New Zealand firms need to collaborate when it comes to shipping cargo offshore, to create a stronger supply chain and future proof the country's exports.

The chief executive of the country's leading export supply chain firm Kotahi, David Ross, is urging exporters to work together to create the most efficient supply chain.

"I think there's a lot of great brand ideas out there that don't achieve their full potential because they don't have great supply chain and operations processes," said Ross.

"What we are seeing is that when you are really excellent in this space, you've done something quite different to what's the most obvious straight forward approach."

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Kotahi has over 40 customers from a diverse range of sectors and manages the cargo pooling and export of around one third of New Zealand's containerised goods.

It is collaborating with Maersk Line and Port of Tauranga to bring larger vessels to New Zealand, and the biggest ship to visit the country will berth at the port later this year.

The Maersk Line vessel will be capable of holding up to 9,500 20 foot shipping containers, nearly double the capacity of ships that currently dock in New Zealand.

The ship will be 348 metres long, the equivalent length to around three rugby fields.

"It is through our collaborative approach working with exporters, importers and logistics partners that we are creating a secure, sustainable supply chain to keep New Zealand competitive on the world stage," said Ross.

He is among judges for the New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA) special category Excellence in Operations and Supply Chain, which Kotahi is sponsoring.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the awards, run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), which celebrate the success of New Zealand businesses on the world stage.

Ross said the excellence in operations and supply chain award will recognise a New Zealand export company which can demonstrate innovative approaches to operations and supply chain management through collaboration with partners.

He said companies wanting to achieve excellence in operations and supply chain need to take an end-to-end view of their total supply chain and make sure the actions of individual parts don't disable others.

"This usually takes the form of collaboration with key exporters, partners or suppliers, to create value that wouldn't have otherwise been there," said Ross.

Finalists for the awards will be announced on October 10.

New Zealand International Business Awards

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA), which celebrate the success of businesses on the world stage.

Many of New Zealand's most iconic companies have been celebrated in the awards hall of fame over the past 50 years, including Tonka, Tip Top and the Apple and Pear Marketing Board (now ENZA).

To celebrate 50 years of business icons, a special exhibition has been created that will be on display at the awards ceremony in November.

There are nine award categories, and the Excellence in Operations and Supply Chain award recognises innovative approaches to operations and supply chain management.

ANZ has been the awards strategic partner since 2009. The awards other sponsors are KPMG, MFAT, Callaghan Innovation, Special Group, Kotahi, MBIE, Te Puni Kōkiri and Treasury.

The awards finalists will be announced on October 10. To find out more about the awards visit www.nziba.co.nz.