A PORT NELSON BLOG
Port Nelson COVID-19 Response Page
A PORT NELSON BLOG
Whether you are spending extended days in your home or safely socially distancing at work, the impact of COVID-19 has seen most of us looking in our own backyard for new ways to make it through these uncertain times.
While it took some adjustment and learning on the go, the team at Port Nelson have found our new rhythm of working. Whether it’s people, infrastructure or operating protocols we are adapting and working together (from at least 2metres apart) to maximize the port’s potential with the great facilities, team and resources we have.
With growing trade comes a growing need for space within the port. With empty containers stacked six high in the container yard and fulls stacked four high in the terminal, the port has optimised its storage, yet often nears capacity during peak seasons like the current fruit and busier than usual wine harvest season. Demand for this valuable on port real estate has further intensified with the unloading of containers and used cars that are unable to be cleared during alert level 4.
The arrival of two log vessels over the past week has allowed a large section of the log yard to be cleared which has created space for the port’s new temporary ‘car park’ housing imported used cars.
The stevedoring team has worked tirelessly over the last few days, loading logs over the Easter weekend and moving import vehicles to swiftly release precious storage and wharf space.
With most empty containers now filled and awaiting export or already on the way to consumers, the port must fully utilise new container stocks arriving. To help meet the high demand for reefer containers, Port Nelson is working closely with on port reefer technicians, Independent Reefer Services International (IRS) and Specialised Container Services (SCS) service providers to ramp up the number of Pre-Trip Inspections (PTI) and repairs carried out on reefers for a quick turnaround of suitable containers to fresh produce customers.
Since the COVID-19 restrictions the port has also begun to receive imports of fertiliser in bulk rather than individually packaged in containers. The new breakbulk cargo has been speedier to discharge and reduced the pressure of container and warehouse storage space. This along with reduced volumes of unessential cargo to store has enabled warehouse space to be made available for busier port businesses like QuayConnect to utilise as overflow storage when needed.
Port Nelson staff have responded remarkably to the new workplace protocols ensuring the port can continue operations and support the region uninterrupted.
Essential workers on port haven’t let the new ways of working slow productivity despite the additional cleaning steps required before, during and after their shifts and they have adapted their daily duties to the 2meter social distance rules. The introduction of separate cells has safeguarded staff from unnecessary exposure during lockdown and has worked well for stevedoring gangs and for AM and PM shifts.
The condition of the heavy machinery used for daily operations is crucial to port productivity. Our skilled workshop staff have continued their essential work to keep equipment such as cranes, forklifts, container handlers and onsite infrastructure and utilities in safe working order to allow the ports vital work to continue.
Seasonality and COVID-19 has meant some departments are busier than others and this has allowed underutilised staff in some areas to help carry out the heavier workload of other departments to keep the supply chain moving.
Teams working from home have fully embraced the technology that allows them to do so. The use of software like Microsoft Teams has allowed staff to carry out their daily tasks almost as if it were business as usual and has encouraged greater collaboration as a unit while working from our own bubbles. Daily morning video meetings are now the norm as we debrief on the day that was and plan for what’s ahead. The power of the internet has also allowed teams to navigate more complex systems like Master Terminal, coordinating truck deliveries and container relocations from afar.
The constant changing scenarios around COVID-19 has also meant ongoing communication is a must and we’ve increasingly been picking up the phone rather than simply emailing each other. A friendly voice on the other end of the line has been both productive and a welcome respite from the isolation we find ourselves in.
As we hopefully edge closer to alert level 3, Port Nelson stands prepared and flexible to the next set of inevitable changes and will continue to innovate within the new normal to best serve our customers, the community and play our key part in the global logistics network.