Optimization of Container Handling Systems

By Patrick Meersmans


Since its introduction in the mid-sixties, the container has rapidly taken over the market for intercontinental transport. Nowadays, big sea-going vessels transport containers between the continents. Because of the high operating costs and tight schedules of these vessels, unloading and loading in ports has to be done rapidly. This has led to the use of specialized handling equipment, like Quay Cranes, Automated Guided Vehicles and Automated Stacking Cranes. Because the equipment is unmanned, and therefore driver's expertise is missing, efficient scheduling is crucial to achieve satisfactory performance of the container terminal. So far, literature has dealt with optimizing only a single type of handling equipment. However, such an approach may not give the desired increase of the overall performance. Therefore, we consider in this thesis the integrated scheduling of the handling equipment. Mathematical models for integrated scheduling are presented. To solve these models, both exact and heuristic algorithms are developed. In extensive computational studies, the performance of the algorithms is investigated.

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