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Nov 28, 2005


Zack Perry

Jeff you make some very good points. Global logistics is a mess. The current trade imbalance is astonishing. If you take a look at our top trading partners you will also see Canada and Mexico up there. As NAFTA is truly coming into play for many logistics companies you can expect these lanes to grow just as rapidly as the China lanes. Over time if the Chinese economy spins out of control I think Mexico could reposition itself to be our top commodity trading partner.

As far as coordination and sensor technologies? We are still aways away. RFID still is not providing ROI that justifies its existence even if it is pennies for a tag. High-valued goods with smart sensors are about the only thing truly getting traction right now. Thanks for posting this entry.


Thanks for the great and thoughtful response. Contrast the situation in the US with (say) Rotterdam or Hamburg where robots unload something 30 containers per hour (see here -- I saw this on the National Geographic channel recently -- amazing). Rotterdam is the largest port in the world followed by Shanghai and your point about US ports being fettered by all sorts of legacy encumberments e.g. unions is a good one.

How will we compete? -- is the not-at-all rhetorical question that begs asking.

vinnie mirchandani

good analysis. Jeff, you should consider post more original stuff - not just react to other posts or beat up on Oracle!


This is a great post. It's not just about the effeciency of loading, unloading and transhipment of containers. There are lots of "opportunities" in the security space. One of the companies that I know of that are doing interesting things is Lorantec ( They have a satellite based device that tracks the container and alerts the owner if it is tampered with. BTW, I have no connection with Lorantec other than having met their CEO a couple of times.

Paulomi Patel

Hi Jeff,

I am a student of Apparel Logistics and Management from George Brown College, Toronto. I came across this particular problem of heavy one way container traffic in one of our class discussions, and it has stuck with me since then.
I am currently researching on this particular issue, (that is when I came across your article on this blog), and have found that not much has been done about the problem.
I also came across an address by Captain Gordon Houston, President & CEO, Vancouver Port Authority, to the Railway Association of Canada, who mentioned about the growing infrastructure fascilities at the Vancouver port, and in may other ports across the US, in order to handle the growing container traffic. Though there are humungous investments being made to manage the growing containers, no solution is being found to manage the specific problem of the empty container traffic.
I was wondering if you have come across any recent developments in this field in the past few months since writing your reply to Barry about the mess in the global logistics and transportation.
I am currently doing a research project on this particular issue, but I also feel that somewhere here lies a good opportunity that needs to be tapped.
Let me know if you have some thoughts to share.

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