Hongkong International Terminals Limited (HIT) established in 1969, it is situated in the Kwai Tsing container port area of Hong Kong, which is one of the busiest container ports in the world. HIT operates twelve berths at Terminals 4, 6, 7 and 9 and it uses modern management techniques, up-to-date computer systems and award winning IT applications. In long run, HIT aims at creating an integrated supply chain network, with total logistics management services.
When we first arrive HIT, we immediately went up to the newly furnished hi-tech room to look at some introduction videos of HIT and the HR had also answered our prepared questions.
Later on, we went to the control room to look at the real-time cargos loading and unloading process and there was a supervisor explaining the system that HIT is currently using to monitor the process. Finally, we had car ride and looked at the logistics operations of the terminal.
Question & Answer
1. How far is it until HIT reaches its freight handling capacity and is there any consequent plan in response to this issue?
The land use for HIT to load goods are limited. It has a great need to get the No.10 container terminal. HIT has a great turnover of goods transhipment and it requires lots of empty space to facilitate the business. Before the approvement of the land use, it could only reply on its capacity to handle the great amount of goods transporting.
2. There are many ports located in Mainland China and some of them such as Shanghai, Dailian and Qingdao contain superior geographic advantages. How can HIT overcome the challenges brought by main ports in mainland?
There are many challenges other than those from China. Due to the great scale of business, it does not feel great threat from China. Hong Kong is a entrepot and handles large amount of re-exports. The competitive advantage of HK port is that it is a free port. It greatly shorten the time for re-exporting and thus help clients to save much time.
3. HIT has introduced a lot of new technologies in its operations to improve efficiency and customer satisfaction. How does HIT help its front-line staff adapt to these new practices?
The company mainly makes use of its ‘N-gen’ terminal operating system to handle all daily operations. This system is used by 40% of harbor in the world as it simplifies internal operations procedures, strengthens information transfer with shipping companies and connects global trading partners. In addition, in terms of front-line staff, on-job and off-site training are provided to them to familiarize and get enough knowledge to the company sophisticated system. It also offers better working environment for its employees. For instance, to avoid workers to work in hot and outdoor environment, it has provided remote control operation centers to work in. Therefore, it would be more comfortable to give order to machines.
4. What are your competitive advantages over your competitors in logistic industry?
Competitive advantages include the company’s infrastructure, geographical environment and system development. Hong Kong Kwai Tsing Container Terminal is one of the biggest terminals in the world. It allows higher capacity of ships loading and unloading containers. Being a free port, HIT saves clients’ time in its ocean shipping business with no random checking procedures. The company even develop systems to helps delayed items catch up with their original transshipment dates.
5. What role does HIT hope to play in the Chinese Government’s One Belt One Road Initiative?
The company holds positive view and hopes to play an active role in this initiative. This statement is supported by its expansion strategy: acquiring more than 20 ports which are located along the “Road”. According to the video presentation, HIT has been expanding its business globally starting from the 1900s. This expansion covered Mainland China (Southern part), Middle East, Africa, Europe, America, etc. In recent years, the company has been putting heavier investment by buying ports in Chinese cities including Shenzhen, Huizhou, Xiamen, Shanghai and Ningbo.
6. Asian shipping industry has been suffering from sharp declines in recent years due to more and more factories have been moving to Africa, how will HIT react to this unfavorable trend?
The company does not worry much about factories moving to Africa as it has expanded the container port business there in the 2000s. Shipping activities do decline, however, due to the slump in global trade. In face of this, the project team has been closely monitoring operations efficiency while adopting tighter cost control measures. One measure mentioned during the visit is to upgrade the algorithm in the system. The upgrade enables a full capacity use of trucks inside the port. With real-time movements of every truck shared, the system can calculate optimal routes for trucks to travel.
7. How HIT can achieve the highest operating efficiency of the immediate transshipment with the lowest operating costs?
HIT has an upgraded internal transportation of cargo system which can help the company to gain the highest operating efficiency. There are many internal transport vehicles which can only be used inside the terminal. Once the cargo ships arrive and they will ask for the nearest internal transport vehicle to help them to pick up the cargo, and the system will immediately look for the closest vehicle to help unloading the cargo. The whole system functions like the UBER. They will assign the most suitable internal transport vehicle plus the one with the perfect route in order to save time and the operating cost. This can help save a lot of the monthly cost throughout the whole operation.
8. What are the major challenges faced by HIT in their daily operation?
One of the major challenges face by HIT in the daily operation is the unexpected weather that will affect their efficiency in providing services. In case the typhoon signal No.8 is hoisted, all of the operations will need to stop and all workers in the cargo port will have to leave the place, due to the safety issues. This great affects the schedule of loading and unloading the cargo, and they will need to have the rearrangement of the resources later on.
9. What exact measures does HIT incorporate into its daily operations to align with its corporate value of environmental protection?
First, the company has improved the energy efficiency of its RTGC orange cranes. Originally, this structure is launched by diesel, which produce more pollutants to the environment. Then, the company then turns to electricity.
Moreover, the energy efficiency of the canes has risen to more than 90%, which has greatly reduced the emission of pollutant when they are in the stand-by position.
Secondly, the company joins ‘go green’ events organized by social organizations every year. For instance, it has joined the campaign to pick up garbage in the beach and also joined the saving energy campaign in offices. It also recycles plastic bottles in every terminal operators.
Thirdly, the company has launched the ‘Shore Power Project’ in the Shenzhen Yantian Harbor that provides energy for ships planning to stop close to the shore. This could again greatly cut the emission of pollutants since ships could then switch of all of the power, instead of keeping running all the time.
Before visiting HIT, we have just heard of HIT uses it self-developed system and we do not have much idea about how the system works and what kind of benefits will it bring to the company. However, after the visit, our group have a clearer idea about the N-Gen system, and we know that it works on the real time bases so as the make sure that the services being provided is up-to-speed. For example, if the loading time is too long for a specific crane, it will be labeled as red color in the system, and the the workers will have to speed up their process.
We think that by making use of these advanced technology can help improve the efficiency of the service provided by HIT. In order to maintain its competitiveness in this industry, it is a must for them to keep renewing and modifying its operation processes to fit this ever-changing logistic wold.