Measuring supply chain emissions and providing GIS support for Ports of Auckland

Using transportation and geospatial intelligence to build a carbon calculator

Ports of Auckland have a strong focus on measuring and reducing carbon emissions. They came up with the concept of a supply chain carbon calculator as an opportunity to add value to their customers by presenting the carbon impacts of their supply chain.

Rosie Mercer, General Manager of Sustainability at Ports of Auckland, explains that approaching Abley for support with the calculator was an easy choice.

Abley were absolutely the logical partner to work with because they have the ability to develop the transport and GIS spatial planning aspects of the project, then take the sustainability and carbon emissions data that we have and overlay the two.

Abley really have an edge in this space because they have transportation knowledge and experience within their organisation to tap into. So, when it came to doing the supply chain carbon calculator, knowing that Abley understood transport systems, we knew they could deliver.

We didn’t need to take a team who knew GIS technology and train them up on the transport aspects of our supply chain. In fact, Abley were able to guide us through some aspects to do with the transportation side of the project.

Transport infrastructure is a really important part of our business. We need it to make the port run. One of the things I like about the work that Abley does, is that they have a genuine interest in the New Zealand Inc. supply chain system. The supply chain is a phenomenally hard nut to crack, and between government, private and public sector organisations, too often everyone tries to do it on their own. But it’s not something to be done in isolation because there are so many interdependencies.

When I meet with Abley, I really enjoy that between us we share a genuine interest in making the supply chain more efficient for the good of New Zealand. You can tell by the engagement Abley have nationally, that they have an authentic interest in trying to make New Zealand’s transport network better.”

Empowering the Ports to tell more powerful stories to stakeholders

Ports of Auckland ended up with two separate versions of their supply chain carbon calculator because two teams within the organisation needed different solutions. Rosie elaborates:

Having thought initially that everyone would use the same calculator, our supply chain team needed quite a complex solution, because their work is based on really understanding and identifying the intricacies within the supply chain.

But from a stakeholder engagement perspective, for our owners, shareholders, political stakeholders, and community, we needed a simplified version that could help us tell a story about supply chain carbon emissions. Something easy to use.

An example of how important telling this story is, came when there was discussion around moving the Port to Northport. We used the carbon calculator to demonstrate the additional carbon emissions that would result from import cargo being transported from Northport to Auckland. No matter what port goods are shipped to, most still make their way to the 1.5 million people that live in Auckland.

It was really powerful being able to tell that story. And we’ve had great feedback from some of those stakeholders, including the Ministry of Transport, saying how useful the carbon calculator is.

And of course, for our supply chain team, who are working at a more detailed level. It’s really helpful to be able to visually share the different transport mode options that are available, and their associated carbon emissions, with our customers, on a digital platform.”

“All my experience with Abley has been exceptionally positive. I highly recommend them. And I don’t say that about everyone. I think it’s quite uncommon to be so consistently pleased with the work that you get from a team.”

Rosie Mercer,
General Manager of Sustainability,
Ports of Auckland

Why the Ports choose Abley as their GIS system support partner

In July 2020, Abley launched a new enterprise level GIS system for Ports of Auckland. The Ports began to use Abley for GIS support in 2016, and Rosie found that the Abley team were responsive to the Port’s needs.

Abley were able to respond quickly and provide user friendly solutions for our GIS products. So even although we previously had a different supplier for our main GIS platform, we started using Abley frequently for the more innovative pieces of GIS work.

Through that work, we developed a strong relationship with Abley. We could trust them to listen to our problems. Then they’d go away and turn around a prototype for us in a few days, come back and say: ‘Hey, is this heading down the right track?’

I have a fond memory of a demo that Abley did for us. We weren’t committed to the project. We wanted to have a play, to see what was possible, and if it would be valuable. So, we provided Abley with a load of data. And they pulled together something basic. Usually basic is fine, but I needed to show this prototype to other teams to get buy in. Because the demo was really basic it didn’t look so great. And the stakeholders who I needed to convince just didn’t warm to it.

So, the Abley team came in. We spent maybe three quarters of an hour with the key stakeholders, gave feedback and talked about the differentiations between our different services.

Within two days Abley delivered a new prototype that completely transformed the user experience. Abley had listened. They took onboard everything we said in that session. And they were able to turn a basic demo into something that wowed the stakeholders and showed them how they could use this tool. I was impressed with the way Abley turned that project around.”

The power of focus

Rosie explains why she recommends Abley to organisations needing support with their geospatial technology and transportation planning.

Abley have a strong technical base in transportation and geospatial intelligence. They have a strategic perspective because they have a genuine interest in the New Zealand transport infrastructure and they’re technically very competent.

Our experience is that Abley respond very quickly and efficiently to our needs. We get clear, open communication about aspects of projects that may be challenging. And they suggest alternative, easier ways to do things.

Abley don’t want to be everything to everyone. You see that with a lot of other consultancies now. But Abley stick to their specialist skills. And I think that’s why my experience with them has been so great.”

Chris Morris
Associate Director, Location + Technology