Terminal productivity: optimisation, automation and high level technologies



Dr. Jürgen W. Böse, HPC Hamburg Port Consulting GmbH


Terminal productivity is one of the main conference themes of TOC Asia 2008.
In an exclusive preview, PTI offers a sneak peak at one of the presentations.

Competitiveness of container handling technologies and influences of application conditions

The remarkable worldwide growth of container volumes in recent years and the increasing competition particularly between container terminals settled comparatively close to each other has lead to drastic changes in terminal capacity requirements and also economic viability of terminal operations processes.

Availability of space in ports is at a premium and often leads to bottlenecks, as does the operational optimising potential of currently installed container handling systems, whose underlying handling techniques are frequently exhausted. Therefore, terminal operators are now being forced to think about new operations technologies or technology combinations respectively, mapping their demands in a better way, and capably coping with changing requirements of dynamic transport markets.

A focus on the capacity and economic effects of technology use at container terminals, technique components realising yard in-/ outflows (horizontal transport), as well as container stacking within this area (vertical transport), have to be granted an extraordinary position. One main reason why related handling equipment bears
so much significance on terminal efficiency is, for example, due to the function of yard areas as a container terminal’s central storage zone, buffering and linking all inbound and outbound operations processes.

Obstructions or bottlenecks in the yard may directly induce negative effects on other terminal areas (such as waterside handling activities) with noticeable  consequences for the terminal’s competitiveness in total. Another meaningful reason is due to the heterogeneousness of (yard) equipment available for horizontal and vertical transport in container terminals. This especially relates to aspects of technique and expenditure or cost, respectively.

With regard to the equipment market, and in particular to equipment pieces realising primarily horizontal container transfers, nowadays manufacturers generally provide the following equipment types: Tractor-Trailer-Units (TTU), Straddle Carriers (SC) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV). Furthermore, considering the stacking function as a matter of priority, today subsequent equipment types may be regarded as common technical system components including: Rubber-Tyred-Gantry-Cranes (RTG), (Automated) Rail-Mounted-Gantry-Cranes (RMG), Straddle Carriers and Reach Stackers (RS). It should be noted that Straddle Carriers serve both as horizontal transport and as a stacking device.

Due to the aforementioned reasons, the necessity to make procurement decisions arises not only in regards to the number, but also to the type of equipment. This is especially relevant if the resulting economic terminal efficiency (usually indicated by cost per box) and the terminal capacity (usually indicated by the max. waterside container throughput) determine such decision processes as central indicators and evaluation criteria for the competitiveness of container terminals.

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