Optimising terminals to boost productivity



Dr. Yvo Saanen, Principle Consultant, & Arjen de Waal, Senior Consultant, TBA, The Netherlands



The next generation of robotized terminals will benefit from the latest solutions and technology. What are these solutions that will beef up the productivity of these terminals? In a simulation supported analysis, the small, but all feasible steps are compared on their impact to ship productivity. The analysis shows that with the right measures, a fully robotized terminal can live up to today’s requirements from shipping lines to turn around even the biggest vessels in a short period of time.


What makes the myth about non-performing fully automated (robotized is the better word) so strong? How can it be that in the simulated world, the planned – and as such to be built – automated terminals perform well (above 35gmph under peak circumstances), and not in real life? This question we have asked ourselves, also to critically review our simulation models.

In order to do so, we started from one of the current state-of the art fully automated facilities, and added latest improvements to the model to see whether we could increase the performance to levels that we do not experience in practice (yet). We used TBA’s own proven container terminal simulation suite TimeSquare to quantify the effects of each adjustment individually.

In this article we describe this step-wise improvement approach from an imaginary existing terminal with Dual RMGs and AGVs, as would have been constructed in the 1990s. For each step towards a state-of-the-art terminal with Twin-RMGs and Lift- AGVs we show the effect on productivity of the various involved equipment types.

Starting scenario: a Year 2000 automated terminal

Our starting terminal is a fictitious terminal with 16 double trolley quay cranes (backreach interchange, with platform between the legs) on a 1,500m quay. The yard consists of 35 stack modules with dual cross-over (or nested) RMGs. Cross-over RMGs are stacking cranes that can pass each other (one is smaller and can pass the larger one underneath). Because of the passing ability, both RMGs are able to serve both the waterside and the landside transfer area in the perpendicular stack layout. Waterside transport is done by lift-on lift-off (LOLO) Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), which are pooled over all quay cranes. All modeled equipment has technical specifications as is appropriate for 10-year-old equipment.

The terminal is suitable for a yearly throughput of 2.2 million TEU (TEU factor 1.65); there is less than 5%


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