Day 11: Logistics

              Today we got a tour guide named Mac, who grew up in the States but now lives and works in Shanghai in the forwarding industry. On the but he talked to us about logistics and stayed with us through the company visit and port visit. At Ocean East International Logistics we learned about how they’re moving forward in the next 5 years to a platform- based system which is similar to booking hotels. People in the logistics industry really want to integrate computer science in order to improve the effectiveness of forwarding, but at the same time, not all companies want their forwarding process to be that transparent. We walked through their warehouse in our highlighter yellow safety vests. It was cool to see that they have AI robots moving the boxes around, although there is still manual labor used to unload the trucks. These employees are paid by the boxes they move not by the hour, which is different from in the States. At home many companies tend to shy away from commission-based payment because they want to emphasize a team-based environment at work, but in China the competitive salary is used to maximize productivity. It’s also interesting that the robots they use cost 1.5x what manual labor would, so they actually aren’t efficient but rather more of a marketing ploy.

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From there, we visited Yang Shan Port, which blew me away. On the way there, I saw wind turbines out the windows, in perfect rows in the middle of the water, which was an unexpected place to see them located. The port is almost like its own little town and it reminds me of a military base from movies with mountains in the back. There are containers everywhere! Apparently there are 36 million housed there each year, with a turnover every 3 days.  It seemed like the stacks of containers just kept going and going. Much like the warehouse, the port had a new AI center towards the front for continued research and development. I love the idea that the Chinese government essentially gave a group of engineers a budget and told them to build the largest port in the world. I can only imagine working on a project like that.

After that, the rest of the day was much calmer. We had lunch, and I’m starting to pick up the subtle differences in the food. Shanghai is much more sweet and sour, whereas Xi’an was spicier. Then, we went back to the noodle place we had been trying to find the day before. It was absolutely delicious and different than anything else we had eaten, so it made sense when Dr. Li said they were Japanese style noodles. Later that night we went to another mall further out, one subway stop down, to explore it and see what it was like. It was another ridiculously high 8 story mall, but it did have the first parking lot I’ve seen in Shanghai! Overall, today was information packed with the visits, so the night was a bit slower, ending with a few games of mahjong.

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