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Automation Update - New roll-out plan in place, Stage 1 starting

​In June, Ports of Auckland paused automation after an​ incident revealed a pote​ntial safety risk​. This pause also allowed time to re-evaluate and reset the project.

The safety risk has been fixed and we are now ready to restart with a revised implementation plan.

The project will be implemented in four stages, with the first to start shortly.

Each stage has milestones which must be met before the project can progress to the next stage, and these milestones are based on safety, reliability, productivity, and operational readiness.

Safety is paramount.

The stages are:

  1. Systems acceptance testing
  2. Automation of part of Fergusson Terminal North Berth
  3. Automation of all of Fergusson Terminal North Berth
  4. Full automation of Fergusson Container Terminal (go-live).

Stage 1, systems acceptance testing, will have no impact on operations. All the work for this stage will be carried out inside a small test area at the north of the terminal and there will be no productive container moves.

Stage 2 will require a larger automated test area, using two cranes and 4-5 truck lanes. There will be productive container moves on and off ships and trucks, but these will be targeted exchanges on selected services. The purpose of this stage is to test and improve operational stability. A key gate for moving to Stage 2 (as it will be for all stages) is the completion of a stage specific safety plan in line with the recommendation made by the recent CHASNZ safety review.

More detail on Stages 3 and 4 will be released closer to the time, but we can confirm that we will give 8 weeks' notice to customers before Stage 4 ('go-live' or Full Terminal Roll-Out), which still requires an 84 hour terminal shut down.

We are also working to bring in overseas experts from the vendor for this roll-out plan, which will greatly help the project. This on-site help was not available previously because of COVID-19 border restrictions.


A detailed project review has found it is realistic and achievable to complete the project and go-live by late March 2022. However, this timing could impact existing import volume demand and the peak export season, potentially causing further supply chain disruption.

For this reason, we won't give a go-live date until later in the project. If we feel that going live in March would jeopardise imports or the 2022 export season, we will delay it.

We are committed to completing automation. It will help provide the freight capacity Auckland needs for its future growth without any more harbour reclamation.

It is our intention to launch this project safely, successfully and with minimum disruption for the supply chain. We will not compromise on those aims.