Strategies for dynamic appointment making by container terminals

A.M. Douma, Martijn R.K. Mes

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We consider a container terminal that has to make appointments with barges dynamically, in real-time, and partly automatic. The challenge for the terminal is to make appointments with only limited knowledge about future arriving barges, and in the view of uncertainty and disturbances, such as uncertain arrival and handling times, as well as cancellations and no-shows. We illustrate this problem using an innovative implementation project which is currently running in the Port of Rotterdam. This project aims to align barge rotations and terminal quay schedules by means of a multi-agent system. In this paper, we take the perspective of a single terminal that will participate in this planning system, and focus on the decision making capabilities of its intelligent agent. We focus on the question how the terminal operator can optimize, on an operational level, the utilization of its quay resources, while making reliable appointments with barges, i.e., with a guaranteed departure time. We explore two approaches: (i) an analytical approach based on the value of having certain intervals within the schedule and (ii) an approach based on sources of exibility that are naturally available to the terminal. We use simulation to get insight in the benefits of these approaches. We conclude that a major increase in utilization degree could be achieved only by deploying the sources of exibility, without harming the waiting time of barges too much.
Original languageUndefined
Place of PublicationEnschede, the Netherlands
PublisherUniversity of Twente, Research School for Operations Management and Logistics (BETA)
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Publication series

NameBETA working paper, ISSN 1386-9213
PublisherUniversity of Twente, BETA Research School for Operations Management and Logistics
No.WP 375


  • Quay scheduling
  • IR-79716
  • Dynamic assignment
  • Multi-agent system
  • Terminal planning
  • Simulation

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