Page 53

Downer_Magazine_Issue_One

Over the past decade, as forestry has developed into an economic pillar of the Tairawhiti region, Gisborne’s port has become an increasingly important hub for log exports. Eastland Port is now the site of New Zealand’s second-largest log export operation, after Tauranga, with up to 10,000 tonnes of logs being brought in every day. “The port is just going gangbusters with its log exports – it seems to be breaking its own records every month” says Derek Walker, Downer Branch Manager for Gisborne. However, the pressure that’s placed on infrastructure created an urgent need to upgrade the port’s main log-handling area. There has been a port on the site for more than 150 years and, while much of it has kept pace with the times, the huge open-air cargo site was causing real problems. It was dusty in summer, muddy in winter, and stacking logs on the uneven ground posed a real health and safety risk. The port’s owner, Eastland Group, turned to Downer and work began in January 2011. The three-year project worth $15 million, would transform the seven-hectare site into a safer, more efficient and more productive facility. “It is probably one of the largest cement stabilisation projects undertaken in New Zealand,” says Walker. The first step was to build a solid base: “The hard standing features three layers of metal that are bound together with cement. We also replaced the drainage system, which was quite poor.” The final step was to lay the asphalt surface and for this, Downer brought in one of the few mobile asphalt plants in New Zealand. Capable of producing 60 tonnes of high quality polymer-modified asphalt per hour, it ran for up to 10 hours a day at the height of the project. The biggest challenge facing Walker and his team was the fact that they had to operate within a live, working port for the entire project. Not only was it an operational challenge to work around the port’s schedule, there was a significant safety risk, with vehicles moving amid large piles of logs. What’s more, along with a seven-year warranty clause covering the quality of the completed job, the penalty system built into the contract was always on Walker’s mind. If Downer didn’t complete and free up a required log storage area on time, it would pay Eastland Port a penalty of around $3,000 a day. DEREK WALKER FROM DUSTY AND DANGEROUS TO STREAMLINED AND EFFICIENT, EASTLAND GROUP’S GISBORNE PORT HAS BEEN TRANSFORMED WITH HELP FROM DOWNER “We did a lot of planning going into the project and we managed it carefully all the way through,” says Walker. “It was a very tight contract and we learned a lot as we went so, even though we encountered some problems, each stage went more smoothly than the one before.” The project team continually looked for solutions that would save time without compromising quality. One example was the adoption of a laser control for the grader operator, who had previously had to rely on markings on the ground, and a string line, to gain level. With the project completed in June 2013, both sides are satisfied with the result. “The new hard surfaces have made it a lot easier and safer to stack logs,” says Walker. “Port staff can move their vehicles faster and more easily, and make the whole dock area more efficient in moving logs to the ships.” Not only is the log-export operation more efficient now – in its 2012 annual report, Eastland estimated that the project was producing a 20 per cent increase in efficiency. The project has helped future-proof an important link in the economic development of the Gisborne region and indeed, New Zealand. DOWNER / IN BLACK & WHITE / 51


Downer_Magazine_Issue_One
To see the actual publication please follow the link above