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Comparison of Equipment Sizing Models for Horizontal Transportation of

Shipping Containers using Automated Straddle Carriers


B. Anvari
Research Associate, CTS, Department of Civil & Environmental Eng., Imperial College London, SW7 2BU

A. Ziakopoulos
Student, CTS, Department of Civil & Environmental Eng., Imperial College London, SW7 2BU

J. Morley
Principal, Morley Designs Ltd, Office 2, The School House, 16 Church Street, Alwalton, Peterborough, PE7 3UU

D. Pachakis
Principal Engineer, Royal HaskoningDHV, 2 Abbey Gardens, Great College Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3NL

P. Angeloudis
Lecturer, CTS, Department of Civil & Environmental Eng., Imperial College London, SW7 2BU

Abstract
Ports have become freight distribution hubs. Due to fierce regional and international competition, port operators seek ways to maximise terminal throughput and productivity. This paper uses queuing theory, Petri
Networks (PNs) and discrete event simulation to compare the impact on the productivity of yard-side operations in a container terminal of utilising different numbers of Automated Straddle Carriers (AStCs). PNs
and discrete event modelling techniques divide complex continuous systems into subsystems and analyse
the system as a series of sequential operations being performed on certain entities. Discrete event simulation
is used for the utilisation of AStCs with gang and pooling deployment strategies. Venices new off-shore
terminal is used for modelling the complex processes of a container terminal in order to determine the optimal number of AStCs. The equipment sizing results gained from the developed PN and discrete event
simulation are closely matching with the optimal solution determined from various models of queuing theory. Given the different effort required for the three methods, it can be concluded that PN represents a fair
trade-off and is the methodology of choice for equipment sizing problems, compared to analytic queuing
theory and complex discrete event simulations.

Keywords: Ports Productivity, Automated Straddle Carriers, Petri Networks

Corresponding author. Tel.: +44(0)2075942706.


Email addresses: b.anvari09@imperial.ac.uk (B. Anvari),
apostolos.ziakopoulos13@imperial.ac.uk (A. Ziakopoulos), james@morleydesigns.com (J. Morley),
Dimitrios.Pachakis@rhdhv.com (D. Pachakis), p.angeloudis@imperial.ac.uk (P. Angeloudis)

1. Introduction
In our modern world of increasing consumer demand, the maritime sector is responsible for
transporting over 90% of freight [1]. With the introduction of the container in the 1950s, freight
movement became standardised, more efficient and less expensive [2]. Annually, there are about
5000 container vessels ferrying over 580 million Twenty-feet Equivalent Units (TEUs) of containers between ports in 200 countries worldwide [3]. These containerships use dedicated areas
in ports called container terminals to handle their cargo. Due to fierce regional and international
competition, terminal operators seek ways to maximise throughput and productivity [4]. The
three groups of operations in a terminal which have the greatest influence on a ports productivity
are: (un)loading containers to/from the vessel (quay-side operations), storing/retrieving containers at/from the stacking yard-side (yard-side operations), and transporting containers between the
quay-side and the yard-side (transfer operations) [5, 6]. The stored containers are usually either
loaded to another vessels (transhipment containers) or carried out by rail or trucks.
The operational performance of a port has been studied and optimised using different strategies, such as using automated equipment [7, 8], changing the container stacking policies [6], and
varying the storing/retrieving mechanism [9]. These strategies, however, are rarely utilised by port
operators in their terminals due to factors such as the lack of skilled staff to deliver the service,
the extensive lead time for procurement and implementation of new technology, incomplete and
ever-changing information about container movements and budgetary and physical constraints.
When designing a new container terminal, one can consider choosing Automated Straddle
Carriers (AStCs) for storing/retrieving containers at/from the stacking yard. AStCs are capable
of performing a variety of different functions independently, such as picking containers up from
the ground, transporting the containers horizontally to the storage area and stacking them up to a
certain height [10]. AStCs are not the most expensive machinery that operates in a port but they
can make significant differences to the productivity of any port terminal [10]. The productivity
of AStCs is, however, dependent on their capacity, the assigned workload, the productivity of the
Ship-to-Shore (STS) cranes, and the size of the buffer zone under a STS crane [7]. The size of a
buffer zone is critical since spillovers caused by lack of space will disrupt the nearby operations
(i.e. movement of other horizontal and vertical equipment). On the other hand, buffer zones reduce
the available space for container stacking.
Before choosing AStCs for the horizontal transport in a container terminal, therefore, feasibility and sizing analysis needs to be performed. Although queuing theory provides adequate
results for the initial planning stages, there is a strong tendency to use discrete event simulation
for tactical and strategic planning of container terminals [11, 12]. Another potential analytical
method is Petri Networks (PNs). PNs are similar to discrete event modelling techniques in that
they divide complex continuous systems into subsystems and analyse the system as a series of
sequential operations being performed on certain entities. The objective of this paper is to provide
a comparative analysis of queuing theory, PNs and a discrete event model by applying them to
the same problem. The new off-shore terminal of Venice is used for modelling complex processes
of a container terminal and determining the optimal number of AStCs required for efficient and
economic operations at the quay- and yard-side of the terminal.
The paper is organized as follows: Section 2.1 presents an introduction to material handling
2

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hook under a Ship-To-Shore crane (STS crane) [8]
One of the strategic decisions at the design stage of a container terminal is the type of material
handling equipment used for transporting containers. Frequently used material handling equipment at the yard-side are the gantry crane and Straddle Carriers (StCs). There are two types of
gantry cranes, Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes and Rail Mounted Gantry (RMG) cranes. StCs,
RTG cranes and RMG cranes have a storage capacity of approximately 500600 TEU per hectare,
900 1100 TEU per hectare and over 1200 TEU per hectare respectively [4]. Thus, a terminal
can execute double volume when using a RMG crane compared to a StC [4]. Based on Wiese et
al. [13, 14]s survey of 114 container terminals, however, 63.2% of container terminals use RTG
cranes, 6.1% use RMG cranes (mainly in Europe) and 20.2% use StCs as their main material handling equipment. This makes StCs the second most used material handling equipment in storage
yards.
Straddle Carriers are capable of self-lifting and stacking containers. Some container terminals
use StCs both for transferring containers between the quay-side and yard-side, and for storing
containers at the yard-side. StCs can be easily moved within the terminal based on operational
requirements, and layouts are easy to change since no runways are needed. The latest type of
self-lifting StCs, see Figure 1, allow the handling of up to three or four containers at the same time
3

(approximately 500 750 TEU per hectare) and operate in a completely automated fashion. These
Auto Straddle Carrier (AStC) systems are labour efficient and enable high crane productivity since
an effective buffer zone is created under the STSC. This makes it possible for the STS crane to
operate at maximum efficiency, thus optimising vessel productivity [15].
Following the material handling equipment decision, one of the problems at the tactical level is
the determination of the necessary number of transport vehicles, which is the focus of this paper.
2.2. Optimisation of AStCs for Horizontal Movement of Shipping Containers
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Automated Lifting Vehicles (ALVs) are used for horizontal transportation of containers in the yard-side. AStCs belong to the class of ALV and can
independently lift and set down containers while AGVs require direct assistance by other yard
cranes to complete their horizontal transportation task. A few studies have investigated sizing
problem of AStCs at container terminals, with a focus on maximising productivity. Zehendner
et al. [16] studied allocation of Straddle Carriers (StCs) in the Grand Port Maritime de Marseille
terminal by adopting an optimisation model and developing a discrete event simulation with the
aim of reducing delays at the tactical level. Vis et al. [17] developed a minimum flow algorithm
of polynomial time to determine the required number of AGVs for horizontal transportation of
containers in the yard-side at known time periods. Vis et al. [7] studied the impact of using AGVs
and ALVs for the horizontal transportation on unloading times of a ship by means of discrete
event simulation. In this study, AGVs and ALVs produced similar unloading times, however,
higher number of AGVs (38% more than ALVs) were required to minimise the unloading times.
They concluded that the purchasing cost of ALVs is cheaper than AGVs which can have a high
impact on the decision process. Vis et al. [18] proposed a integer linear programming model (analytical model) for equipment sizing problem within the release and due times and used discrete
event simulation to validate their results. Kozan [19] presents a network model for minimising
the throughput time of containers from their arrival to their departure. This model is a decision
support tool for investment appraisal, rather than for improvements in operational methods. There
have been a number of studies on task assignment and scheduling for StCs or AGVs at container
terminals at the operational level (e.g. [20, 21, 22, 23]), or scheduling of different types of handling equipment (e.g., [24, 25, 26, 27]). Scheduling is determination of a number of tasks (i.e.
horizontal or vertical movement of containers), the assignment of tasks to resources allocated to
them and the sequencing and/or timing of the tasks based on the project horizon.
Currently, due to the time it takes to implement and test new algorithms, in practice, equipment
sizing for tactical purposes is performed by empirical ratios (e.g. see PIANC [28]) and verified
by discrete event simulation at the final design stage. Empirical ratios reflect a standard geometry,
which although it has been implemented and studied before, would be hazardous to apply in radically different geometries. This paper presents an intermediate step, exploring how the adaptation
of queuing theory models to the horizontal transport problem can yield results more tailored to
each specific geometry than a simple equipment ratio (e.g. 3 6 AStC to an STSC). Additionally,
through the comparative study presented herein, the different types of insights afforded by different
methods can be appreciated.

Chapter 5

Case Study Background

part structure: the off-shore terminal will operate separately from the additional
movements of the on-shore terminal.

3. Case Study of AStCs for Venice Port


A new container terminal is currently being designed for the port of Venice (Italy) by Royal
HaskoningDHV in coordination with Venice Port Authority. They are planning to increase the
capacity of the current terminal and reduce the vessel dwelling times so that the throughputs of the
port of Venice is maximised. The new terminal aims not only at serving mainland Italy, but also
a number of customers in central Europe such as Austria, Switzerland, south Germany, Hungary,
Slovenia and Croatia. As shown in Figure 2a, the new port of Venice consists of 3-parts: an
off-shore terminal for (un)loading containers, a barge transfer system for feeding said containers
to/from the mainland, and an on-shore mainland terminal (called MonteSyndial). This three part
structure allows the examination of the horizontal container transportation system at the port of
Figure 5.1: Geographical position of the port of Venice.
Venice, since
the off-shore
terminal will operate separately from the on-shore terminal. The layout
Source: Venipedia (2011)
of the off-shore terminal of the new port of Venice is shown in Figure 2b.
This threefold nature of the port of Venice is illustrated on Figure 5.2 below:

(b)

(a)

Figure 5.2: On-shore and off-shore terminal locations.


Source: Venice Port Authority (2010)

[24]

Figure 2: The new port of Venice: (a) The on-shore and off-shore terminal locations [29] and (b)
The off-shore container terminal layout [29]
This paper evaluates the application of AStCs for the horizontal transportation of containers
at the off-shore container terminal. As shown in Figure 3, eight STS cranes (maroon colour) and
ten barge cranes (blue colour) are assigned for (un)loading containers to/from the vessels on the
deep sea side and on the barge side of this terminal in the planning stage. The productivity of the
STS cranes is based on the arrival and exit rates of containers to and from the off-shore terminal.
The target STS crane productivity is 34 moves
on the deep sea side and 30 moves
on the barge side1 .
hr
hr
The cycle times are thus 2.00 min and 1.76 min respectively.
In order to estimate the number
of AStCs required to operate the off-shore terminal at the target throughput, some of the technical
and operational assumptions are summarised in Table 1. It is assumed that AStCs do not conduct
direct crane-to-crane movements and that each STS crane has its own allocation of AStCs and
1

PIANC [28] reports the range of low, medium and high productivity per STS crane in large container terminals
moves
moves
to be between 20 25 moves
hr , 25 30 hr and 30 35 hr respectively.

Deep sea side


AStCs route

Ship-To-Shore crane

Vessel

S
T

Inside the
container stack

Barge Side

Barge crane
Corridor

Barge side

Stacking yard

Figure 3: The off-shore container terminal layout of Venices port at the planning stage [30] and
the route (green line) that each AStC travels in order to finish one cycle time. The start point is
designated as S and the destination as T.
storage area. The average stacking height is set to up to 3 container heights with an extra meter
for the safety adjustments. The housekeeping operations are included in the cycle time of a AStC
by adding 10% of the vertical movement time to the cycle time. The acceleration/deceleration
time of an AStC (i.e. when turning or stopping) is considered in the cycle time by adding 40 s
to the horizontal movement time. Traffic and safety adjustments are also considered in the cycle
time of AStC by adding 20 s to the horizontal movement time. Miscellaneous manoeuvres (i.e.
positioning by STS crane) are covered in the cycle time of a AStC by adding 20 s to the horizontal
cycle time. Delay is added as 25% of the sum of horizontal and vertical movement times, which
is added to the total cycle time of an AStC. It is assumed that each AStC stands by one of the STS
cranes in the waiting areas (coloured orange in Figure 3) for storing/retrieving containers at/from
the stacking yard-side.
The cycle time of AStCs is calculated from the centre of each stack and the longest path is
considered. The travel route of the AStCs is marked green with indicators along its entire length
in Figure 3, and with the starting point and destination location symbolised with S and T,
respectively. The dashed part of the AStCs route represents the part that is inside the container
stack. All types of StCs have higher speeds on corridors than inside container stacks. In order to
minimise the in-block travel time, the corridor is used at least once in the route of the AStCs. The
travel distance on the outside and inside block are 581.03 m and 38.60 m respectively. A container
with 2.600 m height, 2.438 m width and 6.058 m length is considered in this paper. Considering
the horizontal and vertical movements and including 25% delay allowance, the final AStC cycle
time is about 600 s for the route in Figure 3. Thus, each AStC can finish approximately 10 moves
hr
6

Table 1: Operational assumptions for the AStC operation


Specification of the AStCs [31]
Maximum travel speed outside the block
85% of the average travel speed outside the block
Average travel speed within the block
Time for 90 degrees turn
Housekeeping
Acceleration adjustments
Traffic and safety adjustments
Miscellaneous manoeuvring time
Stack average height
Maximum lifting speed for unloading
Maximum lifting speed for loading
Maximum lowering speed for unloading
Maximum lowering speed for loading

Unit
Value
[ ms ]
6.94
[ ms ]
5.90
[ ms ]
1.39
[s]
2
%
10
[s]
40
[s]
20
[s]
20
[boxes]
3
0.33
[ ms ]
[ ms ]
0.27
0.30
[ ms ]
[ ms ]
0.25

in the stacking yard.


4. Modelling the AStCs Movements
Queuing theory is commonly used by port operators because of its solid theoretical basis, its
ability to provide quick and indicative results in preliminary stages of a project. Queuing theory is
also widely used to verify the results of other methods such as simulations.
PNs are visual-graphical tools that can be formed to represent any system with discrete number
functions. A PN is formulated for the equipment sizing problem in shipping container terminals
and performance analysis is used to quantify buffer zone requirements (physical constrains) associated with choosing a number of AStCs.
FlexSim CT is an advanced discrete event simulation platform that is designed for detailed
simulation of container terminal operations. The software models both the physical attributes of
the terminal (e.g. stack layout) and the container handling processes (i.e. the terminal operating
system). FlexSim CT Simulation software is used to model the off-shore container terminal and
utilise the AStCs with two different deployment strategies.
4.1. Queuing Theory
The standard notation established by Kendall [32] for defining every queue in its most basic
form is A/B/c/K/m, where A denotes the stochastic arrival time distribution, B represents the
stochastic service time distribution, c is the number of operating servers in the system, K denotes
the capacity of the queue, and m represents the maximum number of customers. A and B are
commonly defined as a Poisson (or exponential) distribution (M), a deterministic value (D) or a
general distribution (G). K and m are infinite when they are not defined. For instance, in the
M/M/1 queuing system, both arrival and service distributions are a Poisson distribution and one
server is operating in the system.
In this paper, seven types of queuing system, M/M/1, M/D/1, M/M/c, G/M/1: A specific
interarrival distribution (G/M/1[s.i.a.]), G/M/1: The Allen - Cunneen approximation (G/M/1[A
7

C]), G/M/c, and M/M/c/K are explored. In the model, the customers are the containers that are
(un)loaded from a single STS crane at a rate of 34 moves
and 30 moves
on the deep sea and barge
hr
hr
cranes, respectively. The servers are the AStCs that are assigned to a single STS crane. Using
seven queuing theory formulations, the average number of container and waiting times of the
system and the queue after assigning 4 6 AStCs per STS crane are calculated. The results are
sorted by arrival rate in Figures 4a, 4b, 4c, 4d. Table 2 summarises the parameters used in the
queuing systems based on the case study. Results for the G/M/1[s.i.a.] and G/M/c queues are
grouped for the barge side, as their average approaches 30. It is evident from the results that the
examined quantities follow the same trends of improvement as the AStC number increases and
decreases.

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

Figure 4: Queuing model results: (a) Average number of container in the system per STS crane,
(b) Average number of container in the queue per STS crane, (c) Average waiting time in the
system per STS crane, and (d) Average container waiting time in the queue per STS crane
If there is a container in the apron and the crane has to lay another one, the crane will need
to wait (blocking). The approximate M/M/c/K queuing model was set to calculate the minimum
number of AStCs needed to avoid blocking for more than 20% of the time. The productivity rate
of 33 moves
(weighted average productivity between deep sea and barge cranes) is considered here.
hr
The maximum size of the system K is set as the number of servers c plus one. This number c + 1
8

Table 2: Parameters used in the queuing theories according to the case study
Parameter
[ moves
]
hr
c
]
[ moves
hr

Parameter Meaning
Arrival rate of STS crane
34
Number of operating AStCs in the system
4
Service rate of AStC
10
Traffic intensity
0.85

Deep Sea Side


34
34
5
6
10
10
0.68
0.57

30
4
10
0.75

Barge Side
30
5
10
0.60

30
6
10
0.50

corresponds to the situation where every AStC is carrying a container and there is one container
laid on the transfer position at the apron. The results of this queuing model indicated that with three
AStCs assigned to a STS crane, the model is sufficiently busy (equipment utilisation is 67%) and
stable (traffic intensity, defined as the ratio of arrival rate divided by number of servers multiplied
by the service rate, is about 80%). In this case, the occurrence probability of blocking is 19% (with
four containers in circulation) as shown in Figure 5. Having four AStCs assigned to a STS crane
will reduce the blocking significantly to about 13% but reduces the equipment utilisation to about
57%.

(b)

(a)

Figure 5: Using the M/M/c/K queuing model, (a) blocking probabilities and the number of containers in system when 3 6 ASTcS are assigned to a STS crane and (b) equipment utilisation
probabilities [30]

4.2. Using Petri Nets


PNs consist of four elements (place, transition, arc and token) which are summarised in Table 3.
In PNs, an area, activity or state of the system can be modelled using a place and the number of
instances of a place can be represented with tokens. Sequential processes are modelled with tokens
progressing through state machines. Arcs between resource places and transitions represent the
acquisition (return) of some resources by a process. In the end, the process state machines can be
merged into a model of the whole system by combining the common resource places.
In mathematic terms, a PN consists of five parts [33]:
PN = (P, T, F, W, M0 )
9

(1)

Reach Block
Reach Block
ReachExit
Block
Reach
Block

STSC Queue

STSC Queue
STSC
STSCQueue
Queue

Exit
Exit
Exit

Loading
Spot
Table 3:Crane
Petri Net
elements
Crane
Loading
Spot
CraneLoading
Loading Spot
Spot
Crane

Element

Function

Traditional Representation

Graphical Representation

Loaded
Loaded
Loaded

Loaded
Reach
Block
Reach
Block
Reach
Block
Reach
Block
Entrance
Entrance
Entrance
Entrance
Block
Block
Block
Block
Destination
Destination
Destination
Destination
P is a finite set of places, P = p1 , p2 , ..., pi . T is a finite set of transitions, T = t1 , t2 , ..., t j . F is
S
Unloading
Unloading
a finite set of arcs (flow relation) that F P T T
P. W is a weight function and M0 is the
Unloading
Place
Area, activity or state of the system
Circle
Transition Functions linking places
Rectangular bar
Arc
Connect places to transitions and vice versa, enforce conditions Vector (Arrow or curved arc)
Token
Counting/controlling medium, the quantifying aspect of the net Dot

initial marking. The essence of the function of PNsUnloading


is that a transition cannot fired until a series of
conditions have been fulfilled:

The destination place has capacity for incoming tokens.


There are enough tokens available at the input places.
No other transition fires simultaneously.
Other conditions such as time or colour restrictions may apply, depending on the PN type.

One of the most important properties of PNs is that they are memoryless. This is a Markovian
property which entails that any state in a PN is only dependent on the immediately previous one
and not the ones before that. PIPE (v4.3.0) [34] is used for modelling horizontal movements in
a container terminal. The PN definitions and transition rates for modelling a full AStC cycle are
summarised in Table 4. The created PN model with five deep sea side AStCs and four barge side
AStCs at the initial stage and at a random one are shown in Figures 6a and 6b. Here, tokens
represent the movements of AStCs.
Table 4: AStC transition rates in PIPE (v4:3:0)
P# : Origin place

T # : Transition

P# : Destination place

Movement type

P1 :
P2 :
P3 :
P4 :
P5 :
P6 :
P7 :

T 1,2 :
T 2,3 :
T 3,4 :
T 4,5 :
T 5,6 :
T 6,7 :
T 7,1 :

P2 :
P3 :
P4 :
P5 :
P6 :
P7 :
P1 :

Horizontal
Vertical
Horizontal
Horizontal
Vertical
Horizontal
Horizontal
Total

STS Crane Queue


Crane Loading Spot
Loaded
Reach Block Entrance
Block Destination
Unloading
Reach Block Exit

Safety Clearance
Start Loading
Depart for Block
Slow Down
Start Unloading
Depart
Speed up

Crane Loading Spot


Loaded
Reach Block Entrance
Block Destination
Unloading
Reach Block Exit
STS Crane Queue

Net time
[s]
29.24
28.30
88.07
8.29
37.73
8.29
88.07
288.00

Delay time
[s]
7.31
7.07
22.02
2.07
9.43
2.07
22.02
72.00

Final duration [s]


[s]
36.54
35.37
110.09
10.37
47.17
10.37
110.09
360.00

The results of each analysis for both terminal sides (sea side and barge side) after simulations
of 2000 firings and 30 replications are shown with their 95% confidence interval values in Table 5.
PN analysis shows that, given the geometry and cycle times, the best option for the AStC queue
appears to be four vehicles (1 <average tokens < 2.0). The buffer zones calculations can be seen
in Table 6 based on the Data Sheet of the Kalmar Electric Straddle Carriers ESC 440 to ESC
460 [31]. The zone dimensions are determined by increasing (combined) vehicle dimensions by
35%.
10

Chapter 7

Petri Networks Theory and Application

As an example, the PN with 5 deep sea side ASCs and 4 barge side ASCs is shown in
the following Figures, at the initial stage and at a random one (barge side places with *):
STSC Queue

STSC Queue
Crane Loading SpotT
2,3

Reach Block Exit

Crane Loading Spot

STSC Queue

Loaded

Crane Loading Spot

Reach Block Exit

2
Reach Block Entrance

T1,2

P1

Loaded

Reach Block Exit

STSC Queue

T7,1Crane Loading Spot


Reach
Block
P7 STSC
Queue
Loaded

Loaded
P3
STSC Queue
Block
Destination
STSC Queue
Reach
Block
Exit
Exit
Reach Block Entrance
Deep
sea
side
Reach Block Entrance
Crane
Loading
Spot
Crane
Loading
Spot
Reach Block
Unloading
Crane Loading Spot
Block Destination
T6,7
Entrance
T
STSC Queue
Reach Block Exit
Block Destination 3,4
Loaded
Loaded
Block
T4,5
T5,6Unloading
STSC
Queue
Reach
Block Exit
Loaded
Crane Loading Spot
Destination
P
P
4
6
Unloading
Reach Block
Reach Block
Block
Crane Reach
Loading
Spot
Unloading
Loaded
P
Entrance
Entrance
5
Entrance
Block
Block
Reach
Block
BlockLoaded
Destination
Destination
Entrance
Destination
Block
Destination

Reach Block
Unloading
Entrance
Block Destination
STSC Queue

Unloading

Unloading

Reach Block Exit

Barge side
STSC Queue

Loaded

Block
Destination
Chapter
7

Reach Block
Exit

Spot
ReachCrane
Block Loading
Exit

STSC Queue
Crane Loading Spot

STSC Queue
Loaded

Reach Block Exit

Petri Networks Theory and Application

Reach
BlockSpot
Crane
Loading
Loaded
Figure
7.2: The Terminal PNReach
at the Block
initial
stage,
M
0
STSC Queue
Exit

(a)

Block Entrance
ReachLoading
Crane
Spot

Entrance
Block
Loaded
STSC
Queue
Destination

Reach Block Exit

STSCInQueue
Block
Exit
accordance withReach
previous
sections,
this PN wouldReach
be characterized
as a Colored
Block
Destination
Block
Destination
Block
Entrance
Loaded
Crane
Loading
Spot
Unloading
STSC Queue
PN, due to its Unloading
use of differently colored tokens and element of uncertainty
CraneStochastic
Loading Spot
Unloading
Block
Destination
Reach Block Entrance
Loaded
Crane Loading Spot
(every firing transition is determined from the eligible ones via a Java random function).
Reach Block
STSC Queue
Loaded
Block Destination
Exit
Unloading
Reach
Block
Entrance
Loaded
Moreover, it would
be Block
ordinary,
all stages would be reachable
STSC
Queue
STSC Queue
Reach
Exit live, persistent, regular,Crane
Loading Spot
Deep
sea
side
Unloading
Reach Block Entrance
Block
and reversible, and 3-, 4-, 5- or 6-bounded
depending
configuration.
Block
Destination
STSC
Queue on
Reach Block ExitCraneReach
Loading Spot
Crane Loading Spot
Loaded
Entrance
Block Destination
The results of each analysis forCrane
both terminal
sides after
simulations of 2000 firings
Unloading
Block
Loading Spot
Reach Block
Loaded
Loaded
STSC
Queue
Reach Block Exit
Destination
Entrance
and 30 replications are shown next, along with 95% confidence interval values.
Unloading
Block
Loaded
Block
Reach Block
Unloading
CraneReach
Loading
Spot
Destination
Entrance
Entrance
Reach Block
Unloading
Block
BlockLoaded
Destination
Entrance
Destination
Block
Reach
Block
Unloading
Destination
Unloading
[54]
Entrance
Unloading
Block Destination
STSC Queue
Reach Block Exit
Unloading
Barge side
Crane Loading Spot
STSC Queue

Loaded
Reach Block Entrance
Block Destination
Unloading

Reach Block Ex

Unloading

Unloading
Crane Loading Spot

Reach Block Entrance

Unloading

Reach Block Ex

STSC Queue
Crane Loading Spot

Reach Block
Exit

Crane Loading Spot


Reach Block Exit
Loaded

STSC Queue

Reach Block Exit

Reach Block
Crane Loading
Spot
Entrance
Loaded
Figure 7.3: The Terminal(b)
PN at a random stage,
Mi
Block
Destination
Loaded
Reach Block Entrance

Unloading
Figure 6: The terminal
at (a) the initial stage
and (b) a random stage
BlockPN
Destination
Reach Block Entrance
11
Unloading

Block Destination
Unloading

Reach Block Exit

Reach Block Exit

Table 5: Terminal PN simulation results for the average vehicle queue (AStCs)
AStC No.
3
4
5
6

Average token on the deep sea side 95% confidence interval


0.72
0,025
1.73
0,035
2.73
0,033
3.73
0,026

Average token on the darge side 95% confidence interval


0.72
0,025
1.70
0,035
2.70
0,033
3.71
0,026

Table 6: Buffer zone dimensions per Ship-To-Shore Crane (STS crane)


AStC Number
1
2
3
4
5
6

Combined Vehicle Length Vehicle Width


[m]
[m]
12.03
24.06
36.09
5.00
48.12
60.15
72.18

Buffer Zone Length


[m]
16.24
32.48
48.72
64.96
81.20
97.44

Buffer Zone Width


[m]

6.75

4.3. Using Discrete Event Simulation


In discrete event simulation the aim is to determine the number of AStCs needed to operate
the off-shore terminal at the target throughput and to calculate the off-shore terminal storage areas
size. The simulation model developed in FlexSim CT for the off-shore terminal of Venice can
be seen in Figure 7. The model is run with two deployment strategies, gangs and pooling, with
varying number of AStCs. For the gangs strategy, specific AStCs are assigned to specific deep sea
side cranes, ensuring that the AStCs are available for berth operations regardless of vessel arrival
times or patterns. Nine AStCs are initially assigned to each STS crane. Housekeeping operations
(customs and stack block optimisations) are carried out in AStC idle periods. For the pooling strategy, a central pool of AStCs is assigned to different tasks based on the order of priority. The same
overall number of AStC is applied to the pool as the gangs strategy, with these being allocated to
different berths or stack operations based upon demand. The workload for barges and vessels can
be estimated from their schedules, and depends on arrivals and volumes of barges and vessels. The
workload for barges and vessels can be estimated from their schedules. In order to best analyse
the terminal and its operational characteristics, two scenarios have been investigated. In order to
best analyse the terminal and its operational characteristics, two scenarios have been investigated.
In scenario 1 - an average vessel schedule, regular vessels arrivals are from a uniform distribution
with up to 12 hours maximum variance before or after estimated time of arrival. In scenario 2 - a
contingency vessel schedule, two vessels unload and load simultaneously, or one vessel unloads
and one vessel loads before the vessel schedule returns to a regular weekly pattern. The two deployment strategies, gangs and pooling, are run with the average and contingency scenarios. The
equipment utilisation results and the productivity rates are summarised in Table 7.
Nine AStCs were initially assigned to each STS crane in order to compare the deployment
strategies. Simulations have been made with a number of AStCs pool sizes to compare their effect
12

Deep sea side

Barge side

Figure 7: The FlexSim simulation model for the off-shore terminal


on utilisation and waiting time (see Table 8). Maintenance routines and breakdowns are not included in the assessment of equipment numbers here. Instead, the numbers are assumed to be the
number of regular equipment available for operations, and additional equipment will be allowed
for planned maintenance and breakdowns. A common policy is to acquire an additional 10% of
equipment for redundancy to cover maintenance and breakdowns. This equipment is run as much
as the regular equipment in turns so that all the machines have regular maintenance and about the
same working hours. In order to limit unnecessary congestion and be cost effective, the terminal should not keep more AStCs in operation than are required. However, sufficient equipment
should be available to provide a regular supply to the berth and to not hold up the other parts of
the operation. As shown in Table 8, increasing the AStCs pool size beyond 48 (six AStCs per STS
crane) will only result in congestion and lengthy queuing at the berth. In Table 9, the simulated
STS crane productivities for the berth with 48 AStCs in operation in the central equipment pool is
compared to the target STS crane productivities for both the deep sea side and barge side.
The mainline berth occupancy over the course of these simulations is relatively low at approximately 40%, reflecting the fact that the regular schedule would have one vessel at a time. The
barge berth occupancy is very high at 95% however this is due to the operational rules of the
terminal whereby the barge berth is also used as an extended storage buffer.

13

Table 7: AStCs utilisation and productivity rate for two deployment strategies (gangs and pooling)
with two scenarios (1: An average and 2: A Contingency vessel schedule) [30]
Scenario

Strategy AStC Utilisation


[%]
Scenario 1 Gang
38
Pooling
43
Scenario 2 Gang
39
Pooling
44

Deep sea STS crane productivity Barge crane productivity


[ moves
]
[ moves
]
hr
hr
27
20
31
24
27
20
28
22

Table 8: AStCs utilisation and productivity rate for a pooling strategy with two scenarios (1:An
average and 2: A Contingency vessel schedule) [30]
Scenario

AStC pool size

Scenario 1

32
40
48
56
64
32
40
48
56
64

Scenario 2

AStC utilisation AStCs average cycle time


[%]
[min]
77
7
68
9
63
9
57
9
52
9
78
6
70
7
65
9
58
9
52
9

Deep sea STS crane productivity


[ moves
]
hr
29
31
31
31
31
27
27
29
29
29

Barge crane productivity


[ moves
]
hr
23
24
24
24
24
20
20
22
22
22

Table 9: Simulated STS crane productivities and waiting times (1:An average and 2: A Contingency vessel schedule) [30]
Scenario

Berth type

Scenario 1 Deep Sea


Barge
Scenario 2 Deep Sea
Barge

Target STS crane productivity


[ moves
]
hr
34
30
34
30

Average STS crane productivity


[ moves
]
hr
31
29
29
26

Difference
[%]
-9
-4
-15
-12

Average STS crane waiting time


[%]
3
3
5
3

5. Comparison of AStC Sizing Models


Using different queuing theory formulations, average container numbers and waiting times for
4 6 AStCs per STS crane showed a decreasing trend as the AStC number increases and decreases (see Figure 4). Also, the blocking and utilisation analysis using M/M/c/K model for 3 6
AStCs per STS crane suggested selecting three or four AStCs per STS crane in order to have a
sufficiently utilised and stable traffic.
Queuing theory formulations are easy to implement, adapt to different deployment strategies and
analysis. They are approximate and moderately conservative though. The probability distribution
used in different queuing theory formulations for arrival rates cannot reflect the reality. Capturing
the coordination between STS cranes and AStCs requires defining strong assumptions (i.e. servers
14

(AStCs) operate simultaneously) as well. Also, the selected queuing discipline greatly affects
analysis results and it is not an easy task to find the discipline which reflects the reality closely
(i.e. the layout and function of the port).
From the results obtained from PNs (see Table 6), four AStCs per STS crane is the optimum
solution for both sides (deep sea and barge sides). If three are assigned there will be some time
periods without any AStCs standing by the crane (average tokens < 1.0). This might lead to flow
disruptions and waiting for the more expensive equipment (cranes and vessels). On the other hand,
if five or more AStCs are assigned, it appears that they would form an unnecessarily large queue
for operations (average tokens > 2.0), leading to underused equipment (reduced efficiency) and
needless land occupation.
The PN implementation is cost efficient and has great advantages, such as visualisation and easy
overview of the system examined, with direct display of its individual parts, and simplification of
complex environments. PNs inherently allow one transition at a time, which reduces their ability to model simultaneous processes. Also, they are capable of modelling movements of a single
equipment type and not different equipment types (i.e. AStCs, barges and containers) simultaneously. On the other hand, PNs can provide adequate detailed information on the equipment sizing
problem and buffer zone dimensions.
If discrete even simulation is applied, the results obtained from the two operating methodologies (gang and pooling) show that the utilisation of AStCs in the gang allocation strategy is
about 5% less than that in the central pool strategy (see Tables 7, 8, 9). Berth productivity rates
are also lower in the gang strategy despite there being the same number of handling equipment.
This indicates that the gang strategy, as set up in the model, is less efficient than a central pool
strategy. Productivity rates between the average and contingency runs are very similar, however,
indicating that the gang strategy handles contingency events more consistently. The utilisation of
AStCs in the central pool strategy is also relatively low with this equipment allocation, however,
berth productivity is good. The improved productivity is primarily due to the fact that AStCs can
be assigned to berth cranes in a more flexibly way with a higher straddle carrier to berth crane
ratio when additional straddle carriers are available. The same level of benefit is not observed on
the contingency scenario, where berth productivity falls to a similar level to that of the gang strategy. Due to the efficiency gains associated with the central pool strategy during normal operation
scenarios, however, the central pool option was selected for further analysis. Overall, the previous
results confirm the well-known conclusion that pooling of equipment shares the workload more
evenly and achieves more uniform equipment utilisation. As such, it is expected to yield some
equipment efficiencies. Given the results in Table 8, increasing the AStCs pool size beyond 48
(six per STS crane) will result in congestion and lengthy queuing at the berth. With 48 AStCs in
operation, queues form on the berths during the unloading cycle with the large number of direct
deliveries between the deep sea and barge side and the relatively short distances. However, the
queues do not negatively impact the berth or yard operation.
Discrete simulation models allow realistic investigation of the processes in a terminal, and a full
evaluation of the performance of the layout, equipment and deployment strategy. However, developing such a model is time consuming.

15

6. Conclusions
Multi-method approaches provide modelers insights into how common problems may be addressed. This paper presented the equipment sizing problem for the horizontal transportations that
take place in terminal ports using AStCs, and presented solutions using queuing theory, PNs and
discrete event simulation. The analyses were based on figures and layout from the new container
terminal of Venice. It was seen that PNs can replicate a port system in a way that is to a large extent similar to discrete event models. It was demonstrated that queuing theory analysis has serious
practical limitations while discrete event simulation is a more powerful, flexible and informative
methodology. Certainly, building a complex simulation model of operations in a container terminal requires the investment of considerable effort in logic development, debugging, model, and
input data collection. Given the different efforts required for the three methods, it can be concluded
that PN is a fair trade-off and the methodology of choice compared to analytic queuing theory and
discrete event simulations for equipment sizing problems.
Acknowledgement
The authors are grateful to Venice Port Authority and Royal HaskoningDHV for providing
information and supporting the research described in this paper.
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17