After the free weekend, on which the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, could be explored, the company visits started again on Monday, April 8th. In the morning we were welcomed by ABB Vietnam. The company presentation gave us an insight into the 26 years lasting history of the technology company with locations in Bac Ninh, Da Nang, Hanoi & HCMC. They also shared their future forecasts & expectations regarding industry 4.0 & digitization of the Vietnamese market. ABB is entering into various partnerships to exploit synergies. These include among others Microsoft and IBM. The tour continued with a visit of three different production lines of high voltage components. After lunch in the ABB canteen we drove with our car back to Hanoi to the renowned Foreign Trade University (FTU), where we were welcomed by the International Business Club. The students presented facts about the ASEAN marketplace and the history of the university founded in 1960 and their business club. We were also introduced to the political and economic situation in Vietnam and its educational system. Finally, we were presented with their views on the opportunities for market entry in Vietnam and the opportunities when doing business in Vietnam. After the exciting presentations we discussed the different topics intensively. In the evening at the hotel our project team organized a surprise for our on-site manager Kevin to celebrate his birthday together with him. There was Vietnamese chicken rice cake and cold beer.
The first day in Vietnam started quite early. We met each other at 7:45 and had a two-hour journey to Trang An, one of the most beautiful and attractive karsts in Vietnam. Our first stop was the citadel Hoa Lu in Ninh Binh. We had a tour leader who provided us on the coach as well as during the whole day with interesting facts about the history of Vietnam. Hoa Lu used to be the capital of Vietnam. It was a natural geographic choice because of the limestone mountains keeping the city well-hidden from potential invaders. It lies 90 km south of Hanoi. Hoa Lu is a beautiful ancient city that was the economic and political center of Dai Co Viet during the 10th and 11th centuries. The next stop was a restaurant where we enjoyed typical Vietnamese food. After lunch we did an amazing boat tour on wild streams through limestone caves. The delegation had also the chance to paddle by themselves and did a few boot races with other boats. We also had the opportunity to just relax and enjoy the gorgeous scenery after the first tiring week in ASEAN. After the boat tour we walked through the Aboriginal village where the reboot version of King Kong – “Kong: Skull Island” was shot. On the coach back to Hanoi we could relax again and reflect this stunning day. In the evening the delegation went out again to get some delicious food and discovered Hanoi by night.
On Thursday morning, we met at 8 a.m. in the hotel lobby and took the bus to the Panalpina logistics center, which is a little bit outside of the city.
There, Edwin Wan, the Country Head of Logistics Singapore and Malaysia held a presentation for us about Panalpina’s business and showed us around the newly built center. Panalpina is a Swiss logistics company with over 500 offices in 70 countries and partner companies in further 100 countries. Their core business includes Air Freight, Ocean Freight, Logistics and Manufacturing, and Energy and Project Solutions. Singapore is the ideal location for such a logistic center as it is the economic gateway between the East and the West and is a crucial stop for the world’s most important trade routes. It owns the world’s largest transshipment port and enables easy access to many southeast-Asian countries.
Panalpina’s new warehouse was finished in 2018 and has six floors, who cover over 27’000 square meters. Organizing a multi-story logistic center brings its own challenges, as the weight of the goods has to be taken into consideration, as well as the order of how the containers are going to be loaded. Additionally, dangerous goods, such as flammable, toxic, and radiological goods, have to be stored on the ground floor so that rescue teams have easy access in case of an emergency.
After the tour around the facility we were kindly offered lunch by Panalpina and then left for our next company visit.
In the afternoon we had the chance to visit the Google office in Singapore. We were warmly welcomed by young passionate engineers to show us around. From them we learnt that the office in Singapore is really busy. Employees are allowed to bring as much visitors as they want and show them along. Therefore, many people visit each day. Google offers plenty of activities to relax the mind. They offer a variation of rooms with different features. An example for this is a billiard/play room or a music room where instruments are provided to make music together. Furthermore, Google in Singapore has a TGIF mentality. This means on Fridays there are several activities close to their in-house bar like playing board games with each other. Later on we had the pleasure to gain more insights thanks to the chief of staff, Wiwi Goh and the interaction designer, Karen Zhang. With 2500 employees Google Singapore is operated across 16 floors in three different buildings. The main task of the google office in Singapore is to analyse the users in their region and build a valuable customer experience. One of their insights is that that those users in those regions are mostly mobile and their prediction is that in the future they will have mobile users only. Therefore, their goal is to restructure their applications and platforms in a manner that it is user-friendly on mobile devices. Google sees the importance behind having access to the internet. They realized that a part of the gap in education can be resolved by providing access to the internet. To grant access to a bigger community they started a program for free WiFi in India that provides high-speed internet on 400 train stations all over India. The project is called Google station and is also planned in the Philippines, Nigeria, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia. Google expects that the internet will be used by 5 Billion users by 2025.