Friday, December 14, 2007

A Day Like Any Other

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A visit to the Port of Hong Kong is a surreal experience. An average of 11 container ships leave there each day, carrying roughly 7000-12000 containers each. Containers are stacked 6 tall and 20 deep as far as the eye can see.

When I first started buying from Asia I felt that the 30 containers I move per year were Big Time. Come to find out there are companies like Phillips/Magnavox that will move 80 containers of a single item PER DAY.

The sheer mass of stuff departing from this port alone (the 3rd busiest in the world) is mind blowing.

The process to load one of these ships is amazing. One guy sits at a computer in a building and selects which containers will go on his ship. The cranes are all automatic and will go out to the "yard" and pick the applicable container and ferry it to the ship. The average transfer time is 1 container per minute and they assign 6-8 cranes to a ship in order to get it loaded and out.

Maybe the most impressive thing to me was the casual execution of a seemingly overwhelming task. The workers are very competent, well trained, and very efficient. Maybe our ports could take a page out of their books.


Carmi said...

And they're not unionized!

I've always wanted to visit a port. Like an airport, everything there is oversized, overwhelming and incredibly cool. Thanks for this glimpse. Now I want to go even more!

Back from Michele's. Again. Sorry for being such a pest today :)

panthergirl said...

Wow... what a massive job indeed!! Thanks for sharing.

Here via michele!

Jodi Cleghorn said...

There is something very ant like about this - all these huge ships and containers, and very small humans (we're unforunately without the physical strength of ants) efficiently manipulating huge cranes to consign and stack the cargo. How utterly amazing.

My father was in Hong Kong on business in the early 90's and went up a huge construction crane in the city. The mere thought of the height (for some who suffers vertigo) seemed utterly insane - especially the bit where 20 stories up they had to edge their way from the ladder over to the cabin of the crane. Urgh ...

There's something ultra efficient but exotic about Hong Kong.

Here via Michele's ...

Diane Mandy said...

The numbers are staggering! My own shipment of furniture from the US arrives in Germany this week--hopefully intact and as it was when it was packed!

I just read your profile. My ex husband was also in supply chain management (chips and components)and traveled to asia quite a bit. I have an idea the demands of your job. It's nice that you keep a journal to share your travel experiences.

Jennifer said...

Just stopping by to say Merry Christmas....hope it was a wonderful one! :)