China News

Hong Kong Container Port – A Mini City

6 million! That’s how many large containers move in and out of the Hong Kong port each year. There is a little mini-city on Hong Kong’s harbor which is home to at least 75,000 enormous steel shipping containers at any given time.

Did you know millions of products sold all over the world are manufactured in China? China is where Nike makes 50% of its shoes. 85% of the toys created by Hasbro, Mattel and Toys R’ Us are manufactured in China. Most Dell and Hewlett Packard computers are made in China. Radio Shack sells items from three hundred different factories in mainland China. Many of these products leave for destinations like North America, Europe and Australia through the Hong Kong port, the busiest in Asia.

Ships returning to the city contain some raw materials for manufacturing. However the main imports are waste paper and used computers. Factories in China take the waste paper from North America and recycle it to make cardboard boxes and white printing paper. Workers in China also take apart old computers to salvage gold and reusable parts. Labor costs in North America for these environmentally friendly activities are prohibitive. This is not the case in China. Low labor costs are also the reason Hong Kong can run its container port so economically.

The skilled technicians who operate the cranes and mechanical arms that load and unload the containers on and off the ships earn about $20,000 US annually. Workers who do the exact same job at American container ports earn $200,000 a year. Interestingly the Hong Kong operators, who garner a much lower salary, work twice as fast as their United States counterparts. Speed is the name of the game at the container port. The largest ships at its docks can carry up to 8000 containers. These can be unloaded in about ten hours and the new containers set for export can be loaded onto the ship in another ten. Within twenty hours of arriving at the port a ship can be ready to set sail again with a brand new cargo of containers. Large scaffold-like cranes work night and day loading and unloading the ships.

One of the reasons ships can be loaded and unloaded so quickly is the complex computer program developed by Hong Kong experts which insures that containers are stored and stacked in the port area in the most practical way. Programmers enter data about when a container will arrive, when it needs to leave, how much it weighs, what it contains and where it is going. Using a 47 color code the computer then tells the port workers the best place for the container to be stored. This home-grown technology is now being sold to other container ports around the world. Another reason the container port runs so smoothly is because of its sixty channel radio system which keeps the more than 3000 employees on site connected to each other. The port never sleeps. The work there goes on 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

The container port is a bit like a miniature city. Instead of apartments there are stacks of containers. Instead of trains and buses there are lots of trucks. 8000 trucks go in and out of the container port every day hauling imports and exports. The Hong Kong container port is a busy and fascinating place to visit.

Source by MaryLou Driedger