Today we had a really long bus ride. Two hours one way to get where we were going. On the bus ride, we met Mac. He is an American who has been living in China since 2008. He came to China because he had always enjoyed travel and when he graduated college the job market in the United States was nonexistent. He now works in the logistics business working on organizing shipping between China and the US. He took us through some of the lingo of the logistics business and how it applies to some different industries.
Finally, at long last, we arrived at our first stop of the day, Ocean East International Logistics. They are owned by another company which is owned by Maersk, one of the largest shipping companies in the world. They operate a few warehouses and manage shipping freight for other companies, to lower costs and improve efficiency for their clients. We met with one of their managers and he explained their business and its role in the world as well as some of their goals for the future. After the meeting, we went on a tour of the warehouse and saw the physical side of their company (we all had to wear safety vests for the tour and they looked hilarious on all of us). One of the ways they are hoping to improve efficiency and productivity is by using driverless vehicles in their warehouses. The warehouse we toured was the only one currently operating with driverless forklifts to store and retrieve freight in the warehouse. They would place the palates of items in a spot that would scan what the items were, and the fork lifts would come at pick them up and put them away on the shelves. It was mesmerizing. You could actually see where there were worn in tracks the fork lifts had driven over the same exact path and turned on the exact same location into each aisle over and over (I was very impressed). As soon as they said we could take pictures, everyone scrambled for their phones to video the driverless fork lifts (I did too).
The next stop for the day was even further away! Our second visit of the day was to the Yang Shan Port, which is the busiest deep-water port in the world. Mac said it best, “This is something you never thought you would check off your bucket list!” And he’s not wrong, it was super cool to see how much stuff was there. Containers were stacked at least ten high as far as you could see and there were rows upon rows of this. And then Mac told us that every container would leave in twenty-four hours times and new containers would take their places (I can’t really wrap my head around that). I have to admit, it was pretty cool and an amazing view from where we stopped to look at it. Oh, and part of it was also automated (but Mac said it was less productive than the manned areas). For dinner we went to a really good noodle place and I was not expecting the amount of spice in my dish and cleared my sinuses pretty good (helpful with allergies) but it was still really tasty once I was prepared for the spice.