Greatest Invention in Shipping History: The Container

The greatest invention of globally exporting goods is the container, although, I’d think the boat is more important. Cat Lai terminal, one of the terminals associated with Saigon Newport Corporation, is one of the largest state-owned ports in Vietnam. As you might imagine, this kind of port handles large quantities of imports and exports as well as logistics and offshore transportation services. To break this down, Cat Lai terminal as well as other terminals throughout the country, receive imports from other countries (China being the biggest contributor) which are then prepared for pickup by receiving companies in the most efficient way possible. The same goes for exports however, for exports to the United States, Vietnam’s biggest export buyer, the ships that depart from Cat Lai must go to a bigger deep-water terminal before finishing the shipment. This must be done because Cat Lai is only a feeder port, which means the depth in the river where it resides is only 12 meters and deep-water vessels cannot come in because they require at least 14-16 meters of depth. One way that Saigon Newport Corporation deals with logistics is having the container yard sectioned by type of container and their destination. All containers for the UK, for example, are placed in one area of the yard. Another example of this is on the import side. The type of container, general use or refrigerated, are kept together so it is faster for the workers to retrieve the container for the company picking up. With this, Saigon Newport Corporation is able to guarantee their customers don’t wait more than 45 minutes for their container to be ready for departure. What I found to be interesting was that the corporation also created an app that increases the security and efficiency of their logistics. This app allows customers to see the exact location of their specific shipping containers as well as make direct payments. Furthermore, inland clearance depots, secondary locations where companies can pick their container away from the port itself, also reduce the traffic for pickup and speeds the clearance and customs processes. All of the activities handled by the port itself are controlled by the control tower, a room with the types of containers, their locations, and the wait times of each company’s drivers. The height of the stack each container is found in is also shown which yet again, increases efficiency. It was fascinating to me how they can keep everything in order and working in such an efficient manner almost 24/7. The fact that the company must work nonstop, besides 4-5 holidays a year, is amazing because the flow of imports and exports cannot stop to get shipments in on time. This idea is simple, but I had never thought about it until I was on-site watching big machinery carrying giant containers all over the yard. Plus, not all countries share the same holidays, so the workers must be there almost every day of the year.

Locations and heights of container stacks in the yard

Impressing me even more, Saigon Newport Corporation was just celebrating their 30-year anniversary however they hold 91% of the Ho Chi Minh market share and 50% of the countries market share for this industry. Even with their lack of recognition and business in the north, they are so successful in the south that they have an enormous market share for being such a young company. That kind of growth is amazing to me. The location of Ho Chi Minh city was very strategic on the part of the company because the city has the fastest growing economy of the entire country and leads the country in economic development. Even further, the close proximity to the Mekong Delta allows for mass exports of rice to countries all over the world. The efficiency, growth, and success of the Saigon Newport Corporation and Cat Lai terminal itself was very interesting to learn about first hand, especially because I had known very little about how ports of such magnitude operate.

The second stop of the day was a visit to the Reunification Palace in the center of Ho Chi Minh City. This site holds an enormous historical value to the country in that it is the location of the end of the Vietnam War. To the people of Vietnam, this palace is a symbol of peace because the South Vietnamese president surrendered to the north and fighting ceased. The palace is known not only for being the president’s home and office, similar to the White House, but for the famous picture of the north’s tanks breaking down the front gates. Now the palace is used as a historical museum where people can see where the south Vietnamese president lived and where diplomatic issues were taken care of. One thing about this palace that I found both interesting and entertaining is that some rooms were themed as colors for the affects they bring. The room for diplomatic meetings was themed green because the color is said to relieve stress and another nearby room was themed yellow to bring lightheartedness and happiness. It was also very interesting to learn that most of the furniture in the palace are original pieces and much of the setups of rooms were left in place. This site was interesting to see because of how much was left how it was and how much significance it holds to the people of Vietnam. It remains a symbol of peace in the heart of Saigon.

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