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People Who Move the World: Port Nelson

Port Nelson isn’t just satisfied with facilitating the growth of the region; it wants to help drive it.

In many ways, Port Nelson is not just a business in the region, it’s the business in the region. The port was established in 1840, more than a year before the city of Nelson itself, and has now been its gateway to the world for more than 170 years. It’s a responsibility that everyone who works at the port takes very seriously.

“Port Nelson has been around a long time as part of the community, it has a real family feeling,” says Business Systems Specialist Rosie Horn. “People care about what they do and want to do a really good job.”

It was this strong culture and the integration with the local community that lured Horn back to Nelson after a number of years at another company. “[At Port Nelson,] you can look out the window and see ships being loaded and trucks going by and containers being picked up and put down and packed…there are real things happening and it has a direct impact on the region.”

Port Nelson is Australasia’s biggest seafood port and has been integral in the international success of many local industries including forestry, pip fruit (apples and pears), and, most recently, wine.

“It’s a port that’s growing because we have some fantastic regional success stories and a lot of economic investment in the region, and we benefit from that directly,” says General Manager of Business Development Eugene Beneke.

That economic investment is part of a NZ$32 million redevelopment plan that has contributed to the establishment of a new 13,000 square meter state-of-the-art storage facility opened earlier this year, another major facility, a new tugboat, and a number of other improvements that will double the port’s storage capacity over the next few years.

Beyond the infrastructure investment, Beneke attributes this growing success to two factors. “Technology is right at the forefront, along with people, for us.  We would not be able to scale up without a robust technology framework and we certainly wouldn’t be able to offer anything to our clients without a good technology platform.”

Jaron McLeod is the Operations Manager of QuayConnect, the third-party logistics (3PL) division at Port Nelson. He says the visibility and process-based efficiency that CargoWise One has enabled allows him to provide more to his customers.

“Inventory record accuracy is what we live and die by in the 3PL industry, especially as we’re custodians of millions of dollars of someone else’s product. Customers are hungry for real-time information…CargoWise allows us to have that information pushed to them, at their fingertips, without the need to come to us. That’s really powerful stuff.”

Every time a pallet is loaded or unloaded in the port, the data is captured in CargoWise One. This is thanks to hand-held and vehicle-mounted RF scanners that allow operators and managers alike to track the movement of goods in the warehouse seamlessly, without having to rely upon paper trails. 

“As far as mobility goes and RF scanners, I think they are absolutely critical if a warehouse wants to take that next jump,” says QuayConnect Operator Matthew Loach. “Having that traceability has just been absolutely the key for us. It puts us at a standard higher than everyone else because a lot of companies are just running off of Excel.”

Loach has been with QuayConnect since day one and says that the move to CargoWise One has helped him develop new skills and capabilities that can push Port Nelson forward. “Transitioning from a very heavy paper-based system to being majority digitally-based, it’s worked out really well. I can remember the days when I was walking around with a clipboard having to write down what pallets were coming in. I’ve grown as the business has grown and as CargoWise and how we are using it has grown.”

Growth — for staff, for the business, and for the region — is a powerful motivator for everyone at Port Nelson. A number of staff level initiatives give all members of the team input in the direction of the company. One such initiative, called the ASPIRE program (Accountability, Safety, Passion, Integrity and Honesty, Respect, and Excellence), has ensured a strong internal culture.

“We’ve got a lot of long-serving people at the port, they are all very helpful and very passionate about what they do, very customer focused. If we didn’t have the right people here, we wouldn’t be able to grow at the rate that we have grown,” says McCloud.

Eugene Beneke agrees. “We’re quite a high-performing business, we have to be. [But] we need to make sure as a company that we continue to grow, so the right people in the right positions will be critical to us. I think we do that by default because of our culture.”

With motivated staff working with powerful technology, QuayConnect and Port Nelson are poised to take the next step forward. Greater visibility and a focus on usage has already helped the port reduce their costs and carbon footprint significantly; by joining two complimentary supply chains together, they’ve already saved more than 1,000 truck trips per year for customers in the wine industry.

“The business model is all about utilization…technology plays such an important part in that because you need to extract what’s happened, talk about what the trends are, understand where certain pinchpoints are. CargoWise has been able to give us that. We can trace product, we can understand productivity levels and easily put together a data set or a set of metrics,” says Beneke.

As a critical part of the region’s infrastructure, Port Nelson’s success is essential to local businesses. By combining driven staff with effective use of technology, the future of Port Nelson and the region it serves looks bright.

Port Nelson Offers Customers:

  • Marine and Cargo Port Access
  • Cargo Tracking
  • On-site Cargo Consolidation Services
  • Stevedoring and Marshalling Services
  • 3PL Services and more

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