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Shipping containers available in record time to ensure exporting continues

New Zealand container storage and service company ContainerCo is sourcing and making shipping containers available in record time for Hawke’s Bay exporters to move goods across the world.

ContainerCo’s Napier depot manager Steven Feyen said since the Covid 19 lockdown, staff across its seven container parks have been working incredibly hard with support from international shipping companies and Ministry of Transport (MoT) to turn around the processing of containers in record time.

Steven said the usual process – receiving, survey, repair, clean and re-release – can take up to 12 days, but the commitment from onsite staff as well as a willingness from shipping companies, and streamlined red tape by MoT, has sped this up significantly. The new record was now just four hours.

At the beginning of the Level 4 Covid 19 lockdown there was reported concern over not enough shipping containers available in New Zealand for exporters due to fewer containers with imported goods arriving into the country.

Steven said ContainerCo undertook a stock take of all its containers as well as putting the call out to shipping companies and providing reports to the MoT.

Since March 26 ContainerCo has processed 44,309 containers of which 26,149 have gone back into circulation and it still has 32,200 dry and refrigerated TEUs (20 foot equivalents) ready to go from its container park facilities.

“We need to ensure products such as milk powder, meat, apples and kiwifruit get to global markets and keep the New Zealand economy moving and our team has certainly stepped up to the mark.

“Our staff, as essential service workers, have really embraced the responsibility of the role and with willingness from the shipping companies and the Ministry of Transport, we have been able to significantly streamline the process of getting containers back into circulation.

“On average 75 percent of containers need some repairing and cleaning, so it’s always a big task at hand,” he said.

ContainerCo has four container facilities in Auckland, two in Tauranga and two in Napier and Christchurch, all handling hundreds of thousands of shipping containers.

“The company is strongly focussed on innovation, such as our IT systems,” said Dr Margaret Harris, ContainerCo’s Manager of Innovation and Strategy.

Dr Harris said the business had already upgraded critical technology prior to the lockdown.

“There was significant focus last year on making sure the right tools were in place, which paid off when this crisis emerged. It was a classic case of ‘prior preparation and planning promoting smooth performance’,” she said.

Margaret believed transitioning other teams to working from home also played a role in the success of making more containers available, as staff could perform critical tasks while still undertaking child-care and remaining safe inside their home bubble.”

“Without a doubt that has allowed our staff to carry on as close to normal as possible,” she said.