Day 11: Visiting the Island of Boxes

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May 16, 2018

We were happily greeted this morning by an unfamiliar face in the hotel lobby. I was surprised because this man was not Chinese, but American. His name was Mac Sullivan and would be our personal tour guide for the company and site visit we were going to today. Mac was from the United States and had moved to China and started a family. He works for Toll Global Forwarding as the Greater China Trade Lane Manager. Mac’s job consists of making sure goods can be traded successfully between the United States and China. This is pretty cool because his company is one of the more important links within the supply chain of the two countries.

The bus ride took about an hour and half before we arrived at the Ocean East International Logistics company headquarters. We walked into a room and was given a presentation by Sen Lin, one of their general managers. He gave us a little more insight on the warehouse and distribution industry in China and what the future looks like for his company. Logistics is all about optimizing clients’ inventory cost against supply effectiveness. In other words, they try to ship goods in the most efficient way possible for the cheapest price. The tricky part is finding the right path. Mr. Lin talked a lot about how in this new generation, most young people do not want to be blue collar workers in the logistics industry. This means that there will be a lack of manual labor and less truck drivers and such for shipping goods. So, they are working to revolutionize warehousing with technology.

Instead of just telling us about their innovations in the office room, they brought the group to one of the warehouses to show us. There were rows and rows of boxes everywhere and machines going around moving them. Mr. Lin called them Automatic Guidance Vehicles or AGV for short. These machines were forklifts programmed to move boxes to different areas of the warehouse. It was really neat to see these machines driving around with no one in the seat to control them.

After the warehouse visit, we hopped back on the bus to drive to the Yang Shan Port, the largest cargo port in the world.  The coolest part about it was that it was its own island. When we arrived, I could not believe my eyes. The port was humongous; there were millions of crates stacked everywhere and huge cranes to move them. There were also lots of trucks and ships lined up ready to move shipments off the island. We climbed the rock to the highest point and we could see all across the port. It was quite the view. I also noticed that there were more AGV’s working, so the whole industry is looking to incorporate technology. The world will always need help in logistics, that is a given. Yet, with newer technology and machines to create a more efficient supply chain, the industry will be revolutionized.

We headed back to the hotel for a relaxing afternoon to hang out and explore more of the city. For dinner, we found a local noodle restaurant which was pretty good. I can’t believe the trip is almost coming to an end. The days are going by way too fast.

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