5/15/19- Trainor and Containers

Today, we got the privilege of exploring further the commercial opportunities the city of Busan has in store. We slept in a bit and met in the hotel lobby around 9:20am. After boarding the bus, we drove off for about a forty-minute journey to Trainor, our first company visit of the day. We arrived at the large skyscraper that holds their offices, among others, and were quickly whisked up to a conference room on the 17th floor. We then met Henrik, the director of their Busan offices. He introduced himself as being of Swedish descent, and then gave an hour-long presentation about the firm, the industry, and the corporate world in Korea as a whole. Essentially, Trainor is a company based out of Norway that provides (as you might guess) training courses and safety certifications to blue-collar workers. They opened a branch here to help fulfill the massive demand created by the bustling ports and shipyards the city contains. After the presentation, and after Linus was done talking to Henrik in their shared native Swedish, we took the elevator down to the ground floor for an early lunch. It was pretty tasty, but very odd compared to what we as Americans are used to. It consisted of cold noodles with a thick red chili paste, wasabi, vinegar, and sesame seeds, topped with a fried egg and a thin strip of beef and served with dumplings on the side. We ate fairly quickly and had some free time to check out the area. More or less by chance we happened to walk into Shinsegae, which is considered by Guinness to be the world’s largest department store (over 3.1 million square feet!). It was massive, spanning 8 floors and multiple buildings connected by skywalks. Inside was every luxury brand I’ve ever heard of, in addition to many I never had, and even a real Off-White store, which I didn’t even know existed in physical locations. Quickly, our time ran out and we had to return to the bus, luckily with our wallets unscathed. We then drove about an hour or so towards the water to visit the impressive headquarters of the Busan New Container Terminal, a massive dock with cargo boxes stacked seemingly miles high in every direction. We were escorted into a beautiful boardroom with windows that provided a great view of the operations outside. Soon after arriving, we were joined by John Elliott, the firm’s president and CEO, who happened to hail from North Carolina. He told us all about his background and the company’s history, and then fielded a number of questions from myself and my fellow students. He then showed a 5-minute video on how the operations of the dock are designed to maximize efficiency and minimize error, and followed it up by taking us into the control room so we could see it in action. The ingenuity of the system’s design is extremely impressive, as everything is set up to be as automated as possible. The yard contains 42 cranes that possess the ability to unload and load ships and trucks all at once, and operate independently from one another so that multiple orders can be worked on simultaneously. Despite this high level of complexity, not a single human being works in the yard. Everything is fully robotic. A truck driver arrives at the yard, and his truck is scanned by overhead cameras to identify him. If the light turns green, that means he is expected, and he is texted the number of the loading dock he should park in. Once he arrives, he swipes his ID card at a nearby machine, and the crane proceeds to pick up his cargo and carry it over to about three feet above his trailer automatically, at which point an operator in the control tower takes over and lowers the box the remaining distance to ensure it is centered and isn’t dropped too quickly. Then, he simply drives off. This was by far the most impressive example of smart systems we have seen in Korea thus far. After we watched this happen a few times, we took a group photo and boarded the bus to head back to our hotel in the city. Now that we’re back in the room, I plan on working on the finishing touches of our final group presentation, and then exploring Busan some more!

Leave a Reply