Hawke's Bay's expanding export industry has resulted in Napier Port's giant container-packing facility hitting an all-time yearly record - packing 50,000 shipping containers.

Port Pack, which has been operating at the port for about 25 years, handles about a third of the port's container volume and Napier Port general cargo manager Mark Babbington said for the 12 months to June the facility packed a record 50,000 TEU (20ft container equivalents).

That was a rise of 4000 on the same period last year.

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""It was just four years ago we were handling 10,000 TEU or thereabouts. So, we're pretty much at capacity now with our current resourcing and we are now really focusing on what we can do to improve our operations and processes."

L-R Mark Babbington, Napier Port General Cargo Manager, Dylan Turnbull, Port Pack manager. Napier Port just broken its yearly record for container volume. 4 July 2018. NEWS Business. Photograph Warren
L-R Mark Babbington, Napier Port General Cargo Manager, Dylan Turnbull, Port Pack manager. Napier Port just broken its yearly record for container volume. 4 July 2018. NEWS Business. Photograph Warren

That had already involved changing the facility's layout and traffic flows to increase output and reducing handling outside the gates to reduce costs to customers.

About 98 per cent of the operation involved packing containers for export.

Port Pack operated rolling shifts between 6am and midnight, daily, with forklift drivers operating in teams of two, with pulp and timber collected by a 8-tonne forklift and then placed outside a container, before being pushed into place by a smaller forklift.

About 50 containers could be packed per shift, with about 120 packed every day, he said.

Babbington added that the Port Pack operation, along with the port's general cargo service dealings were major factors behind the Central North Island-based WPI pulp mill operation choosing to export its good from Napier rather than other North island ports.

Port pack manager Dylan Turnbull said the majority of the goods packed, mostly pulp and processed timber would be exported to China.

"I think our biggest challenges are working within our current footprint and keeping up with growth.

"We are an all seasonal operation, so we have consistent flow of goods, most from Hawke's Bay but also some from the Ruapehu district.

"Over the next month or two we will be reviewing our strategy going forward. As we grow we will be looking for more people, whether that's on port or off-port."

Port Pack's success was indicative of the 30 highly-trained staff working at the facility.

The port was also considering creating an app that would allow staff to enter data at containers rather than having to bring paperwork back to the office.

"We're looking to align our technology with what's currently used in the container operation industry."

The record comes just two weeks after the port announced it had exported a record two million tonnes of logs.

Port Pack has just broken its yearly record for containers. Napier Port General Cargo Manager, Mark Babbington tells us how.