Ferries, trains and watermobiles – a four day tour of Rotterdam

Date 18.07.2018

On a study trip organised by the University’s Business Systems and Operations team, 12 MSc Logistics and Supply Chain Management students were given a guided tour of Rotterdam – one of the world’s major logistic and economic centres.

“The principal objective of the Rotterdam trip was to observe at first hand the operation of a world-class port” said Andrew Gough, Senior Lecturer in Operations Management. “Secondary objectives for the trip included experiencing the inclusive, outward-facing culture of the Netherlands…with a bit of shameless tourism thrown in.”

But this isn’t your average study trip admits Andrew, the four day tour is an intensive learning experience with several early mornings and a jam packed schedule involving multiple modes of transport and of course, flowers!

He continued: “Day one was a travel day. We deliberately followed a freight route to the Netherlands, taking the Harwich – Hoek van Holland ferry with all the trucks and cargo. This demonstrated the scale of the traffic between the two countries and provides the students with a perspective on time and distance – as it takes a lot longer by boat than by plane.

“Day two we visited the flower auction in Aalsmeer, very early in the morning to see a Dutch auction in operation and to appreciate the bustle of a major distribution centre. This year, we visited the UNESCO World Heritage site at Kinderdijk, to appreciate the challenges of managing water levels in a country that is largely below sea level.

“The best way to reach Kinderdijk is by waterbus, and the best way to explore is by bicycle, so we achieved flowers, windmills and bikes all in one day.

“Day three was the port day. The Rotterdam Mainport Education Information Centre (EIC) provided us with an expert guide and we visited a container terminal, coal and ore terminal and rail terminal, learn about flood defences and watch ferry, barge and tugs operating. Day four was the return travel day – with the obligatory shopping session thrown in.”

But the trip isn’t all work and no play, the students are given plenty of freedom to explore the sights and soak up the culture.

Andrew added: “There was plenty of free time. Rotterdam is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world and is a joy to walk around. Public transport is fully integrated (the tram stopped right outside our hotel, which is next to the waterbus stop and bus park) making it very easy to get about. There is almost every cuisine on offer, at every price point. Live music can be found almost every night and it is often free to get in.”

Rajath Haravu Chandrashekhar, MSc Logistics and Supply Chain Management student, said : “I enjoyed touring windmills in Kinderdijk. The Waterbus experience and the Dutch water management system were very impressive. Our guide was a solid expert and he taught us all about logistics and shipping. I also liked cycling everywhere and the weather was good, so we all really enjoyed it.”

For more information on MSc Logistics and Supply Chain Management, please visit the course page.