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China to build 150 automated and intelligent smart logistics hubs by 2025

China is to build 30 logistics hubs during the next 12 months and 150 in the following five years as part of a major expansion and transformation of its supply chain industry, according to a strategy document published last month by China’s state planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), and its Ministry of Transport.

The new logistics hubs will be bring advanced internet-of-things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to the country’s supply chain, to and greater efficiency and higher intelligence to its manufacturing and services economy.

The NDRC plan – first reported by Technode, and available in Chinese – outlines a new breed of modern logistics centre, of “fully automated terminals, unmanned stations, and intelligent warehousing”. It also describes a national supply chain which is buoyed by wide-ranging electronic documents, and capable of “full process monitoring and cargo traceability”.

China wants “intelligent multimodal transport stations”, featuring automated trucks, smart shuttles, intelligent robots, and drones. The three-phase plan sets out a “deep integration of modern information technology and national logistics hub operation management”.

The new hubs will create a “new kinetic energy for logistics development”, the NDRC document says.

In total, the plan defines six types of logistics hub, for the transportation, storage, and transshipment of cargo by road, rail and sea, variously, both inside and outside the country. It identifies 212 locations for them, including 41 land ports, 30 sea ports, 23 airports, 47 industrial ports, 55 commerce and service ports, and 16 border ports. Certain locations will operate as twin sites, for two or more pprt functions.

All the country’s major cities, sea ports, and border posts will be covered. The plan sets out a loose 2020, 2025 and 2035 timetable, with the rate and extent of connectivity and intelligence of the country’s logistics industry accelerating through the schedule.

NDRC acknowledges China’s vast logistics industry, which includes six of the 10 busiest container ports in the world – and some of the very smartest, notably the Port of Shanghai, the world’s busiest – has work to do to catch up with automated, connected, and intelligent logistics operations in Europe and North America.

“We must see that compared with developed countries, there is still a certain development of China’s logistics hub,” it says in the document.

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