Logistics, Ports & Terminals

Checking the pulse of port industry

ABHR sat down with Peter Swan from Page Macrae Engineering to find out what the business learned from BULK2022 and the Ports Australia conference.

ABHR sat down with Peter Swan from Page Macrae Engineering to find out what the business learned from BULK2022 and the Ports Australia conference.

Page Macrae Engineering believes face-to-face communication is one of the most important aspects of doing business.

Unfortunately for the New Zealand-based business, the numerous lockdowns and social-distancing requirements made this all but impossible for two years.

Peter Swan, GM sales and marketing at Page Macrae Engineering, said that while Zoom calls help customers stay in communication, this pales in comparison to being there in person.

“There’s nothing like sitting down with someone, laying down documents on a table and explaining the engineering behind a product,” Swan told ABHR. “You can gauge the physical reactions much better than over a video call. 

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“There’s also a human factor as well; it shows you care enough to make the effort to be there, building a connection and strengthening the purpose.”

This is one of the main reasons Page Macrae’s team found the recent BULK2022 show in Melbourne so powerful – everyone who attended had a reason to be there.

Swan and his colleague, Bruce Ennis, flew to Australia to meet with the company’s clients – primarily stevedores, port operators and suppliers – and to showcase its expanded range of equipment.

The event meant current and potential customers could see the entire range, including minimum viable product concepts.

Swan said by the second day, everyone in the team was run off their feet with meetings and inquisitive attendees that they had never met before.

“During our conversations, we wanted to make sure we understood the challenges the industry was facing,” he said.

“Understanding the challenges our customers face feeds into the solutions we can provide.

“Just about every client said dust emissions were a major pain point for them, which was validating for us as we have made it a focus for our upcoming developments.”

Regulatory compliance and sustainability are two other common pain points that Page Macrae’s customers shared. 

As more people begin living near ports, less dust and fewer noise emissions are tolerated. This leads to regulators clamping down, with strict penalties for operations that do not comply.

But ports still need to maintain throughput and efficiency, and supply-chain disruptions across the world have had a flow-on effect, causing delays and increasing the necessity to process shipments as soon as possible.

Maintaining biosecurity measures is also a key issue, with ports preferring equipment and technology that is easy to clean when swapping between different materials.

Swan said Page Macrae’s range of bulk grabs proved popular among conference attendees. 

“You can swap out and interchange the different grabs and bucket sizes, which reduces the amount of capital expenditure required to handle different materials,” he said. The development of grab dust covers to minimise wind carry off of product was also seen as a key feature.

“Big ports often have a massive mixture of cargos coming and going, but smaller ports might not be able to justify capital expenditure for dedicated cranes.

“Being able to move more tonnes of cargo faster also improves productivity, which ports around the world are looking to improve.”

The Ports Australia conference reinforced the theme of risk and resilience where all that attended, be it shipping lines, ports, or stevedores, seemed aligned in forging forward with more sustainable practises whilst engaging in technology to maximise efficient throughput and improve the working environment from a safety aspect.

Following on from the trade show, Page Macrae is engaging closely with its clients to improve how its products fit the industry’s challenges.

Page Macrae plans to keep its finger on the pulse its core market in 2023 and expand further into Australia.

“Change happens fast, and if you’re not in touch with what your customers need, you could go down a path that’s not fit for purpose,” Swan said.

“We want to take our support for our stevedoring and port clients to the next level and will be expanding our range and services – especially in the environmental, sustainability and compliance space” 

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