Exploring the logistics ecosystem: A study trip to Antwerp

To thrive in today's fast-paced world of global trade and logistics, hands-on experience is key. With this in mind, students from the MSc International Trade & Logistics recently embarked on a journey to Antwerp, Belgium, delving deep into the intricate workings of worldwide supply chains.

Global logistics challenges in a European hub

From the vibrant docks of Antwerp to state-of-the-art distribution hubs, the 3-day study trip provided students of the International Trade & Logistics MSc with a firsthand look at the challenges facing supply chain management and the wider logistics landscape:

  • Embarking on the study trip, students were thrust into the heart of Antwerp Port, a bustling nexus of global commerce and Europe's second-largest port. Here, they witnessed the choreographed dance of container ships unloading and loading at terminals operated by DP World and MSC—a captivating spectacle unveiling the intricacies of container management, from storage to digitalisation and refrigeration.
  • Their journey continued with a visit to Katoen Natie, a ubiquitous presence in Antwerp Port, renowned for delivering high-value-added services through cutting-edge engineering solutions. Venturing into the realm of plastic granule production, packaging, and storage, students encountered a sprawling hub receiving shipments from diverse factories and catering to industries spanning the globe.
  • At the Grimaldi Lines RoRo terminal, students witnessed the influx of trucks and trains from across Europe, with barges ferrying goods from Germany's Ruhr region—a bustling hub facilitating the transport of automotive and industrial vehicles to destinations worldwide.

These initial encounters encompassed the entire logistics spectrum, laying the foundation for further exploration as the trip unfolded in Brussels and Laakdal:

  • Nestled in Laakdal, Nike's distribution centre provided students with a deep dive into the logistical intricacies of the supply chain. From receiving goods from a multitude of global suppliers to repackaging and redistributing products to clients across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, students were immersed in Nike's commitment to sustainability and innovation. A highlight was a dynamic business game that allowed students to grapple with real-world challenges in a simulated setting.
  • Next on the itinerary was a visit to Shop We Do E-commerce, where students gained insights into value-added logistics operations in the B2C e-commerce realm. From robotic integration to sustainable packaging practices and advanced software solutions, students gleaned firsthand the transformative power of technology in optimising order processing and delivery.
  • The day culminated in a nocturnal tour of DHL Express's European distribution hub at Brussels Airport—a bustling nerve centre orchestrating the seamless flow of shipments worldwide. Against the backdrop of pallet jacks and conveyor belts, students witnessed the meticulous preparation of ULD containers destined for global delivery, underscoring DHL's prowess in international logistics and customer service excellence.
  • The journey reached its crescendo at Antwerp Management School, University of Antwerp, with an illuminating conference on international logistics and transport ecosystems led by esteemed academics; Rol Gevaers and Wouter Dewulf. Following the conference, students engaged in lively discussions and immersive case studies, applying theoretical frameworks to real-world scenarios—a fitting denouement to their enriching journey through the world of logistics and supply chain management.

Embedded within the MSc curriculum, the Antwerp study trip offers students a holistic understanding of international commerce and logistics. They delve into the strategic importance of ports and get hands-on with warehouse management and distribution intricacies. These experiences not only enrich their academic knowledge but also prepare them for the ever-changing landscape of logistics.