Agreat deal of work was required before the EC Bridge Chinese-European Networking Symposium got underway. Key themes of the conference, held on March 17 and 18 at the Hotel Nikko New Century in Beijing were ‘e-Logistics’ and ‘e-Collaboration’.
Goals of the conference were outlined by the suffix ‘Learning, understanding, categorising, finding’. The organising team commissioned by the EU Commissioner for the Information Society, Vivianne Reding, and made up of Europeans headed by Kai Matzner from the Fraunhofer IFF in Magdeburg and Chinese members led by Calven Luo from the Beijing Software Industry Association, put together a programme of presentations that suited the preferences of attendees. The floor comprised an expert audience from the fields of industry, commerce, services and science.
Attendees also included representatives from government ministries and authorities based in the Beijing region as well as their consulting and development companies.
The main presentations were divided into tracks. First, Carl Skip from Alcatel Asia Pacific spoke on the subject of ‘e- Management and e-Working Trends’ and outlined the untapped potential for a global corporation geared toward modern communication media. He was followed by Thomas Wimmer for the BVL and the ELA, who informed attendees about application-oriented knowledge and ‘Trends and Strategies in the Field of e-Logistics’.
Xinyi Hou from the Beijing Olympic Committee outlined the challenges we will face in the electronics and logistics fields in coming years. And last but not least, Wenling Chen – who has the final say on research funding and subsidies in China and therefore received a great deal of attention from organisers and participants alike – and Belgian national Jacques Babot representing the EC and the IST promotion programme underlined the close connections between the regions and outlined potential for joint activities.
Various workshops were held to discuss ways of overcoming obstacles to communication and demand barriers. The set-up was simple yet effective: eight signs strategically placed across the room, eight groups formed by the participants who carried their conference chairs over to the appropriate sign. The first afternoon was characterised by stimulating debate, the sight of people scribbling down ideas in a wide range of languages and alphabets, and a willingness to listen on the part of both Asian and European attendees.
In the special topic sequence on ‘e-Logistics and Resulting Potential Business Models’, also chaired by Thomas Wimmer, all four speakers succeeded in catering to different skilled groups of listeners: Professor Alan McKinnon from Heriot Watt University in Scotland outlined general insights and potentials, the young entrepreneur Peng Gao from JC TRANS in Peking presented a hands-on application, scientific ‘wanderer between the worlds’ Mingtao Zhou from the Fraunhofer IFF in Magdeburg profiled a research project, and Yegin Hou, head of Beijing Hope Software, hosted an outstanding presentation on bar code processing and RFID technologies.
Another special topic sequence focussed on ‘e- Procurement, e-Delivery and e-Payment’: Christian Zirkelbacher, formerly with SSI Schäfer and now a selfemployed businessman, Werner Vetter, head of logistics at Volkswagen of China, Professor Yanbo Han from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Rino Rosini from the Emiglia Romana Transport and Logistics Institute provided much information as well as ample food for thought and debate. Oswald Werle from Austria caused quite a few light bulbs to spark on among Chinese listeners, many of who were totally unaware of the role played by the availability of transport and loading facilities in the efficient automotive industry in Europe.
Meanwhile, Ireland-based Swiss captain and maritime logistician Felix Schmidt got his wake-up call outside the conference hotel, where he was surprised by the rarity of containers on the roads or at trans-shipment sites. The absence of pallets and the generally tailored packaging concepts for freight also prompted the European participants to think about opportunities.
The young Finn Juho Rissanen set a benchmark in the area of interoperability: the embassy representative for technology transfer ignored the headphones for the simultaneous translations, jumping from English to Mandarin and back again during the discussions without any discernible break in his flow.
At the end of the two-day conference, the leading organisers took the stage: Kai Matzner and Nicole Turbé- Suetens (from France) presented the findings of a trendmapping study whose recommendations reflected the debate and discussion that had taken place during the preceding two days: success is supported and driven by indepth market know-how, direct contact with customers and producers, joint optimisation of supply chain efficiency in co-operation with business partners, the avoidance of parallel duplication, systematic gearing of activities toward technological progress from the outset, a conscious strategy of risk management and a long-term perspective on business activities in China.
In addition to providing in-depth information on promotion programmes, Alison Birket, a British national who has been in China for four years as the first EU Counsellor for the Information Society, and her Chinese colleague Linhao Chen, an expert on international cooperation, ensured the event closed on a motivational note: ‘If you have a good idea and you are part of – or want to set up – a co-operative venture between a company in China and a company in Europe, feel free to write to us. We’ll be happy to cut out the red tape and help you.’
Many Chinese companies will be coming to Munich at the end of May for ‘transport logistic 05’, the international fair for logistics. The event will also feature a ‘China Day’ organisedby Professor Hans-Christian Pfohl. The 22nd German Logistics Congress in Berlin in October will also present options and opportunities to establish new – and build on existing – contacts.
This is how Oswald Werle sums up his experience: ‘I got to know a number of extremely interesting people and am confident the conversations and discussions I had will form the basis for new business relationships.