Tag Archives: infrastructure

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How robots change the world | Oxford Economics

Thanks to Supply Chain Digest for promoting this study by Oxford Economics.  Read the article here for a synopsis of its findings: Supply Chain News: Oxford Economics Says Robots Benefits will Outweigh Cons

Basically, it says robots will greatly raise productivity and take jobs with a repetitive aspect, displacing workers toward jobs with high cognitive content.  But there may be local dislocations that will be hard for some people.   We’d better prepare for that and put in measures to alleviate the suffering, if we care about people and their lives.  They think about 1.6 jobs will be lost for every job robots take. but GNP may grow 5% as a result.  China is the major user of robots now, and the revolution promises to be harder on them than any other country as it looks now.

It isn’t clear from the summary whether the 1.6 jobs lost will be found again in other sectors, such as service and sales, support of the robots, or technical work like fixing the robots.  Nonetheless this kind of assessment is an eye opener to concerns we may have in our economy and political world for quite a while.

The report is available here:  How robots change the world | Oxford Economics

Or here: Oxford Economics 2019 Report – How Robots Change the World

 

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The danger of a $2 trillion infrastructure promise

Shalini Vajjhala has written a good article about the issues with current ways of thinking about infrastructure planning and the money spent.

She points out the game-theoretic nature of decision making the way things work now.  Local and regional transportation planners and funders won’t go forward until they know they can get federal money.  That means the p[lanning doesn’t start till the grants are there.  This is a perfectly rational strategy.

I know of only a few places that have avoided this trap.  I happen to live in an area, Sonoma County California, that built SMARTT, a passenger rail line connecting Marin County and Santa Rosa airport,  with its own tax money. It got some federal money later; but it was a local initiative, led by people like Steve Birtlebough, who campaigned for over 20 years for this passenger rail line.

It also shows the fallacy of the Trump cancellation of funds for California’s high-speed train project.  The money had been committed long in advance, and planning went forward. But upon its cancellation, the project fell into disarray, and is unlikely to generate the political will and statewide tax funding to continue.

You can argue whether the high-speed train is useful, since it connects two places that are not in major population centers.  But every large project has people on both sides of its viability.  And changing the balance without careful thought about the strategic implications makes everyone less eager to get started.

screenshot-www.brookings.edu 2018-01-25 13-18-03-392  via The danger of a $2 trillion infrastructure promise

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Hamburg deepens Elbe channel

The project will cost $700 million, and it went through a long series of legal battles, mostly about environmental issues.  But now the project is ready to begin. The Port of Hamburg let the contract to DEME engineering, as World Maritime News reported.  Dredging Today reported that the contract has a value of EUR 238 million (including VAT). The article below contains many facts about the project’s scale, but does not offer a completion target date.

It is interesting to point out, as  did in his Loadstar article, that Hamburg, by virtue of its inland location, is also able to link with rail service via the One Belt One Road initiative of China, as well as multiple barge routes.

The Maritime Executive reported that the project was approved finally in August of 2018.  But such a large investment takes time to get ramped up.

There is still some resistance to the project and there are a few appeal opportunities left. But it seems very unlikely that opponents will take them up.

The port has recently experienced an upsurge in container traffic.  According to Port of Hamburg, almost one-third of the container traffic is related to China.  Seaborne cargo throughput reached 34.6 million tons, up 6%.  Container handling reached 2.3 million TEUs.  Some of this was due to four new transatlantic services run by THE alliance.

And hinterland traffic grew 8.0 percent.  Hamburg is famous for offering many feeder links, including around 2100 block train (unit train in US lingo) connections.

Part of the upswing is due to volatility induced by the tariff games going on in the world right now.  Firms are stocking up before the tariffs go into effect.  Whether the upward trend will continue is unclear, but certainly deepening the Elbe waterway will offer ocean carriers greater flexibility in route selection.

I have a special fondness for the Port of Hamburg after visiting it for the IAME conference in 2016.

screenshot-Dredging today 2019-05-21  via DEME Bags Elbe Deepening Contract – Dredging Today

logo  via Elbe upgrade signals opportunity for port of Hamburg to regain former glory – The Loadstar

screenshot-Maritime Executive 2019-05-21  via Hamburg Receives Approval to Dredge the Elbe

screenshot-World Maritime News 2019-05-21   via Elbe Deepening Contract Goes to DEME | World Maritime News

screenshot-Port of Hamburg 2019-05-21  via Port of Hamburg | Port of Hamburg – strong first-quarter growth powers upswing