Day 11: Warehouse of the Future

I woke up and suited up, ready for the first day of company visits in Shanghai. When we got on the bus we met Mac, an American living in Shanghai. His job is to arrange logistics and shipping for companies shipping medium amounts of cargo. Small amounts of cargo aren’t important enough to be managed by a third-party logistics company and companies that ship large volumes of cargo are big enough to negotiate directly with the shipping companies without using a third-party logistics company as the middle man. The first company we visited was East Ocean Logistics, a warehousing company. They gave an interesting presentation about warehousing in China and third-party logistics in general, but the highlight of the company was a tour of a warehouse. The warehouse was fully fun by AGVs, or autonomous guided vehicles. All the forklifts in the warehouse were self-driving. They just drove themselves around the warehouse lifting and stacking pallets. It was bizarre and unsettling to see forklifts interacting with each other with no human involvement, but it was also very cool to see a glimpse of the future. Within the next 10 years experts expect most transportation jobs to be automated.

Self-Driving Forklift

We left East Ocean Logistics and got lunch. One of the new dishes was some sort of fried thing that was tasty as well as fried chicken. After lunch, we headed to the Shanghai Deep Water Port. To get there we had to drive on one of the longest cross sea bridges in the world. The port was built by reclaiming land to allow the world’s largest container ships to dock. When we finally reached the port the scale of it was breathtaking. The line of cranes and containers stretched on for miles. Ships were being loaded and unloaded and thousands of little things were all happening at once. The newest phase of the port is fully automated, meaning the cranes can unload the ships and the containers can be stacked and moved without any human interference. It is just like East Ocean Logistics’ warehouse but on a much larger scale. Mac told us that making the port fully automated was only a marketing ploy and that an automated port is actually less efficient that a manned port, but technology advances so quickly it won’t be long before automates ports become faster and more efficient, and the Deep-Water Port will be at the front of the pack because they have already implemented the technology and they have the infrastructure to make automated ports a reality.

When we got back to the hotel Alana Rashel and I took some professional photos in the park so we could update our LinkedIns. After our photoshoot we finally found the noodle place. Turns out we had walked past it multiple times the day before, we just hadn’t realized it. The noodles were very good. We spent the rest of the night exploring Shanghai. We walked down streets, looked inside expensive malls, and we saw a lot of cool restaurants and bars. Shanghai’s closest equivalent city in the United States would be New York, but Shanghai is so huge and modern it makes New York look like a village, and Shanghai is not even comparable to Pittsburgh. The city is like nowhere else in China or the world.

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