of containers at the port. The move follows FGC asking importer members if they had trouble getting containers through Auckland in the wake of reports of bottlenecks.

The companies say the initiative has come about because of supply chain capacity issues. Imported freight has taken longer to deliver and exporters have encountered delays getting their goods away, leading to frustration all round.

The Carriers say the supply chain is running at capacity, so unexpected problems can have a domino effect, and blames the problem on Auckland’s growth. “The supply chain needs to evolve and we’re all going to have to change the way we work to prevent future problems. Better planning and coordination are the key.”

Ports say situations contributing to delays can arise at any stage in the supply chain, sometimes occurring thousands of kilometres away from New Zealand. They say that in the past 12 months over half of all container ships arrived late (often as a result of bad weather), causing congestion. Also, labour scheduling issues are made worse by a shortage of labour, which also affects the trucking industry.

To address the problem, the port is installing an automated container handling system, but that work has reduced terminal capacity by about 20%, adding to congestion, and that will remain until late 2019 when the project is completed.

Another problem is getting containers off the port. The port works 24/7 and has capacity at nights and weekends, but most distribution centres, importers’ warehouses and empty container depots are closed at those times. Ports say the whole industry needs to be open nights and weekends to receive imports.

As well as investing in automated container handling, Ports are working with the Carriers to update processes and business rules to minimise manual intervention and incentivise off-peak container movements. They say last-minute freight moves will become a thing of the past, with all movements having to be planned in advance.


  • A member of FGC sent us an excellent article by Dave MacIntyre in the NZ Shipping Gazette, which explains the impact of the “perfect storm” of supply chain challenges, including those in Auckland. It’s not online but is published here with permission: NZ Shipping Gazette article