Auckland the command centre for global supply chain

Highly-regarded hazardous goods declaration system developed in-house

As the CIO of an international company with its base in Auckland, Kevin Drinkwater works with staff here and in the US, Australia and Asia.

His company, Mainfreight, provides domestic and worldwide supply chain solutions, while Drinkwater is one of a handful of New Zealand CIOs with global responsibilities.

In the September CIO New Zealand magazine Drinkwater provides insights on managing a global team, quickly assessing the ICT of Mainfreight acquisitions and integrating it with the company’s systems, while also ensuring the ongoing development and utilisation of ICT in the freight market.

“The key is getting out there with the users,” he says. “It is very important that we all involve ourselves with the business, talk to the people out there and find out what is going on.”

His ICT team has developed specialised software systems that have bought new business to the company on a worldwide basis.

The innovative technology includes an interactive voice system to trace freight when customers dial in; Mainchain, which provides answers to queries on all aspects of the supply chain across company divisions and countries; and a highly-regarded hazardous goods declaration system.

The reason these problems came to light, along with their successful resolution, was through ‘management by walking around’, which Drinkwater says is a “big thing” in Mainfreight and certainly in the ICT group.

His successful management style proves working with teams across the world is no barrier to applying this philosophy.

For example, two years ago Drinkwater was in the Los Angeles office of CaroTrans, a Mainfreight subsidiary. A key manager he wanted to speak to said she was too busy to meet with him. On enquiring what was taking up so much of her time, she showed him the amount of effort required to create hazardous goods declarations for the ports and shipping lines.

“The degree of effort required was something I was unaware of and our system did not cater for what they needed. The process has been changed and the information flows automatically through the entire process from the time we accept the booking, through its movement across the US to export ports.”

• Read more in September’s CIO

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