Magazine article New Zealand Management

FACE TO FACE: Jens Madsen - Berth Controller; When You Preside over a Company That Occupies Some 70 Hectares of Prime Waterfront Real Estate in New Zealand,COs Biggest City, Some Negative Attention Is Inevitable. Add the Result of a Downturn that,COs Slashed Ports of Auckland Profits and Things Could Look Grim ,Co So Why Does Managing Director Jens Madsen Describe His as a ,C[pounds Sterling]dream job,C[yen]?

Magazine article New Zealand Management

FACE TO FACE: Jens Madsen - Berth Controller; When You Preside over a Company That Occupies Some 70 Hectares of Prime Waterfront Real Estate in New Zealand,COs Biggest City, Some Negative Attention Is Inevitable. Add the Result of a Downturn that,COs Slashed Ports of Auckland Profits and Things Could Look Grim ,Co So Why Does Managing Director Jens Madsen Describe His as a ,C[pounds Sterling]dream job,C[yen]?

Article excerpt

Byline: Vicki Jayne

The control room at Ports of Auckland HQ is impressively high tech; banks of screens detail every aspect of port activity Co but managing director Jens Madsen isnCOt happy. NZ ManagementCOs visit has coincided with a shift changeover and the scene below is a bit static Co more straddle carrier park than bustling port.

This is the nerve centre of an operation that connects New Zealand businesses with 164 international ports in 64 countries and Madsen is keen to demonstrate how it conducts the finely orchestrated dance of machinery designed to boost port productivity. Screens show how real-time movements are measured down to minutes and metres. The name of the game is optimisation.

C[pounds sterling]A key issue for us is that the fewer number of times we have to touch the container the better,C[yen] explains Madsen. C[pounds sterling]For the customer [the shipping lines], itCOs all about our ability to turn the ship around as fast as possible. To assist that, we need to make sure the straddles out there are interacting optimally with the cranes. From the containers arriving outside the gate until theyCOre alongside the ship Co all is tracked and measured from here.C[yen]

If you can eliminate truck queues, cut metres from each straddle journey, minimise container movements Co itCOs all money saved. Madsen does a sample sum.

C[pounds sterling]If youCOre handling say 600,000 containers a year and you can cut just $1 off each container, thatCOs $600,000 a year saved. If you can cut $10 off then thatCOs $6 million Co thatCOs a lot of money. This is the main focus for the new team we have in place...C[yen]

ThatCOs why a screen tracking real-time productivity has pride of place in the reception area. ItCOs all part of keeping the operation competitive Co something even more vital as recession slows the tides of world trade.

Port profits no doubt will be impacted in response to the reduction of both inward and outward traffic across the wharves Co imported vehicles dropped by nearly 24 percent in the last half of 2008. Shipping lines, struggling to pay for the vessel upgrades ordered in more buoyant times but coming on-stream now, are carefully scrutinising their own costs. Ports of Auckland has to remain an attractive option for the newer, bigger ships now plying the main trade routes, says Madsen.

C[pounds sterling]Today we are getting reasonably large ships into our ports. In future, unless we as a country prepare ourselves properly, then we might find that the larger ships come only as far as Australia before turning back to Asia and we would get smaller ships feeding cargoes into New Zealand. That would be unfortunate Co importers and exporters would be suffering from that because we would then become very dependent on what is happening in Australia. I think it would be better if we can remain master of our own destiny.

C[pounds sterling]That is a major concern to us. The other is that we as a business entity stay on top of cost management. We really need to be thinking in terms of innovation, in terms of product development. How do we trim the cost we create at the port? How do we ensure we can offer solutions where the fat has been cut out so we have a lean supply chain that provides as high as possible value proposition and lean as possible costs.C[yen]

MadsenCOs enthusiasm starts playing havoc with his syntax Co that and the slight formality in his accented speech betray his European origins. But at 50, heCOs now spent a big chunk of life away from his Danish homeland Co in places as diverse as the United States, Japan, Ireland and the Ukraine.

C[pounds sterling]ICOve always found it very exciting to get to new places Co even the Ukraine, which was a very tough environment. It was just after the collapse of the Soviet Union so personal safety was an issue.C[yen]

That turns out to be something of an understatement, but Madsen doesnCOt want to dramatise. …

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