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Ports of Auckland Automation Update

Ports of Auckland announces new plan to complete its automation proje​ct. 

Ports of Auckland paused automation after an incident revealed a potential 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. The milestones are based on safety, reliability, productivity, and operational readiness. Safety is paramount. 


The stages are: 

  1. Systems acceptance testing 

  1. Automation of part of Fergusson Terminal North Berth 

  1. Automation of all of Fergusson Terminal North Berth 

  1. Full automation of Fergusson Container Terminal (go-live). 


Unlike other, larger ports, Auckland doesn’t have space to build a new automated terminal off-line, and then turn it on when complete. We are having to automate our terminal while still operating, making it a more complex project. 


The pandemic has made it even more difficult. Lockdowns delayed work, border closures prevented overseas experts coming to site, and the global supply chain was disrupted. 


Despite these hurdles, the project has successfully handled over 100 ships, but the speed and reliability of the system is not yet up to expectations. A safety review also found that the safety assurance framework for the project needed more work. 


We have done a great deal of work on safety assurance and this is ongoing. We are now able to bring in overseas experts from the vendor to help complete the project. This on-site help will provide a significant boost to the project team. 



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 and cause 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 the 2022 export season, we will delay it. 


There is still a risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in New Zealand, especially from the Delta variant. A COVID-19 outbreak could delay the project. 


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


Ware now well positioned to complete this project safely, successfully and with minimum disruption for the supply chain.