SDG Airlines

We fly!

The Escola takes to the air!

SDG Airlines

Eduard Rodés - Director of the Escola Europea Intermodal Transport

Written by: Eduard Rodés, director of the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

Not literally, of course! Traditionally, in our courses, we have always focused on various modalities of transport – excluding air! Air transport was always considered as a costly alternative, and not appropriate for large freight shipments. Over the past two years, however, we have made leaps in virtual education and created new educational and innovation tools based on simulators. Whilst still experiential, the simulators that we now use morphed from the constructivist educational model to a behaviorist one. With this new model, we were also able to add air routes, and so a new air cargo transport company – SDG Airlines – was born: A company full of ambition and born in a logistic-port community in which the air sector plays a fundamental role, and without which it would not be possible to understand the current realities of logistics and transport.

Richard Florida says that human creativity is the last economic resource, and I believe he is quite right. Time has also proven him right. Societies advance by leaps and bounds, and ours has been leaping a lot: COVID, climate change, energy crises, geopolitical crises, are only some of the challenges that have pushed us. Along the way we, as a society, keep trying to move forward relentlessly, and for that it is essential to believe in what we do. We need to think that what we dedicate our time to is important to our society.

In the Escola’s latest leap, pushed perhaps more so with the COVID pandemic, we were forced to develop the a virtual port community – the PortVirtualLab ( After two years, it has grown to be a very important training tool; one which is already implemented in 7 countries and continues to grow in both scope and performance.

The success of the platform can be assigned to the fact that it allows us to move away from an approach that focuses on the learning of contents to one oriented towards criticism and reasoning, seeking to change the student’s point of view. A different point of view, from within the operations themselves; one that allows the student to take on the role of the protagonist. At the Escola we say that the space we build is an avatar of reality, and what we try to do is to immerse the students in this virtual space. They should think of the simulated companies as real ones – I recommend for you to visit our virtual airline company – SDG Airlines –– and try to interact with them as you would with any internet entity. At the same time, we make our students work in both close and distant teams to complete the operations. The telematic tools become the means that allow the operations to be carried out. Let’s not forget that the vast majority of people close to us have had the means and have learned to use these tools in the last few months – something that was not necessarily the case at the onset of the pandemic.

The simulated world that we have to create and represent mentally helps us understand and explain the operations.  When we are confronted with a given phenomenon, the content of the mental representations we construct depends on the questions we want to answer. It depends on the needs, interests, and emotions of each individual. In our case, this world is represented by international trade operations that require the design and management of international logistic chains that mainly use maritime and air transport.

The companies that we designed companies could be mistaken for real ones, but they have the added characteristic of incorporating values that aim to meaningfully construct knowledge and train for civic life. We hope that our students are convinced that respect and commitment to the environment, people and society is the best way for everyone and that this should guide any business operations.  Visual perception, comprehension, reasoning and symbolic interpretation (hermeneutics) influence this construction. Students are guided, in turn, by people’s technical and scientific knowledge, by their previous experiences, by the way in which information is processed and by motivational aspects regarding the context in which they are constructed.  Therefore, learning is related to what the student understands, and the student understands only what interests or excites him.

In this construction process, the teacher -or we can call him a mentor- tries to make the student bring to light the knowledge he possesses with his help, which in Socratic thinking would be helping to “give birth” to ideas, but in our environment, this should favor the transformation of culture.

Our PVL platform also fosters personal training and socialization processes as, by its very definition, it is necessary to get to know the people who make up the work teams, as well as the people in the support teams (agents) who are there to help carry out the operations. The participants can engage in a variety of social interactions (such as games that we have not (yet) initiated). This somehow constructs our identity – the one we want to project to others – according to the contexts we encounter in conversations. These conversations allow us to reveal who we are, and that usually brings us satisfaction.

In the part related to cultural change, activities are structured according to certain binding rules regarding what we must do or not do, which will shape the ethical aspects of how we approach and prioritize operations, and what we expect from others.

How to act, how to proceed, and what to expect from others – all are central aspects of our courses. Finally we hope that this process and these activities will lead our students to Areté, to know how to do, and in the manner of the Greeks, to know how to do well (tékhne).

Education becomes a social activity that builds us personally and professionally, and in which practice and communication with others form a process of reciprocal action among participants.

The reality is that we lead students to work together, to get to know each other and to know how to work together. This is difficult to achieve in a normal classroom. We seek to change the space of coexistence traditionally linked to “out of class” activities to a relationship that will allow a collaborative and productive environment that can contribute to the bettering of our society, and therefore to a transformation of the reality that improves it.

In the process of building the platform we have had good teachers, or as Hernán Rodriguez would say, we have had ‘good’ teachers; that is to say, professionals who are not only technically prepared, but also ethically adequate. We therefore propose, as an educational task, the permanent search for excellence (Areté).

We are looking for a type of teacher “who has charisma (gift) and dedication in the art of the Socratic Method: to “illuminate” the best that the student has within himself; allowing the development of the capacities that each one has to transform his life and help transform the lives of others. Here lies the challenge for the teacher. And here is also the challenge for this constructionist proposal”[1].

The courses with are a transformative experience for teachers and students, and this has made us fly in the field of education and in the field of intermodal transport.

Now we would like to be able to fly together with teachers, students, and training centers all over the world.

Because we fly!


Eduard Rodés


Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport


[1] Dr. Hernán Rodríguez Villamil – Del constructivismo al construccionismo: implicaciones educativas. Revista Educación y Desarrollo Social Bogotá, D.C., Colombia – Volumen II – No. 1 enero – junio de 2008 – ISSN 2011-5318

Commercial Container Ship

HydroPen: A solution to container fires?

Ever since man was able to transport goods by sea, hazards and dangers have existed to the cargo involved. Starting from the ancient Greeks, the design and size of ships continued to evolve to match the demand that was growing in an increasingly connected society. In the 20th century sea transport became more even extensive as our society became more globalised and technology more developed.

There is no doubt that cargo transport by sea has drastically evolved over the years. However, as with anything, with larger volumes and varieties of goods carried, more risk emerged. Container fires are unfortunately very common – today they happen on average every 66 days. It is up to industry experts to try to figure out a way to prevent or contain catastrophes – and it looks like the Danish company Viking has come up with a solution that will help shippers mitigate such risks with the HydroPen.

History of container fires

Whenever a large fire breaks out aboard a ship, the cargo on board is determined to be the cause. The contents of containers can shift around, burn, explode or even liquify if proper storage and handling is not carried out.

Following many disasters at sea that caused either massive losses in life or in cargo, the International Maritime Organization came up with regulations to try to prevent or minimise such disasters in 1958. Because of this, a lot of dangerous freight can be tracked. Freightwaves reports that today, 10% of 60 million of maritime containers moved globally are declared as dangerous goods under the IMO regulations. Unfortunately, 1/5th of those are either poorly packed or incorrectly identified – therewith increasing risk of container fires and potential maritime disasters.

Common causes of container fires

There have been quite a few large container fires in recent history. The first step to eliminating such disasters would be for the industry to identify the risks, follow the safety standards, and develop feasible fire prevention and containment technologies.

The most common cause of container fire continues to be misdeclaration of container cargo. This could be assigned to either clerical errors or to nefarious activities, but in both cases can lead to huge destructions of property and a loss of life. Another cause could be improper container storage. In the past, dangerous seas have caused shifts in improperly secured containers aboard ships, which then resulted in fires or explosions. Finally, the third most common cause is improper fire containment, control equipment and staff training. Better fire-fighting equipment on board the ships, with crew that is fully trained in its usage, could help offset the fire risks at sea.

Other common causes of ship fires can be assigned to:

  • Engine malfunction
  • Improper electrical wiring
  • Improper handling of kitchen equipment on board of vessels
  • Mislabelled combustible cargo

Industry solutions

After each catastrophe, industry partners and insurance companies have tried to carry out analyses to determine what the causes were, and thus help prevent similar fiascos in the future. Many insurance companies have already stressed the need to promote better ship designs and fire-fighting equipment to help the crew manage any potential misfortunes (Allianz Global).

New technologies seem to be the answer. Recently, the Nordic company Viking has come up with a new tool – the HydroPen – which has promising potential. This tool is an “innovative, water-based drilling machine that enables crew to effectively and efficiently fight container fires high up in the stack.” It consists of two components – a lift to raise a drill or spray unit to the location of a fire and the unit itself.

How does it work?

In the event of a fire inside a container on board of a ship, the HydroPen can drill through a standard container door or wall. It then can use a special hose, which is connected to the vessel’s fire main. Using pressurised water, it can spray the insides of the container and put out the fire before it can spread beyond the container (causing more damage to other cargo and potentially the vessel itself. With proper training, this tool could potentially prevent large maritime disasters.

For more videos on how the HydroPen works, you can also head to the Viking YouTube channel.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that the shipping industry continues to evolve – with larger distances, larger shipments, and a larger variety of cargo. For the shipping industry to remain safe and efficient, it needs highly trained staff that know how to protect the cargo during the vessel trajectories, employees that know how to properly label cargo, and innovative technological solutions that can help mitigate any potential risks that may arise from circumstances out of our control.

Vessel operations are highly complex. At the Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport we offer an array of courses that can help you expand your knowledge of the industry from the perspective of the shipper, the freight forwarder, the port authority and the end client. If you are interested in knowing more, you can check out our available courses or contact us directly for more information.


Why are shortsea shipping routes on trend?

In 2021 Shortsea Shipping recorded an 11.7% increase over 2020, and managed to surpass 2019’s figures, when 269 million tons were moved, according to Shortsea data.

The so called ‘Butterfly effect’ that has is origin from the Chinese proverb: “The flapping of a butterfly’s wings can be felt on the other side of the world.” It can be used to illustrate the causes and changes that led to the increase of short sea shipping traffic and routes in the Mediterranean. This led to the need for specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains.

Several factors have influenced this upward trend in short sea shipping, mainly the shortage of truck drivers and the relocation of production from Asia to Africa or even Europe and thus changing the maritime trade routes.

Why this?

Shortage of truck drivers

One of the factors responsible relies on the global shortage of truck drivers, specifically, 2.6 million jobs were left unfilled worldwide in 2021, according to the Driver Shortage Global Report 2022: Summary.

Some of the reasons why truck driver positions are disappearing are: the difficulty finding operational workforce, since the average age for truck drivers is 55 years, in addition to being a profession that requires long periods away from home, which is a hindrance for the younger generations, who are more aware of the need for work-life balance. These reasons are compounded by the lack of female drivers and the lack of training and, therefore, of qualified drivers.

In addition to this, restrictions and problems for supply chain worldwide led to a shift in lower risk production locations, increasing local production.

Supply chain shifts and energetic dependency

China’s zero covid policy have aggravated problems in supply chains worldwide, especially in the Mediterranean, and have had a direct or indirect impact on European industries, which have opted on the recovery of production in Europe and America to the detriment of Asia.

Moreover, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has made clear that the only way to be energy independent is through renewable energies, therefore decarbonizing the transport sector.

Beyond being on trend, the shortsea shipping routes have proven to be the most effective solution to these disruptions, being not only strategic for industries but more sustainable in the short and long term. Facing global supply chain adaptations, energy dependency issues and the urgent need to decarbonize the sector, as well as the need for qualified workforce for intermodal transport, see highway in the Mediterranean are becoming great commercial routes.

Therefore, more and more specialized talent capable of managing intermodal transport logistics chains might be needed because of this changing scenario.

Shortsea Shipping Transport Talent

In a short future scenario companies form the logistics and transportation sector might need more qualified talent capable of managing intermodal transportation logistics chains, as this is the most cost-effective and environmentally sustainable option.  Trainings like Most Iberia are top gear and economical options for professionals or companies seeking to specialize its personnel with the latest trends and topics in the sector.

Source: El renacer comercial de las autopistas del mar | Actualidad Económica (