“Productivity is the big driver. No one wants to deal with a slow turnaround operation, because disruptions have costly ripple effects. Exchanging information in advance is critical. Yard planning depends on our systems talking to exporters, service providers, transporters, and pack points. We’re part of a chain and the last thing you want is a mad scramble to sort out where to put cargo. Good management of logistics is extremely important.”

- Graeme Pont, Performance and Improvements Manager IT, Port Otago


Port companies strive to deliver friendly, fast-turnaround port services while dredging, infrastructure investment and even joint ventures between ports and customers spice up competition. No less significant is a technology revolution helping turn ships around faster. With Master Terminal, Port Otago is working smarter and faster.

One of the largest reefer handling port in the southern hemisphere (with 1,850 reefer points), it’s also New Zealand’s deepest container port. Its four terminals, including inland satellite depots and a 4,000-container port yard, link Otago’s economy to the world.


Graeme Pont has worked at Port Otago for 42 years. There isn’t much the performance improvement manager doesn’t know about the operation.

Years ago, he explains, Port Otago mainly dealt with shipping lines. But as times changed, smart terminal management systems with community-wide access became key. Ports adopted distributed systems to manage more day-to-day workflow, then engaged large exporters and importers.

The 90s were heady times for IT, as enterprise software automated processes and linked back and front offices. This watershed period drew Pont to a lead role in implementing Master Terminal, seeing Port Otago achieve a world first by running a terminal management system 24/7 on a Windows/Intel system. Pont worked closely with Jade Logistics, back in a time of green screens and paper printouts of plans.

“We’ve come a long way from the first system,” he said. “the developers spent a lot of time understanding our processes and built the flexibility we required. Issues like weather, breakages and ship delays make port logistics extremely complex, and affect planning and pre-planning. So it requires a diverse software package.”

Today, after almost 20 years, Master Terminal is still helping run Port Otago’s multi-modal operation which exports dairy, meat, fish, and agricultural products with a combined throughput of around 150-200,000 TEUs.