Japanese delivery services are known for their efficiency and reliability. To get a look at how it works, I went to check out the Chronogate. Built by the Yamato Group next to the Haneda International Airport in 2013, it is a logistics marvel.
Link Japan to the World
Thought as a link between the world and Japan the “Haneda Chronogate” is, with its 100,000 square meters, designed as a flow type hub that works like a logistics factory. The terminal began its operations in September 2013, when the Haneda Airport was expanding its number of international flights. The facility has a unique position: just ten minutes away to the Haneda airport, but also close to the Port of Tokyo, the Tokyo Terminal and the Metropolitan Expressway that goes to Yokohama.
Unlike a traditional hub, the facility was thought not as a warehouse but as a place where cargo is moving in and out around the clockn, but also where it's possible to clean and maintain medical devices or assemble and repair home appliances. This helped Yamato Group to develop new business opportunities.
Fast and efficient
Compared to the delivery services in France, I always found Yamato to be more efficient. One of the reason is that it is incredibly fast, with a delivery usually made on the next day. I never had a single delay or package lost, and if I’m not here to receive it, it’s easily possible to ask for a redelivery in the evening as long as it is before 9:00 PM, something that is simply not possible in my home country.
But with the Haneda Chronogate, one of the most amazing services they are able to achieve is that: Yamato is able to deliver fish freshly caught in the morning to restaurants to foreign countries such as Hong Kong or Singqpore... on the following day!
A welcoming black cat
When entering the building for the first time, one of the surprising feature is the giant black cat that welcome the visitors. Yamato's mascot was reproduced on a large scale and even appeared on several TV commercials. It also has a nice feature: it meows when you push its nose!
Learn Yamato's History
Before the facilities and the control room, the tour starts with an introduction of the Yamato Group and the development of TA-Q-BIN. Called ""100 THANKS"", a display with cubes talks about the key moments of the company, what they want to achieve in the upcoming years, but also to show gratitude to everyone who helped to its development.
In the visitors’ hall, a video is projected to explain in more details Yamato’s philosophy, which was founded with two core values in mind: everything is for the customer, and all the employees represent the company. In daily activities, this means that the sales drivers are the lifeline of Yamato, as they are in direct contact with customers.
A logistic masterpiece
The tour then goes through a corridor, where it’s possible to see how the conveyor belts are working, and how the packages are divided by delivery destination once they arrived at the Chronogate. The complex is able to handle 48.000 packages per hour, and can continue to work flawlessly even in the case of an earthquake of magnitude 6 in Tokyo.
One of the most impressive parts is the speed at which the package are handled, and the precision when a package cross from one band to another, without any falling down.
As everything is automated inside the terminal, almost no human can be seen around the belt converyer except during the daily maintenance. The sight of the packages flowing away at a high speed is, in itself, really impressive.
The Chronogate Control Center
Next, comes the control room, which is another way to see all the operations introduced previously. But at first, visitors can’t directly see through it. A strange milky glass hides the inside. In order to see it, a signal is given by the attendent and, as someone pushes a button, anyone could have a look at the room. Two dozens of screens are hanged on the wall, and allows to see in real time all the main areas in the Chronogate.
A Unique Way to Receive Gifts
Finally, the tour end with one last room. On the floor, a video is projected that shows the different routes Yamato have in Japan and abroad, but also its social contribution activities. All around it, several interactive sections explains the different part of the company, such as how the delivery trucks are maintained every day.
At the back of the room, a place was set up with many different gifts in little baskets to introduces the Free Rack Auto Pick System (FRAPS). To receive three of those, you needs to scan a bar-code located on the nametag you receive at the beginning of the visit. Then, three buttons lighten up to let you know what you can pick up, a fun way to finish the visit!
For those who want to learn more about it, the guided tour is accessible to foreign visitors. Organized several times a day, the free tour explains the history of the Yamato group and to have a view to the central control room and the actual logistics equipment. Even if most of it is conducted in Japanese, voice guides are available both in English and Chinese.