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Preprint 30-2006

Combinatorial Optimization & Graph Algorithms group (COGA-Preprints)

Optimizing the Landside Operation of a Container Terminal
Gary Froyland, Thorsten Koch, Nicole Megow, Emily Duane, and Howard Wren
primary: 90C90 Applications of mathematical programming
secondary: 90B06 Transportation, logistics
90C06 Large-scale problems
90C10 Integer programming
container terminal, yard crane scheduling, storage space allocation, integer programming
This paper concerns the problem of operating a landside container exchange area that is serviced by multiple semi-automated rail mounted gantry cranes (RMGs) that are moving on a single bi-directional traveling lane. Such a facility is built by Patrick Corporation at the Port Botany terminal in Sydney. The gantry cranes are a scarce resource and handle the bulk of container movements. Thus, they require a sophisticated analysis to achieve near optimal utilization. We present a three stage algorithm to manage the container exchange facility, including the scheduling of cranes, the control of associated short-term container stacking, and the allocation of delivery locations for trucks and other container transporters. The key components of our approach are a time scale decomposition, whereby an integer program controls decisions across a long time horizon to produce a balanced plan that is fed to a series of short time scale online subproblems, and a highly efficient space-time divisioning of short term storage areas.
A computational evaluation shows that our heuristic can find effective solutions for the planning problem; on real-world data it yields a solution at most~8% above a lower bound on optimal RMG utilization.
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