Matson improves customer service, addresses environmental concerns

O‘AHU — Better technology, customer service and a stronger focus on environmental concerns were the key items on the agenda on Tuesday at the 28th annual Matson Navigation Company Hawaii Media Meeting in Honolulu on Tuesday afternoon.

Matson CEO Jim Andrasick discussed the company’s present state and also offered news about the future direction of the company.

“We have a number of reasons to feel confident about the future prospects and future direction of our business,” Andrasick said. “Matson is now well positioned to provide superior levels of service to our customers during a time in which Hawai‘i’s economy continues to show improvement.”

Among the chief concerns on Tuesday was the company’s new GPS technology that allows them to further automate the terminal’s operation.

In 2003, Matson Terminals introduced a new electronic interchange ticket (EIT) system.

This new system, developed with the full support of Hawai‘i’s trucking community, utilizes GPS technology to communicate with truckers entering Matson Terminals’ facility at Sand Island, providing them with specific information about the location of where they are to pick up or deliver freight in the yard.

Coupled with the existing GPS technology installed on all of Matson Terminals’ container handling equipment and Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) at the gates, the overall system provides the company with accurate, real-time information that automatically tracks the movement of virtually any equipment or trucks within the operation.

“This investment in technology gives us the tools necessary to improve the level of service we provide to our customers, resulting in a more efficient, and therefore less expensive, operation all around,” said Andrasick.

“As a terminal facility operating on an island, Matson Terminals has been able to effectively implement these technologies largely because of our close working relationship with O‘ahu’s trucking community.”

Customer service

In a recent survey by Logistics Management magazine, Matson was ranked No. 1 in customer service for ocean carriers, both domestic and international.

The national annual survey rates transportation companies in five key service areas: on-time performance, value, information technology, customer service and equipment and operations. Matson ranked a close second in the ocean carrier category.

The Matson subsidiary, Matson Intermodal System, ranked number one in the survey in the intermodal marketing company (IMC) category.

This is third consecutive year Matson Intermodal has received the Quest for Quality award and the second time it ranked No. 1.

Safety and environmental concerns

In 2002, Matson became the first U.S.-flag container vessel company to expand its management system to include fall compliance with the American Bureau of Shipping’s (ABS) Safety, Quality and Environmental Systems.

Matson’s S.S. Chief Gadao was the first of the company’s ships to be Safety, Quality and Environmental (SQE) certified under the exacting, internationally recognized standards established by ABS.

“As of Tuesday, seven Matson vessels have been SQE certified. By year’s end, all but two will be certified, with the balance to be completed in early 2004,” said Andrasick. “Companies that are integrating safety, quality and environmental management systems benefit with increased efficiency, customer satisfaction, safer operations, reduced accidents and reduced claims.”

According to the Matson CEO, the company is actively involved in a number of environmental initiatives.

The “Container for the Land” program involves donating container equipment for environmental cleanups conducted by several Hawai‘i non-profit organizations.

The Matson CEO also talked about the “Zero Solid Waste Discharge” program which involves reducing the amount of waste thrown overboard to food scraps while a vessel is at sea.

The formation of the program began in 1993, when representatives from the Center for Marine Conservation (now known as the Ocean Conservancy) rode aboard Matson’s S.S. Matsonia and evaluated how waste was disposed of on a commercial vessel while at sea.

That organization then came back with recommendations for how materials could be recycled or stored in a special area for disposal at a land-based co-generation plant.

New procedures were developed and a special green container was stowed on deck, with the specific purpose of using it as storage unit for waste materials. Once in port, the green container is transported to a cogeneratsion plant for disposal of waste materials.

The program was expanded to all vessels in the Hawai‘i service, and then later to Guam vessels. Last year, Matson spent $224,000 to replace the existing containers, some of which had been in use since the program began.

Remembering R. J. “Bobby” Pfeiffer

Andrasick also took time to pay tribute to R. J. “Bobby” Pfeiffer, who died on Sept. 26.

Pfeiffer was at the helm of Matson for 19 years, longer than any other Matson CEO since the company’s founder, Captain William Matson.

“Pfeiffer led Matson’s transformation into one of the world’s most efficient ocean transportation companies, shaping and directing a $400 million capital investment program that modernized both the company’s fleet and its terminals in Hawai‘i and on the West Coast,” Andrasick said.

“Beyond his contribution to the Matson and A&B, Bob Pfeiffer was respected and admired by our employees, industry officials and community organizations. He was passionate about the maritime industry in particular and loved ships and seafarers.”

Matson’s flagship vessel, the MV R. J. Pfeiffer, was named after the former CEO.


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