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A Port of Tauranga webcam image captures their new ship-to-shore gantry crane being readied at the Tauranga Container Terminal

Busy time for Port of Tauranga

In the first week following the Alert Level 4 lockdown, Port of Tauranga completed the largest ever cargo exchange at its Tauranga Container Terminal – and has recently moved its newest and largest container crane into position.


The port company announced on 3 April that it had completed its largest ever cargo exchange at the Tauranga Container Terminal, ensuring vital supplies could be delivered to those who need them. The Sally Maersk container ship exchanged 9367 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) over two-and-a-half days before departing Tauranga for Kaohsiung (Taiwan).
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns says the exchange “completely blitzed” the previous record exchange of just under 7000 TEUs. At the same time, another 1772 TEUs were exchanged on two other vessels – the Charlie B and the domestic vessel Moana Chief.
“It is an outstanding achievement by our team, Independent Stevedoring, C3 and our other service providers,” says Mr Cairns. “Everyone pulled together to ensure that essential cargo can be delivered and the supply chain keeps moving to make room for high-priority supplies during the lockdown.”

Four ship-to-shore cranes were used, with operators achieving a ship rate of 97.49 moves per hour – an impressive 160% more efficient than the national average.
Mr Cairns says the need to keep everyone safe by maintaining physical distances meant things took a little longer, but nevertheless it was a great achievement, demonstrating port workers’ patience, cooperation and commitment. “Thanks are also due to the truck drivers and KiwiRail staff ensuring import and export cargo gets to and from the port,” he adds. “We also appreciate the quick processing of imported containers by border agencies Customs New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries.”

New crane to reach 19 containers wide

In mid-April, the port’s ninth ship-to-shore gantry crane was moved into position. The new crane will be able to load and unload container ships up to 49 m or 19 containers wide, compared with the 18 container reach of the port’s other large cranes.
The crane had arrived in parts in mid-February from Ireland on a special-purpose delivery ship. It was assembled onsite and moved several hundred metres onto the berth in a 48 hour operation. Further testing is now being undertaken and the crane is expected to start work in late April, just 10 weeks after it arrived.
Mr Cairns says the project was a great achievement by the Port of Tauranga team, Rich Rigging and crane manufacturers Liebherr. The crane was mostly assembled prior to the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown, and commissioning and testing was supported remotely by engineers at the Liebherr factory in Ireland.
“Moving the crane now has freed up the construction zone for much-needed storage space for containerised cargo,” says Mr Cairns. “It is also safer for the crane to be anchored onto the rails on the berth in case of stormy weather.”
Crane operations at the container terminal are restricted during the lockdown due to shift patterns introduced to keep port workers separated and safe. Despite the restrictions, Port of Tauranga and its service providers C3 and Independent Stevedoring have maintained market-leading crane productivity rates throughout the lockdown. Two weeks into the lockdown they achieved a net crane rate of 35.8 moves per hour, compared with the last reported national average of 29.1 moves per hour.

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