Blog Day 11: Container City

It was a very early morning today for us.  We had to be ready at 7:15 for a 2-hour bus ride for a company visit.  It wasn’t the worst, and I was able to get breakfast, but it wasn’t preferable.  The breakfast was good, as it usually is, but that is par for the course of any 5-star hotel.

We had a tour guide today who was an industry insider.  Mac Sullivan, our tour guide, works for Toll Global Forwarding and has extensive experience in China as a shipping consultant.  He is a consultant for companies that need to get their products shipped.  He acts as a travel agent for cargo.  He will book and reserve all of the different transportations for the cargo

Today’s visit took us to Ocean East International Logistics, which is located right by Yangshan Deepwater Port.  Our presenter was highly informed about how the shipping logistics industry works.  He was able to explain to us how the industry currently operates and what new innovations are coming into the industry.  After the presentation, we were able to visit the company’s warehouse right next door.  The warehouse uses Automated Guided Vehicle (AVG) forklifts to process cargo within the warehouse.  It was amazing to see them in action.  They zoomed around the warehouse and only stopped when they detected something in front of them, and if it was another forklift, they just moved around each other.  Although it was cool to watch them move around, it was later explained to us by Mac that the AVGs weren’t as cost-effective as just using manual labor because the AVGs couldn’t process as many pallets as actual people could.  The company only used them as a marketing ploy.

After the company visit, we boarded the bus again to go out to visit the largest port in the world.  To get there, since the port was situated on a small series of islands in the Bay of Shanghai about 30 km off the coast, we had to take a bridge.  The bridge is massive, stretching about 30 km, making it one of the longest bridges in the world.  The bridge is primarily used by trucks taking cargo containers to and from the port, although Mac pointed out to us that it is probably more efficient to use a train to cross the distance.

The port itself feels like a city of cargo containers.  Stacks of containers stretch for what seems like miles and countless cranes vehicles scattered throughout the port. We were able to see the port from a nice vantage point and get a great view of the port.  Mac told us that any given container ship spends only 24 hours in the port before pushing off.  These ships hold thousands of containers, so unloading and then loading a full load of containers is absolutely mind boggling.  We were all able to get some gorgeous photos of the port.  After about half an hour of enjoying the view, we boarded the bus and made our way back to the hotel for some free time.

-Steve

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