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Decision Problems and Applications of Operations Research at Marine Container Terminals

Publication: Wiley Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science
Publication Date: 2011

This article provides an overview of the applications of operations research (OR) techniques to marine container terminals. The article begins by providing a summary of marine container terminal operations. Following this, a series of decision problems are identified, to which OR techniques have been applied. These include quayside, yard, and landside decision problems. In each section, the problems, technical approaches, and outcomes are described.

With respect to quayside decision problems, the specific problems addressed include the determination of quayside equipment types, berth allocation, quay crane allocation and scheduling, and operational planning and real‐time decisions related to transportation equipment. Yard decision problems include yard design, storage space allocation, and task assignment for yard handling equipment. Landside decision problems include the design of the terminal’s landside connection, transport planning, and real‐time control of landside operations.

The article provides an overview of the state of the practice. The reader will gain an understanding of the nature of decision problems in marine container terminals, how OR techniques have been used to address these, and the operational improvements made possible through the application of OR techniques to this problem area.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Wenjuan Zhao, Erica Wygonik
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A., Zhao, W., & Wygonik, E. (2010). Decision Problems and Applications of Operations Research at Marine Container Terminals.

Double-Cycling Strategies for Container Ships and Their Effect on Ship Loading and Unloading Operations

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Publication: Transportation Science
Volume: 40(4)
Pages: 473-483
Publication Date: 2006

Loading ships as they are unloaded (double cycling) can improve the efficiency of a quay crane and container port. This paper describes the double-cycling problem, and presents solution algorithms and simple formulae to determine reductions in the number of operations and operating time using the technique. We focus on reducing the number of operations necessary to turn around a row of a ship. The problem is first formulated as a scheduling problem, which can be solved optimally. A simple lower bound for all strategies is then developed. We also present a greedy algorithm that yields a simple and tight upper bound. The gap between the upper and lower bounds is so small that the formula for either bound is an accurate predictor of crane performance. The analysis is then extended to double cycling when ships have deck hatches. Results are presented for many simulated vessels, and compared to empirical data from a real-world trial. The research demonstrates that double cycling can create significant efficiency gains in crane productivity, typically reducing the number of cycles by about 20% and the operational time by about 10% when double cycling only below deck.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, C. Daganzo
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne V., and Carlos F. Daganzo. "Double-Cycling Strategies for Container Ships and Their Effect on Ship Loading and Unloading Operations." Transportation Science 40, no. 4 (2006): 473-483. 

Crane Double-Cycling in Container Ports: Planning Methods and Evaluation

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Publication: Transportation Research Part B: Methodological
Volume: 41(8)
Pages: 875-891
Publication Date: 2007

The Clean Trucks Program is a Clean Air Action Plan initiative currently being adopted by the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. This paper examines the Clean Trucks Program’s current requirements and estimates the impact on terminal operations. Using terminal operations data supplied by three terminal operating companies, we conduct a simple queuing analysis and present a regression model that allows us to consider the potential impact of the policy changes.

While this paper does not estimate the impact at a specific terminal, we consider order of magnitude effects. While the program itself does not require terminal operations changes, the program will modestly increase incentives to improve operational efficiency outside the terminal and reduce terminal gate processing time. It will also require technology that could be used for further operational changes.

We show, however, that unless gate time improvements are matched with these operational improvements in the terminal, they will only move the delay inside the terminal and not reduce total terminal time.

Our research considers the impact of the Clean Trucks Program on the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but similar concerns are driving changes at ports around the globe.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, C.F. Daganzo
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A.V., and C.F. Daganzo. “Crane Double Cycling in Container Ports: Planning Methods and Evaluation.” Transportation Research Part B: Methodological, vol. 41, no. 8, 2007, pp. 875–891., doi:10.1016/j.trb.2007.02.006.