Sunday, March 25, 2012

Global Ports, Maritime Development, the Panama Canal, and Logistics

I returned only a few hours ago from Gothenburg, Sweden and this is my first blogpost since my magical two week trip to the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

I even got used to typing on the Swedish keyboard while there.

During my journey back (a flight from Gothenburg to London Heathrow, a 3 hour layover, then the 7 hour flight back to Boston Logan on a packed flight, plus (not fun) a two hour wait at Logan for the shuttle back to Amherst), followed by a 2 hour ride, I intellectually consumed both my weekend copy of The International Herald Tribune and the latest edition of the The Economist, both of which I had purchased at the Gothenburg airport. As an aside, I highly recommend the giftshop there -- simply fabulous -- and I will enjoy distributing the souvenirs that I purchased this week.

The Economist had an article on maritime ports, focusing on the prospectus for development of ports in Portugal. I enjoyed seeing the map in the article, that also featured Gothenburg, Rotterdam, and Antwerp.

Coincidentally, just the day before, I had attended a truly marvelous seminar given by Prof. Dr. Theo Notteboom (the 2 hour seminar felt like 2 minutes to me) at the Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg. Above is a photo of Dr. Notteboom prior to his seminar.

This seminar was brought to my attention by my wonderful hosts at the University of Gothenburg and since I had completed giving my 5 talks, had had many stimulating discussions with faculty, students, postdocs, and staff members, I was very interested in learning more about maritime transportation. The announcement of the seminar that I received is below.

Northern LEAD Seminar: Revisiting the investment strategies of global container terminal operators

You are welcome to the following seminar:
When: March 23 at 2-4 PM (it may end earlier)
Where: Room 3452 at MORE at Chalmers (detailed information how to get there will follow later)

During this seminar Professor Theo Notteboom will discuss the investment strategies of global terminal operators. Prof. Dr. Theo Notteboom is president of ITMMA (Institute of Transport and Maritime Management Antwerp, an institute of the University of Antwerp, Belgium He is also professor at the University of Antwerp, a part-time professor in maritime transport at the Antwerp Maritime Academy and a visiting professor at several universities in Europe and Asia. He published widely on (trans)port and maritime economics. Theo Notteboom regularly acts as expert for organizations such as the European Sea Ports Organization (ESPO), OECD and the European Commission. He is president of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME) and chairman of the Board of Directors of the Belgian Institute of Transport Organizers (BITO), an institute of the Belgian Federal Government. He is a fellow of the Belgian Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences, Associate Editor of Maritime Policy and Management and a member of the editorial boards of five academic journals.

Learning about the evolution of maritime container terminal port operators globally and especially about European issues was fascinating. The role of intermodal transportation (barges, rail, and truck) that follows, stimulated interesting questions and my brain was buzzing with new ideas and modeling questions.

On my flight leg from Gothenburg to London, I was seated (the serendipity of travel) next to a couple who was flying to Miami with friends and then taking a cruise through the Panama Canal (the deepening of the canal to allow for even larger container ships to transit was one of many topics highlighted at the seminar the day before and something I have even discussed with my undergraduate students in my transportation & logistics class). Plus, the gentleman seated next to me works in fast fashion in Sweden (not H&M) but for a newer company that does a lot of outsourcing in China. The conversation on logistics and maritime transportation that we had taught me something that I was not aware of. His company uses Swedish Post to handle all of the logistics, while the company focuses on its core competencies of fashion design!

Perhaps handling more global logistics and supply chains might be the salvation of the US Post Office!