Logistics experts travel more than 6,000 miles to see how a distribution center works
From the Commercial Appeal –
Georgia was on George Doborjginidze’s mind Friday as a tour bus slowly cruised a southeast Memphis depot crammed with ocean shipping containers, truck chassis and tractors.
Not the Peach State, but the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where Doborjginidze is helping develop an intermodal freight yard similar to three that dot the Memphis landscape.
Chairman of the Georgian Logistics Association and managing director of TLC Property Management LLC, Doborjginidze was among 18 logistics professionals from the former Soviet Union visiting key Memphis links in the global supply chain.
The group, hosted by the University of Memphis Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute, spent three days in the city under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Special American Business and Internship Training program.
They toured the FedEx world hub, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Memphis Intermodal Facility, Canadian National Railway hump yard and Mallory Alexander International Logistics.
The group spent a couple of hours at the 160-acre southeast Memphis compound of Intermodal Cartage Group, which handles and transports shipping containers for international imports and exports.
Georgia, the country, sounded sort of like Memphis the way it was described by Doborjginidze and Gogita Gvenetadze, acting head of transport policy for the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia.
Situated between Russia and Turkey, it occupies a central position on land shipping routes between Asia and Europe. Gvenetadze said the country’s railroads transport 3.3 million people and 22 million tons of cargo annually, with much of the cargo going somewhere else.
“After studying the intermodal infrastructure here, we want to establish centers in our country,” Gvenetadze said.
Doborjginidze’s company is developing an intermodal facility in Tbilisi, the capital. He said, “The purpose of our trip is to meet with the leading U.S. companies in transportation and logistics sectors, to get a feeling how they are organized and to see how the businesses are operated.”
Memphis is worth studying because of its five major railroads, state-of-the-art intermodal yards and world-class distribution companies like FedEx. Also on the itinerary: New York, New Jersey, Greensboro, N.C., Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
“Our mission is to improve the education of our community about intermodal freight, and this is improving that education,” said Sean Ellis, associate director and business manager for the U of M center. “They spoke to our students yesterday about the challenges in their countries.”
Ellis added, “Really, it’s a good-will thing for us.”
Posted: September 30, 2011