When I first heard about the College of Business’s study-abroad trip to China, I was really excited to visit one of the world’s most up-and-coming powerhouse countries. The way China has developed in the last few decades has made it a “must-invest” region of the world for many companies. Federal Express (FedEx) is one of those companies that continues to invest in China.
Federal Express started its China operation in 1983 and has delivered packages to and from China for three decades. On February 6, 2009, FedEx opened its super hub in Guangzhou, China at the Baiyan International Airport. The importance of the Guangzhou hub is its link between 20 major cities and 220 countries and territories in the FedEx Worldwide System.
Being able to visit and experience the second largest FedEx facility in the world was quite an experience. Since much of the hub’s operations, particularly the movement of packages, happens during the night, our visit occurred during its slowest time of the day. Most of the planes arrive at night, beginning the work process as packages are moved throughout the facility and placed into the right plane to be flown back out to other parts of the world. The advantage of visiting during the daytime hours was that our group was able to tour all the inside operations of the facility and look in depth at each part of the process.
The facility is 63 hectares large and has more than 800 employees. The hub receives more than 144 flights per week. The different parts of the facility include entrance security, human resource offices, an introduction/briefing room, and the main warehouse. The main warehouse is filled with multiple conveyer belts and machinery to efficiently sort each package. It takes approximately one hour for a package to complete its journey through the facility, first arriving at the hub then being sorted through the conveyor system and finally being properly placed in the right container to be shipped out to its destination. Each container is packed efficiently to fit the most packages possible. Before the packages reach the correct container, each parcel is scanned nine times throughout the entire process. This ensures proper placement each package and a 99.9 percent accuracy rating of the system. If an individual package is accidently misplaced, the system will eventually find the misaligned package by the time it reaches the end of the process. Those packages are then “kicked” to a special area where human workers research and place the correct label on it and put it in the right area. For FedEx, the priority is clearly to get packages to their correct recipients as quickly as possible. The Guangzhou hub is an essential part of helping FedEx complete that mission, particularly throughout Southeast Asia.
From a personal perspective, this experience was invaluable to my own success and growth as a business student. I am in the process of getting my degree in supply chain management, and to have the opportunity to go inside an international hub of one of the world’s best shipping companies is an experience I will be able to use in the future as I prepare to complete my undergraduate studies. Without the COB’s study-abroad program, this experience, which I now recognize as a vital part of my education, would not be possible.