Coda Group, the Port of Tauranga/Kotahi joint venture, officially opened its Auckland intermodal freight hub expansion on Friday. It is expected to be the first of several Coda hubs across New Zealand, said chief executive Scott Brownlee.
Based on cargo volumes, the Savill Drive, Otahuhu, facility will be one of the largest fully intermodal freight hubs in New Zealand, providing a consolidation point to bring together export, import and domestic cargo flows into a single location. More than 300, 20-foot equivalent container-loads of goods will flow through the hub each day. (See factbox)
"Infrastructure investment and rail connectivity were key milestones required to increase the capacity and services of the freight hub and the existing Coda rail offering between Auckland and Palmerston North," Mr Brownlee said.
"We now provide further opportunities for lower North Island exporters to access the two main ports in the North Island. The hub is an efficient supply chain ecosystem that will continue to remove waste from the North Island's freight network."
Mr Brownlee told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that the key message was not just about unlocking the lower North Island in terms of exports and domestic flows.
"This is a model that we are looking to roll out into some key strategic locations around New Zealand," he said.
Longer-term, the Auckland hub was being positioned as part of a broader network. Additional hubs could eventually be added in Palmerston North and Hamilton, as well as Rolleston, near Christchurch.
"You can't look at one in isolation, and you can't look at one as its own economic value proposition. We need to be looking at how they connect and how the modes connect between them," Mr Brownlee said.
The hub was a significant step in increasing the logistics capability required to consolidate cargo and service the larger ships now visiting New Zealand, he said.
"By working together with our customers and partners, we're delivering fresh, innovative supply chain solutions which will provide better matching of freight flows up and down the North Island and keep New Zealand businesses competitive," he said.
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said the port's vertical integration into the logistics business was aimed at giving the company more levers to change the way the cargo flows were moving around New Zealand.
In the past trains servicing the port had all been full in one direction, and nearly empty in the other. As a result of the freight hub, trains were now running at 97 per cent capacity, he said.
"That's because we can now match Fonterra products from Whareroa and Pahiatua going north, with fast-moving consumer goods going south. What started with our dipping a toe in the water with this concept has been so well-received by customers that we're now already at phase three with this opening."
Transport Minister and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges, who officially opened the hub, noted that the transport network moved around 50 tonnes of freight annually for every New Zealander.
"While some of this represents goods which are produced and consumed within a few kilometres, the vast majority comes to us from hundreds or thousands of kilometres away," he said.
"We are an exporting nation, and the efficient movement of freight is vital to New Zealand's economy."
By weight, 99 percent of New Zealand's exports and imports travel by sea, he said. However, they travel their first and last kilometres on land.
"Freight hubs, such as this one, allow integration of transport services."
KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said the recent Kaikoura earthquake had demonstrated how connected New Zealand's logistics partners needed to be.
"We're proud of the work we're doing to achieve this and welcome strong strategic partnerships like the one we have with Coda," he said.
"The facility not only means an increase in rail volumes, it is also helping change the way export and domestic volumes are flowing. This collaborative approach supports the growth of New Zealand businesses and in turn this brings significant benefits to the country."
Transport Minister Simon Bridges told yesterday's Coda hub opening that key export shipments such as dairy products and logs had been largely unaffected by the recent earthquake near Kaikoura.
"Inland freight hubs and alternative routes, such as coastal shipping from Auckland to Lyttleton, are allowing freight to continue flowing between our two main islands."
Coda chief executive Scott Brownlee said the earthquake had reinforced Coda's logistics strategy, with coastal shipping and rail becoming more important as a result of the disruption.
"It's always been about creating more resilience, and more cost-effective and balanced laneways," he said.
Coda intermodal freight hub
-Provides transport, product warehousing, cross-dock facilities, container loading and devanning, container storage, hire and a coastal shipping service moving up to 500 20 foot equivalent units per week to the South Island.
-The latest expansion includes a new 10,000sq m intermodal yard, 4950sq m warehouse extension, 6500sq m freight canopy, two rail sidings and, in 2017, an additional 7500sq m warehouse with additional freight canopy will be completed.