State's engine room - AAT

AAT: A maritime terminal operator that provides facilities and equipment for stevedoring of vessels and landside services for the import and export industry. Photo: Supplied
AAT: A maritime terminal operator that provides facilities and equipment for stevedoring of vessels and landside services for the import and export industry. Photo: Supplied

A finalist in the 2021 Illawarra Business Awards - Excellence in Import and Export, Australian Amalgamated Terminals (AAT) has been a quiet achiever in the Illawarra for 14 years.

Their site developments and operations have contributed greatly to the economy in the Illawarra and more broadly NSW.

"Our business capabilities are critical to the import and export of non-containerised cargo for the state," a spokesperson said. "The economic benefit to the Illawarra in wages, goods consumed and services are significant.

AAT Port Kembla successfully handles imports and exports of cars, trucks, agricultural equipment, construction equipment, project equipment and materials, public transport infrastructure, steel products, building materials, grain, fertilizer, clinker, soda ash and other cargo.

Their core business is importing cars that arrive on about 350 vessels per annum plus many other vessels with cargoes handled at four AAT berths.

This included significant infrastructure items in 2020/2021 such as Bango Wind Farm - 46 wind farm turbines, Snowy Hydro 2 - three tunnel boring machines, and NIF Trains - NSW New Intercity Fleet of trains and carriages of 550 units.

In 2020/2021 there was a challenge for AAT to handle export growth in steel products from BlueScope Steel and Bisalloy.

"The terminal also saw growth in export grain," he said. "A huge increase in trains for grain tipping to silos for export shipping."

Cargoes are very diverse so each requires specialised handling such as 32 pieces of heavy equipment, container handlers - both top frame and reach stacker, and several cranes.

The site now consists of 49 hectares of hard stand, offices and warehouses. Services include berthing vessels, facilitating stevedoring discharge and loading, receiving export cargoes and vessel loading, crane lift operations, storage areas for import and export cargo, managing Customs and Department of Agriculture requirements, keeping cargo secure with 24/7 security and interface with transport companies.

AAT directly employs 35 staff and contractors, and provides services to approximately 650 other maritime industry participants.

AAT - Driving Efficiency Through Innovation.

How COVID was tackled

Car manufacturing plants were closed worldwide for varying periods due to COVID.

The implications for AAT Port Kembla were significant loss of import car volumes (70,000 car units down) from April 2020 through to September 2020. Management and staff had to take annual leave to somewhat absorb the impact of reduced car imports.

"In the lead up AAT had been negotiating to attract several project cargoes to Port Kembla - thankfully AAT were successful...which meant a better performing year," the spokesperson said.

"With the successful attraction of project cargoes to the port, AAT was able to create several import opportunities.

"The Business Awards are a welcome acknowledgement of business capabilities and community benefit - to celebrate with the wider Illawarra business community."

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