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Shane Macbeth, distribution supervisor at Balance Agri-Nutrients at Kapuni: “Solving storage and demand issues has provided opportunities for collaborative solutions with our transport partners”

Shane Macbeth – “Putting learnings into practice”

Shane Macbeth left school as soon as he could to take up farming in Taranaki, but ambition, a thirst for learning and an interest in transport has led to his current role as distribution supervisor at Balance Agri-Nutrients at Kapuni. This is his story.

I was born and raised in Hawera, Taranaki, and with a dislike of boredom – roughly translated as school – I left and went farming at the age of 15. I muddled my way through a few jobs, ending up at Kiwi Dairies’ Whareroa plant in the cheese factory. After a couple of years, I moved to driving tankers, which led to a role as a transport scheduler for Fonterra based in Hawera.

The opportunity arose to undertake the postgraduate level CILT UK Professional Diploma in Logistics and Transport that was offered through Massey University at the time and taught by Walter Glass. This qualification allowed me to gain an in-depth understanding of transport and warehousing management skills, and would be a valuable resource for anyone anticipating a career in any aspect of the logistics field.

Apart from the standard compulsory modules and my chosen specialist elective module in transport, I also decided to complete an additional elective in warehousing in order to increase both my knowledge and career opportunities. After completing the diploma, I was chosen for the CHEP sponsored top student award for 2004. Considering the calibre of the students undertaking the course, this was completely unexpected and an achievement I am very proud of.

This course, along with other CILT UK management qualifications, is now run through the Logistics Training Group which is operated by Walter and Tessa Glass. The professional diploma qualification still bridges directly into the Massey University master’s degree in supply chain management, and is a very cost-effective option for students who need the flexibility to remain working while studying, but also want a route to a possible master’s degree. 

I found the weekend block courses in Palmerston North extremely worthwhile, as were the associated networking opportunities they presented. There was also no better way to get to know the other students than to have a quiet drink at the end of the day.

The road to management

In 2006 I took on the position of industrial services supervisor for Contract Resources based in Normanby, Taranaki. This role involved planning the utilisation of equipment and staff to undertake a range of water blasting, vacuum and transport work around New Zealand. This also involved organising offshore work on drilling rigs and platforms based in New Zealand and for onshore companies such as STOS, Fonterra, Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Vector, Todd Energy and Port Taranaki.

In 2009, I accepted a position with Ballance Agri-Nutrients running their distribution warehouse at Kapuni. I believe this was a direct result of having the CILT UK Professional Diploma in Logistics and Transport.

Ballance Kapuni is the only manufacturer of urea in New Zealand, producing around 270,000 tonnes per annum for the local agricultural and industrial markets. Other products made at Kapuni are Sustain, a urea variant with a nitrogen inhibitor applied to reduce nitrogen volitisation, and Go Clear, which is suitable for use in diesel vehicles equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust emission control devices. SCR is a technology that uses a urea-based diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and a catalytic converter to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions to harmless nitrogen and water, with the associated environmental benefits.

Opportunities for collaborative solutions

Operating with a small team of 12 staff, urea-based products are dispatched in 20 kg, 500 kg and 1000 kg bags or in bulk, over 12 hours per day, Monday to Friday. The ammonia and urea plants operate 24/7.

Solving storage and demand issues has provided opportunities for collaborative solutions with our transport partners that are win/win, as there is no point having solutions that add complexity or cost, especially when benefits for both partners to provide improved service levels to customers can be realised. 

Putting the learnings from the course into practice, and applying a different perspective when improving the systems being utilised at Kapuni, has resulted in substantial benefits in site utilisation. For instance, an area that was once full at 500 tonnes of bagged product now accommodates 900 tonnes of finished product, yielding an 80% increase in capacity.

I would certainly recommend the professional diploma to anyone contemplating a career in transport or logistics. It definitely opens up opportunities to follow the path that you decide to take, which is of significant value to any graduate. 

It is also internationally recognised by commercial, military and NGO entities. And Walter and Tessa Glass are great people doing great things.

The Professional Diploma in Logistics and Transport is offered in New Zealand by the Logistics Training Group; for further information, visit www.ltg.co.nz

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