The overall driver for the client was to increase terminal capacity to match increased demand and to reduce congestion problems in the yard and at the gate.
The implications of these requirements included heavier cranes needing greater power supply, a doubling of the yard size and reconfigured entry and exit gate facilities.
“Our first study looked at options for increasing quay capacity via the introduction of new twin lift quay cranes on the existing quay and conversion of an existing and adjacent bulk quay to a container crane operation,” explains project lead Peter Mallin. “The existing quay was limited by the use of single lift cranes and throughput capacity didn’t match yard capacity.
“We reviewed extensive as-built information on the existing quay, which enabled us to analyse its structural performance under loading from the higher capacity cranes. We were able to demonstrate that the existing quay structure could deal with the larger cranes and so enable twin lift operation.”
The team also considered power. “We developed options to supply the new cranes in dedicated connection pits on the quay, without increasing the terminal’s power generation capacity.”
A second study involved review of a draft masterplan, developed in-house by the client, to increase capacity of the terminal two to three-fold. Our first step was to interview port staff to understand operations at the entrance gate, within the yard and at the exit gate. We supplemented this with time and motion studies of the terminal in operation to verify processing time across the various steps.
“Initially, a spreadsheet analysis was sufficient to identify bottlenecks and whether the number of gates and size of truck buffer zones proposed by our client were adequate. Having established an understanding, we then modelled the process using Arena software.”
Try before you buy
Arena is considered the world’s leading simulation software. Port operations are highly complex systems with interconnecting random and stochastic events such as truck arrival times and crane handling rates. Through the use of discrete event simulation, the random nature of operations can be modelled to mimic real-life, allowing you to appreciate, in real or fast time, the effects of proposed operational or terminal layout decisions in a risk-free environment. Bottlenecks, inefficiencies and utilisation issues can be identified with ease.
“We use it alongside in-house port master planning and operations advisory capabilities to help clients who are looking to develop new port terminals or simply aspiring to maximise the productivity of their current operations,” explains senior ports and maritime engineer Alex To. “It’s a one-stop shop for testing port plans from dredging requirements and infrastructure retrofits to redesigning quays and strengthening sea walls.”
Whatever you need to see
Virtually all types of ports can be simulated. Starting from the access channel, leading to the berthing of the vessel at quayside through to loading/unloading and storage of the cargo and finishing on transportation of consignments to the hinterland, each logistical step can be modelled. We may choose to simulate the entire logistics network or alternatively concentrate on one particular operation such as the port gates and truck processing system for their terminal.
We can also test existing facilities for efficiencies. It could be that tweaking the current set-up is more cost-effective than changing it wholesale. In today’s economic climate, that’s a small price worth paying.