Right Ship, Right Berth, Right Time



Dr Humphrey S. Pasley, project delivery manager, and Julia Race, SEABERTH product manager at Cirrus Logistics Ltd. Basingstoke, UK


Berth space at terminals is a limited resource, and development of new berth space is expensive, time-consuming and may be limited by natural constraints. Effective berth scheduling allows terminals to maximize utilization of their berth space; therefore, berth scheduling is critical to the overall efficiency of the terminal and the associated supply chain.

What is operational berth scheduling?

Operational berth scheduling describes the process of producing a forward-looking plan for the vessel calls visiting a terminal. The term ‘vessel call’ covers the activities from point of arrival, passage through the port, berthing operations and outward passage to point of departure. The plan typically covers anything from three weeks, up to three or four months ahead, allocating vessel calls to berths for cargo operations.

The plan should meet business objectives such as: reducing waiting time, decreasing demurrage costs, ensuring vessels depart on time and meeting terminal throughput targets. The schedule must also obey terminal constraints, customer service priorities  and vessel movement rules. Last but not least, the plan should be feasible in terms of port resources, cargo availability and tank ullage or yard capacity at the terminal. The number of berthing constraints often exceeds 100…

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