At the end of the red-eye from New York’s JFK to Amsterdam’s Schipol airport, I had the opportunity to reflect on Yossi Sheffi’s Logistics Clusters : Delivering Value and Driving Growth. Breaking through the low clouds over Amsterdam, one of the first things I saw was a canal with a self-propelled river barge motoring along. Shortly after, a railroad came into view and after that major highways. Seeing so many modes of transportation (and riding in a fourth), I recalled that Amsterdam was one of the first “logistics clusters” starting in the 1600s with the Dutch East India company.
For most of us in the marine industry, the concept of the logistics cluster is rather nebulous. Yossi Sheffi, however, has written a relatively easy-reading book on the subject (link above). It goes in depth on the how’s and why’s of the development and success or failure of logistics clusters around the world. From the rise of Dubai in maritime shipping (and air traffic) to the development of FedEx’s (Federal Express) Mempis hub to the failure of others, Professor Sheffi takes us on a tour of the world. In doing so, he explains how international shipping has changed the way we work and emphasizes the positive effects of logistics clusters.
So, if logistics clusters aren’t even on our radar, why would we be interested in this book or the topic? The answer is relatively simple – it’s because we are part of this system. As we move containers, bulk cargoes, or petroleum products around the world, we are directly or indirectly feeding into logistics clusters or hauling from them. It behooves us to understand that there is much more to the whole shipping industry than the container reaching the dock. For a more in-depth look at logistics clusters, look no further than Logistics Clusters : Delivering Value and Driving Growth. For additional information on the shipping industry as a whole, the magazines American Shipper and Journal of Commerce are excellent.