This day’s visits were Trainor and Busan New Container Terminal. Trainor is a Norwegian company which offers training and personnel certification services. In Korea a lot of their work is with shipbuilding companies, and their three trainers at the Busan location have a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and over ten years of experience from all three major shipyards.
The presenter, Henrik Eklund, was Swedish and he offered some insights into the challenges of being in a Korean workplace as a foreigner. These included communication – both the literal language barrier and differences in the degree of directness of what is said – as well as navigating the hierarchies of the society, and customer service especially regarding the speed with which things were expected to be accomplished. He also said that one of their biggest obstacles was networking and that it was important to hire people who had good existing networks. Another difference between their operations in Norway and South Korea is that in Norway the training is 100 percent paid for by the companies while in South Korea the employees are the ones paying for their certifications in order to be competitive.
Busan New Container Terminal, our second company visit of the day, is a shipping terminal that handles imports, exports, and the transshipment of shipping containers. The facility handles about 2.35 million TUs, or twenty foot container equivalent units, per year and are in the process of expanding to be able to handle an additional 700,000 TUs. Busan as a whole, which is the fifth or sixth largest port in the world depending on the ranking, handles about 22.5 million TUs per year.
Busan New Container Terminal was the first vertical-automated terminal in Asia, which demonstrates the position of South Korea at the forefront of technological advancement in a multitude of fields. This allows the shipping containers to be arranged perpendicular to the water which is allows them to be more fully robotic. The company also streamlines its operations by utilizing three buffer zones which allow short turn around times and minimal personnel involvement in the moving of the containers. We were fortunate to be able to visit the control tower where we watched the robotic cranes at work and learned about the operating system which allows for the nearly entirely automated entry and exit of shipping containers on trucks using RFID.