In this article you will learn what is being researched in CATALYST to improve the unpredictable, and therefore uncontrollable, arrival- and departure process of trucks that often lead to congestion and inefficiency at smart yards.
But first, back to yards, what is exactly happening and what is the problem? A yard is often a hub environment with limited entry points to the area like a port area or a distribution center. Due to the gate and pre-gate processes at the warehouses (e.g., registration, ID controls, and CMR control), a lot of congestion occurs at the warehouses. Inefficient processes can also cause congestion within the area and can ultimately result in long waiting times for truck drivers or even missed time windows at the warehouses. The delivery of cargo is not regulated and a warehouse has no full information about the incoming cargo or the arrival time because most trucks arrive unannounced. When multiple trucks arrive at the same time, the warehouses do not have enough handling capacity or storage space, which results in waiting times. Often, due to limited parking space, the trucks have to park alongside the road, which results in even more congestion and an unsafe traffic situation. As driver-costs are the biggest cost item for transport companies waiting time becomes a relevant problem for transport companies. When the truck drivers are waiting, costs are piling up. The building space within a yard area is also limited and costly, which makes an external parking area not the preferred option. There is also an impact on sustainability related to extra pollution due to the waiting trucks. Therefore, with all of the above in mind, the question rises if Connected Automated Transport (CAT) concepts, with or without a decoupling point, can improve the situation at yards.
Simulating the transition from the current yard to a smart yard is one of the ways we study these impacts. Matteo Brunetti (PhD candidate at University of Twente) is currently working on a simulation model for the Port of Moerdijk. He is working on a generic model that is applicable to all sorts of yards where the Port of Moerdijk is the basis for this model. He is using geographic information system (GIS) data to mimic the lay out of the yard. Based on interviews, previous research, and data collected from partners at the yard, he is able to create a model that comes close to reality in terms of arrivals and capacity of modalities. The next steps in his work will first be focused on modelling the current situation and exploring the impact of the introduction of CAT concepts.
Jelle van Heuveln (Master student at University of Twente) just finished his simulation study of the Schiphol area and the results will soon be shared. In his thesis he describes the impact of a truck parking as a buffer zone on the congestion and service rates of ground handlers as well as on the waiting times for trucks. In addition to this he made a first attempt at simulating the impact of decoupling the cargo at a truck parking. One of the things he looked into was transporting the decoupled cargo by using automated guided vehicles. The first results are promising and show, among other results, a decrease in congestion and waiting times for truck drivers. A short video of the simulation model will be available soon. Follow up research looking at smart ways of implementing the connected part of transport in the simulation model as well as making the model more realistic by gathering more data is currently initiated.
Berry Gerrits (Distribute) is making a simulation model for the North Sea Port area in close collaboration with Lauren Deckers (Hogeschool Zeeland). This simulation model is focused on the detailed layout of the central gate. North Sea Port is designing the layout which Distribute is implementing in the model. Distribute is then able to simulate the impact of various scenarios.
Manojpriyadharson Kannan (Master student Hogeschool Arnhem Nijmegen) and Viral Gosar (PhD candidate at Technical University Eindhoven) are working on a detailed simulation model for the DPD area. They are analysing the current behaviour of shunting vehicles and comparing them with the path planning that results from their simulation studies. They will also look at autonomous docking.
Ebrahim Mohammadi Hosein Hajlou (PhD candidate at Rotterdam School of Management) will look at the changes in long haul transportation planning, due to the introduction of automated vehicles to transportation system. His research will include a mathematical modelling of a transportation planning problem with considering mixed (regular and autonomous) transportation environment, and for verification purposes computer simulations may be performed for further validation of proposed model.
This article provided a brief overview of the simulation studies currently being researched in CATALYST. During the next consortium meeting we will present the progress that has been made. If you would like to receive more details please contact Luc Oudenes or the researchers mentioned in this article.