Today we started very early by leaving for the train station at 7:15. Safe to say everyone was exhausted by the time we arrived in Valencia around 3:00! Yesterday we had a reading for Dr. Gourdin about the Spanish railways and how efficient and state of the art they are compared to other countries. It was interesting to witness the high-speed railways ourselves. We had a bit of time to rest and gather ourselves before our first walking tour at Ciudad de les Artes y las Cienas. It was so unique and unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I enjoyed learning about the architect, Caltrava. Caltrava is the architect who designed ground zero in New York. All of his work resembles the eye. The Ciudad de les Artes y las Cienas put Valencia on the map. Tourists are very interested in seeing these unique and intriguing buildings. After the tour we took time to explore Valencia and ate a delicious Italian dinner. I am so thankful for the opportunity to travel, meet people and expand my knowledge!
On day 7 we had the opportunity to visit both the Port of Barcelona and Operinter. It was neat to learn about the port of Barcelona and then go to a logistics company that works with the port. At the port of Barcelona we learned about the container ships they recieve and got to take a boat ride around the port to visualize the size of the operation. The Port of Barcelona imports LNG, large container ships, many different car brands and all other types of goods. We saw brands like Mazda and other Japanese car brands at the port being unloaded. Barcelona is an important port due to its location and the size of the city and companies in Barcelona. When on the ship we even got to see Team Italy’s sail boat for the American cup that was taking place. It was sponsored by Prada! There were massive cranes to unload the ships upon arrival and one was knocked down to be reconstructed. In order to operate efficiently the port has to utilize lean tools to get goods in and out. The port is working to become more sustainable and reduce CO2 emissions.
Operinter is a global logistics company. Our host taught us about the sustainable future of Operinter and plans for expansion. Operinter currently operates on every continent but Antartica and has offices in Miami and Los Angeles in the US. There are internship opportunities available within Operinter and I will definitely keep them in mind for my future! It was cool to learn about their role in transportation of goods.
Today we had the opportunity to travel to a logistics park in Valencia and visit Ramatrans which is a global logistics company. Ramatrans differs from other logistics companies because it is a buffer warehouse. The idea of the buffer warehouse is to keep goods for an extended time not to distribute the goods immediately, like a holding space. Ramatrans grew exponentially after they opened an office in Shanghai. China is very important in the world of global logistics and transportation and Ramatrans is one of the biggest importers from China in Spain. Ramatrans has offices internationally with one location in the US in Miami.
This visit was unique because we actually got to tour the warehouse and visualize everything we had learned rather than imagine it in our head. I was so excited because we got to wear neon yellow safety vests and I felt like the real deal. The company has two warehouses, one normal and one cold for food and other products that need to stay cool. Ramatrans works with El Mundo, the largest newspaper in Spain. The paper is imported from Canada then held at Ramatrans until it is needed for production. Another major company Ramatrans is associated with is Samsung as well as Bezoya which is a massive water brand like coca cola in the US. While touring, I noticed how organized and clean the warehouse was. The operations were almost seamless, every product was strategically placed to make the distribution process simpler. The warehouse relies on human labor but has different machines that are automated to perform different tasks. Louis our guide told us the company had few plans to fully digitize as human labor is so important in logistics for problem solving. If something goes wrong, there must be human labor to solve the problem.
Their company is very well connected with the Port of Valencia giving them an edge over competitors. Another way they maintain their competitive edge is by diversifying their services. Ramatrans saw an opportunity with a motorbike company that was struggling to assemble and produce the number of bikes in demand and used it to their advantage. Ramatrans assembles the bikes at the warehouse to be shipped pre-assembled to the retailer. This helps the retailer save time and money.
Louis shared with me that he had been with the company for five years and it was his first professional job. He said in the last five years there have been many challenges but like everything else in the world, Covid was the largest challenge. The containers kept coming into the port but there was no where to go with them as people could not leave and were not shopping in person. He said you could barely see the ground in the warehouse and they were running out of room so they utilized their area that is subcontracted to Lidl and had to use the cold warehouse. Financially, the company did not struggle due to the rise of e-commerce.
In this visit I got to visualize what a LEAN warehouse should look like and how important organization of goods, people and services is to the success of global logistics. I did not know before the visit about the customs clearances; green, yellow or red. Green in customs gives the go ahead to move the goods. Yellow flags the container and leads to questions and further investigation. Red at customs means that the container must be opened and the officers have to see the product to ensure it is what it is supposed to be.
Today we arrived in Barcelona. Our journey began yesterday in Charleston SC at 5:00 and we then connected at JFK in New York. I met a former Barcelona local at the airport while getting dinner and a drink. He offered great local recommendations as well as advice regarding manners and culture. When we arrived in Barcelona my suitcase was broken and luckily Julian carried it for me because I was exhausted and feeling weak. When Marga arrived I was instantly so excited to get to Barcelona and explore. Marga shared some information about the area we are staying in as this is her quarter. We were told this is a very safe, local area where there is lots of shopping and restaurants. I had a language barrier issue at the coffee shop and they gave me a baguette instead of a croissant but I think it was even better than the croissant! Marga took us on the metro to dinner. We learned how to work the metro system and arrived in The gothic quarter. The gothic quarter is beautiful and rich with history. We had mushroom risotto, salmon and vegetables, and lots of lovely wines. Cabernet is my favorite! I am so full as I am waiting for dessert but I always save room for a sweet treat, especially in spain! We passed so many pastry shops and markets. I love visiting markets abroad because they are so different than the offerings in the US. I am so grateful for this opportunity to travel, learn and expand my horizons. Thank you to Dr. G and Dr. G for taking this trip on and making this possible for each of us!
Started the day by getting coffee and breakfast with Sydney and Dr. G. It was the best americano coffee and I loved my croissant and jamon this morning. We headed to the metro where our fearless leader, Sydney, got us to the L9 train. We got off at park logisticas exit to start our first visit! We had the pleasure of visiting Est Eko today which is a logistics startup. Raphael spoke about how new problems arise each quarter, politically, economically etc. Est Eko works to find solutions to reinvent logistics because we are facing problems we’ve never seen before; for example covid. 25-30% of their revenue comes from transportation. The company has only 11 employees. They have an online calendar that shows past and future operations. They utilize artificial intelligence to provide solutions within minutes rather than a day and a half. We got to tour the incubator with the 3D printing start up. It was so neat to see how advanced 3D printing has become since it’s origin in 1997.
We continued on to lunch at can cuellertas, I had the mixed salad and baby squid. Sydney’s Catalan chicken was incredible! I love trying new foods and experiencing the local culture of Spain. The sagrada familia was unreal! The stained glass was absolutely stunning and the construction is so detailed. Looking forward to exploring more the rest of the evening!
Day 12: 7/19/2023
Today we are flying back to Charleston. Unfortunately our flight got delayed about three hours so I had to rebook my connecting flight in Atlanta. Despite the delay, the rest of our trip home went smoothly and I arrived in Charleston around 9pm.
Day 11: 7/18/2023
This morning we woke up early to take a train back to Barcelona. The trip took about six to seven hours and we arrived back at the Arya Stadium hotel around 3:30pm. We then had class time at 4pm where we discussed our overall experiences with the trip organization and activities and also our remaining assignments due after the trip is finished. After class, we quickly changed and went to our farewell dinner at a yummy restaurant in downtown Barcelona. I ordered the veal steak which was delicious! After dinner we all took our time making our way back to the hotel where we packed the rest of our things and got a good nights sleep for our long travel day back to the US tomorrow.
Day 10: 7/17/23
This morning we took taxis to our next tour at a logistics operating company named Grupo Raminatrans.
Notes from the visit:
- Raminatrans is directly connected with the port of Valencia and receive nearly all of their goods directly from them
- Some of their goods include: washing machines, tvs, dishwashers, and pressed paper (which they store and send to one of the largest newspapers in Spain)
- They are one of the biggest companies in Spain that has opened a local office in China and imports from China
- They view logistics as a ways to adjust to customer needs.
- Truck + goods weight cannot exceed 42 tons (Spanish law)
- Most of the goods in their warehouses are not custom cleared until they leave the facility
- They used to sell their motorbikes to the retailers in the box, but because that was a hassle for sellers they began removing and mounting the bikes before delivery
- They have palette and bulk warehouses with 41 docks total
- They use Valènciaport which is the biggest and most important port in Spain because they are closest to Madrid
- Their purpose is to manage the maritime import of containers like a buffer storage facility
- They operate 30 of their own trucks and drivers
- Their València location is their largest with 70 workers although they have locations worldwide
- They are currently working on getting a frozen warehouse, but already have a refrigerated warehouse
- This location began operating in 2005
After the visit we went and had lunch at a restaurant near our hotel where we ate some authentic Spanish cuisine. Then we had the entire rest of our afternoon free! Mae, Summer, and I visited the aquarium where we got to see lots of different animals including a beluga whale and penguins. The aquarium in Valencia is the largest aquarium in Europe! We then did a little shopping and had sushi for dinner. After, we headed back to our hotel to get some sleep for our travels back to Barcelona tomorrow.
Today we had the opportunity to hear from a professor at a university in Barcelona. The university was old and had gorgeous stone architecture. Seeing that university really made me want to get my masters at an old school in Europe! Professor Albert provided us with a two hour “master class” covering the topic of logistics management. Logistics is defined as the process of planning and organizing to make sure that resources are in the places they need to be. The objective of logistics management is to plan and coordinate the activities necessary to achieve a desired level of delivery service and quality at the lowest possible cost. The scope of logistics ranges from procurement and management of raw materials to the delivery of the final product to the customer. The professor emphasized lowest cost multiple times as the purpose of logistics is to satisfy the customer by establishing linkages of people at all levels in the organization either directly or indirectly to the marketplace.
It is getting more and more difficult to maintain a competitive advantage over other companies. The distinctive factor is the level of customer service offered and that of its competitors.
There are seven R’s of logistics:
- Right time
- Right Place
- Right Price
- Right product
- Right quantity
- Right customer
- Right condition
With online shopping booming consumers expect everything to arrive on time. We viewed a future of logistics video. The video showed the shipment of a package from procurement through to final destination. The flow of the product went through each leg of the transportation process from trucking to sea or air to the deconsolidation and sorting warehouse from the cargo plane. There are uncontrollable events that affect these organized processes that logistics deals with every day. The future of logistics lies in logistics 4.0. We learned about logistics 4.0 at our visit with Estoko, the move to a more digitized world of logistics. The future of automated logistics is the combination of human labor, AI, robots and technology that increases efficiency.
There are pros and cons to each type of transport. For example, air transport is very fast but the worst carbon emissions and low capacity for transport. Road transport is less investment and more flexible. Ocean freight is most important globally compared the the EU road transportation is most important. Within the ocean freight category there are sub categories. 43% of ship freight is a bulk carrier. Bulk carriers carry raw materials primarily. Oil tankers make up 29% of ocean cargo. Container ships consist of chemical containers, LNG ships (liquid natural gas), RORO ships which carry cars, general cargo and livestock ships.
A hot issue with global logistics and ocean freight is gigantism. Ships are getting larger and larger in hopes of transporting more at once. The issue with this is the capacity of the ports is too small. Another issue is the size of rivers and canals that these container ships have to go through. Previously there was a problem where a boat was too large and got stuck in the Suez Canal. I am from near Savannah, Georgia which is an important international port. The port in Savannah has been approved to go through with deepening and widening the river to allow for larger ships to come in. Other challenges for the supply chain include rising freight prices, raw material shortages, congestion at ports, inflation, digital transportation, demand forecasting and supply chain ESG. ESG is so important as we look towards the future.
This visit was educational and rewarding, I definitely learned a lot about logistics management that I was not aware of before!
We woke up this morning and headed to the train station. We got there early and on time for our first train; however, we almost didn’t make our connecting train in Madrid. We had about 30 seconds to spare. When we got back, we had our last class session and discussed blog posts and pros/cons of the trip. After our class session, we got ready to go to dinner at CentOnze. It was delicious! We got many tapas, and we all ordered the veal tenderloin. After dinner, Liz and I went back to the hotel and went to bed.