Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Automation being considered at Ports of Auckland

Auckland would be the first automated container port in New Zealand if proposal proceeds

Tony Gibson, CEO of Ports of Auckland, today announced the start of consultation with staff on a proposal to automate part of the container terminal.

Mr Gibson said: “Auckland freight growth is relentless. To handle it we’ve pushed our performance to world class levels but we’re reaching the limit of what we can do with our current technology. We need more room. We can’t go out so we need to go up, and for that automation looks the best bet.”

The proposal would involve the use of 15m tall automated straddle carriers (3m higher than our existing machines) which would carry out the less complex tasks in the container yard. The more complex operations under the crane would continue to be performed by manual straddles.

“Automation has the potential to deliver capacity, cost and environmental benefits,” said Mr Gibson, “but it would have an impact on jobs. Up to 50 jobs could be lost, although we would work hard to reduce this number. Staff turnover, growth in the business and some changes to the way we work would help us keep this number as low as possible. My priority is to ensure our people are looked after and helped through any change that may occur,” he said.

Preliminary work carried out by Ports of Auckland has shown that the idea has merit. Unions were previously advised that automation was being investigated and staff are now being consulted. Consultation will take around six weeks. A scoping study to produce a detailed proposal for partial automation will be carried out and will take about three months. The results of consultation and the scoping study will be taken into account when making a decision on whether or not to proceed further with automation.

Subject to gathering all the information we need during the scoping study, a decision will be made in early 2016, following a second round of consultation.


Ports of Auckland operates 12.5m high ‘1-over-2’ straddle carriers which stack containers up to three high. Automated ‘1-over-3’ straddle carriers are 15-15.5 metres high and can stack containers up to four high. Increasing container stack height by one would result in a 30% increase in container terminal capacity without the need for new reclamation.

Automated straddles could deliver significant savings over manned straddles. As well as the obvious saving in labour costs, automated straddles could deliver:

• 10% lower fuel use and lower carbon emissions

• Less maintenance and repair

• Less terminal lighting, reducing electricity costs and light pollution


For further information contact: 

Matt Ball
Head of Communications
P: 09 348 5262
M: 021 495 645
E: [email protected]z