Introducing Page Macrae Engineering: Port Equipment for a Cleaner, Safer Environment

With heightened global environmental concerns, here’s how port operators can be both sustainable and viable

Page Macrae Engineering is an equipment manufacturing company based in New Zealand whose innovative dry bulk handling products offer real solutions to a common environmental problem found at ports.

As a newcomer to the Americas market, we are pleased to support the company’s efforts to bring attention solutions that can benefit ports and all who are at work across the region’s ports and terminals. 

Here we speak with Peter Swan, general manager of sales and marketing to get to know his company. Look for the story on “fugitive dust” in Breakbulk magazine Issue 6 2020 and tune into the BreakbulkONE Show on Thursday, Sept. 29 to learn more and see the equipment in action.

Leslie: Tell us about Macrae Engineering.

Peter: Page Macrae Engineering is a privately owned company started by our founders 1955. We cut our teeth in the maritime industry within New Zealand and in those days  ships were here for a couple of weeks at a time. We were all over them from the engine rooms to servicing the bulk equipment that was unloading them.

Times have changed. Ships move through quite quickly. While we were servicing that port equipment gear, we felt we could make better products. It's turned into quite a successful range of products across the world for us. We have around 200 employees here and we export our products around the world.

We have a multi-disciplined company across quite a large number of infrastructure projects, but the port handling equipment is a major part of our business. Around the world, we were seeing environmental protection agencies asking for more compliance in part because more people are moving closer to port environments—urban creep—and with that comes more awareness about people's health and the desire to become a more responsible corporate citizen.

Leslie: Over the last nine months, we’ve seen increased attention to environmental issues. With mass quarantines, people saw an immediate impact on their environment: less air pollution and clearer waters. How does Page Macrae fit into a green outlook?

Peter: During COVID and the lockdowns, the concern for people’s health was heightened. It reignited environmental concerns. The challenge we see with our clients around the world is that they must remain sustainable and they still have to have business continuity. Our bulk handling equipment, grabs and dust suppression hoppers, continue to do that for clients; they can continue in business rather than stopping work or having to stop for compliance and dust issues. They are very aware that they have to compete in their own markets and be efficient. So, we think we've found a really good merge of those two areas.

Leslie: Your equipment is used in ports around the world, but I understand that you are looking for a larger footprint throughout the Americas. Tell me about that.

Peter: Yes, our predominant market started with New Zealand, followed by Australia where we have handling equipment in most major ports. We have a proven history of solving a lot of issues from traditional products like fertilizers and grains. The first lot of “dusties” products was clean cut, but now we're even helping Australia with the likes of a few more “nasties" in minimal concentrates where you really don't want anything airborne. 

That region was the launching pad for us and now have hoppers and grabs into Lima, Taipei and Canada. We really excited to be able to show your part of the world what we can offer.

Leslie: Your equipment is designed primarily for dry bulk cargo. How does that fit into the breakbulk industry?

Peter: We see a crossover between the dry bulk and breakbulk operations where our product equipment covers all facets of the cargo industry. We feel it's important to make the information and then the products available to operators, stevedores, ports and the product owners.

We can assist in maintaining their strong situational awareness around the challenges they're facing that we've alluded to so far today, and to be prepared with options which are key to their sustainability and growth.
Watch the full interview with Peter Swan

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