When a natural disaster hit New Zealand (NZ) causing devastating flooding and cutting off areas of the North Island eliciting a state of national emergency for only the third time in NZ history, Z Energy called on TNS to help. 

The Customer

Z Energy (Z) is one of NZs largest fuel retailers and distributors, operating nearly 200 service stations and approximately 160 truck stops. In time of national emergency Wairoa District Council asked that Z Energy supply fuel for the emergency services dealing with the crisis and support the local community with access to basis supplies such as food and water.

The Challenge

With Cyclone Gabrielle having caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage including a total communications blackout, the region’s traditional telecommunications infrastructure, broadband and cellular, could not be brought back online quickly enough to aid the emergency service response, despite the providers best efforts.

The Solution

As a carrier, network and technology agnostic service provider, Z engaged TNS to bring back online Z and Caltex retail service stations, truck stops, and air stops that could be accessed in the affected area with TNS Secure SD-WAN services using Starlink satellite terminals to enable Internet access. The solution was deployed from zero to fully operational in just three days. 

Results

The outcome was about more than technology or enabling a business to operate. TNS and Z’s relationship helped enable activation of emergency services, provision of fuel supplies and retail outlets to open and trade via card payments, rather than just using cash, which was important when the traditional communications were affected by blackouts meaning many ATMs were also down. 

Trust, a key factor in times of crisis  

TNS has partnered with Z to supply a Secure SD-WAN solution for Z’s network of retail stores since 2020, a solution which facilitated modernization of the customer experience and significant reductions in site setup time. This relationship was vital in helping provide assurance that TNS could deploy a solution that would be operational and enable mission-critical infrastructure quickly, effectively and reliably in particularly challenging circumstances.  

Global Support to a Local Disaster 

TNS is a carrier, network and technology agnostic service provider, which was significant in deploying a solution when broadband and cellular networks were completely down. TNS having the flexibility to think outside of the box and confines of agreement and expectations enabled a quick, agile and bespoke solution with technology that could be cutover quickly.  

The starlink solution was also chosen because of its ability to withstand extreme weather conditions. TNS and Z prepared customized care packages, which included Starlink devices with self-orienting antennas, Fortinet routers, cables, and base units as well as detailed written instructions for the technicians that would deploy the services at each location, delivered by air. With Z’s team available on-site and TNS’ ability to offer global operations and 24x7x365 support, the solution was configured, gained security approval, and was deployed from zero to fully operational status in just three days

“Z and TNS worked together with an extremely tight timeframe to design, assemble, configure, and verify a working solution we could drop into a disaster zone. Between us, we were confident we had the expertise and ability to ship a solution in record time.” Callan McLaughlin, Head of Site Systems, Z Energy.  

Enabling emergency response, supporting local communities, and planning for the future 

the successful deployment of an emergency communication method was about more than technology and enabling a business to operate. It made a genuine difference to the community.  

TNS and Z’s relationship helped enable: 

  • The activation of emergency services in the affected areas, helping residents and providing critical care and support to those affected by the damage.  
  • The provision of new fuel supplies with the knowledge of what was required on site as roads began to reopen.  
  • Caltex truck stops to open and supply fuel to trucks aiding the response. 
  • Z retail outlets to open and trade via card payments rather than using just cash – important when the traditional communications channels were affected by the blackouts meaning many ATMs were also down 

Following the successful emergency response to this incident, TNS and Z are currently working on a standardized “Emergency Network in a Box” that can be quickly and reliably deployed in areas affected by any future emergency events. 

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