Hello, my diligent blog readers! Today we visited Saigon Newport Corporation, and we were there for the morning and early afternoon. Then we went to the Reunification Palace and then got fitted for our traditional outfits. Saigon Newport Corporation (SNP) is the best port operator and logistics service provider in Vietnam. SNP belongs to the Ministry of Defense, which makes it a government owned entity. The government’s involvement in business has been a reoccurring theme throughout this trip and I think that it’s really interesting compared to how businesses operate in the United States. During the presentation, we learned about the three core services that SNP provides, which are logistics, shipping, and port operations. We also learned how technology revolutionized the shipping industry. It was crazy to hear that a few decades ago it was someone’s job to memorize where every shipping container was and what was in it. Today the whole system is digitized and is updated automatically so if there were a crash they would still be able to operate using backup files. Also, if they forget what is in a shipping container, they can scan it without the hassle of opening containers stacked below others. Another important theme for this trip has been location, location, location. The reason that so many of the companies that we have visited established themselves in Ho Chi Minh city is because it is the economic powerhouse of the country. Labor is relatively cheap, and companies see a lot of potential in the city, so there is a lot of investment. One of the questions that we students have been asking consistently at the companies that we have visited is, “How does automation play into your plans?” Typically we get the same response from companies, which is that because inexpensive labor is such a distinct advantage for companies coming to Vietnam, they aren’t in a hurry to rapidly increase automation.
After SNP we went to the Reunification Palace which is where North Vietnamese forces overran the president. The palace today symbolizes Vietnam’s freedom, and it was fascinating to be able to walk through it. Before the war, it was the Vietnamese “White House” but then was later converted into a museum for the general public. My favorite part of the tour was discovering the roof where we could see the helicopter pad and had a nice view of the city. After the tour, we went back to the hotel to try on our traditional Vietnamese outfits. Everyone looked incredible.
Tonight the Vietnamese students are taking us to eat dim sum and then we are getting ready for a big day in the Mekong Delta! I’ll see you all tomorrow!