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Matt Ball

Head of Communications, Ports of Auckland, New Zealand

Small, smart & fast – A small port’s ambition to work smarter & faster to reduce congestion, emissions and our impact on the community.

Ports of Auckland is located in the heart of Auckland city, surrounded by residential suburbs and located on a beautiful, much loved harbour.  Constrained on the seaward side by community opposition to port expansion, and on the landward side by increasing road congestion, Ports of Auckland is having to look for more innovative ways to work in order to keep moving.  Auckland city is also growing fast, adding to the pressure on the roads as people and freight compete for space.
The company’s response is to work smarter, both through the application of technology and by improving its processes.  It will be the first port in New Zealand to automate its container terminal, and only the third pure straddle terminal in the world to do so.  We are making greater use of business analytic tools to firstly understand the flow of trucks to and from the port, and then to change our business rules to encourage change throughout the supply chain.
We are attempting to make greater use of rail for containers, but this is very challenging as we are located very close (15-20kms) to the distribution centres that receive and send containerised freight.  Rail struggles to compete with road.  We are looking at automating our rail grid to reduce cost, building a rail-connected inland port network to gain supply chain efficiencies and partnerships with the rail company and transport agencies to make rail transport more attractive to customers.

Biography

Matt has been Head of Communications at Ports of Auckland since 2012.  Ports of Auckland is a located in downtown Auckland, so close to the CBD that cruise passengers can walk off their ship and straight onto the city’s main shopping street.  It is surrounded on all sides by residential suburbs, and it shares the harbour with a large number of recreational sailors – Auckland is sometimes known as ‘The City of Sails’.
As a result of its location, the port is subject to a great deal of scrutiny and Matt’s time at the port has been marked by some major communications challenges.  When he first started, at the company was in the grip of a bitter industrial dispute which lasted three years, and there has been ongoing (and sometimes acrimonious) debate over port expansion and its location.
Prior to working at the port Matt spent six years in stakeholder communications at London Underground and four years in a similar role for British train company Southern Rail.  Matt started his communications career over 20 years ago in the New Zealand Parliament.