News section

News, papers, press releases, publications and technical articles by TBA Group
TBA shortlisted for prestigious Award in the bulk shipping and cargo handling industry
November 2019

TBA Group has made it to the bulk shipping and cargo handling industry's most exclusive shortlist – the IBJ Awards finalists. Winners will be announced during the Award ceremony on 25th of November in Hamburg. TBA has been shortlisted in the IT Solutions category. The IBJ Awards salute achievements by individuals and organisations and uniquely provide companies with an opportunity to put themselves in the spotlight, or to nominate an organisation who they believe is doing a fantastic job. Read more here about the IBJ Awards.

Press release
How smart technologies increase terminal performance
November 2019

Dr. Yvo Saanen & Gabriela Soto Pascual, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands Terminals are continuously focused on increasing the productivity and reducing their costs in order to obtain outstanding performance. Although, most terminal operators will agree that gains in performance are achieved through process improvement, it is also true that not all will meet the desired outcome. Terminal operators are relying heavily on the TOS for data storage and order management, but for terminal planning and control, they need to rely on people. Operations require human intervention for various decision-making scenarios, considering the working environment is very dynamic and there are different constraints which cannot be determined ahead of time. Nearly all control strategies are reactive rather than pro-active, and even in automated terminals, there is a high percentage of manual intervention besides exception handling. The lack of foreseen human behaviour is a recurring reason for certain mistakes during execution and planning. These mistakes are not easily identified by reviewing the data in the TOS; hence, it will not be considered during the improvement process in most cases. OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE Terminal performance needs to be continuously analysed as improvements are being applied; moreover, it is important to identify the patterns that are generating manual intervention or other variables in daily repetitive tasks. Add-ons to the TOS software, which accommodate users in their comprehensive tasks, allow terminals to optimise their operations without altering the TOS. TBA has developed, tested and implemented TOS plug-ins at terminals globally to ensure and to contribute to performance and validity in live operations. These intelligent applications retrieve information and push back actions - or updated information - by operating in the background; which has no consequences on the running terminal production system, hence it’s risk-free and will cause no downtime. In this article, we would like to pinpoint the areas for improvement, the tooling we developed and share our findings of these intelligent applications which are currently running at several terminals. USE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS: KPI TOOL KPI (Key Performance Indicator) measurements are key to establish opportunities for improvement or to measure the effects of certain improvements. Measuring KPIs gives the possibility to compare terminal performance or waste on multiple levels to benchmark values or improvements over time. To make these measurements valuable, a standardised calculation of KPI values is necessary to ensure that you compare apples to apples. TBA’s KPI tool gives the possibility to automate calculation of KPIs using a standardized method. The KPI tool automatically generates KPI values on micro level as per equipment or per hour, but also long-term measurements. Clear graphs are generated automatically representing the data clearly. The automatically generated graphs are easy to read and directly usable to track performance increase or changes in operation. The KPI tool indicates the strong and weak points of a terminal graphically and combined with the terminal specific knowledge on operation gives great insight in performance increasing possibilities. Figure 1. Example of a detailed KPI chart automatically generated by the KPI Tool IMPROVING THE RTG YARD: YARD CRANE SCHEDULER RTGs are used by over 70% of the container terminals globally but it is one the most under-utilised pieces of equipment on the yard. The typical productivity level hovers between 6 and 10 (productive) moves per hour which implicates a 40-60% idle time of the RTGs. The main cause of this productivity loss can be related to the static deployment across the terminal, as the equipment is positioned in yard blocks and is exclusively handling moves occurring within these blocks. The Yard Crane Scheduler continuously monitors the operation, and automatically spreads the workload over the available RTG’s (or CRMG’s for that matter). Moves for trucks already in the yard are always assigned to one of the RTGs, but the main benefit is made by including what is coming next. By considering the work up to an hour ahead we find the balance between quickly handling the waiting trucks now and being at the right place at the right time later. Recent studies from the deployment of the Yard Crane Scheduler at one of the largest RTG terminals in the world, has realised a rapid increase of more than 10% in RTG productivity in 6 months’ time. A quick calculation in cost saving shows that at least 24,000 US$ per RTG per year, under the assumption that an RTG is running 4,000 hours per year and including labour, fuel and maintenance costs. Multiplied by the typical numbers of RTGs on a 1M TEU terminal (let’s say 20+ RTGs), a better RTG deployment can lead up to a saving of 500K US$ annually (or more in case of larger terminals, or terminals with a more Labour intensive RTG deployment). Further enhancements of TBA’s Yard Crane Scheduler provide further improvement potential (up to 25% as shown in lab experiments). These enhancements extend the functionality to optimal placements of RTG’s across the entire yard. This will soon be rolled out in production. Figure 2. Overview key features Yard Crane Scheduler BETTER PLAN, SMOOTHER OPERATIONS: PLAN VERIFICATION TOOL It is often seen that planning is not well assessed, and there is no feedback for the planners to measure and evaluate their plans. It is hard for planners to learn about their past errors in order to improve the quality of planning. To improve the yard planning, we gathered the most commonly made mistakes and implemented these in the Plan Verification Tool, which instantaneously checks plans for common mistakes. The tool runs quickly after the plan has been finalised, and then allows for fixing errors and utilizing the improvement potential. Efficiency improvement is recognized for instance by missed twinning opportunities, minimise rehandling or optimised loading sequences to avoiding peaks inside the yard. With the continuous use of the tool, it is possible to accomplish a better plan which concludes with a better performance. Figure 3. Overview key features Plan Verification Tool Figure 4. Using Plan Verification Tool: a better plan for a better performance SAFETY FIRST: CHIMNEY APP Any terminal suffers from chimney stacks, it is unavoidable and a priority for safety regulations in case of windy conditions. Reducing chimney stacks can be achieved by having stacking strategies. The Chimney App influence in the grounding decision in real-time with the aim to avoid chimney stacks to be built and allows remaining chimneys organised to remove the chimneys, so not only detects chimneys but also reduce the number with a continuous use of the tool. Chimney stacks have been reduced by 98% by using the Chimney App and thus increased safety on the yard. Overall,the approach we see for the upcoming years is to use the full potential of terminals resources with the support of state-of-the-art technologies and tools that will enhance the operational performance. By applying smart technologies in terminal operations, operators and users can focus on what they do best: to interpret the provided information and to tune the terminal operations in boosting terminal performance. Figure 5. Overview key features Chimney App Figure 6. The Chimney App reduces chimney stacks and therefore increases safety on the yard This article has been published in Port Technology International Magazine Edition 89. Read the pdf version here.

Publication
Analysing the stockyard: one of the basic elements of a dry bulk terminal
October 2019

Dr. Mi-Rong (Kimberly) Wu, TBA Group, Delft, Netherlands Whether it is an export or import terminal, a stockyard is one of the basic elements of a dry bulk terminal where a variety of handling equipment is deployed; in addition, it is often a strategic stock and it is always a crucial component in the overall terminal logistic performance. Following arrival at the terminal, bulk cargoes are usually held in storage before delivery either by vessels, barges, trains, trucks or conveyors. Two main activities take place at a storage area; one is to stack the commodities and the second to reclaim them. Hence, for a stockyard analysis various factors need to be taken into account, such as: the material properties of the commodities handled at the terminal; the strength of the ground conditions; equipment limitations (e.g. outreach and height of machines, capacity); availability of storage space (land); the ‘peak’ demand (operational and seasonal); the technology deployed; and environmental concerns. INFLUENCING FACTORS FOR STOCKYARD DESIGN Physical factorsMaterial propertiesBulk material properties determine the behaviour of the material during handling and storage. Parameters such as internal friction and wall friction are essential to design or choose a suitable silo or hopper for storage. The inherent material properties influence the choice of storage options. Open storage options are common for materials like coal, aggregates, and iron ores. Materials such as grain, sugar, cement, and wood pellets are often stored with enclosed storage systems. Certain commonly used storage methods may not work for all bulk materials. For instance, compaction is a common practice in coal handling to minimize the risk of self-heating in a stockpile. However, if applying compacting to the storage piles of solid biomass, it only stimulates self-heating furthermore. For a hopper, the cone angle is affected by the wall friction angle and the effective angle of internal friction. Subsequently, the cone angle affects the minimum opening of the hopper and its discharging capacity. Equipment characteristics and stacking methodThe equipment that should be considered for a stockyard analysis study is not limited to the actual storage choices (e.g. an open storage area or enclosed silos); transshipment equipment such as stackers and reclaimers ought to be taken into consideration as well. These transshipment facilities can also provide extra services such as blending, mixing and homogenization. Such considerations are: types of equipment for open or enclosed storage: not all equipment suits both storage types; some will be used only for open storage (e.g. boom type bucket-wheel reclaimers) and other types are for enclosed storage only (e.g. screw stacker-reclaimers). Some equipment can be used for both open and enclosed storage, such as slewing luffing stackers, drum-type reclaimers, and circular portal stacker-reclaimers. capacity of required storage and the applied handling equipment types and numbers: the logistical performance of a stockyard is often influenced by the transhipment equipment deployed for stacking and reclaiming; however, the capacity limitation of the actual storage can also affect the capacity of the handling equipment deployed. the equipment width and height differs from open storage and enclosed storage, affecting the stockpile dimensions: for instance, for a large-scale bulk terminal it is common to have stockpiles 60–90m wide, and around 15–18m high. For an enclosed storage, the stockpile height depends on equipment and building restrictions (e.g. silos, domes, stackers, and reclaimers). Land availability and ground conditionsEquipment dimensions and stacking method affect the required storage land size and consequently the related costs. They are a starting point when looking at greenfield developments. For brownfield development or expansions, the availability and condition of land will often restrict the choices available for an optimum stockpile arrangement. Soil conditions influence the density of the storage which often relates to the utilization of storage area. Although the bulk material properties are the most important factors, the equipment characteristics, the stacking method, and the strength of the soil are to be considered for storage land size estimation. Financial factorsIn the terminal design, the total investment required for the facility often overrides other design factors. A more holistic approach is required where the choice of the stacking method depends on the bulk material properties and the availability of surface area. A lower CAPEX alternative can often result in a higher OPEX operation, which then has to be burdened over the entire lifecycle. To realize a better ROI or a faster payback period, the CAPEX and OPEX should be balanced. A qualitative and quantitative multi criteria analysis (including cost per tonne and initial investment) should be used to compare the feasible options. terminal storage stock level is zero, under static situation the required storage capacity is related to the ratio of size differences of two types of supply ships. At the same annual throughput, if the size of barges, trains and trucks stays the same, the larger vessels size will cause longer average material storage time. However, the vessel size effect is more influential than the impact from the size of barges, trains and trucks. Social factorsBecause of various activities at a bulk terminal (e.g. loading/unloading operations), a series of environmental impacts need to be taken into account for their influence on local communities and ecosystems. Noise and dust are of major concerns, and as a result bulk terminals are under increasing pressure from legislation because of sustainability guidelines and the increasing awareness for the environment. Due to these potential threats to the environment and the society, each country in the world has its own environmental regulations that terminal operators and port authorities need to follow. In general, prior to any terminal construction/expansion or port development, an Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) and increasingly it has become a normal practice to provide the findings of impacts listed in a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or equivalent as required by local authorities. Consequently, bulk terminals nowadays put more focus on both the equipment and handling methods in order to have environmental friendly operations. TechnologyUtilization of software can radically improve stockyard utilization. Planning tools can allow the user to forecast space requirements and prioritize the area clearing to create sufficient space for forthcoming deliveries. Terminal Operating System (TOS) or Terminal Management System (TMS) software can also create prioritization rules to empty specific areas and use bulk density and angle of repose algorithms to allow the user to better understand the capacity of the yard. COMMTRAC from TBA is one such system available in the market. STORAGE DESIGN The performance of the terminal is limited to the least performing element in the overall terminal facility. The design of the terminal should cater to handling of the peak loads with regards to storage space and choice of equipment. Required premises and initial static analysisThe first step is to collect relevant premises for both the initial static analysis and the dynamic analysis with a simulation model. In addition to the bulk material properties and the equipment characteristics, information regarding the number of material types, the stacking method and the logistic flows are also necessary for the stockyard study. Usually each bulk material needs to be stored separately; hence under the same annual throughput, the more types of materials the larger the storage area will be. If further separation is required (e.g. certified as sustainable biomass materials), it also impact storage demand such as higher required storage land area and higher energy consumptions. The impact brought from the sizes and the actual arrivals of vessels, barge, trains and trucks are related to the incoming and outgoing logistic flows. An import dry bulk terminal can be used to demonstrate the influence from the effects of size and arrivals. If initially the terminal storage stock level is zero, under static situation the required storage capacity is related to the ratio of size differences of two types of supply ships. At the same annual throughput, if the size of barges, trains and trucks stays the same, the larger vessels size will cause longer average material storage time. However, the vessel size effect is more influential than the impact from the size of barges, trains and trucks. Dynamic analysis using simulation modelling approachThe initial analyses regarding the premises are conducted based on static situations where only the average values (e.g. arrival rate, transport mode size) are taken into account. Any kind of incident such as stoppage due to weather condition (e.g. rain), machine breakdowns, and seasonal influences of bulk material availability are not included in the theoretical calculations. To analyse the effect of time dependent processes, it is necessary to test the performance of the stockyard under various stochastic situations (e.g. the arrival pattern of vessels, influence of constraints/stoppages). This kind of dynamic analyses can only be performed with simulation models that capture the dynamic operations at a dry bulk terminal. Typically there are more parameters that need to be used as input in addition to the premises used for the initial analyses: equipment efficiency (technical productivity v.s. achieved operational productivity), stoppages (e.g. rainfall, equipment breakdown, scheduled maintenance, hatch changing, shift changing), number of berths, mixture of the transport mode (e.g. vessel mix), seasonal influence, process times (e.g. sampling and weighing). Furthermore, the arrival patterns of the transport modes are rather important because in reality the arrivals do not completely comply with the schedules. Often the arrivals can be assumed to follow a certain arrival distribution (e.g. uniform distribution, exponential distribution). When the stochastic effects are taken into account, 50% of the required storage capacity is not enough as a safety stock level. Irregular arrivals also may lead to higher storage time; and together with the higher storage capacity the overall costs (including both CAPEX and OPEX). CASE STUDY One of the key objectives for a grain terminal was to determine the actual storage capacity required for the planned expansion. The current situation made it difficult to estimate as the logistics environment led to a lot of down-time and inefficient use of the storage space. The terminal was facing with situations where the storage was either near empty or at times completely occupied. Determining the accurate storage capacity was crucial as related investment costs (acquiring land, storage warehouses) were dependent on the success of the project. A dynamic approach using simulation based modelling was applied in meeting the objective. The base case scenario indicated a peak storage capacity of approximately 90,000 tonnes. This scenario was then tested again with various sensitivities based on local constraints due to weather conditions and logistics environment. It was evident that higher limits for the constraints would raise the peak storage requirement, the simulation analysis allowed to identify these limits as indicated in figure below. From additional rainfall to delays to barges and vessels, the peak storage requirement indicated was in the range of 100,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes. The terminal operator was able to determine a optimum storage capacity for a terminal expansion based on the critical investment limit for the projects feasibility, commercial requirements for adequate capacity, and control of the logistics flow. Nowadays, many terminal operators in the bulk industry are starting to understand the importance and make use of a simulation based modelling approach to determine the optimum storage capacity and make operations efficient. Many bulk terminals around the globe are nearing end of lifecycle for the deployed infrastructure and equipment. As a result of which, many terminal expansion projects are at the threshold of adapting to the new requirements of the industry and the yardsticks of performance. The quantum leap in equipment technology, automation and software adds a whole new dimension in deciding the right equipment/storage arrangement, which otherwise would have been a case of simple transition and/or expansion project. This dynamic approach allows them to make a quantitative analysis of the most feasible options and assists them in making the correct decisions. New terminal development projects are also adapting this approach to set things right from the start and be prepared for future challenges and remain competitive. This article has been previously published in DCI 2013 and has been updated to reflect to current date. Read the original published article here.

Publication
TBA Group leading the way in South Africa's bulk operations
October 2019

TBA Group is pleased to announce that South African Bulk Terminals (PTY) Ltd (SABT) have selected CommTrac, Terminal Management Software, for their Grain operations located in South Africa’s busiest port, the Port of Durban. SABT owns and operates two world class bulk terminals (DBS and RBT) in the Port of Durban. The RBT terminal at Maydon Wharf 5 (MW5) has a combined silo/flat bin storage capacity of 150 000 tons and the DBS terminal located at Island View 3 (IV3) has a silo storage capacity of 70 000 tons. As South Africa’s largest bulk grain handler, SABT plays an integral role within the South African economy allowing both import and export cargoes to flow through the Port of Durban efficiently and effectively. SABT, who are also about to embark on a site wide automation upgrade, selected CommTrac based on its industry leading functionality as well as its ability to fully integrate into the terminals automation layer. TBA’s engineering experience alongside CommTrac’s functionality provides SABT the ability to eliminate the potential risk of cross contamination by handling all the critical routing decisions within the terminal as well as recording all plant stoppages and events automatically. “We are really looking forward to take our company to the next level with the CommTrac Terminal Management Software” said Mr. Jackie Goodwin, Managing Director of SABT. Glynn Thomas, Sales Consultant at TBA Group, stated “We are delighted and excited to be working with SABT on this project. The enterprise software solution being delivered will allow for the standardisation of operational procedures across both locations as well as simplifying their master data from a product, customer and finance perspective. The enterprise solution also enables senior management to quickly report on activities at either a terminal or Company level, allowing key decisions to be made in an efficient and timely manner” South African Bulk Terminals (SABT) is a major business unit within Bidvest Freight, the freight management arm of the listed Bidvest Group. This latest contract with South African Bulk Terminal (Pty) Ltd further cements TBA Groups foot print in Africa and increases CommTrac’s installation base to over 35 terminals across the globe.

Press release
A design approach for robotized maritime container terminals
October 2019

Dr. Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands Terminal Operator – state of the industry Although container volume growth is stagnating, the terminal industry is still being challenged with change, and resulting pressure. Larger vessels resulting in higher performance demands and more peaky operational patterns, new alliances causing commercial uncertainty about volume and competition, and changing cargo patterns due to changes in manufacturing and consumption patterns require terminals to deal with changing modal splits, dwell times and operating patterns. The volume of containers handled through container terminals world-wide is about to exceed 700 million TEU, and ship sizes are about to touch 20,000 TEU, with exchange sizes exceeding 10,000 containers in some instances. At the same time, there is an increasing emphasis on cost, environmental control and safety, which forces terminal operators to search for innovative solutions. Solutions that require less space and cost less per handled container. Here robotization and automation come into play, as they allow reducing labour by a significant amount, and allow decreasing the space usage of a terminal by percentages up to 50%. However, this comes at a cost: the terminals that have implemented large-scale robotization and automation, have suffered from lower productivity than aimed for, as well as significant start-up problems. Many of these problems are on behalf of the terminal control software, as case research has shown us. In detail, we analysed the establishment of the ECT-DSL terminal in Rotterdam, which among others showed that: The occurrence rate of system failures had been underestimated, which led to inefficient recovery procedures. The time pressure in the project led to a focus on getting the system to run, instead of realising the functional specifications. This caused much of the specified functionality not to be implemented. The interfaces between various control system components were a result of a negotiation process between various design groups, instead of a rational architecture design. The terminal was used in a different way than planned by the terminal operator. The terminal was not designed from a holistic point of view, which led to sub-optimisation and components that did not work properly together. Besides, literature and other recent case studies taught us that: A large gap exists between functional design of automated terminals and the technical design and software realisation. There is a lack of interaction between the design of robotized equipment and its control software, leading to sub-optimisation of each component. Even the equipment design is fragmented, which leads to different solutions for similar problems. Too little attention is paid to the interaction between the operator of the automated system and the system. A gap exists between aggregate, strategic targets, like throughput volumes and vessel service times, and operational, day-to-day, hour-to-hour operational targets, such as quay crane productivity and truck service times. There are no tools available to provide insight into the operation of automated equipment and/or automated terminals, including solutions for process control systems. A common-off-the-shelve, integrated process control system for automated terminals does not exist (yet), which increases the risk of realising an automated terminal. There is a lack of integration between cost analysis tools and performance analysis tools. Current design approaches do not address the activities after commissioning, apart from monitoring and post-evaluation. Given this context, the question is how risks associated with the realization of automated terminals can be mitigated, and how the development and implementation process should be approached to maximize the chance of success within the shortest amount of time. Developing a robust development and implementation approach In the development of a new terminal, the following four main activities can be identified: Functional design Technical design Implementation Commissioning and operations. In each activity we propose applying a simulation approach, relying heavily on the use of models. The models would be used throughout the entire process to support decisions on For this purpose we developed a model suite that may support the entire design-engineering process until the terminal has been commissioned. Even during operations, the model suite may be used for fine-tuning, or problem solving when the operational conditions change. The basis of the approach consists of a framework of guidelines, which are the following: Using an object-oriented world-view. Applying a holistic, layered view on the terminal processes. Mirroring the real system’s architecture into the model’s architecture. Taking uncertainty and process variability into account. Using the operational processes as a leitmotiv for the design. Integrating the design of manual operations and automated operations. Integrating hardware and software design. Defining comprehensive and measurable objectives to assess the design. Basing the decisions within the design process on performance measurements. Continuing monitoring and measuring after commissioning. These guidelines have been elaborated into a detailed approach, including a stepwise, iterative approach to design a terminal, supported by a model suite that can be applied during the various activities, providing a way to manage the process. The design process consists of the following main steps: Defining the function of the terminal, the throughput capacity, and the services the terminal should provide. Designing the terminal’s key components, i.e. quay wall length, terminal geometry, layout of the stack, handling system, and logistical control concept. Designing the equipment and the process control system. After the functional design of the terminal’s components, they can be further detailed into the technical design (and specification). Subsequently, they are built (hardware) and implemented (software). After the implementation, commissioning takes place to verify whether every component works as it should. If this is successful, operations may start, during which a period of fine-tuning will take place. The entire process, here described in a nutshell, is completely performed following a simulation approach. This means that in all activities the use of models to evaluate and assess the quality in terms of the objectives of the terminal – at various levels of detail. During the functional design, the typical questions to be answered are to determine the right quay length, the required number of quay cranes, the required storage capacity, and the rail and gate capacity. Subsequently, the handling system is selected by assessing various alternatives, and the logistical control concept is being developed to match with the handling system. During the technical design, the process control system (or terminal operating system – TOS) is designed at a more detailed level, prototyping control algorithms, specifying the parameters, and configuring the terminal. As for most robotized terminals, there is no common-off-the-shelf software yet; much of it has to be designed and developed. During the realisation and implementation work, a simulation approach is used to provide a test-environment for components, i.e. equipment and software components. Because during this process, components become available piece by piece, the models may provide the remainder. This can be the rest of the TOS, or the real-life input from operators, or the equipment, or the representation of arrivals of vessels and/or trucks at the terminal. The model system provides an environment, manageable by the designers to create realistic circumstances to try out and test, especially from a performance point of view. During commissioning and operations, a simulation approach may be used to find bottlenecks, to perform quick analyses in case something appears not to work as planned. It may also fulfil a role as yardstick for the production software, as the software should provide the same performance level as the model system under the same conditions. Throughout this process (see below diagram), a suite of models is used that has an architecture similar to the real system’s architecture. This makes it possible to exchange model components with real components, and to link various modes of implementation to each other without needing to change any of them. Figure 1: Continued use of simulation models throughout the design-engineering process Evaluation The approach has been applied in various cases. In the software re-design and replacement project at ECT, the approach so-far has been applied to support the functional design, technical design, and software implementation. The research can be classified as action research as we have been involved in the process ourselves. However, we have found the approach well applicable in terms of finding the solutions that contribute to the terminal’s objectives, and in terms of finding the problems in the software that may hamper performance during the operation. Besides, the feedback from the functional design teams and the software development teams has been very positive so-far. The second case, in which the approach has been applied, is the design of a high density stacking crane, an overhead bridge crane. Here, the simulation approach has supported an integrated design of all components of the stacking crane. The crane has been modelled – both on behalf of equipment kinematics, as well as control software rules - at a very detailed level. The result was that many components could be optimized from a holistic point of view, i.e. aiming at the crane’s performance as part of an entire terminal system. This approach has saved a significant amount of money and has led to a more productive crane. Finally, the approach has been discussed, via a remote expert survey, with various experts on behalf of container terminal and/or the use of simulation. Most of the concepts that underpin the approach are considered a contribution to the quality of the design-engineering process. As a result the research has led to the following conclusions with regard to the research questions: In order to create an effective simulation approach, the models need to represent the Terminal Operating System (TOS) as well as the Equipment Control System (ECS) in particular, because the functionality of the TOS and ECS are a critical success factor. Representing the TOS and ECS of an automated terminal means – as compared to the representation of the TOS in conventional terminals (in conventional terminals there is no ECS, as the drivers take care of this role) – the modelling of the software that controls the automated equipment, i.e. routing, collision avoidance, deadlock avoidance, et cetera. On top of the representation of the functionality of the TOS, it is also important to represent the technical behaviour of the TOS, i.e. response times, asynchronous behaviour, and limited possibilities to optimize decisions. In order to reduce the risk of automation in terms of performance loss in the operation, the approach we propose focuses on the achievement of the performance goals throughout the process, i.e. including the development and realisation processes. Secondly, our approach proposes to test software in an early stage by linking it to a realistic test environment containing the specific dynamic elements that make an operation at a container terminal so complicated. As such, complex interaction can be found and dealt with as early as possible. Thirdly, the simulation environment allows for testing the system including the interaction with an operator. In order to ensure that the insight provided by the simulation approach during the process is correct, the models need to be valid. In cases where a system of a novel nature is built, especially on behalf of the TOS, the simulation can be considered a prototype of the TOS. However, during the implementation, one has to be sure that the software is built after the prototype, either by working closely together with the software supplier, or by developing a detailed software specification combined with performance requirements based on the prototype and the achieved performance levels in the design phase. The design approach should be independent of the technology of the solutions that are designed, compared, and assessed, to assure a comparison in the same formats and driven by the same set of variables. The set of guidelines we propose appears valid for any container terminal design, as most variables are similar to any container terminal design project. On top of the model suite we developed as part of this research, it may require additional model development in case of a completely new container terminal design. Currently most of the common handling systems at container terminals have been covered, but as technology progresses, new systems may arise. However, the basic structure of the model environment is not likely to change, just as the function of a container terminal is not likely to change. Therefore, we may presume that the model environment will be able to depict future container terminal systems as well. With regard to applying a simulation approach throughout the entire design-engineering process, the following concluding observations can be made: First, we experienced that simulation is still associated to a large extent with indicative sayings rather than accurate assessments, which would make them principally unsuited for precise tasks such as prototyping and/or testing of software. However, we argue this not to be true for the model systems that we developed during our research, which contain a high level of detail to represent operations at a container terminal with sufficient realism to provide the possibility to prototype software components. This is an approach that is – based literature review – not often followed (see e.g. Wysk, 2001), which also contributes to the fact that a simulation approach is not commonly used for purposes and/or decisions to be taken further in the design process. Secondly, a simulation approach requires additional time, especially in the beginning of the project. This additional time is invested with the promise of a return on investment by means of better solutions that reduce the risk of the investment. However, the time needed, is not always available. Especially during the development of software, the time it takes to provide the feedback, may be longer than feasible, which leads to decisions made on perceptions rather than scientific analysis. Thirdly, the professional environment within container terminals can be characterised as primarily focussed on operations. Although we observe a trend of an increasing level of education within the managerial staff of container terminals, many positions are still occupied by people that come from operations. These people are less trained in using scientific approaches when solving problems, finding bottlenecks and taking decisions: they rather depend on observations in the operations. Although this leads to good results in many cases, the risk of taking the wrong solution, or a solution that is less effective than expected, is relatively large. Moreover, when it concerns solutions of a novel nature, as is the case in robotized container terminals, experience from the past is not always the best advisor. In the two test cases – as well as many other projects we carried out over the last years -, we have gathered concrete experiences with most of the guidelines as proposed in our design approach: The approach proved applicable to new developments, terminal extensions, and terminal improvement programmes. The scope and the set of feasible solutions are determined by the type of project, but in terms of the methodology, we conclude that a simulation approach from start to finish appears to be viable. Even in projects where product-based TOS software is being implemented, many questions have to be answered, and many uncertainties concerning performance and technical robustness remain to be answered during the design and implementation process. A crucial contribution of a simulation approach in the context of an entire design-engineering project appears to be the see-throughs that have to be made, when creating the functional design. This process of elaboration on specific solutions – these may be equipment specifications, but also software components or algorithms - provides not only feedback to the functional design; it also provides an outlook to the technical design in terms of a prototype. Especially when the prototype (within the simulation environment) is built in accordance with the architecture of the real system – both hardware and software -, it can provide useful input to the technical specification and the implementation. Said prototyping functionality by means of simulation models is of high added value because most terminals are similar, which allows for re-use of components in the model suite. Here, a building block based approach appears to be valuable, as it allows changing components internally without affecting its interface. Our initial choice to apply a building block based architecture of our model suite has proven to be very valuable to enable the support throughout the design-engineering process. It clearly reduces development time, and therefore reduces the response time whenever a question pops up, especially during the software development. It also allows for a stable architecture of the model system during the process, where in the beginning a more aggregate behaviour is modelled, which is more detailed in later stages. However, the interface of each component remains unchanged. For particular purposes, it may even be the case that some components are applied in a detailed implementation, whereas others are present in a more aggregated mode. This significantly reduces development time, and speeds up the experimentation. The use of a simulation approach fosters continuous attention for performance issues. As every project is under time pressure, it is common that during implementation/realisation the focus of the people involved – including the managerial level – moves from the functional requirements to the basic requirement of getting the terminal running. The attention for performance issues is then deliberately delayed to a later point in time. However, this may cause changing things at this later point in time to be impossible, because of decisions made to bring the system to work. When a model system is available allowing the people involved to assess whether these decisions would affect performance, different solutions can be sought and decisions can be carried out knowing the consequences. Of course, it is essential to make sure that this model system is valid and trustworthy for these kinds of assessments. In addition to the previous point, the simulation approach can not only be used to keep the focus on performance (parallel to getting the system to work), but it also can be used to test the system under all kinds of operational circumstances. This means that the likelihood of huge performance losses in the case of break-downs, or other disrupting factors becomes less, herewith reducing the risk for the terminal operator. When the results of these tests are shared with the people that will operate the terminal after going live, the negative effects are likely to be smaller during the start-up of operations. A prerequisite to the success of the approach proposed in this research is the cooperation and coordination between the simulation group and the software engineering team. We have experienced that this process is not always easy because of two reasons. The main reason is the difference in objectives. The prototype in the simulation environment is built to assess the contribution to performance, rather than to develop a piece of software that can be used in an operational environment. Although the two can go together, it is not always the case, which may lead to a solution that works perfectly in the model system, but difficult to transfer to the production software. The second reason is the concurrency between the simulation approach and the actual software engineering and development. As the simulation approach continues during the software development, the detailed design runs on two tracks that may deviate at some points. A regular exchange of ideas and designs is required to keep it on the same track. Instantiation The design approach developed as part of our research has been applied in a number of recent projects, where it concerns the implementation of robotized container terminals. Throughout the design-engineering process, simulation models were used extensively for multiple purposes. In the initial phases for developing a terminal that satisfied the requirements, in later phases to answer detailed engineering questions, and during the implementation to assist in testing the real-time control software. In order to illustrate this, the following diagram has been developed, showing the various phases of development and implementation. The key components of the IT landscape in an automated terminal – Terminal Operating System (TOS) and Equipment Control System (ECS) – are first specified, then prototyped by means of simulation models, and consequently tested in isolation of combined. This approach has led to the opportunity to test early under ‘near to live’ circumstances, meaning large scale, dynamic, peak use of the systems, where traditional testing methods only allow for ‘simple’ scripts, testing limited system functionality in isolation. Experience now shows the great value of this approach, even to the extent that such tools cannot be missed in such a complex system implementation. At least not until systems mature, and quality becomes better. Further extension is required in the area of exception testing. In most of the applications so far, the focus has been on large-scale operations, yet undisturbed. Live operations though are – especially in the initial phases after go-live; yet we are talking here months to even years – characterised by a high number of disturbances, due to equipment unreliability, or due to software errors. Figure 2: From complete virtual operations to live operations assisted by modeling for testing and tuning Epilogue When looking into the future, we see a further extension of the simulation approach at container terminals. First, apart from a monitoring function, a simulation approach may also be used to support real-time decision-making. For instance, when something unexpected happens, the actual situation may be loaded into the model system, with which then multiple courses of actions can be analysed. The outcome – i.e. the best course of action - may then be fed back into the real system. Although this is principally a typical simulation cycle, the requirements to the model system are of such a nature that this kind of use is not yet trivial. Hence, it requires an on-line interface between model system and the actual data sources (i.e. the database of the TOS), as well as requiring a short experiment lead time. In order to make such predictions about the future, the models used need to be not only fast, but also reliable, in terms of predictive value. We recently have made progress in the development of such models, where we could show valid results up to 8 hours ahead. Further challenges ahead lie in the interpretation of results such models generate (Boer and Saanen, 2014). The audience, typically planners and supervisors are not data analysists, hence the translation of results of models into action is still a gap to bridge. Literature Boer, C.A. and Y.A. Saanen (2014), Plan Validation for Container Terminals, in Proceedings of the Wintersim conference, Tolk et al (eds). Sol, H.G. (1982), Simulation in Information Systems Development, Doctoral Dissertation, University of Groningen. Wysk R., (2001), Rapid Prototyping and Development of FMS Control Software for Computer Integrated Manufacturing, retrieved from the internet at 21-06-2001, http://www.engr.psu.edu/cim/rc Would like to know more about our simulation and emulation services for terminal operations? Contact us

Publication
Optimisation as mantra for operational excellence
October 2019

Dr. Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands Experience with process improvement To most, TBA is known for its services during terminal planning and realisation, state-of-the-art simulation models to quantify the need of future operations. Following this approach, TBA has worked on many new terminals that meanwhile have gone into live operation – e.g. Euromax, Khalifa Port, Antwerp and London Gateway, APMT Virginia, DP World Brisbane, BNCT in Pusan, GTI in Mumbai, Transnet in Durban, Tercat in Barcelona, GCT in New York, LBCT in Long Beach, APMT MV2 in Rotterdam, and Rotterdam World Gateway. Probably, TBA is less known for its support of operational improvement, optimising the terminal's processes. Over the course of the last 10 years, TBA has looked at over 30 terminals, and applied its proven process improvement approach, based on the DMAIC or 6-sigma model. In this paper we discuss the approach and its results, arguing that every terminal should do it, one way or the other. The business case – as we will show in this paper – for process improvement at container terminals is very solid, meaning returns within 1 year. Objectives Most terminals strive for higher waterside performance (quay crane or berth productivity). The easiest way to achieve this is to deploy more equipment (yard equipment and horizontal transportation equipment). However, this typically leads to an increase in operating costs, which is not in the interest of the terminal, unless the shipping line is willing to pay more for shorter turn times in port (which is rarely the case). Hence, adding equipment is not the way to go. It also means that just measuring service levels (berth productivity, or truck turn time), is sufficient to determine whether the terminal has improved its efficiency. To overcome this, we introduce the performance-cost index (PCI), which looks at the change (ΔP) in performance in relation to the change in operating expenses (ΔC). In formula form: As example: The PCI would then turn out as: (1 + (27–25)/25)/(1 + (145-150)/150) = 1.08 / 0.97 = 1.12 (12% improvement). Similarly, other performance KPI's could be integrated in the P formula, weighted against their relative importance, in the form of: , where a is the relative weight of a KPI, and P the performance of that KPI. The approach The approach we have developed is divided into three main phases (see also Figure 1): Quick scan Improvement study Implementation & Continuous improvement Figure 1: Process improvement approach Quick scan The objective of this phase is to arrive at a diagnosis of the operation and to have insight into bottlenecks and opportunities. This quick scan consists of 4 steps: data analysis, layout review, site visit, and reporting. During the on-site visit, the results from the initial data analysis are discussed, which typically leads to observations the terminal staff was not entirely aware of. This range from the frequency of QC deployment, the distances driven by prime movers, the time equipment is idle, etcetera. Subsequently, several brainstorming sessions are held, followed by time and motion studies and staff interviews. The data analysis will commence prior to the initial site visit and focuses on: Container flow data, equipment characteristics, vessel patterns (pro forma berth schedule), and layout characteristics. Recent and past utilisation and productivity of equipment, using TBA’s KPI tool to analyze TOS data. Layout analysis. Capacity analysis of berth and yard. The final result of the quick scan phase is a list of identified bottlenecks, as well as a list with potential improvements. The latter list will be divided into 3 categories: Measures to implement immediately, without further study (internal or external) Measures to analyse using simulation in the coming period Measures to be put on hold until further notice The operational aspects that are typically covered in the list of improvement measures: Terminal capacity Key performance indicators Terminal layout, possibly of off-dock sites Operating procedures and processes (including planning and use of information) Yard strategy Equipment characteristics and productivity Time and motion in the operation Container and traffic flow Resource deployment Figure 2: Areas of attention for improvement measures Observations and performance numbers are compared to with peer sites and benchmarks for similar terminals, and applicable best practices. From this list of references, a list of identified bottlenecks, as well as possible improvement measures will be created. At the end of the on-site visit, the draft quick scan report will be presented; the final version is typically finalised within a week after the site visit. The report will include a list of improvement measures which will be roughly evaluated on expected effort and gain, and graphically displayed in an improvement matrix based on experience as shown in Figure 3. In this initial study, no quantified tools will be used to evaluate the measures. We will rank them based on experience into the 3 categories aforementioned. Here our Improvement Matrix helps categorising the benefits versus the costs of each measure. We distinguish 4 categories: Cash cows (high benefit, low implementation cost) Stars (high benefit, high implementation cost) Question marks (low benefit, low implementation cost) Dogs (low benefit, high implementation cost) Figure 3: TBA’s Improvement Matrix to Graphically Rank Performance Measures Improvement study The improvement study is the next step in the improvement approach, and takes the list with identified improvement measures to an in-depth analysis, to determine the impacts on performance and cost such measures would have. The aim of this step is to arrive at a list of evaluated improvement measures and an implementation plan. This phase will immediately commence, and the lead developer will be part of the team on-site, so he is involved from the beginning to ensure fast and accurate modeling. We discern three steps: Develop and validate a model of the terminal, and model the improvement measures as alternative solutions. Analyse in detail the impact of the improvement measures on performance and cost. Define an implementation plan based on the outcome. The most promising improvement measures that require additional study will be developed further and analysed in more detail. Jointly a list of improvement measures will be determined that needs detailed, quantitative investigation – this to avoid that the wrong strategies are implemented. Impact on both costs and performance will be analysed in more detail to update the graphical representation. For the evaluation of the impact of the improvement measures on terminal performance, we will make use of advanced models (TIMESQUARE) that are validated using real data from the terminal. These models can be used to determine the best improvement measures, and to quantify them for performance impact and operational cost impact. In Figure 4, a typical example of results from an analysis of improvement is tabled. The potential monthly (!) savings are exemplary for exercises like this. Figure 4: Example of results from a simulation, including PCI calculation The modelling and validation is part are the most time-consuming tasks. Although we have an extensive in-house library of terminal models – ranging from simple reach stacker models, to large scale automated terminals – the calibration to a specific terminal’s environment, with specific (labour) practices and processes takes time and diligence. It pays off though, because a validated model is a perfect play ground to investigate the various ideas that live at a terminal. Figure 5: Snapshots from TBA's TIMESQUARE simulation model In addition to performance analyses, the impact on cost (investment and operational cost) of the improvement measures will be analysed for labour hours, equipment running hours, equipment maintenance, equipment energy consumption, and equipment purchase. The results of the performance and cost analyses are combined in the performance cost index. See Figure 6 for an example where packages of improvement measures are combined. Figure 6: Comparison of Improvement Measures vs. Performance Cost Index and Required CAPEX In a joint session, the terminal and TBA will select the improvements that should be implemented. Implementation The hardest part is the implementation. After reaching a list of promising (and less promising improvements), the changes have to be implemented, and this requires change management. Typically, there is remaining resistance against change, although having the numbers in hand, it helps to convince people that this is the right way forward. Based on our experience, the following is key during the implementation: Only implement one improvement measure at the time; as such you allow for focus and measurement of the result. Ensure buy-in and understanding of all stakeholders involved; typically operations, IT, engineering, and the management. Do not give up after one trial; some changes require training, and practice. Ensure training beforehand; many changes fail due to a lack of training. Share success with all stakeholders. Check after a few months whether the new practice is still in place. Old habits are persistent. Concluding remarks As may have become clear from this paper: process improvement is a rewarding activity at container terminals. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that several global terminal operators have created there in-house lean 6-sigma teams. The returns of a successful implementation of improvement measures are large, and pay off in most cases within 1 year. The crucial point is the implementation (change) of the new practices, overcoming the resistance, and sticking to the new practices. In our experience, this has proved to be the hardest part. Nothing more difficult than change! The quantitative approach we follow, using proven, accurate models that reflect operational practices to great detail helps to convince people, and assist in defining which measures are worthwhile to implement, and which are better to stay untouched, just wasting resources. Moreover, bringing international benchmarks also helps placing practices in its context. As much as terminals think they are different, as much as operational practices prove to be applicable world-wide. This paper was previously published in Port Technology International magazine in 2014 and its contents has been slightly updated to reflect current date. Go here to see the original publication.

Publication
Making the transition to digital - Benefits for bulk operators by adopting a terminal operating system
September 2019

David Trueman, TBA Group, Doncaster, UK When you consider the latest technological developments, it is clear that whilst we are still in the early stages of widespread utilisation, they will fundamentally change the way that business is done. For many people, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and the Internet of Things are just buzz words, but as these technologies move from the laboratory to the world of work, we need to consider how bulk terminal operators can derive the best value from them. The current system landscape Herein lies the challenge for dry bulk ports and terminals, which have been traditionally slow to adopt information technology for the following reasons. Unlike the container terminal environment, where using a terminal operating system (TOS) is a standard prerequisite, the bulk and general cargo sectors are so operationally diverse that the marketplace for TOS systems is still not clearly established. A survey of the sector would reveal numerous terminals using spreadsheets, with others using in-house or bespoke packages and a few using proprietary systems from established, specialist providers.A bulk cargo inventory is measured in multiple ways at many points along the supply chain and can change due to spillage, moisture loss/gain and accidental co-mingling. Inaccuracy and inconsistency in weighing equipment and draft surveys plus the possibility of losses through the poor recording of paper weigh tickets has created an environment where terminals are often nervous of sharing too much information with their customers and therefore the benefits afforded by standard EDI messaging, automatically scheduled reports and other information exchanges have been resisted. The term "glass ceiling" is often used to describe the human disconnection between engineering and IT departments within organisations. IT managers know that real time data would improve the performance of their business systems, but they do not know how to achieve it. They are also reluctant to allow automation systems to reside on and connect to their IT infrastructure because they fear that this will reduce the resilience to virus’ etc. Figure 1. CommTrac silo storage management system Conversely, engineers have the data but do not understand IT systems or the value of the data to the business. Therefore, the data may be used to improve uptime and maintenance routines, but remains at the engineering level. Operations and senior management often want the data but are unaware of the ability of these systems to cohesively connect. Therefore, the "glass ceiling" remains and the business fails to benefit from the improvements this connectivity would bring. The way forward The starting point is to realise that the creation of an optimal information system strategy will have a beneficial impact on the bottom line. Therefore, there is a return on investment (ROI) to justify the expenditure in executing the strategy. To decide the specifics of the strategy is more problematic and here the likely issue is that no one in the organisation will have the know-how to formulate a strategy, which embraces new technology to benefit all stakeholders in the business. At this point, an effective approach is to engage outside expertise, either a consultancy or a TOS provider. Each of these options has positive and negative aspects: A consultant can spend time with the customer to create a vision strategy and a functional specification aligned with the operational processes of the terminal. This can allow the client to go to the marketplace with a tender and create a competitive environment to deliver the best value for the business. Establishing a working relationship with a system provider can be more effective in that they have experience working with numerous terminals and can bring that experience to the project to shortcut learning. They are also likely to have a number of standard process workflows in their software that will provide users with an effective user experience without the need for customisation, which can have a big impact on budgets and timelines. Whichever approach is chosen, the operator needs to agree with the provider on what the success factors are for the project and these should be more than organisational success factors. What outcomes will improve the customer experience? How will the planner’s life be made easier? What do the finance department need from an operational system? Once understood, these success factors can be referenced throughout the project to ensure that the project is likely to deliver the expected outcomes. Core components For a terminal operator to derive optimal benefit from digitisation there are a number of core components which are intrinsic to the system landscape. At the core is a TOS. This software sits in the operational layer and collects, stores and presents key information relating to: Vessel planning and execution. Inventory management. All activities relating to cargo moves and cargo conditioning. Truck, barge and rail activities and transactions. Recording of events and processes relating to tariffs and demurrage/despatch. For the terminal operating system to be most effective, it should integrate with other systems in the terminal environment. In this environment, the TOS takes data from the real time equipment layer (control systems, weighbridges etc), presents it to users, to support their operational processes, before rationalising and distributing the data to other integrated systems such as: ERP/finance systems for billing or P&L. Maintenance management systems for the creation of work orders. Customer systems or portal to provide timely information to customers. Figure 2. Detailed reporting functionality. From a user perspective, this environment creates a single repository and therefore “one version of the truth”. Single data entries updating all users also radically reduces the amount of manually manipulated data therefore inherently the amount of administrative work load and paper errors. Mobile users Apps are universally used for various reasons, including booking travel, seeing the weather forecast, finding directions, playing games etc. So, humans are familiar with simple, smart tools on their mobile phones, which help them in their daily lives. It is clear, however that this type of software can also be of real benefit in the work environment. Figure 3. Mobile solutions for terminal management.“On the ground” workers cannot work effectively with desktop computers; they need to be in their working environment close to the activity they are performing. However, if they can receive timely information and record their activities easily, then this can greatly enhance their efficiency and that of the whole operation. Software working in this environment needs to be simple, easy to use with minimal key strokes and able to run on a mobile phone.Key operational areas where this can be most effective are: Event/delay logging during vessel activities. Tallying of cargo. Work instructions for payloader and forklift drivers. Scanning of cargo barcodes. To ensure that operations are uninterrupted, the technology can seamlessly operate in WiFi, 4G and offline modes, switching between the modes as required. If the devices operate in offline mode, they can automatically synch when they return to online mode. Business case The utilisation of technology systems provides clear, tangible results for the terminal operator and their customers. As well as the obvious reductions in administrative workload and improvements in customer information, the real ROIs are gained by utilising information to reduce demurrage and increase operational efficiency.By monitoring vessel loading/unloading in tonnes per hour and stoppage events, before comparing these to the contract terms for the activity, the terminal has a clear view of their commercial position. Decisions to change the process, add overtime shifts or other resources are made on the basis of clear factual information and not "finger in the air" supposition. Retrospective analysis of this data also allows the terminal to understand the root cause of performance losses and drives a culture of continuous improvement. Turning vessels around more quickly and optimising storage utilisations also provides the opportunity to handle more cargo.Other less tangible returns are the prevention of stock losses or cross-contamination of cargo, and although these can be difficult to quantify financially, any prevention of customer claims for this type of event is significant. For example, a grain terminal handling multiple product types would be faced with a potentially huge claim if it accidentally mixed genetically modified cargo with non-genetically modified cargo. The TOS can prevent this by ensuring that the conveyor routing has to carry cargo only to a storage position, which holds cargo of the same lot, removing the opportunity for human error. Conclusion Digitisation is no longer about a series of buzz words. When systems are implemented, incorporating digital technologies as practical tools, they can radically improve the operational and commercial performance of a terminal and enhance the working environment of all stakeholders, including customers.By understanding the ROI opportunities, as well as the practical advantages, it is easier to approve CAPEX funding for system implementations and even in more challenging commercial environments, software as a service agreements can move software costs into OPEX to avoid a large initial outlay.So, the technology is available and the ROI is clear, however for digitisation projects to be successful the human element has to be taken into consideration. Understanding and explaining the success factors for both the business and the individual users is essential to gain support and enthusiasm for the transition to an integrated, digitalised bulk terminal. This article has been published in the Autumn 2019 edition of Dry Bulk Magazine.

Publication
OPCSA uses simulation expertise of TBA Group for brownfield terminal optimisation
August 2019

A study, conducted by TBA Group for Operaciones Portuarias Canarias S.A. (OPCSA) terminal, revealed that tripling quay capacity can be easily achieved without the need for investment in quay expansion or dredging of their existing facility. This preliminary study entailed reviewing the current terminal capacity, exploring possible expansion plans and the impact of implementing of alternative handling technology at OPCSA. In need to adequately respond to possible future capacity limits, OPCSA in the port of Las Palmas - part of the TIL Group terminals - required the simulation expertise of TBA to identify and forecast possible scenarios to support investment in specific areas. The terminal currently handles a volume of 0.8M TEU, but TBA’s advanced berth simulation analysis revealed that the volume could be increased by at least 3 times without the need for investment through installation of additional QCs. Zack Lu, Project Manager at TBA Group, says: “For a brownfield terminal it can be daunting exercise to forecast the future volume or capacity limits. We guided OPCSA by providing a concise overview of evidence-based available options within their terminal constraints.” Another astounding outcome of this initial study is, that the current yard capacity of this brownfield terminal - with their current RTG system and operational conditions - is limited to 1.0M TEU. Hence, if volume further grows beyond the yard capacity, expansion and an alternative handling system must be considered in order to facilitate the growth. Capt. Jan Nowak, CEO of OPCSA, states: "The dynamic nature of container logistics poses quite a challenge for existing terminals to anticipate to future demands. We are striving to improve the efficiency of our local operations, initiate modernisation processes and increase productivity. This has to be done in order to stay competitive in the market while ensuring a sustainable continuity of the terminal.” The choice for TBA was obvious according to Nowak: “TBA is acclaimed in the industry for their simulation expertise, their familiarity with different systems and equipment and having dealt with complex global implementation cases. They have carefully scrutinised our current situation, provided us with a solid overview of alternatives and defined the impact of the solutions to our operations.”

Press release
Technologies that bring value to ports and terminals
July 2019

Dr. Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands In 2018, the first version of this paper was published, reflecting on the technologies that bring value to ports and terminals, yet also reviewing the level to which these technologies have been adopted. The conclusion then was that despite the vast availability of technologies, few have been widely applied, and many are looking for problems to solve. The buzz today is centred around 5G. If the discussion is not about the suspected loopholes in Huawei’s technology, then it is focused on the enormous potential 5G offers for almost every environment. Once again though, is it a technology seeking a problem? 4G is already quite fast and has been applied across terminals as a viable alternative to narrow band or WiFi. Due to the price drop of access points, 4G and 5G will address a problem in container terminals: real-time connectivity of equipment without latency. However, the harsh conditions encountered in terminals – an outdoor environment, steel everywhere, large structures, impact of vibrations, wind and clashes - make it complicated to get a stable and reliable signal to all moving equipment. The 5G technology requires even more access points than 4G (due to the higher frequency), yet can also be powered more, creating a stronger signal. Asset Management and Control Enabled by 5G networks, real-time tracking of equipment and containers becomes feasible. This means that not only are all assets’ locations visible, but their technical status can be reported and made visible in the control room in real-time. The redundancy of connection points will not be a deal-breaker due to the acceptable pricing of the technology. For automated equipment as well, which requires a fail-safe and continuous communication, 5G provides a much better foundation than common WiFi connections. Due to the higher bandwidth and lower latency, delays in automated processes while communicating with the central control system will be reduced to insignificant levels, enhancing the productivity of the machines. Remote error handling and remote container placement will also become easier, due to high definition streaming of camera data. The reduced latency (resulting in lag of the movement after a remote input) will also be reduced even further, so that remote control becomes more natural and, as a result, faster. What About the Other Technology Trends? The word is not yet out on blockchain and, despite a true hype two to three years ago, it remains an underdeveloped technology. The complexity of implementation, due to the vast number of stakeholders required to make it work on a global scale, forms a barrier to the fast roll-out of this solution. How about artificial intelligence? While it is still a buzz word getting lots of attention, we are yet to see it really achieve a breakthrough in the maritime industry. Even when it is utilized in dedicated areas, such as predictive maintenance, one finds handling the vast amounts of collected data difficult, let alone deriving useful, reliable and predictive data from the pile of bits and bytes. Last but not least: the digital twin. Here we see adoption by some of the large equipment suppliers, developing digital twins of their equipment to facilitate the design and testing phase. 1.    Connected to the Outer World Although one would expect that all of the information sent to terminals is delivered in standardized digital formats, the reality is far from that. Timely data availability, data quality, and digitization are all problematic, leading to large inefficiencies in terminal operations and affecting the service that terminals provide. In many ports around the world, initiatives are taken to make the information accessible to all parties, yet there is resistance from certain stakeholders who believe their position may be weakened or even disappear if information flows freely. Today’s question is who gains control over the supply chain: large producers, whole sellers, 3PL suppliers, shipping lines, terminals, or consumers? Many platforms are launched, trying to become the travel agent of the container supply chain, or a centralized platform for buying goods. The verdict has not been delivered yet, but it is an area of large development. In all likelihood, terminals will not play a dominant role in controlling the supply chain. Instead, we expect their role as physical hubs - for handling large ships, but also fine distribution towards the end consumer – to increase. 2.    Connected to All Assets Terminals are a collection of high-value assets, yet real-time information about the assets is not readily available to enable intelligent control. In most cases, there is some information locally available, but not centrally, and certainly not across the entire fleet. It is scattered, has no standard structure, and is often incorrect. The technology to enable this is there - especially with the support of private 4G/5G networks - and in a large portion of equipment that is already available. Besides this, the maintenance of all the on-board technology is typically a problem. Regular calibration of sensors (e.g. weighing sensors) is required to make sure the information coming from the machine is accurate and reliable. This is not yet standard practice though, largely because the actual use of the information is limited and defies the purpose of proper maintenance. 3.    Connected to All Staff As important as connectivity to the physical assets is connectivity to human assets in the field, as this ensures people are removed from danger (think of location detection, or proximity sensors), as well as information in real-time to perform actions efficiently. Instead, people are often sent around to record information on paper that will be processed later. This, remember, is taking place in a time when almost everything can be accessed through smart-phones. We could even think one step further here into augmented reality (now accessible through technology like the Google Glass) so that operators get immediate visual information while keeping their hands free. While the possibilities are there, the maritime industry has not witnessed many developments when it comes to connecting people with intelligent sensor technology, although 5G may prove to be a game changer in this area. 4.    Real-Time, Holistic Planning, Control and Optimization A terminal consists of a series of interlinked, highly variable processes, hence dynamic, real-time planning and control is essential to be efficient. There are many planning, scheduling and dispatching tools in the market to assist and provide decision-making support, yet there is great resistance – especially from operators – to use these tools. On the one hand there is a degree of job protection behind this, but also lack of insight into the benefits. The efficiency gain does not come from some reductions in planning and dispatching staff, but by operating in a better way outside. Here the real expense is being spent on machines, fuel and labour. The rate of change, in terms of planning, scheduling and dispatching inside container terminals, is still slow, and even with the introduction of new technologies there are few changes to report. 5.    Real-Time Measuring of KPI’s In order to improve, one needs to know what’s going on. Hence, the performance of the operation should be measured continuously, and to a great level of detail. Only then can you really explain the peaks and troughs of performance. Only measuring STS productivity, for instance, does not provide sufficient insight. Also, the circumstances affecting performance must be gathered so that a complete picture can be formed. Yard occupancy, gate volume, driving distances, and number of unproductive moves should all be monitored. Some initiatives have been launched to gather information from various sources and create real-time insight into the state of equipment, its performance, and utilization levels. This is typically driven locally by terminals, which are creating data-warehouses and connecting TOS, maintenance systems and equipment to make sense of collected data. True success stories, however, are still limited. 6.    Continuous Analysis of Performance (KPI’s) When all this measurement is in order, there is a solid basis for analysis; just gathering the data serves no purpose. It needs to be turned into insight and then knowledge so that the actual control improves. The cycle of measuring, analysis, and action should be continuous, so that the learning cycle also reacts to changes. Changes in volume, dwell times, truck patterns, or just the arrival of a new vessel service are likely to require adjusting operational strategies. In this process, it is also key to make a record of implemented changes. While most changes in strategy will only have effect over a longer period of time, there will be cyclic, and independent factors - such as seasonal patterns – that have an influence. These effects must be taken into account when analyzing the result of change. In any case, a first, solid KPI measurement needs to be in place, with the real use following after once stable platforms have been established. 7.    Training and Certification of Staff Having a serious training programme, for both on-boarding and to enhance operating skills, is a key factor in operational performance. Even though most operators are conducting or setting up training programmes, certification of the control room staff is still rare; our findings across more than 25 terminals (>250 planners) show the difference between worst and best planners to be as high as 50% (measured in resulting berth productivity). Testing planners against a calibrated scenario – such as a near-to-live virtual terminal – is a possible way to get people in the right position. The importance of more advanced training tools has also become more widely accepted, albeit not as fast as the industry requires. We have seen quite dramatic results, but also improvements from the use of advanced training tools in the past year. 8.    Capability to Learn from the Past Returning to the hype word of artificial intelligence, it could be said that the ideas behind it are new, but the combination of large amounts of available data, and cheap, cloud-based computing power, brings the ability to recognize patterns quickly nearer to being useful. Still, computers have a tough time recognizing the context of data. The potential is significant though, as the container supply chain is highly repetitive and therefore predictable. Learning about dwell time, pick-up and roll-over patterns may reduce the number of unproductive moves by factors. As terminals are struggling to get well-organised KPI’s in place, the regular and consistent use of them remains a struggle as well. Too often, Excel is still the tool being used to analyze data, even with a range of more advanced data analytics tools available. 9.    Terminal Development Based on a ‘Master Plan’ When we look at how terminals have come about, we recognize that many resemble patchwork. Every expansion is planned when required, without looking at the bigger picture; buildings in the most inconvenient places, height differences, light poles, and roads with illogical routing, are all quite common. Of course, not everything can be taken into account, but we can go significantly further in looking ahead and making a robust masterplan, that withstands change of circumstances to a large extent. Modelling can greatly help in the assessment of cargo flows, ship sizes, hinterland transportation patterns and dwell times during master planning, as well as acting as a source of reference for future decision-making. Even the consequences of changes parameters can be easily analysed and quantified. Modelling is becoming the standard for new terminals and terminal expansions or retrofits. Across the globe, the default has become that master planning requires in-depth modelling to facilitate decision-making. 10.    A Solid Cybersecurity Layer in Place Last but not least, a terminal today needs to have its cybersecurity in order. There is a large degree of data exchange with many third parties, increasing the risk of receiving malware or viruses that can spread to others. The fact that containers carry high-value goods also makes them a potential target of cybercrime. Finding the right container by hacking into the system and setting up an illegal delivery is not a hypothetical scenario. This means that cyber security must be part of the daily IT process; making sure that staff are aware of the risk is key, as people are always the weakest link. It has become obvious that cyber security also needs to be a top priority for container terminals, especially at the board level. Reliance on IT and data, and their responsibility for valuable goods, are simply too great to ignore, yet there remains much to do. Concluding Remarks A quick inventory at a range of terminals during the last couple of months revealed that from these 10 pre-requisites  most terminals have not fulfilled most. None of the points mentioned will require large investments, or be too complex to implement, but they do require an ability and willingness to change. In many cases, this only arises when there is a serious problem, such as a damaging cyberattack, or pressure from the outside (e.g. from local authorities) to implement adjustments and efficiency enhancing measures for higher levels of productivity. So, there is still a long way to go. This paper has been published in Port Technology Magazine edition number 86.

Publication
Handling of solid biomass from the perspective of dry bulk terminals
July 2019

Dr. Mi-Rong (Kimberly) Wu, TBA Group, Delft, Netherlands Many dry bulk terminals have experienced the increase in biomass handling because of the use in feed and food sector, the recent technical development in bioenergy, and several governmental energy policies (e.g. EU directives) [1]. Normally the biomass for the application in the feed and food sector (e.g. corn, oats, soy meals, barley) is handled by grain terminals. However, because of the wide range of applications in the energy sector, the handling of solid biomass materials has been seen also in other dry bulk terminals. Camia et al. estimated that more than 1 billion tons per year of solid biomass has been used in the EU; primarily in the feed and food sector, followed by bioenergy sector and biomaterial (see Figure 1) [1]. IEA  has also estimated that by 2040 the demand for bioenergy will exceed 1,850 Mtoe [2]. Figure 1: Distribution of EU-28 biomass uses [1]. Solid biomass comes in various forms (e.g. pellets, chips) and from various sectors (e.g. agriculture, forestry) and increasingly it is being traded in international markets. Bradley et al. [3] have indicated that shipping is the main method to transport solid biomass. In addition, other studies ( [4] [5]) have concluded that the most preferable biomass supply chain is long distance transport via shipping. This implies that marine terminals in ports will be the important hubs within the logistics chain. Various aspects should be taken into account to have a thorough picture of solid biomass operations: the significant material types for large-scale handling, the implication from the physical/flow properties for cargo handling at the terminal, and the effects caused by the stochastic parameters (e.g. vessel arrival patterns) to the storage capacity and storage time of solid biomass operations. These aspects are further discussed in the following sections. Material type and physical properties of solid biomass There are various kinds of solid biomass, but not every type is suitable for being transported over long distances and handled in dry bulk terminals. Important criteria such as potential availability, the application preference/possibility by major users (e.g. power plants) and logistical concerns are the reasons that wood pellets and wood chips are the main feedstocks for bioenergy application. Another solid biomass with good potential is torrefied pellets because its material properties (e.g. higher energy content, hydrophobic), provided that the market implementation in the future will be successful. It is essential to understand the material properties of these selected solid biomass types, in order to know how to handle and store them properly. Selection and design of handling and storage equipment for solid biomass types strongly depends on their physical material properties/flow properties. Furthermore, the flow properties may also affect the operational process. For a better understanding regarding equipment it is important to look deeper to compare these solid biomass properties with other bulk materials that have been handled and studied frequently, such as coal and grain. Table 1 shows that there is four times more volume of solid biomass required for the same energy output compared with coal. Solid biomass properties show a much wider range per characteristic, in comparison with soybean and coal. Furthermore, the following aspects are important when it comes to solid biomass fuels from the perspective of a dry terminal: Because of the hydrophilic nature of solid biomass fuels, they are sensitive to material degradation. It is recommended to handle and store solid biomass fuels with enclosed or covered equipment/option (e.g. warehouses, covered trough belt conveyors). Solid biomass has a strong tendency for self-heating because of bio-activities and potential high moisture content. Thus, certain common prevention measures performed for coal handling (e.g. compaction) increase the risk of selfheating. Equipment designed for coal handling is suitable for the operation of solid biomass fuels. However, the handling processes/methods need to be adjusted according to the material properties. Because of the low bulk density, more equipment (capacity) is required for the same tonnage handling performance. For solid biomass handling, the volumetric performance should be the main benchmark rather than tonnage performance. Impact from stochastic elements to storage capacity and storage time It is challenging to simply calculate the storage capacity as a result from the following factors: the supply seasonality; the arrival patterns of the incoming and outgoing flows; the size composition of the vessels/inland transportation); the operational strategies and process at the dry bulk terminal; and the operational stoppages (e.g. rain, equipment breakdowns). Dynamic simulation tools are increasing used to make such an estimation for: the ability to cope with the above-mentioned stochastic elements, the capability for quantifying the measurable KPIs (see Figure 2 and Figure 3 for examples), and the strength to systematically compare various strategies/options. It is recommended to use such a simulation approach to design and assess the storage arrangement for the solid biomass handling. A common demand figure for a power station unit will be about 3 million tons of wood pellets per year and when the choice comes to wood chips even 4-4.5 million tons may be required.  Storage facilities for solid biomass require large areas as a result of their low bulk density and energy content (Table 1), to have the same energy output as coal, up to 8 times more volume of solid biomass is required [7]. Furthermore, the need for an uninterrupted supply, power stations typically ask for storage capacities of about 100,000 tons which requires a covered storage around 200,000 m3 (wood pellets). With the same stacking method, 1.3 times more land is needed (lower volumetric performances for biomass) [8]. Several enclosed/covered storage options can be used to store solid biomass, such as silos (assuring a first-in/first-out material flow); flat storage (wide sheds) or domes. The following recommendations apply to all storage options [8]: Measures against dry matter loss and material degradation, such as a good ventilation system and pre-drying before storage, should be applied. Measures against self-heating should be applied. Such measures can be having homogeneous storage piles (in terms of material particle size distribution), taking the geometry of storage piles into account, avoiding compacted storage piles, etc. The storage time of solid biomass should be controlled. Depending on the mois-ture content of the material, the recommended maximum storage time varies from 3 weeks (for fresh wood chips) to 3 months (wood pellets). Both storage capacity and storage time are sensitive to arrival and departure patterns. Good logistic control is required. Figure 2: An example of yearly stock level fluctuation from simulation experiments. Figure 3: An example of vessel turnaround time from simulation experiments.   Conclusions and recommedations Currently more and more dry bulk terminals are adding solid biomass into their cargo portfolio. It is expected that significant amount of wood pellets and wood chips will be handled by dry bulk terminals in the future, as well as “new type” of bioenergy feedstocks, such as torrefied pellets.The material characteristics of solid biomass come with a wide variation range compared to commonly handled bulk materials such as coal or grain; it is necessary to have adjustments in terms of handling process and storage requirement. The low bulk density makes the volumetric requirement more influential than the tonnage demand mostly seen from other commonly handled bulk commodities. Several handling processes need to be adjusted (e.g. enclosed storage, self-heating prevention method) to cope with solid biomass material properties.An analysis supported with simulation tools is recommended as this allows investigating the combined impact of stochastic events (e.g. material arrival and departure patterns, operational disruptions) and the material characteristics. This approach will result in a better terminal design in terms of berth capacity, equipment utilization, storage capacity and storage time.   About the author Dr. Mi-Rong (Kimberly) Wu is the principal bulk specialist at TBA Group. She has been involved with logistics, ports and terminals throughout her professional career since 2005. She has over 12 years’ experience in the bulk sector focusing on subjects such as: bulk terminal design, bulk material handling and simulation modelling for bulk terminaldesign. TBA’s services have been proven to add value to existing terminals by increasing operational efficiency, supporting existing terminals to plan for future expansion and validating design for terminals. TBA’s project portfolio covers terminals handling biomass, agri-bulk, coal, iron ore, sulphur, sugar and more. References [1]     A. Camia, N. Robert , R. Jonsson , R. Pilli , S. García-Condado, R. López-Lozano, M. van der Velde, T. Ronzon, P. Gurría , R. M’Barek, S. Tamosiunas, G. Fiore, R. Araujo, N. Hoepffner, L. Marelli and J. Giuntoli, "Biomass production, supply, uses and flows in the European Union: First results from an integrated assessment," Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018.[2]     International Energy Agency (IEA), "The World Energy Outlook 2018," OECD/IEA, 2018.[3]     D. Bradley, F. Diesenreiter, M. Wild and E. Tromborg, "World Biofuel Maritime Shipping Study for IEA Task 40," 2009.[4]     R. Suurs, Long distance bioenergy logistics An assessment of costs and energy consumption for various biomass energy transport chains, Copernicus Institute, Utrecht University. ISBN 90-73958-83-0, January 2002. [5]     C. N. Hamelinck, Outlook for advanced biofeuls -- International bioenergy transport costs and energy balance, Department of Science, Technology and Society, Utrecht University. ISBN 90-393-3691-1, 2004. [6]     M. Wu, "Transitions to biomass handling - A simulaiton approach," in BULK TERMINALS 2017: ACHIEVING EFFICIENCY AND COMPLIANCE, London, 2017. [7]     M. R. Wu, A large-scale biomass bulk terminal, Delft: Delft University of Technology, 2012. ISBN 978-94-6186-076-7. [8]     M.-R. Wu, "Analysing terminal facilities for biomass operations," Port Technology International, pp. 51-54, Edition 60 November 2014. This article has been published in Dry Cargo International Magazine Issue no. 225. Read the full article here

Publication
Human Machine Interfaces - the key to productivity?
May 2019

Dr. Yvo Saanen & Dr. Azadeh Shirzad, TBA Group, Delft, Netherlands As terminal automation is commonly increasing, next steps towards the improvement of the human-machine interface need to be made. The software landscape in container terminals is not suited for the different nature of the interaction between system and human operator. To get the maximum benefit from automated terminals, we need to rethink and redesign the user system interaction. The starting point is to improve the steps that a human controller must take when certain situations occur. From these flows, we then can define the support that the system provides through its user interface to help user complete each step successfully. In this article, published in Port Technology Magazine, we discussed how we go about this at TBA Group, using the science of User-Centred design as a basis, combined with knowledge of operational processes. The notion of an ‘automated container terminal‘ suggests a very limited involvement of humans in the daily running of operations, however despite this conception, the reality is far from that. The truth is that automated terminals heavily rely on human influence to keep the fleets of driverless machines running, as well as to deal with unpredictable exceptions. This is because the handling of exceptions is poorly supported by today’s control systems (TOS and ECS), meaning a process controller requires mastermind skills. Information is divided over multiple systems rendering it (too) complex for process controllers to do their job effectively. Control room staff are also overloaded with information, which most of the time does not apply to their roles. This results in a stressful, and consequently tiring, work environment. Further, this scenario of a complex system with many unpredictable irregularities (that come with poor system support) eventually leads to a significant loss in productivity. Therefore, it is time to look for solutions to assist control room operators by providing them with an intuitive control system-user interface which includes standard operating procedures in order to deal with irregularities. In this paper, we discuss the science behind ‘Human-Machine-Interfaces’, a fast-developing field that can provide the answer to aforementioned problems. This approach is several years in the making, as we aim to redesign the way our systems interact with users by not placing the system centrally, but the user, positively influencing the way he executes his tasks. Human–Machine Interfaces ‘In the early days of industrial manufacturing, engineering and marketing process alone were sufficient to produce desirable products: it did not take much more than good engineering and reasonable pricing to produce a hammer, diesel engine, or tube of toothpaste that people would readily purchase’ (Cooper et al, 2007). The world has now evolved from this insight from Cooper et al, as eventually manufacturers realized that they need to differentiate their products from the ones made by competitors. Because of this, industrial and graphic design were introduced as means to increase desire for a product, with graphic design improving both product advertisement and industrial design. Now, with the design of software and its behaviour, desirability alone is not the unique selling point of a product any longer – software does not reveal its affordability through external form, like for example, a hammer does. Designing for interactive capabilities now requires knowledge of context as well as the users’ relationship with the given system. Understanding the users, their roles, their workflow and their goals is of essence when creating systems. Therefore, a good product reflects the users’ mental model and not the implementation/system model. The implementation details are too complicated and unnecessary for a user to be cognisant of (see Figure 1): ‘The designer must develop a conceptual model that is appropriate for the user, that captures the important parts of the operation of the device, and that is understandable by the user.’ (Norman, 2002) Figure 1 The difference between implementation model and users' mental model (Cooper et. al., 2007) User research is therefore the core of user-entered design. Qualitative and quantitative research methods are used in different design phases to keep the focus of the design on users and their needs. In the early design phase, qualitative research is mostly used to make the requirements clear, while later in the process, different research methods are practiced to modify the design based on user feedback. How simplicity can be complex To ensure automated terminals perform optimally, one of the most important challenges is to make operational control ‘simple’. We believe that simplicity will bring terminals further in terms of safety, efficiency and productivity. Therefore, understanding the context of use and users’ workflows and their goals has become the basis of the design of our products. At TBA, we are aiming to reduce excise and cognitive load by following goal-directed design guidelines while applying general interaction design principles to the design process. One of the other means to achieve this principle is integration, bringing functions for a particular operational role (say a planner, or a process controller) into one user interface, and integrating multiple systems in the background. This may seem quite easy to achieve, but conducting the proper user research (both qualitative and quantitative) has until now proven to be challenging. There are two main reasons for this: - There are few automated container terminals - Almost every terminal operates differently based on the terminal type and equipment they use   So standards are hard to be found, which in turn provides little opportunity to define the standard. Nevertheless, our functional experts and designers work closely with customers during each project to understand their needs and requirements. We also heavily rely on UX best practices when working on our products. For instance, creating a well-designed navigation app for a manual straddle carrier (SC) driver is a challenging task. He basically drives backwards and has all his attention on a container he is carrying as opposed to the route he is taking. However, he still wants to know all the details a ‘normal’ driver needs while driving – details such as whether he is driving toward his destination, if there is an exceptional situation in a terminal that requires him to take a different route, and the time to his destination, etcetera. In order to provide the best and safest driving experience, we not only looked into already-existing navigation apps, but we also drove in an SC to understand the driver’s limitations and to test our design ideas allowing us to discover inadequacies. We may not be able to perform such tests as frequently as we’d like to, but the tests offer us to: - Look into lessons learnt by best practices - Focus on achieving better performance via the information we present - Apply interaction design principles - Create user-friendly apps   Guidelines for simple HMI Besides considering the context of use and user needs, there are general principles which designers apply to the design process to optimize the user experience with product. Cooper et al name fifteen strategies for creating a harmonious interaction: - Follow users’ mental model - Less is more - Enable users to direct, don’t force them to discuss - Keep tools close at hand - Provide modeless feedback - Design for probable; provide for the possible - Provide comparisons - Provide direct manipulation and graphical input - Reflect object and application status - Avoid unnecessary reporting - Avoid blank slates - Differentiate between command and configuration - Provide choices - Hide the ejector seat levers - Optimize for responsiveness; accommodate latency   The design process of TBA products starts with the various user profiles and their roles and motivations. We not only look into their goals and strengths but also to their limitations. By defining ‘user stories’ we decide what needs to be considered in the interface to help users where they are weak and empower them where they are strong. One of the main things to keep in mind when creating a user-centred design is to give the user the feeling that he or she is always in control of the system. In order to keep users of a control system informed about the state of a terminal operation, designers often face the challenge of keeping the shown information in balance. The balance between maintaining user control on all details of the terminal operation while applying two principles of ‘less is more’ and ‘avoid unnecessary reporting’ are often the design challenges we face at TBA. Designing based on user role and workflow is our way of handling these sorts of challenges. In the next section some examples of our solutions to complicated situations are described. Theory in practice A terminal’s system landscape is a complicated combination of systems which are used by different types of users within or outside of the control room. Dispatcher (or as we say in automated terminals, ‘process controller’) is one of the main roles when it comes to managing operations. They have to keep a close eye on operations and handle every exception in a timely manner to provide their customers with a good quality service. In order to empower these kind of users in their roles, we have designed a dashboard – the ‘Action Board’ – which shows high-level information about different modules within the terminal. Figure 2 shows the concept of vessel widget in the Action Board. In case of a problem in a work queue of a quay crane (QC), a warning icon is shown on the QC’s visualization. A user can then track the source of the problem by taking two steps: - Clicking on the QC’s visualization - Expanding the work queue row with delay indication   Figure 2 The concept of Vessel widget in Action Board Figure 3 System notification As soon as the row is expanded, the details of that certain move and the root of the problem are shown. In case the problem is related to an automated vehicle, a notification also shows up in the notification panel. This notification includes a Call-To-Action button which helps the user resolve the issue immediately. Notifications in general consist of five parts (see Figure 3): - Explanation of the problem that just occurred - The consequences of the problem - Advice on how to resolve the issue - The time when the issue was reported - (If possible) a Call-To-Action button to resolve the issue   Conclusions and outlook As terminal automation is increasingly common, next steps towards the improvement of the human-machine interface need to be made. The software landscape in container terminals is not suited for the different nature of the interaction between system and human operator. To get the maximum benefit from automated terminals, we need to rethink and redesign the interaction, starting with the process steps that a human controller must carry out, when certain situations occur. From these process steps, we then can define the system support provided through the user interface, needed to complete each step successfully. In this article, we discussed how we go about this at TBA, using the science of YX design as a basis, combined with knowledge of operational processes.   Biographies Azadeh Shirzad is a User Experience Designer with over 10 years of working experience. She loves to create designs for diverse target groups. Following that passion she worked in different industries such as finance, aviation and healthcare. Currently she is working as UX Designer at TBA, where besides aligning the design of different apps she pro-actively is promoting user-centered design. Azadeh has a PDEng in User System Interaction, Eindhoven University of Technology, and an MSc in Interaction Design, Chalmers University of Technology. Yvo Saanen is commercial director and founder of TBA. He has been active in the maritime industry for over 20 years. He has consulted more than 200 terminals world-wide, and focusses on automation, process optimization, and design using simulation and emulation. In various bodies, he lectures about simulation in logistics. Yvo has a PhD in the design of automated container terminals from Delft University of Technology, and an MSc in Systems Engineering from the same university. References Cooper, Reimann, Cronin, 2007, About Face three, Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana Norman, 2002, The design of everyday things, Basic Books, New York.   In this article, published in Port Technology Magazine, we discussed how we go about this at TBA Group, using the science of User-Centred design as a basis, combined with knowledge of operational processes. Read the full article here  

Publication
Leverage best practices in port and terminal logistics from industry leaders at User Group Conference 2019
April 2019

Industry leaders Eddie Stobart, Great Bear Culina, Wincaton, Peel Ports, Eimskip, DP World, Virginia International Gateway, Garden Terminal Savannah and Abu Dhabi Terminal Khalifa will disclose their best practices in terminal and port logistics at TBA User Group Conference 2019. Leverage their best practices, connect with peers and shape the roadmap of your software on 9-10 May at Mercedes-Benz World in London. This 2-day event with 4 dedicated streams to drive performance, kicks off with Formula 1 keynote speaker, Mark Gallagher, who has held vital management roles within major F1 constructors Cosworth, Jordan Grand Prix and Red Bull Racing. F1 is a unique mix of business and sport, where strong leadership, efficient team work, split second decision making and a clear focus on delivery are required to compete at the highest levels. Mark skillfully relates lessons from the race track to companies; from the harnessing of technology to performance management, he motivates with insights for getting around those tricky turns in business. Contact us events@tba.group for information, programme and registration details.

Press release
10 key actions for terminals: technologies providing value to make ports and terminals more effective, efficient, and safe.
February 2019

Dr Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft the NetherlandsSome say the technological revolution is going ever-faster. Although we have to realize that in the last 100 years, the amount of technological innovations has been enormous, we have to maintain a helicopter view on the world. In recent years, we have seen the latest hypes follow each other quite rapidly, with the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, blockchain, and artificial intelligence (AI) as buzzwords. The latest addition to this grouping is ‘the digital twin’. Although all of these technologies seem to offer great opportunities to the industry, and certainly to the logistics industry, the amount of clear success stories or largescale implementations is lacking. Some may point to the conservatism in the logistics business, but others may also question the true business case of these technologies. Moreover, some of these hypes are repetitions from the past, the digital twin not in the least. After all, a digital twin is a model of the physical reality, albeit with a great level of detail. But it will always remain a model, leaving away irrelevant details.What is clear from each of these trends is that technology has become an enabler in developing innovative, value adding solutions that actually address reallife problems. The technology is readily available, affordable, and delivered in mass-production. There are many suppliers who can also assist in deploying these technologies. Does this mean we are not facing any challenges anymore? On the contrary, to make use of them such that they actually serve the objectives of ports and terminals, there is a lot of work ahead of us. In this paper, I have tried to identify where these technologies can provide value to make ports and terminals more effective, efficient, and safe. 1. CONNECTED TO THE OUTER WORLD Terminals are a key component of the supply chain. One would expect that all information that is sent to terminals, is delivered in standardized digital formats. Reality is far from that. Timely data availability, data quality, and digitization are all problematic, leading to large inefficiencies in terminal operations, affecting the service thatterminals provide. Such errors range from BAPLIE files, to inaccurate vessel ETA’s, to changing modes of transportation after arrival at the terminal, to random truck arrivals at the gate.This is in a world where all the necessary information is available in digital form. However, such information is not made available to all stakeholders in the supply chain. In many ports around the world, initiatives are taken to make the information accessible to all parties, however it takes great effort, as there is resistance with certain stakeholders, as their position may be weakened or even disappear if information freely flows. It is our expectation though that it will be just a matter of time. 2. CONNECTED TO ALL ASSETS Terminals are a collection of highvalue assets, yet the real-time available information about the assets (location, status, technical state, et cetera) is not readily available to enable intelligent control. Control for asset deployment, but also for maintenance purposes. In most cases, there is already information locally available, but not centrally, and certainly not across the entire fleet, in one fleet management system, or in the TOS. It is scattered, has no standard structure, and is often incorrect.The technology to enable this is there, and a large portion of equipment is already available, including sensors of various kinds, location devices, and machinebound PLC’s. However, this all comes with a limited degree of standardisation. Further, basic mechanisms such as remote updating, version management, and health checking is rarely present.Besides this, the maintenance of all the on-board technology is typically a problem. Regular calibration of sensors (e.g. weighing sensors) is required to make sure the information coming from the machine is accurate and reliable. Yet, this is not yet standard (maintenance) practice because the actual use of the information is limited, defying the purpose of proper maintenance. 3. CONNECTED TO ALL STAFF As important as connectivity to the physical assets is connectivity to the human assets in the field, as well as real-time access of operators to central information. Both to ensure people are kept out of harm’s way (think of location detection, or proximity sensors), as well as information in real-time to perform actions efficiently (updated loading list, reefer (un)plugging list, etcetera) is rarely installed. Instead people are sent around with information on paper, and record information on paper to be processed later. This in a time when almost everything can be accessed through smartphones. Here, we could even think one step further into augmented reality (eventually through technology like the Google Glass), so that operators get immediate visual information while keeping their hands free. One could for instance think of twistlock information: should the container in the spreader be equipped with cones or not? 4. REAL-TIME, HOLISTIC PLANNING, CONTROL AND OPTIMIZATION A terminal consists of a series of interlinked, highly variable processes, hence dynamic, real-time planning and control is essential to be efficient. There are all kind of planning, scheduling and dispatching tools in the market to assist and provide decision-making support, or even automation. But there is great resistance – especially from operators – to use these tools. On the one hand there is a degree of job protection behind this, but also lack of insight in the benefits. The efficiency gain does not come from some reductions in planning and dispatching staff, but by operating in a better wayoutside. Here the real expense is being spent in machines, fuel and labour. 5. REAL-TIME MEASURING OF KPI’S In order to improve, one needs to know what’s going on. Hence, the performance of the operation should be measured continuously, and to a great level of detail. Only then, can one really determine what explains the peaks and troughs of performance. Simply measuring STS productivity, for instance, does not provide sufficient insight. Also, the circumstances affecting the performance must be gathered so that a complete picture results. Factors such as yard occupancy, gate volume, driving distances, and thenumber of unproductive moves should be monitored.The measurement should preferably take place in an automated way. Therefore, not MS-Excel spreadsheets filled in during or after the operation, but gathering at the source. The key questions are: What are the assets doing, how fast are they moving, how far are they driving? Finally, all information related to operational disturbances needs to be gathered, as this is the third explaining factor for performance. 6. CONTINUOUS ANALYSIS OF PERFORMANCE (KPI’S) When all this measurement is in order, there is a solid basis for analysis, and, most vitally, acting upon said analysis. Just gathering data serves no purpose. The data needs to be turned into insight, and insight into knowledge, so that the actual control improves. Equipment deployment, yard strategy and vessel planning are key ‘customers’ of proper operational analysis.This means that the lessons learned need to be fed back to the staff planning and controlling the operation. This will have substantial effect on the variable cost. The cycle of measuring, analysis, and action should always be continuous so that the learning cycle also reacts to changes. Changes in volume, dwell times, truck patterns, or just the arrival of a new vessel service are likely to require adjusting operational strategies.In this process, it is also key to make record of implemented changes. Most changes in strategy will only have effect over a longer period of time (typically more weeks than days). At the same time, there will be cyclic, independent influencing factors such as the seasonal patterns. These effects must be taken into account when analysing the result of change. 7. TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION OF STAFF In prior articles in The Journal of Ports and Terminals, we have written about the importance of training. We have seen very significant effects in improved planning capabilities after training. Having a serious training programme, first for on-boarding,and later to further enhance operating skills is a key factor in operational performance.Where most operators are having or setting up training programmes, certification of the control room staff is still rare. Which is surprising given the large impact this staff has on operational success. Our findings across more than 25 terminals (>250 planners) show the difference between worst and best planners by up to 50% (measured in resulting berth productivity). Testing planners against a calibrated scenario – for instance, in a near-to-live virtual terminal (see REF) – is one possible way to get people in the right position. 8. CAPABILITY TO LEARN FROM THE PAST One of the hype words often mentioned is artificial intelligence. Fundamentally, the ideas behind it are really new, but the combination of large amounts of data being available, and cheap (cloud-based) computing power, brings the ability to quickly recognize patters, rendering it much more useful. Still, computers have a tough time recognising context in data, but with help of experienced operational analysists, this gap can be bridged. The potential is large, as the container supply chain is highly repetitive, hence predictable. Where today, the terminal has almost zero information to use to allocate the right spot in the yard, learning about dwell time patterns, pick-up patterns, and roll-over patterns, may reduce the amount of unproductive moves by factors. Many terminals move a container more than four times, where an ‘ideal’ operation would do it with just two moves. One can imagine how many cost savings would be achieved. 9. TERMINAL DEVELOPMENT BASED ON ‘MASTER PLAN’ When we look at how terminals have come about, we recognize many look like patchwork. Every expansion is planned when required, without looking at the bigger picture. Buildings in the most inconvenient places, height differences, light poles, roads with illogical routing and so forth, are quite common situations. Of course, not everything can be taken into account, but we can go significantly further in looking ahead and making a robust masterplan, that withstands a change of circumstances to a large extent. Cargo flows, ship sizes, hinterland transportation patters, and dwell times are all subject to change, yet these can be addressed during the master planning. This means expansions become consecutive steps of the execution of a grand plan, rather than the isolated exercises typically leading to unwanted situations. Modelling can greatly help in these assessments, and also act as a source of reference for future decision-making. Even the consequences of changing parameters can be easily analysed and quantified (seeREF). 10. A SOLID CYBERSECURITY LAYER IN PLACE Last but not least, a terminal today needs to have its cybersecurity in order. There isa large degree of data exchange with many third parties. Such a scenario means the risk of receiving malware, viruses or alike, or spreading it to others, is quite large. Besides, the fact that containers contain high-value goods makes them a highly desirable target for cybercriminals. Finding the right container, filled with expensive electronics or cigarettes, by hacking in the system, and setting up an illegal delivery, is not a hypothetical scenario. This means that cyber security must be part of the daily IT process. Making sure that all protection layers are up-to-date, and making sure that staff is aware of the risks. As people are always the weakest link, continuous back-ups are essential, so that recovery in case of an attack is quickly feasible. CONCLUSIONA quick inventory we undertook at a range of terminals in two months in late 2018 revealed that from the ten prerequisites above, most terminals have not fulfilled most of the ten, and if they have they are to a limited extent. These are results in a time where the technology to help is available. None of the points mentioned will require large investments, nor be too complex to implement. However, it requires ability and willingness to change. In many cases, this only arises when there is a serious problem (for instance after a cyberattack causing substantial damage, people are willing to implement strict security procedures), or pressure from the outside (e.g. from local authorities) to implement these productivity, and efficiency enhancing measures.So, in closing, we still have a long way to go. Find the technical paper "10 Pre-requisites for smart terminals " - published in PTI magazine edition 81 - here

Publication
TBA Autostore TOS successfully powers Konecranes BOXHUNTER RTGs in the Caribbean
January 2019

TBA Autostore Terminal Operating System (TOS) software has been successfully running at the Port Authority of the Cayman Islands (PACI) for over 6 months. Autostore TOS is powering the BOXHUNTER RTGs from Konecranes, the first to be delivered to the Caribbean region. These cranes were chosen for their performance, ease of operation, and ease of delivery – the latter a key consideration for the inland container handling terminal, which is located a few kilometres from the sea port at George Town. The close collaboration between PACI, TBA and Konecranes resulted in a timely go-live where Autostore TOS was fully aligned with the erection of the BOXHUNTER RTGs. The deal between all three parties is strategically important, explains Alfredo Ramirez, Konecranes Sales Manager, Americas: “This deal follows upon our first BOXHUNTER RTG deal in South America. It shows there’s a real need for this kind of innovative container crane in the Americas and the need for specialist supporting technology to assist with the smooth implementation and operation of the equipment.”TBA Autostore TOS is working at over 35 locations worldwide. It is scalable, easy-to-use software that allows users to control the movement and storage of containerized cargo in and around a terminal or port. The user can optimise assets, labour and equipment performance, plan workloads and receive real-time information to improve decision-making.

Press release
Dutch ports and terminals using TBA’s expertise to predict the impact of Brexit on logistics
January 2019

Dutch ports and terminals are using TBA’s expertise to predict the impact of required additional truck queuing space due to longer gate processes at customs as a possible result of Brexit.  As we speed towards the deadline of the UK leaving the EU, Brexit will have consequences on the cargo transport per truck to and from the UK. The logistics at ferry terminals, with its time-critical processes, can be disrupted seriously and may result in serious congestions and delays. The impact of these logistics disruptions depends on audits carried out by various inspecting institutions like the customs and the “NVWA” – Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority.   TBA uses advanced in-house developed models to determine the extra time needed for trucks to do their checks once the Brexit takes effect. These models can also determine the required additional space to accommodate the trucks being processed. TBA has defined various possible scenarios to account for uncertainties in the duration of truck checks at terminals. Port operators are better prepared using the outcomes of TBA’s analyses as bottlenecks are forecasted. With this information, mitigation plans can be formulated and the necessary preparations can be set in place for the impending Brexit.

Press release
TBA proudly announces its next User Group Conference 9-10 May 2019 at Mercedes Benz World in London!
December 2018

Be involved in tuning our roadmaps and learn from best practices! Our next User Group Conference is taking place 9-10th of May 2019 at Mercedes-Benz World in London. The conference programme and topics revolves around the theme "Driving Performance". The TBA User Group Conference is a bi-annual 2-day on invitation only event offering our users and clients to be involved in tuning the roadmaps and to share best practices. Connect and learn from peers within the logistics industry. Choose from 4 streams of interactive presentations and workshops. Get inspired by renowned keynote speakers and participate in exhilirating activities.

Press release
20 years of high-definition simulation in the port industry
November 2018

More than 20 years of operations, 1,000 projects across 250-plus terminals, over 500 man-years spent on simulation. Sound crazy? This the story so far for TBA, which is improving the quality of decision-making in ports and terminals. Multi-million projects require a firm foundation of decisionmaking, which solid models can provide. At the time we started our simulation practice, a large majority of terminals were designed using spreadsheets. It goes without saying that those analyses do not consider the process variations that take place in any container terminal operation. Read the entire article which has been published in Port Technology International magazine here.

Publication
TBA wins prestigious industry Award for IT Solutions
November 2018

On 19th November 2018, TBA won their 5th IBJ award in the IT Solutions category with its CommTrac Multi-Site Enterprise suite. This award is presented to a supplier of IT solutions that demonstrates its ability to deliver increased efficiency and improve management decision-making in a dry bulk cargo operation. CommTrac Multi Terminal is a browser-based solution which can be used by anyone with access to a web browser and security access permissions. Therefore, centralisation is easy to achieve. Many logistics organisations operate worldwide multiple bulk terminals and typically each terminal has its’ own management system, working independently from other business units in the organisation. The CommTrac suite allows these global organisations to completely change their model by centralising planning and finance functions, while at the same time allowing the terminal to operate in a dynamic, real-time environment. Centralisation then gives the senior management teams a real-time reporting overview at either a local level or from a global perspective allowing them to make key strategic decisions in a timely manner. CommTrac Multi-Site Enterprise Suite is currently being used effectively by a number of early adopters including: Large bulk and grain operators in the UK and, US operator with 7 multipurpose terminals along the USA coastline. Benefits of using CommTrac Multi-Site Enterprise Suite The business case is overwhelming for this approach: Significant savings in annual IT budget (around 75%) Global implementation of best practice Standard Operating Procedures Centralisation of planning and finance functions – Significant headcount savings Shared metrics and KPIs driving the whole business forward through comparison Customers have a real time overview of their global cargo movements and position. This award gives TBA Doncaster its 6th success in the event since the conception of the IBJ Awards 10 years ago and reaffirms TBA’s technological leadership in the bulk logistics sector. TBA’s previous IBJ awards are as follows: 2010 IT Solutions Award | CommTrac V3 2012 IT Solutions Award | CommTrac Traceability for Agri-bulks 2014 IT Solutions Award | Joint submission with Peel Ports 2015 Innovate Technology Award | Joint submission with Associated British Ports 2016 IT Solutions Award | CommTrac Plug and Play containerised solution 2018 IT Solutions Award | CommTrac Multi-Site Enterprise Suite The IT Solutions Award being handed to Glynn Thomas (Sales Consultant) and David Trueman (Managing Director)

Press release
TBA TOS Billing Engine Now Available as a Stand-Alone Solution
November 2018

TBA TOS Billing Engine - developed by utilising best practices from clients from all sectors of terminal operations - is operational and well established on every continent on the globe. The solution works by mapping multi-tier tariffs against the operational and storage activities performed by the terminal. In addition, TBA TOS Billing Engine uses service requests and work orders to track incidental services and ensure that there is no revenue leakage. Driven by customer needs, TBA filled the gap in the market place where customisation was typically used to deal with the complexities around terminal operations with a stand-alone billing tool. Although TOS systems can record billable activities and push this data to finance systems for invoicing, the automation of the billing process in the finance/ERP package requires significant customisation to deal with the  terminal specific operations and therefore is very costly and time consuming. The alternative of creating manual line items for charges -those which could not be handled by the standard finance configuration - requires manual processing and is error prone. The software can be used as the Tariff Master or derive the tariffs from either ERP or CRM. The Billing Engine has two options for the ERP interface, either the invoice is generated in the software and the data is pushed up against customer/cost codes or the invoice can be generated in the ERP. Integration is proven to SAP, IFS, Navision, Oracle and others using TBA’s standard API tools. TBA TOS Billing Engine can handle: Global or customer specific agreements Rolling annual increases Variance by product type Cargo handling activities Service and conditioning activities Storage rental charges (long term, short term, guaranteed) Minimum volume contracts Labour and equipment Berthing and marine services Cash collections The software has a comprehensive reporting package with many standard reports and an ad hoc report builder, which allows the user to create their own reports. User Interface of TOS Billing EngineThe software is well-proven when connected to TBA’s CommTrac and Autostore products, however TBA are so sure that the system outperforms other solutions that they have now made it available as a stand-alone application. The return on investment calculation is a strong incentive for terminals to explore the capabilities of the software; customers report up to 10% reduction in revenue leakage and reduction in manual administration can significantly reduce headcount. Nowadays 25 terminals are using the TBA TOS Billing Engine to users’ satisfaction. TOS Billing Engine worldwide implementations TBA has an established and encompassing portfolio of software and service solutions to operate and optimise container, bulk and general cargo terminal operations. During the development of the completely new CommTrac Bulk and General Cargo TOS in 2015, it was decided to apply real focus on the capability of the software to convert operational activities into revenue. Contact us at TDO-sales@tba.group for more information about the TOS Billing Engine. Find out more about our sophisticated software offering, including: Autostore terminal operating system (TOS) CommTrac bulk and general cargo TOS TEAMS equipment control system (ECS) and Autostore warehouse management system (WMS)

Press release
Autostore Software Controls Automated Warehouse at Largest Bagged Plaster Operation in UK
October 2018

TBA Leicester, developer of the Autostore brand of warehouse management system (WMS), warehouse controls system (WCS) and automation solutions, has been providing integral software solutions to British Gypsum’s Barrow-upon-Soar plaster production plant since 2008. British Gypsum is the UK’s leading manufacturer of interior lining systems and part of the Saint-Gobain group. The company has over 100 years’ experience in plaster, plasterboard and ceiling solutions with five main manufacturing locations in England. The Barrow-upon-Soar facility remains one of the largest and most technologically advanced plant of its kind in the world. The site underwent a major expansion that was completed in 2002 to meet growing demand for its speciality product, Thistle plasters. TBA was initially commissioned to facilitate the automation experience, particularly the PLC code and hardware, to operate the impressive fully automated Highbay Cranes. These cranes have over 8,000 pallet locations and turn over product in 48 hours to support a fast-moving supply chain. Autostore’s modular flexibility eventually convinced British Gypsum to upgrade to the WCS module. Subsequent technology upgrades, including Wi-Fi, laser positioning technology and onboard cameras, made it possible for TBA to introduce the innovative ‘Remote Control Station’ to the British Gypsum operation. Based on a standard solution from TBA and enhanced in collaboration with British Gypsum engineers, it combines camera technology with remote manual operation of the cranes. This has dramatically reduced the number of interventions on the cranes which require working at height. The productivity gains together with health and safety benefits are truly impressive. According to Bruce Fisher, project manager at British Gypsum, the choice for Autostore from TBA was evident: ‘One of the main reasons we chose TBA and Autostore was the degree of collaboration, flexibility and support that they offer. There have been several cases where this has been put to the test and each time TBA have delivered. We are very much looking forward to the next phase of development with them.’ TBA places high value in customer relationship and Andrew McKaig, managing director at TBA Leicester, states: ‘TBA is very pleased to have British Gypsum as a long-standing customer and Autostore User. We are working hard to ensure that we deliver the highest quality of product and customer service to British Gypsum and look forward to continuing the partnership for many years to come’.

Press release
Know what you should be demanding from your automated warehouse
July 2018

TBA Leicester will host a CILT Round Table event at her brand-new and inspiring venue “Lancer House” on 20th of September 2018. CILT (the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport) Round Table events provide a unique opportunity to hear the topic-specific views of industry’s thought-leaders regarding contemporary supply-chain and logistics issues. The aim of TBA Leicester Round Table event is to discuss and demonstrate what the benefits are of automation within warehouses or warehousing operations. After following this interactive and inspiring event, participants will have gained insight on: Taking advantage of current day demands for diagnostics and reporting by refurbishing ageing systems The current opportunities for automated MHE (material handling equipment) and ASRS (automated storage and retrieval systems) within warehouse operations What the demands should be of warehouse automation The benefits of warehouse automation Secure your place in our Round Table discussion by subscribing yourself to our Round Table event at the web page of CILT Round Table Events.Non-members of CILT can book this event by registering at https://ciltuk.org.uk/Registration and selecting the non-member option.Round Tables provide a platform for industry thought-leaders and innovators to present their opinion and views concerning contemporary supply-chain and logistics issues and associated solutions for the benefit of CILT members and others. Round Table events provide the delegate audience with an opportunity to interrogate the events speakers further. Opportunities to share views, experiences, discuss best-practise, network and possibly collaborate with other interested parties are common.  

Press release
Increase your RTG productivity by 10% within a ROI in less than 6 months
June 2018

Dr. Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands Most container terminals world-wide are equipped with RTGs and terminal trucks. Imagine you are responsible for one of these terminals these days. Volumes are growing as a result of global trade growth, productivity demands are also going through the roof due to increased vessel and call sizes, and at the same time, there is the pressure to electrify to reduce the carbon footprint of the typically diesel-powered equipment fleet. Sounds familiar? What if there is a way to significantly reduce the investment ahead? A way that has proven itself in one ultra-large container terminal, with a mixed (diesel, hybrid and fully electric) fleet of 100+ RTG’s? Let’s take an example Let’s assume you are currently handling some 1.5M TEUs annually, mostly gateway volume. Your terminal is equipped with 10 STS and approximately 30 RTGs. Now you are planning the CAPEX to support the expected growth in volume to 2.0M TEU.You have factored that an additional 10 machines are required, which will heb require a heavy CAPEX of some 15 Million USD. What if there is an alternative, which would enable you just to purchase 6 RTGs, instead of 10? At the same time, reducing OPEX by 700K –1.2M USD / year? ROI of less than 6 months This alternative is there. Readily available for any terminal running the NAVIS N4 TOS. It is called Yard Crane Scheduler, and provides fully automated RTG scheduling and dispatching. It has proven to increase RTG productivity by a mere 10%, still with more potential. The ROI of YCS is less than 6 months for any terminal over 1M TEU. Saving OPEX,reducing the carbon footprint, and creating a more predictable, consistent operation. Improved waterside productivity, better truck turn times towards the gate. No change to TOS needed YCS can be implemented without any changes to the TOS, provides a high degree of automation and enables the terminal management to move towards pro-active rather than re-active operational control.

Publication
Team tackles 10k wild run to raise money for Cancer Research UK
May 2018

In just over 2 weeks a pack of adventurous TBA Leicester ‘wolves’ will be taking on the famous Summer Wolf – the most popular event in the Wolf Run calendar. The team has spent the last few months preparing for the 10k wild running event, which combines mud, trail and obstacle runs in the ultimate test of mental and physical strength, skill and stamina. They’ll tackle open ground, woodland, lakes and thick mud on the land surrounding Stanford Hall in Leicestershire on Saturday 2 June. While the event itself will be a day of teamwork and hilarity, the team are also participating in support of a greater cause. In the final months of 2017, a colleague at TBA Leicester was diagnosed with cancer and has been off work battling the disease ever since. It is in her honour that the team are raising money for Cancer Research UK. Cancer Research UK is a nationally recognised registered charity with the ambition ‘to accelerate progress and see three-quarters of people surviving the disease within the next 20 years’. Summing up the ethos of the TBA Leicester Wolf Pack, veteran Wolf Runner and service delivery lead Sam Tomlinson said: ‘We are rooting for you to beat the Big C, Kerry! Keep fighting, be brave and kick cancer’s butt!’   If you would like to find out more or donate to the cause please click here to access the team's Just Giving page.

Press release
TBA Debuts CommTrac TOS at prestigious European Breakbulk Event
April 2018

CommTrac, the market-leading bulk and general cargo terminal operating system for multi-purpose terminals, will be the focal product for the TBA Group team at the forthcoming Breakbulk Europe exhibition held at Messe Bremen (Germany) from 29 – 31 May.     With over 30 installations worldwide, CommTrac is a proven solution for managing your breakbulk and general cargo operations, providing the tools and control to maximise your operational efficiency, profitability and growth potential. CommTrac is the software choice for terminal operators and ports looking to reduce OPEX, increase revenue, eliminate claims and improve customer service. For more information about CommTrac in advance of the event or to book a meeting with the team please email Glynn Thomas. We look forward to meeting you on Stand 340 at Breakbulk Europe!  

Press release
TBA Group presents sophisticated software solutions at TOC Europe 2018
April 2018

TBA, market leader in terminal design and simulation benefitting ports and terminals globally for over twenty years, are shining a light on the group’s software portfolio at this year’s TOC Europe event (12 – 14 June) in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Products and services The team will be exhibiting at Booth D50 where visitors are encouraged to stop by and find out a bit more about our sophisticated software offering, including: Autostore terminal operating system (TOS) CommTrac bulk and general cargo TOS TEAMS equipment control system (ECS) and Autostore warehouse management system (WMS). Coupled with the renowned design and planning, consultancy and implementation offering, our software portfolio provides the team at TBA Group with the unique ability to utilise data analysis across many operational touchpoints to provide a comprehensive and tailor-made service to our customers. Enter our Competition at Booth D50 Stop by Booth D50 to participate in our special TOC competition – more details to be announced in mid-May. Keep track of the news by following us on twitter (@TheTBAGroup) and LinkedIn. Presenting leading speakers in the bulk and container industry In addition to exhibiting at the Rotterdam-based event, we have several team members that will be presenting at both the TECH TOC conference and the BULK conference. Dr Yvo Saanen, Commercial Director and founder of TBA, will be speaking in the TECH TOC Seminar on the subject of Operating Smarter on 12th June from 12.30 – 14.15. Ian Crowder, Head of IT at the Doncaster office, will be speaking in the Bulk Seminar on the subject of Centralised Multi-terminal TOS Systems: the path to Heightened Business Intelligence on 13th June from 14.00 – 14.30. Dr Mi-Rong Wu, Project Manager with expertise in design and performance assessment in the bulk sector, will be speaking in the Bulk Seminar on the subject of A Systematic Approach to Creating a Data-driven Master Plan for Import Bulk Terminals on 13th June from 16.00 – 16.30. Whatever your motivation for attending TOC Europe, we look forward to meeting you!

Press release
TBA Yard Crane Scheduler automates one of world's largest RTG terminals: RTG productivity increased by 10%
April 2018

One of the largest RTG terminals in the world has recently completed the integration of TBA’s Yard Crane Scheduler (YCS). By automating the task of setting ranges for their 130+ RTGs, the terminal has enabled their dispatchers to work proactively to prevent bottlenecks. The productivity of their RTGs has increased by 10% as a result. For Chinese translation please click here Yard Crane Scheduler developed by TBATBA’s Yard Crane Scheduler represents the start of a new era in container terminal automation and optimisation. It connects to the Terminal Operating System (TOS) to continuously obtain information about the yard operation and analyses that data in real time to provide the user with a picture of the optimal distribution of the RTG workload. The RTG ranges are updated in the TOS automatically, resulting in better workload balancing and increased productivity. The Yard Crane Scheduler is beneficial for terminals with more than 1 million TEU throughput, in particular. Automatic RTG rangesThe core of the Yard Crane Scheduler tool lies in the ability to automatically update the ranges of RTGs by continuously monitoring the operation. By looking further ahead than a human operator could, better decisions are made on the long run. The optimisation of the ranges is a continuous process and any changes in crane deployment or planning are processed directly. By taking the expected workload into account, the RTGs will be in the right place at the right time. Proactive dispatchersThe main function of the Yard Crane Scheduler is to control an otherwise time-consuming manual task so that dispatchers will have the opportunity to work more proactively. Instead of firefighting yard clashes and working reactively, dispatchers will be able to avoid them in time. The Yard Crane Scheduler helps dispatchers identify potential problems and improvements and provides warnings, such as:  - Yard crane clashes (planned work in adjacent bays around the same time)  - Unnecessary shuffle moves (handling sequence can be improved)  - Housekeeping activation (detect when both fetching and putting RTGs are idle)Users will have ample time to respond to warnings and solve potential problems before operations are affected, due to the large amount of data which will have already been processed by the Yard Crane Scheduler. Proven go-live: Yard crane scheduler in operationThe Yard Crane Scheduler software was developed and tested with TBA’s state-of-the-art terminal emulation* software, CONTROLS. In July 2017, the Yard Crane Scheduler was deployed full-time – for the first time – across the entire terminal with the goal of automating the RTG ranges in live operation. The RTG performance and user experience improved significantly without negatively affecting the quay cranes. Both the RTG and QC productivity were measured and compared to the average productivities of 2016. The QC productivity remained stable (in fact, a slight increase in productivity was reported), and the RTG productivity increased by 10% during the first few months of active deployment compared with the figures from 2016. The TBA Yard Crane Scheduler is still having a positive impact on the terminal’s daily operations as evidenced by their productivity reports. Another 10% increase is expected for 2018 when lane change automation is considered. This topic was presented at the PTI's Container Terminal Automation Conference in March 2018, London. Please follow this link for the presentation. Want to know more? Request a brochure here * As a market leader and innovator, TBA defines the difference between Simulation and Emulation as below:Simulation = a simulated TOS connected to simulated terminal --> purpose: used for long term planning and processesEmulation = a real TOS connected to a simulated terminal --> purpose: used for TOS tuning, testing and training

Press release
Team takes on 10k warrior challenge for local neonatal unit
April 2018

This April, an intrepid bunch of TBA Doncaster colleagues are banding together to tackle the Yorkshire Warrior 10k obstacle course. The team will be braving the tough Yorkshire countryside, making their way through hills, bogs, river crossings, barbed wire, electric fencing and more – all in an effort to raise money for the local Neonatal Unit in Doncaster. The Neonatal Unit at Doncaster Royal Infirmary provides intensive care, high-dependency care and special care for babies born at 26-weeks’ gestation and above. The unit has a cot capacity of 18, three of which are designated for intensive care. In addition, the unit has two nurseries with nine cot spaces in each as well as six parent rooms, two of which are double rooms. John Stokoe, director at TBA Doncaster, said: "At TBA we are committed to giving back to our local community and it all starts with a little teamwork."   If you would like to find out more or donate to the cause please click here to access the Just Giving page.  

Press release
Turning data into knowledge: Bridging the gap in the terminal industry
March 2018

Dr Yvo Saanen & Sander van Dijk, TBA Group, Delft, Netherlands Using data to drive operational improvements is a common industry practise, and the port logistics industry is no exception. However, collecting, analyzing and interpreting data to improve operations is not always as straightforward as it might seem. The fact is that the process poses a continuous challenge. The usage of data to improve your operation requires analytical skills and, in many cases, expert knowledge to fully comprehend the meaning of or draw conclusions about the data.UNDERSTANDING DATAWhile the collection of good data is still an advanced exercise, software is a great source for data, and automatic logging allows significant data creation. Since many terminals use advanced software in their operations, this is a great opportunity for data analysis. For container terminals this means they are able to record the activity and location of all equipment over time. It is, for example, possible to count the number of containers handled by terminal equipment or the duration of a cycle. After collecting the data, the main challenge is how to analyze the data and transform it into ‘knowledge’ or insights about the operation.SOFTWARE AS SOURCE FOR DATA COLLECTIONTo analyze the data available in the terminal, we need to determine which data is relevant and need to understand what the underlying processes are. At first glance, some data may seem easy to understand. Counting the number of containers handled by a quay crane (QC) in a certain period is easy to measure – we see how many containers per hour the crane has handled, for example. However, the question remains how this information must be interpreted. It does not directly provide any relevant insights about the operation, as we do not know what the scope is. In addition to counting the number of containers, the number of twin moves – or whether the QC was loading or discharging – has a big influence on the performance of a QC. Therefore, many terminals struggle with making profitable changes to their operation based on their collected data.To make a step forward in turning data into knowledge, both data analysis and data interpretation are needed, as both are necessary to create relevant insights. We need comprehensive information to understand the operation at the terminal, and while using data to improve operations has great potential, it is worthless if the data cannot be turned into knowledge. The generated data must therefore be analyzed to transform it into quantitative measurements. Combining different data sets will highlight import parts of the operation. However, this is only a first step, next we need to interpret the data, and for that we need to understand the data itself, as well as the complementary aspects of the operation.TRANSFORMING DATA INTO KPIsA proven tool for process improvement is the use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These KPIs are an extension of data; a summary, or the highlights of the underlying data. KPI’s combine different data values into measurable quantities that are easier to understand. An example of such a KPI is the quay crane productivity. It combines the number of containers handled by the crane with respect to its working time. KPI productivity provides us information about containers per hour which is measurable and quantifiable. These characteristics of KPIs are important, because it makes them comparable and thereby understandable. Many different and even less straightforward KPIs can be calculated, such as the average time per move the quay crane is waiting for a terminal truck or straddle carrier. KPIs are well-defined targets that transform data into measurable goals.These KPIs give relevant information about the operation, such as: How many containers per hour are lifted by the quay cranes? How many of the vessel moves are twin moves or which percentage is load or discharge? Which percentage of their working time do terminal trucks spend waiting in the yard? How was work distributed among RMG modules? Information (data which has been processed into comprehensible material) is a logical step towards knowledge. While KPIs do provide information about operations, unfortunately they do not provide knowledge about it. Hence, deeper understanding of the processes is needed. Combining multiple KPIs with an understanding of the operation gives tangible insights about the operation. Knowledge includes information about the current terminal performance, as well as the knowhow to adapt to the operation accordingly.While the actual calculation of KPIs is usually a reasonably simple analytical process (and one that can even be automated) the interpretation of the data, and subsequent generation of relevant operational insights, requires problem-solving skills and expert knowledge about the operation in question. There is not one recipe to solve a problem, each realisation of KPIs needs an understanding of its own. Therefore, completing the step from data to knowledge is not easy to automate. Expert knowledge (the knowhow and experience of an expert) is an essential attribute to this.The above visual representation is an example of how KPIs can be transformed into knowledge for this specific operation. This graph shows the completion times of moves for one Quay Crane. The green arrow represents the steadily completing load moves of the QC. Until the point that it must wait for the load of AS005. The yellow part of the bar indicates that the ASC is late on this job execution. At the bottom part of the graph, it becomes visible that AS005 was doing a ‘Yard Shift’ in advance of the load move. It can be concluded that digging out the pile to collect the correct containers was the direct cause of delay at the QC. This real-life example shows how combining job completion times of the QC, ASC and AGV give insight in the cause of a QC delay.DATA AND KNOWLEDGE: BRIDGING THE GAPTo really understand what is going on we need to take a look at several KPIs simultaneously. If we want to understand how well the QCs have performed on a vessel, we need to know (a.o.): The QC productivity as well as the load percentage The twin percentage The average bay size The yard occupancy The average pile height/the number of reefers To compare the QC productivity of one vessel to another, we need many KPIs and we need to understand how they influence each other. The key aspect for this is benchmarks. They can be used to qualify the different KPIs to determine which facets of the operation are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Benchmarks can be created by using historical data of the terminal or by using the data from other terminals that have similar operational processes. KPIs are useful when these are compared to benchmarks due to their measurable property. A well-defined KPI can be determined for different terminals even if their underlying data is different.To bridge the gap from data to knowledge, we need to use KPIs as an extension to the data. Well defined calculations are needed to transform data to measurable quantities. By combining different KPIs, valuable insight and/or knowledge about operations can be acquired. To make this final step from KPIs to knowledge, benchmark values and analytic skills of an expert are of utmost importance. By using this approach, data analysis can help to continuously improve operations in the terminal industry.This article has been published in the Spring edition magazine of Port Technology International. Read the article as pdf file here.

Publication
Autostore WMS Sponsors Key Supply Chain Solutions Event
February 2018

Autostore Warehouse Management System (WMS), the state-of-the-art WMS from TBA Leicester – the developers of modular automation and warehouse control systems (WCS) solutions – is confirmed as a key sponsor of dedicated logistics and supply chain solutions event IntraLogisteX. As the Registration Sponsor, Autostore WMS will be the brand that welcomes all visitors to the prestigious industry event. The event takes place at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry and attracts logistics professionals who are looking for solutions to their current and future challenges, from the latest materials handling technologies to full-scale warehouse automation options. In addition to sponsoring the event, the team will also be exhibiting on Stand 157 on both Tuesday 27th & Wednesday 28th February 2018. Our WMS software operates manual, semi-automated and fully automated ASRS supply chain and warehousing applications. With customers across Europe, Scandinavia, the Baltic, the Middle East and Australia, our UK users include household names such as British Gypsum, Great Bear Distribution, Jaguar Land Rover, Mondelez International, Nestlé and the Stobart Group. Autostore is a real-time, modular WMS software solution for single warehouses through to DC networks that delivers maximum value and performance for your supply chain operations. Interested in exploring Autostore WMS further?  Visit us at Stand 157 at IntraLogisteX or get in touch with us by emailing TLE-sales@tba.group or calling +44 (0)116 282 1800.  

Press release
TBA Addresses Automation Challenges with AI & Terminal Performance Expertise at Global Port Technology Industry Event
February 2018

Over the last few years, the shipping industry has seen growing investment in automation. Companies have made this investment in order to remain competitive and in an effort to drive the industry forward, but investment in training and in global standardisation has lagged behind significantly. Global standards are an important part of the process of enabling systems from various suppliers to work together; it is this standardisation that will allow the industry to take full advantage of emergent technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a trendy topic, but does the industry have the right framework in place to support the utilisation of this powerful tool to its full potential? It is questions like the above that will be addressed by Dr Yvo Saanen, Commercial Director of the TBA Group, at the Container Terminal Automation Conference (14 – 15 March) in London. At the conference, Yvo will share his thoughts on how terminals can fully benefit from AI and how variable costs can be drastically reduced by using existing assets in a more productive way. As a pioneer in the process of using simulation in a proofed environment, TBA has an impressive global portfolio of experience assisting different types of terminals and addressing customer needs with proven solutions. The Container Terminal Automation Conference 2018: Automation and AI takes place from 14 to 15 March in London. The event brings together the top futurists, analysts and engineers in AI Automation to uncover the secrets of AI Automation, explore the latest cutting-edge operations along the supply chain, address the human cost and how that can be leveraged, envision what lays in store for humanity and physical trade, and ensure optimum cybersecurity practices are discovered. To find out more about the importance of this prestigious industry event, visit www.porttechnology.org/conference

Press release
TBA Leicester invests in new Headquarters
January 2018

TBA, developer of the Autostore software brand of solutions for warehouses, ports and terminals worldwide, has signed a lease to occupy a 22,000 sq ft office building in Leicester. The move to larger premises represents a substantial investment in the future of software development for TBA and confirms the company’s commitment to Leicester. TBA is moving from its existing base in Blaby to Lancer House, on the Braunstone Industrial Estate just two and a half miles from the city centre. With direct ties to several Leicestershire based universities, TBA Leicester anticipates this move will facilitate increased focus on and capacity for its programmes for graduate trainees as well as attracting experienced IT professionals. TBA will carry out a complete refit of the interior of Lancer House, which will be the central location for the team responsible for supporting all deployments of Autostore software worldwide. Once the refit is complete, TBA Leicester employees will enjoy purpose-built facilities aimed at encouraging creativity and innovation. This will include a software demonstration room, a variety of break-out spaces and amenities. TBA is leasing Lancer House from Leicester-based property investment and development company Rotherhill Developments. Rotherhill managing director Paul Bagshaw said: “We have spent £1.5 million refurbishing the building for TBA so that it meets their exacting standards. “It is great that we have been able to deliver a property suitable for a hi-tech software developer, which enables them to remain in Leicester where there is a shortage of suitable top-quality space.” TBA was advised by local chartered surveyors and commercial property specialists Mather Jamie. Alex Reid, director of Mather Jamie, said: “We worked closely with TBA to identify their property needs in relation to their rapidly growing team. “The impressive refurbishment undertaken at Lancer House shows how updating a vacant property to grade A specification creates opportunities for companies looking to move to secure, high-quality premises.” TBA Leicester managing director, Andrew McKaig, said: “This move represents a great vote of confidence in the team and will provide employment opportunities for many people in the region. I’d like to thank all parties involved in helping us create and deliver a fantastic working environment for leading-edge software development.”

Press release
Using intelligent TOS plugins to increase terminal performance
January 2018

As volumes have found their way up again,and additional terminal capacity is not easily realised, terminals return to seeking improvements in their internal processes. Based on our experience, which covers over 50 terminals where we assisted in performance improvement programs, it is possible to make substantial performance gains for internal processes. This is also recognised by the terminals themselves. A recent survey by Navis indicates that 76% of the respondents put process improvement as a ‘number one priority’ for terminal operations.Read the full article here

Publication
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
December 2017

From all of us at TBA we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and we look forward to working with you in 2018!  

2017
Using simulation and emulation throughout the life cycle of a container terminal
December 2017

On 4th of December in Las Vegas, TBA Group participated in the Winter Simulation Conference 2017 (WSC 2017) and gave a presentation on “Using Simulation and Emulation Throughout the Life Cycle of a Container Terminal”. Csaba A. Boer & Yvo A. Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands The life cycle of a container terminal includes four important life stages: design, implementation, operation and optimization. In order to accomplish any one of these stages it is crucial to use the appropriate approaches and tools. Two essential ingredients that help to accomplish the life stages of a container terminal are simulation and emulation. In this paper the reader is guided through the maturity process of the container terminal, presenting the simulation and emulation approaches and tools applied to support each life stage. 1 INTRODUCTION The life cycle of a container terminal includes four important life stages: design, implementation, operation and optimization. Simulation and emulation are two approaches applied to support the success of these life stages (Figure 1). Twenty years ago, TBA BV got the first chance to apply simulation in container logistics. This led to a birth of a product, a simulation model, that aimed to support the early design phase of a container terminal. Key decisions and forecast productivity values, such as possible infrastructure layouts, number and types of handling systems, and the impact of scheduling algorithms were provided to the terminal operator early in the process of a container terminal design. These results were obtained by using a configurable, building-block-based simulation model, representing a container terminal with a valid representation of all handling systems available in the market. During the past twenty years this simulation product has been used in over 500 projects for more than 250 terminals worldwide.  Figure 1: Simulation and emulation support in the life cycle of a container terminal. After making the design decisions based on the forecast values obtained from simulation, a terminal development project enters the implementation phase. This phase consists of activities such as the construction work, purchase of the handling equipment and selection and implementation of a Terminal Operating System (TOS), and related software. A TOS is a software application that supports the planning, scheduling and equipment control activities of a container terminal and it is responsible for accurate operations within the terminal. As such, it is the heart of terminal operations, making its reliability and ability to enable high performing operations of essence. Implementing a TOS has been always a challenge for container terminals. This challenge created a new opportunity for us when container terminals requested us to assist in the testing of the TOS before actually implementing it in the live terminal. At that time – we are talking 2003 here - we decided to use a new and interesting approach, that was to use the same simulation model that has been used in the design phase with the real TOS instead of the simulated one. This led to a system that combines a simulation of the physical processes at a container terminal and real planning control software (Terminal Operating System). The main purpose of this combined (emulation) system was to test the TOS. This innovative emulation approach was implemented in a product called CONTROLS (which stands for CONtainer TeRminal Optimized Logistics Simulation), and it provides value during the second stage of the lifecycle of a container terminal (Boer and Saanen 2008, Boer and Saanen 2012a). The success of applying an emulation approach in testing the TOS is meanwhile recognized not only by our customers but also by the TOS vendors who could get rid of bugs and performance issues before applying it to live operation, hence reducing the overall cost of implementation. Since the introduction of emulation for testing we applied CONTROLS for more than 30 container terminals. The next phase of a container terminal is around the go-live in operation. Just before this event, the terminal operation staff needs to be trained in using the TOS. Training used to be an on-the-job process in container terminals with its associated flaws (Boer et al. 2014a). Hence, we proposed to use a ‘near to live’ training environment, consisting of the real TOS with the virtual terminal in the emulation environment. The proper use of the new or updated TOS for the terminal operators is crucial. A proficient use of a TOS for planning and equipment control is essential for efficient and productive operation of container terminals. The degree to which the TOS is used effectively is highly dependent on human operators. We introduced a systematic training approach that we have applied in a number of cases to improve the skills of control room operators on various container terminals. The approach is supported by emulation and allows for accurate measurement of the operator’s performance. As such, we have been able to measure the impact of the training, and the impact of changed ways of operating, in the sense of improved ways of planning and controlling the terminal. Since the introduction of emulation for testing we applied it for more than 30 container terminals. When using the TOS in live operation, the operators are confronted with a large number of complex options and features provided by the TOS in order to adjust certain strategic planning and dispatching decision, such as grounding or dispatching logic (Bish et al. 2005, Dekker et al. 2006, Van Ham and Rijsenbrij 2012). There is always the option to change and play with these parameters in live operations, but due to the risk of causing a negative effect, it is and should be done with the greatest caution. Besides, operational circumstances vary greatly, making operations to a large extent incomparable. As the effect of algorithm and parameter changes is often subtle, the ‘operational noise’ can be larger than the impact of a change, making the analysis virtually impossible. Again a new challenge and opportunity to use the emulation approach: creating a tuning environment for the business analyst in order to play with different strategies and parameter settings, and thus optimize the terminal operation. Tuning the TOS parameters and algorithms is an optimization approach that does not take place in live operation, but instead in an isolated environment. After business analysts identified the best TOS settings it is adjusted accordingly to the TOS available in live operation. From that moment the terminal planner can create the shift plans (vessel plans, yard plans). Shift plans are usually prepared a couple of hours (up to a day) before the operation begins. In order to achieve a high productivity and meet contractual berthing windows at the lowest costs, it is crucial to find the optimal amount of equipment to deploy. Not only the amount of equipment, but also where they are deployed, and how to pick and drop containers in the yard is key to an efficient operation. In order to create an appropriate shift plan the terminal planner has to properly investigate all these aspects and make a good decision in a limited time frame. To improve the quality of the shift plan, we introduced a new simulation approach called plan validation that supports the planners’ decision making to provide a high quality shift plan within a limited time frame (Boer and Saanen 2014b). The plan validation is an optimization approach that takes place in live operation.  In the next sections we present each stage of the lifecycle of a container terminal and present the simulation and emulation approaches we developed, and list some examples and lessons learned. 2 LIFE STAGE 1: TERMINAL DESIGN The design process of a container terminal contains two main steps: berth design and handling system design. In the design process of a container terminal the first step is to determine the dimension of the berth (quay side) taking into account the characteristics that influences the decision such as expected volume, service levels, type of cargo, transshipment ratio, modal split, dwell times, seasonal variation, etc. All these characteristics are surrounded with uncertainty and therefore it is important to analyze the consequences of variations by means of sensitivity analysis. In order to obtain the dimension of the berth that will meet the service level objectives and assumed cargo flow characteristics we need to analyze the vessel service time, gross berth productivities, and crane density on vessels under varying terminal configurations (quay length, number of quay cranes, gross quay crane productivity). For this purpose the principal focus of investigation is the terminal quayside a berth simulation is used (Kim and Moon 2003, Zeng and Yang 2009, Sheikholeslami 2013). Next to determining the quay length and the required number of quay cranes the simulation supports us in decisions such as finding the best locations for berthing the vessels and determining the required quay cranes per vessel. When the dimension of the quayside is defined one can dive into the more detailed design, namely handling system design. The objective of a handling system design is to arrive at a layout and a plan of equipment types for various operations. This study should provide the number of prime movers (e.g., trucks, straddle carriers, AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicle)) and yard cranes (e.g., RMG (Rail Mounted Gantry), RTG (Rubber Tired Gantry), the number of rail cranes, the number of gate lanes and so forth. This is done by considering different logistical concepts, which includes the way containers are handled through the terminal, where they are stored (stacking strategies) and by which type of equipment (Agerschou et al. 2004, Stahlbock and Voss 2008). The availability of yard space is one of the main factors that influences the selection of handling systems (Chen 1999). As different handling systems, such as straddle carriers, RTGs, wheeled operations or RMGs, have different stacking densities and requirements for horizontal transportation, the throughput ability given a defined yard area varies from ca. 240 TEU/ha for wheeled operation to ca. 1400 TEU/h for a 1 over 5 RMG system. In order to analyze all the possible choices a container terminal simulation library is created that provides a valid representation for all the equipment types and operations. The container terminal simulation library, called TIMESQUARE has been created in a COTS (common-off-the-shelf) simulation package called eM-Plant. During the last twenty years this simulation product has been used in over 500 projects for more than 250 terminals worldwide. All terminal details (layout, equipment and operation) have been modeled thoroughly in order to get a valid and credible representation of a real container terminal. At the time when TIMESQUARE was built the use of simulation for container terminal was not unique yet not widely spread, the research community and other logistics commercial companies were active to use simulation to improve the performance of the container terminal. The research community has been mainly focusing on researching one specific problem using simulation, such as water side operation (Nam et al. 2002, Zeng and Yang 2009, Sheikholeslami 2013), routing and yard strategies (Kim et al. 2002, Lee and Hsu 2007), comparison of equipment types (Vis and Harika, 2004) or land side operation (Azab and Eltawil, 2016), and not simulating the whole terminal in a comprehensive detail. The main reason is commercial, since creating a library that allows to configure all type of container terminals in detail require significant investment. Nevertheless, the theoretical results created by research community provide an excellent input for the commercial community who have the possibility and budget to apply and test them in the practice. Next to TBA, other commercial parties, like Moffatt and Nichol and ISL, are also active in offering consultancy support for container terminals using a simulation packages such as FlexTerm and Scusy. 3 LIFE STAGE 2: TERMINAL IMPLEMENTATION Two decades ago, the information technology became more and more important in container logistics. Software companies, like NAVIS, TSB, RBS and CyberLogitec, have realized the opportunities and started creating terminal operating systems (TOS), which aim for planning a vessel or yard, dispatch the equipment and supervise the operation on the terminal (Saanen 2010). In a short time, this piece of software that replaced the huge amount of paperwork and supported the terminal operation became a mission-critical product for the terminal. Introducing a new TOS to a terminal has been always a challenging task during the implementation phase, especially because the expectation from the terminal and the quality of the TOS are not always aligned. TBA took the opportunity to use a simulation model to test the TOS before applying it in live operation. The container terminal simulation model, that had been used for terminal design, turned out to be a good candidate to evolve to a next challenge. That was the moment of birth of a complete virtual container terminal (including layout, containers, equipment and operations), that was named CONTROLS and aimed to be coupled to various real TOS systems (Boer and Saanen 2008, Boer and Saanen 2012a). As interfacing between the virtual equipment and the TOS are the same as the real equipment, the TOS system is unaware that it is working with a virtual (simulated) environment instead of the real environment (see Figure 2). The first version of CONTROLS was based on the TIMESQUARE simulation model library. Later, due to the limitations of the eM-Plant simulation package (e.g., interfacing other systems) the whole simulation library was redesigned and implemented in Java.  Figure 2: Real terminal operation vs. CONTROLS emulation. This approach made it possible to test the quality of TOS systems. It is much more comprehensive than other testing methods. While the other traditional testing methods were mainly pre-programmed scripts used in isolated environments and focusing on a specific operation or equipment, the emulation approach went much further and checks the whole operation and the interaction between equipment and the TOS. The downside, however, is that errors are more difficult to find, due to the complexity of the test scenarios. An important added value of this emulation approach is that next to executing a comprehensive tests and finding bugs in TOS, the container terminal obtains key performance indicators, such as equipment productivity or waiting times. This testing approach that supports the implementation phase is highly appreciated by terminal operators and TOS vendors, and CONTROLS has been applied in more than 30 terminals worldwide for TOS testing. Although the potential of using emulation for TOS testing has been always an interesting approach for container terminals, there has been very limited research and publications (Boer and Saanen 2008, Schütt 2011, Boer and Saanen 2012a). Furthermore, there were also limited commercial companies that applied this solution. Next to TBA’s CONTROLS it is worth to mention the ISL Applications who created a similar product called CHESSCON, and more recently Moffat & Nichol uses FlexTerm also for emulation purposes. 4 LIFE STAGE 3: TERMINAL OPERATION After successfully testing the TOS the next phase of a container terminal is to go live in operation. Just before this event, the terminal operation staff needs to be trained in using the TOS. The main objective of the training is to achieve a higher terminal productivity by giving operators hands-on knowledge and experience of using the system. This can be translated into the improvement of decision making and planning skills of the individual operators. We expect that improving the skills of individual operators will lead to the improvement of the organization (Read and Kleiner, 1996). The main challenge and difficulty, however, is to train the operators to make serious decisions without causing severe impact in the real operation. To remedy this we proposed the use of serious game training in a virtual reality, which is more effective and efficient than conventional training. Furthermore, it completely avoids the risks associated with conventional training. Most of the training performed on the terminals are either conventional or on-the-job training sessions. Conventional training usually consist of lectures, handbook studies or a combination of the two. The training and/or the training material is sometimes provided by other terminal staff, and occasionally by the TOS manufacturer. Despite its popularity, the conventional type of training cannot completely show the complexity of the real system as it focuses only on isolated learning points and ignores the interaction between the various points. Given its static approach, there are limitations to its ability to effectively train for the dynamic and complex environment that trainees encounter in their daily activities. Furthermore, we observe a pattern in the training material; we’ve seen that it focuses on the planning tools rather than the planning process. The training is IT-driven, and the focus is on the usage of the tool instead of on the actual planning strategies. A relatively new type of training, which has become increasingly popular in defense and health education, is serious game training using virtual reality tools. During this type of training the knowledge and the skills are acquired in a close to reality environment and later transferred to the real world (Waller et al. 1998). This type of training is a combination of games and pedagogy that typically consists of simulation models, which place the trainee in an artificial environment that closely imitates actual working conditions (Bakken et al. 1992) Although the use of virtual reality environments for training is not a very recent practice (Zyda 2005), its use for container terminals was still in infancy. That gap has been filled in by introducing a new systematic and ‘near-to-live’ virtual reality training environment for container terminal planners which has been applied in more than 30 terminals worldwide (Boer and Saanen 2012a, Boer and Saanen 2012b, Boer et al. 2014a). In one of our training sessions an automated vessel planning module called Autostow from SPARCS (NAVIS) was considered that has been purchased by a terminal but never applied. The lack of knowledge of this new, automated module and the risk to use it in real life operation created barriers for terminal operators, and instead of using it they continued to manually plan the vessels. The emulation-supported training that we have conducted -involving 6 vessel planners- clearly shows the impact of a plan created manually and using Autostow. Each of the 6 planners was targeted to plan the same vessel. The vessel was consequently executed after completion of plan, all against an emulation of exactly the same operation, i.e. the same amount of equipment, the same initial yard, the same behavior of equipment. The results are shown in Figure 3; it shows for each vessel planner the average crane productivity (in boxes/hour) as well as the vessel turn time (in hours). Note that a higher crane productivity does not always mean a shorter turn time, as work distribution among the cranes (up to 4 cranes were deployed per vessel) determines how long it takes to handle a vessel.   Figure 3: Using emulation for training vessel planners. Three vessel planners were requested to use the provided automated stowage planning module available in the TOS (Autostow). Despite their lacking experience with this tool, they all performed better by using it. Unfortunately, the group is too small to say anything statistically sound about the contribution of the automated stowage planning; however, the results as shown in Figure 3 give a clear indication that it is substantial. The average turn time (see the column in hours, varying from 10.3 hours to as high as 15.7 hours) decreased by 18%, whereas the average crane productivity increased by 26%. Furthermore, all planners that used the automated stowage planning turned the vessel quicker than the ones that practiced common procedures, and additionally they needed 25% less time to complete the planning process. Moreover, we can say that this way of training allows objective measurement, and safe tryout of new methods, in this case for vessel planning. The case studies clearly show that the presented emulation approach indeed provides a safer and cheaper way to test and tweak the TOS and train operators on an emulated virtual terminal. 5 LIFE STAGE 4: TERMINAL OPTIMIZATION During the optimization phase of the terminal there are two optimization approaches: tuning TOS parameters and plan validation. 5.1 Tuning TOS parameters The heart of a TOS system is the planning, scheduling and dispatching modules. These are complex modules with a large number of parameters that have to be properly set in order to achieve the desired performance in the terminal. These parameters are mostly preconfigured by TOS vendors and due to their complexity and the risk they are rarely touched by terminal operators. Playing with these parameters during a live operation can have safety and productivity consequences. This gap opened a new challenge and perspective for emulation and simulation: tuning the TOS parameters in a simulated virtual environment (Boer and Saanen 2012a, Boer and Saanen 2012b). Tuning the TOS parameters and algorithms is an optimization approach that does not take place in live operation, but instead in an isolated environment.  In figure 4 we present a tuning study for an RTG terminal that uses SPARCS terminal operating system. The goal of the study was to investigate the possibility to replace the currently applied yard planning strategy (based on the use of pre-stacks) with controlled random stacking strategy. Proper yard planning strategies help to assign the containers to an optimal position in the yard. As a result of this, the re-handle moves and yard shifts can decrease, and the yard utilization and productivity can increase. There exist different planning strategies, such as pre-marshalling (Chen 1999, Lee and Hsu 2007), sort and store (Kim and Kim 1999, Kim and Park 2003) controlled random strategy (Dekker et al. 2006), etc.   Figure 4: Using emulation for tuning TOS parameters. We defined different scenarios, where in each one we modified the grounding parameters according to certain aspects, such as: the workload of RTGs (e.g., increase/decrease the influence of RTG related variables), the travelling distance of TTs (e.g., increase/decrease the value of penalties related to terminal truck driving distance), specific yard settings (e.g., impossible to stack containers on top of containers that have a different type or which are planned to be moved). For each scenario, we carried out experiments and investigated which aspects are the most relevant. We concluded that with proper settings of the parameters the controlled random stacking strategy indeed can be a good choice as it improves both the quay crane and RTG productivity. We achieved significant improvements (5-10% increase) of quay crane productivity applying the SPARCS expert decking functionality (see Figure 4). We realized this by changing the grounding parameters (for instance allocation filters in combination with equipment control parameters, the weight factor of travel distance, etc.). This optimization TOS tuning approach has been applied in more than 30 terminals worldwide. 5.2 Plan Validation After business analysts identified the best TOS settings using the emulation approach those settings can be applied in the TOS available in live operation. From that moment and before a vessel arrives to a terminal the terminal planner can create the shift plans (vessel plans, yard plans) and the TOS can take care of the proper scheduling and dispatching of the moves using the new settings. A shift planning contains the handling (loading and discharging) sequence of the containers, the planned location of the containers in yard and the utilization of the transportation equipment. In order to achieve a high productivity and meet contractual berthing windows at the lowest costs, it is crucial to find the optimal amount of equipment deployed. Not only the amount deployed, but also where they are deployed, and how the pick and drop containers in the yard is key to an efficient operation. In order to create an appropriate shift plan the planner has to properly investigate all these aspects and make a good decision in a limited time frame. Currently there is no possibility to verify and validate the quality of this plan; everything depends on the expertise of the planner. This lack of validation inspired us to introduce a new simulation approach called plan validation (Figure 5) that aims to support the planners’ decision making to provide a verified and validated shift plan within a limited time frame (Boer and Saanen 2014b).  Figure 5: Real terminal operation vs. emulation vs. plan validation (full simulation). The simulation of the virtual terminal is capable of running up to 30 times faster than real-time depending on the size and complexity of the terminal. Although we can achieve a relatively high speed, it cannot always run faster than real time because of the concrete TOS with which it interacts. In order to run faster than real time there is a need for time synchronization between the simulated virtual terminal and the real TOS. Although there are different mechanisms for time synchronization (Boer 2005), not all TOS systems provide this functionality. We achieved time synchronization with SPARCS (Boer and Saanen 2008). However, running faster than two to three times real time causes unexpected behavior of the TOS due to the heavy calculations needed for planning and scheduling, as well as fixed time loops in the code. For this approach the execution speed is crucial since the planning has to be simulated in a short time period because the planner has to make a decision within a limited time frame. This requirement implies that the TOS system should also be capable of running faster than two or three times real time. Based on our experience, we found that with an actual TOS this is not yet possible, but this can be possible if the TOS is also simulated. Therefore a full simulation setting is proposed (see Figure 5, scenario c) where both the container terminal and the TOS are simulated. By this simulation setting we were able to use CONTROLS for plan validation (Boer and Saanen 2014b). The challenge that still remained is the simulation of the TOS, in a valid way, and still be able to run together with the virtual terminals much faster than real time. On a very high level a TOS has three ingredients: the data, the business logic and the communication. The data module contains the data repositories (e.g., databases, setting and configuration files) to store all data used for planning and scheduling. The business logic module contains the implementation of algorithms used for planning and scheduling. The communication module comprises the implementation of communication protocols towards real equipment, as well as to third party systems. In order to create a simulation model of a TOS we have to consider these three ingredients. Boer and Saanen (2014b) presented in more detail these ingredients of a TOS system that needs to be simulated and a case study in which the same container terminal model was considered with a real TOS (emulation setting) and a simulated TOS (plan validation). We succeeded to achieve the desired speed, but still there remained a question concerning the presentation of the findings in an understandable way to the planner to lead to an improved plan. In other to achieve this we aimed to facilitate the presentation and learning by two means: by using detailed statistics and visualization. The statistics enable a planner to find performance hiccups and define solutions to overcome them. Detailed visualization of the operation includes all the logical information about the equipment and container flow (see Figure 6). Figure 6: Learning cycle to continuously improve the plan using Plan Validation. The above depicted learning cycle using plan validation has been tested by consecutive action taken by vessel planners which lead to an increase in the performance (see Figure 7). Moreover, the planners were able to carry through the improvements within the limited time before the plan had to be executed (Magnúsdóttir 2014).  Figure 7: Application of Plan Validation by vessel planners. 6 FUTURE RESEARCH The plan validation is an excellent optimization approach that takes places in live operation by providing live operational support during the shift plan creation process. After the shift plan is verified and validated, and ready to be performed in real life operation, the plan validation becomes irrelevant until the quality of a new shift plan has to be checked again. Although the plan validation plays a very important role in improving the quality of the shift plan, during operation certain incidents could still happen. Examples are equipment breakdown, late arriving containers, or even unexpected TOS behavior, which can have an impact on the originally expected outcome of the shift plan. In order to avoid this risk we propose a solution that is able to continuously provide support in live operation. The approach that we propose is using simulation models that take the latest data from real operation and run experiments faster than reality, and thus they can provide continuous feedback to the user regarding the expected outcome. All this is realized by a feedback cycle: for the input the simulation uses real data, then it provides simulation output to the user, based on that the user adjusts the real data, which again is the input for the simulation (Figure 8). Using this feedback cycle approach the user gets a kind of telescope to look into the future providing continuous support for decision making based on recent simulation output.  Figure 8: Feedback cycle for live operation support using simulation. After the user finishes with plan validation one has an initial dataset that is verified and validated, and ready for real life operation. During the real life operation the TOS is continuously changing this dataset. The new approach that we propose should be capable to get a copy of the latest dataset that will be fed in the simulation model, which is the same as has been used for plan validation, and start one or more experiments. If certain unexpected incidents happen in simulation, such as equipment being blocked or waiting too long, productivity of certain equipment drops below a threshold or there is too heavy traffic in certain quay area, the user is informed and one can take preventive actions in real life operation. Note that none of the predictions coming from simulation are guaranteed to occur in real life, but instead they are warnings to keep the user alert and support one in proper decision making. This would be an innovative approach with a great value that does not exist yet in the market and it could be an excellent product supporting the optimization stage of the lifecycle of the terminal. 7 CONCLUSION In this article we guided the reader through the four stages of the lifecycle of a container terminal: design, implementation, operation and optimization. For each stage we presented the potential of simulation and emulation approaches that support to accomplish the success of those stages. By looking back twenty years it is great to see how the simulation and emulation products evolved based on market needs, vision and innovation (Boer and Saanen 2016). Especially the rapid technological changes, such as automation, big data, SaaS, augmented reality, mobile devices, data mining, and machine learning have an impact in changing the traditional container handling. All these new technologies are going to be part in some extent either in equipment or in the software that controls them. In order to remain market leader in the segment we have to accommodate these changes and our products. Read the article as pdf here ACKNOWLEDGMENTS We would like to thank our colleagues for their support in developing and testing CONTROLS and plan validation components. REFERENCES Agerschou H., I. Dand, T. Sorensen, and T. Ernst. 2004. Planning and Design of Ports and Maritime Terminals. 2nd ed. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. Azab A. E. and A. B. Eltawil. 2016. “A Simulation Based Study of the Effect of Truck Arrival Patterns on Truck Turn Time in Container Terminals”. In Proceedings of the 30th European Conference on Modelling and Simulation, edited by T. Claus, F. Herrmann, M. Manitz, and O. Rose, 80-66. Bakken B., J. Gould, and D. Kim 1992. “Experimentation in Learning Organizations: A Management Flight Simulator Approach”. European Journal of Operational Research 59: 167-182. Bish E.K., F.Y. Chen, Y.T. Leong, B.L. Nelson, J.W.C. Ng, and D. Simchi-Levi. 2005. “Dispatching Vehicles in a Mega Container Terminal”. OR Spectrum 27(4): 491–506. Boer C. A. 2005. Distributed Simulation in Industry. ERIM Ph.D. Series Research in Management: Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Available via http://hdl.handle.net/1765/6925 [accessed April 4 2017]. Boer C.A. and Y. Saanen. 2008. “CONTROLS: Emulation to Improve the Performance of Container Terminals”. In Proceedings of the 2008 Winter Simulation Conference, edited by S. J. Mason, R. R. Hill, L. Monch, O. Rose, T. Jefferson, and J. W. Fowler, 1094-1102. Piscataway, New Jersey: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. Boer C.A. and Y.A. Saanen. 2012a. “Improving Container Terminal Efficiency through Emulation”. Journal of Simulation 6(4): 267-278. Boer C.A. and Y.A. Saanen. 2012b. “Testing, Tuning and Training Terminal Operating Systems. A Modern Approach”. In International Conference on Logistics and Maritime Systems (LOGMS), edited by H.O Gunther, K.H. Kim and H. Kopfer, 25-35, Bremen, Germany. Boer C.A., Y. Saanen, M. Bruggeling, and N. Koumaniotis. 2014a. “Near-to-live Training for Container Terminal Planners: Bridging the Gap between Training and Live Operation”. In Proceedings of the 2014 International Conference on Logistics and Maritime Systems (LOGMS), edited by R. Dekker and R. de Koster, August 27-29, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Boer C.A. and Saanen Y. 2014b. “Plan Validation for Container Terminals”. In Proceedings of the 2014 Winter Simulation Conference, edited by A. Tolk, S.Y. Diallo, I.O. Ryzhov, L. Yilmaz, S. Buckley and J.A. Miller, 1783-1794. Piscataway, New Jersey: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. Boer C.A. and Saanen Y. 2016. “The Journey of CONTROLS”. Port Technology International, 30(2), 30-32. Chen T. 1999. “Yard Operations in the Container Terminal—A Study in the ‘Unproductive Moves”. Maritime Policy and Management 26(1): 27–38. Dekker R, P. Voogd, and E. van Asperen. 2006. “Advanced Methods for Container Stacking”. OR Spectrum 28(4): 563–586. Kim K.H. and H.B. Kim. 1999. “Segregating Space Allocation Models for Container Inventories in Port Container Terminals”. International Journal of Production Economics 59(1-3): 415–423. Kim K.H, S.J. Wang, Y.M. Park, C.H. Yang, and J.W. Bae. 2002. “A Simulation Study on Operation Rules for Automated Container Yards”. In Proceedings of the 7th Annual International Conference on Industrial Engineering, 250-253, Busan, Korea.  Kim K.H. and K.T. Park. 2003. “A Note on a Dynamic Space Allocation Method for Outbound Containers”. European Journal of Operations Research 148(1): 92–101. Kim K.H. and  K.C. Moon. 2003. “Berth Scheduling by Simulated Annealing”. Journal of Transportation Research Part B, 37(6), 541-560. Lee Y. and N. Hsu. 2007. “An Optimization Model for the Container Pre-marshalling Problem”. Computers & Operations Research 34(11): 3295–3313. Magnúsdóttir J.G. 2014. “Exploring Container Terminal Planning: Effects of Vessel Plan Forecasting and Event-based Visualization on Planning and Situation Awareness”. Master Thesis, Delft, The Netherlands, 2014. Nam K.C., K.S. Kwak, and M.S. Yu. 2002. “Simulation Study of Container Terminal Performance”. Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Engineering 128(3): 126–132. Read C.W. and B.H. Kleiner. 1996. “Which Training Methods are Effective?”. Management Development Review 9(2): 24-29. Saanen Y. 2010. TOS Market Overview. Internal report, TBA B.V., Delft, The Netherlands. Schütt H. 2011. “Simulation Technology in Planning, Implementation and Operation of Container Terminals”. In Handbook of Terminal Planning, edited by J.W. Böse, 103-116, Springer: New York. Sheikholeslami A., G. Ilati, and E. Hassannayebi. 2013. “A Simulation Model for the Problem in Integrated Berth Allocation and Quay Crane Assignment”. Journal of Basic and Applied Scientific Research 3(8): 343-354. Stahlbock R. and S. Voss. 2008. “Operations Research at Container Terminals—A Literature Update.” OR Spectrum 30(1): 1–52. Van Ham J.C. and J.C. Rijsenbrij. 2012. Development of Containerization. Amsterdam: IOS Press. Vis I.F.A. and I. Harika. 2004. “Comparison of Vehicle Types at an Automated Container Terminal”. OR Spectrum 26: 117–143. Waller D., Hunt, E., and Knapp, D. 1998. “The Transfer of Spatial Knowledge in Virtual Environment Training”. Presence Teleoperators and Virtual Environments 7(2): 129–143. Zeng Q. and Z. Yang. 2009. “Integrating Simulation and Optimization to Schedule Loading Operations in Container Terminals”. Computers and Operations Research 36: 1935–1944. Zyda, M. 2005. “From Visual Simulation to Virtual Reality to Games”. Computer 38(9): 25-32.

Publication
9 Tips for Choosing a Warehouse Management System
December 2017

Autostore warehouse management system software can control a wide range of configurations - from conventional sites with Radio Data Terminals (RDTs) to complex High-Bay Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS). It can also be employed for raw material, work in progress and finished goods stores. As with any IT project, specifying and installing a warehouse management system (WMS) depends on many operational factors. However, the single most important thing is this: always ensure that the technology you deploy supports your business objectives rather than defining them. Here are our Top Tips for specifying a warehouse management software system: they are not exhaustive, but keep them in mind and you won’t go far wrong. 1. Do I need dedicated warehouse management system software? If you’re experiencing any (or all) of the following operational issues, then a WMS – or a reboot for your existing warehouse management control system – should be on the table: You struggle to support changing demands from your customers – these could include smaller or more frequent orders, real-time management reporting or end-to-end traceability. Stock-taking is a resource-hungry, time consuming and expensive chore. Out of date or out of stock is the rule rather than the exception. You experience picking and shipment mistakes that slow your business down, impact customer relationships and cost you money in areas like special transportation for returns. There’s no centralised control of stock that’s easy to access and orders are slow out of the door. You find it hard to defend yourself when customers tell you their order is in the wrong quantity, the wrong type, in the wrong place or out of date. 2. Be confident of the business benefits – and plan long! Know what operational issues a WMS will address and assess the return on investment – then model those benefits against your bottom line. Look at areas like: Stock accuracy, visibility and traceability. Productivity and cost savings. Customer service impacts and capability. Ability to deploy new, value-added services. A good warehouse management system will scale with your business so make sure you have a clear idea of how your warehousing operations will look over five to ten years so you get it right first time. 3. Create a project team Your project team should as large as necessary but as small as possible to maintain clarity: make sure it unites IT with operational management, warehousing and supply chain. 4. Make your WMS work for you Take a good hard look at the warehouse management options based on where you want your business to be in the future. Ask yourself whether you need: An entry-level warehouse management system. A subscription-based ‘Software as a Service’ (Saas) delivered over the Internet. Or a more robust system that you host on your premises 5. Include those end-users! You may have just a few or dozens but regardless; end-user input at an early stage is crucial. Your warehouse management system operators will vary - from your warehouse crew and operational management right through to the boardroom where management information will be key. Do make sure you poll opinion and incorporate the feedback into the specification – it’ll make WMS acceptance a breeze. 6. Research the market With over 40 warehouse management system providers in the UK market alone, it’s a crowded space and thorough supplier research will best match their capabilities to your requirements. Look for suppliers with: Experience in your market. Experience in your type of warehousing operation – for instance manual, semi-automated or automated. A proven track record delivering your size of warehouse management system application. Demonstrable financial stability – a WMS application typically has a 10-year lifespan so be as sure as due diligence can be that your chosen partner will be around for the long haul. 7. Get the tendering process right Sift the potential suppliers and aim for a tender list of three to five companies you’d like to invite. Avoid ‘mission creep’ in your WMS specification: once the spec is set, lock it – including your selection criteria. Ask for system demonstrations. Ask for reference sites and case studies – then collect your own testimonials. Insist on a client site visit that is similar in scope to the WMS implementation you are planning: the best indicator of capability is always a happy customer. 8. Costs Ensure all bidders break down the potential costs of a warehouse management system and then set your budget. WMS costs will usually include: Software license type – single site or multi-site? Single client or multi-client? Implementation/project management. Systems integration. Training & support. Development 9. Making the choice Your WMS provider is a long-term business partner providing a mission-critical element of your business. Alongside your key selection criteria (plus culture and ethos), it also pays to examine each provider’s WMS development path and the potential for innovation. Does each WMS development trajectory follow the market trends – or does it set them? If you discover it’s the latter, then you’re probably onto a good thing. If you'd like to see if Autostore WMS might be for you, please do not hesitate to contact us on TLE-sales@tba.group or by calling +44 (0)116 282 1800. We'd love to hear from you.  

2017
Innovative CommTrac software delivers for clients in the general cargo and bulk industry
November 2017

TBA Doncaster, suppliers of the bulk and breakbulk terminal operating system CommTrac, have experienced significant productivity during the period 2016 to 2017, successfully innovating the installation procedure and the software offering in response to the specific needs of each customer. TBA Doncaster installed the industry-leading CommTrac bulk TOS software solution at seven sites – within Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa – in total during this time. In response to customer need and market trends, the team not only designed a web-based version of their original product, but also released a Software as a Service (SaaS) option and a truly innovative ‘software in a box’ solution. The brand-new, web-based CommTrac V4 software was introduced to five locations, while two more upgraded their existing CommTrac software to this new web-based version. The advantages of the web-based system are numerous and include the ability to access the software from multiple locations in addition to enhanced support and training capabilities. In response to changing business models, TBA Doncaster created an option for customers to implement CommTrac via the SaaS model. This approach allows customers increased budgetary flexibility because they can pay a monthly license fee attributed to their operational expenditure (OPEX) rather than a substantial one-off fee that effects their capital expenditure (CAPEX). One customer required a more innovative solution still for two of their sites and TBA Doncaster met this challenge by delivering a ‘software in a box’ solution, comprising a plug and play terminal operating system (TOS) that can be used to deploy terminal management software (TMS) in the most challenging port environments. This solution incorporated the CommTrac V4 software, server hardware and integrated weighbridge all in a container kitted out as an office. Operatives from the customer site were trained in the UK and the ‘software in a box’ was shipped to the port locations for a swift operational ‘go live’. Each installation project represented a challenge for the TBA Doncaster team but the agility and resourcefulness of the company ethos put the team in an excellent position to deliver these complex implementations to their valued customers. Interested in exploring CommTrac further? Get in touch with us by emailing Glynn Thomas.

Press release
CommTrac takes centre stage for TBA at industry exhibitions in October
September 2017

CommTrac, the bulk terminal operating system from IBJ award-winning TBA Doncaster, will be the focal product at two industry exhibitions attended by TBA this October. Our TBA Doncaster team will be exhibiting at: the European Commodities Exchange in Brussels from 12 – 13 Oct on Stand A9 and Breakbulk Americas in Houston Texas from 17 – 19 October on Stand 938.  Our CommTrac product enables you to plan, track and manage all bulk and breakbulk cargo, manned/automated assets and people right across your terminal or terminal network – in real time! With over 30 installations worldwide, CommTrac is a proven solution for managing your grain, agribulk, mineral and general cargo operations, providing the tools and control to maximise your operational efficiency, profitability and growth potential. Come along to either show and visit the team to find out how CommTrac can simplify your operation. Interested in exploring CommTrac further?  Visit us at Stand A9 at the ECE Brussels and/or Stand 938 at Breakbulk Americas or get in touch with us by emailing Glynn Thomas.

Press release
Serious gaming for port industry during the World Port Days 1-3 September 2017
August 2017

TBA joins hands again with Port Authority Rotterdam at upcoming World Port Days.In cooperation with the Port Authority Rotterdam TBA presents a Virtual Reality game which makes users aware of the complex processes at logistic hubs. Visitors can play an especially developed World Port Days mission of simulated (real life APMT and RWG) terminals in virtual reality with the Oculus Rift. This virtual reality set up is the most advanced training game based on extensive (real case) data for automated terminals worldwide. These virtual 3D terminals have been built to train terminal personnel in near-to-live situations without disturbing the ongoing processes on a terminal.During the first weekend of September, the city of Rotterdam celebrates its port during the World Port Days. What once started as the one-day event has since grown into the Netherlands’ largest annual public maritime event, which welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors over the course of three full days. Numerous companies open their doors to public to show the latest innovations in one of the largest ports in the world. A unique opportunity to check out areas in the port that normally wouldn’t be able to accessible. Port authority Rotterdam manages, operates and develops the port and industrial area of Rotterdam.The international nature of Rotterdam is reflected in its focus on innovation. This makes Rotterdam the smartest port and the most important logistical hub of Europe and beyond. Start-ups, entrepreneurs, and investors from around the globe flock to Rotterdam to set up shop and contribute to making each day better than the last; to pave the way and address global challenges such as digitisation and energy transition in a quintessentially Rotterdam way.Experience our Virtual Reality game at the World Port Days:http://wereldhavendagen.nl/en/programma/meet-the-port-of-rotterdam-authority-at-the-wilhelminakade/

Press release
How can simulations help ports and terminals?
July 2017

News article published in Harbours Review June 2017 by Remmelt Thijs, Senior Project Manager and Dr. Yvo Saanen, Commercial Director and Principal Consultant at TBA.The container industry is dynamic by nature. Due to considerable growth, the competitive situation in and between ports, and the changes in shipping line alliances of recent years, the container market has gained a certain dynamic. This is reflected at container terminals accommodating larger vessels, new combinations of shipping lines and often a step-wise growth. This growth could result in higher utilization of existing sites as well as regular expansion projects and new greenfield development for which simulation modelling can be of value. Click here to read the full article

Publication
Logistics software specialists CSA and DBIS unify under a single brand - TBA
June 2017

CSA and DBIS become TBA – simplifying operations Two of the UK’s leading supply chain, automation, bulk, general and container cargo software specialists have re-branded as TBA. TBA Leicester, formerly CSA Ltd (Central Systems & Automation), and TBA Doncaster, formerly DBIS Ltd, now sit alongside Dutch sister company TBA Delft under a unified TBA brand. TBA now offers integrated solutions for the entire lifecycle of ports, terminal and warehousing operations: design, implementation, operation and optimisation. Formed in 1979, TBA Doncaster designs and installs CommTrac, the bulk, break-bulk and general cargo terminal operating system (TOS) of choice for 30 terminals worldwide. It also supplies a wide range of advanced automation solutions for the most demanding industrial environments. Both TBA Doncaster and CommTrac are multiple award-winners in the technology categories of the annual International Bulk Journal Awards. David Trueman, managing director of TBA Doncaster said: “The names are changing but our structures, management and respective customer bases remain the same. However, by coming together under the TBA brand and simplifying the way we operate, we believe we can enhance the way we serve our customers. This means adding value through complementary, end-to-end digital solutions and shared expertise that will help our customers simplify their own operations for enhanced efficiency, integration, profitability and safety – plus help them future-proof the long-term performance of their businesses”. Formed in 1988, TBA Leicester designs and installs the Autostore range – warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) solutions – for manufacturers and logistics operators plus container terminal operating system (TOS) solutions for port and inland terminal operators. Autostore WMS is a multi-award-winning technology solution as recognised by Logistics Business magazine and TBA Leicester is the recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.Andrew McKaig, managing director of TBA Leicester said: “TBA Leicester and TBA Doncaster combine over 60 years' experience delivering cutting-edge strategic control, automation and inventory management software systems that set the industry standard in supply chain and cargo management. Not only does unifying under the TBA brand signify our commitment to offering our worldwide customers class-leading solutions for their existing supply chain and terminal operations, it also expands their options for innovation as the ‘Internet of Things’ evolution gathers pace”. TBA Delft is a leading international provider of container terminal consultancy, training services and software with a client-base that includes all major terminal operators worldwide as well as large local port operators and manufacturers. In addition, TBA Delft supports the implementations of both U.K.-based sister companies, further reinforcing the company goal of providing end-to-end solutions for every TBA client. The unification of the three renowned businesses combines a stunning track record of more than 100 installations worldwide with over 1,000 successful projects undertaken, enabling consistent innovation of new software designs and unrivalled attention to customer care. For more information about our enhanced product portfolio please refer to the below contact information. Autostore WMS - mark.dorman@tba.group Commtrac - glynn.thomas@tba.group / david.trueman@tba.group Container terminal consultancy, training and software - martijn.coeveld@tba.group

Press release
The car industry and our big automation hopes
March 2017

The entire automation industry is putting their money – rightfully – on the developments in the car industry. An industry many times bigger than the maritime industry. Tesla – as one of the frontrunners in car automation - makes – at least claims to make - one of the most advanced automated cars today. They introduced extensive driver’s support systems already some 2 years ago (Autopilot 1), and recently launched Autopilot 2 (see www.tesla.com), which should enable driverless driving. Autopilot 1 already offered automated cruise control, automated steering (on highways), and semi-automated overtaking. Autopilot 2 should go far beyond. Promise versus reality However, a very recent experience showed what is actually delivered today! From all the promised driver-support functions none actually worked when the car was delivered. Even worse, one of the new features (the triple camera behind the windscreen) did not work at all (which had not been tested, because..... because the software did not work. The camera replacement was not problem, but since the car’s delivery (early January), the software updates have not brought a level of driver support that Autopilot provides. No automated steering on the highway (limited to 50 km/h), no automated overtaking (even not semi-automated), and a very buggy automated cruise control. Automated parking: no. Semi-automated parking: no. State-of-the-art? This bad experience brought me to visiting one of Tesla’s competitors, BMW, who just launched the new 5 series, which should provide a major step forward in driver’s assist. So a test drive had to show where they stand compared to for instance Tesla. The experience was even more disappointing. The automated cruise control worked flawless (hey, this was introduced in 2006 already), but the autosteer on the highway was completely useless, if not dangerous – automated overtaking was not yet available, as it was not ready upon the launch. Several times the autosteer function switched off (without any sound, although the icon on the dashboard did change), and the car drove of the highway onto the emergency lane. A lighting example? Having driven a Tesla for 3,5 years now, I have experienced the software updates (great), the regression problems (not so great), the buggyness of big updates (not great at all), and the time it takes to resolve those (frustrating, especially when it concerns key functions). We should realise that our industry will eventually benefit from the car industry, but today, I could not say that they are a lighting example in terms of quality, and meeting promises. Far from that!

Press release
Applying new technologies in an existing automated terminal
March 2017

Arjen de Waal & Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, The Netherlands TBA’s vision is to improve the cost efficiency and productivity of container and bulk terminals world-wide through consultancy and software. We distinguish ourselves by state-of-the-art tools such as simulation and emulation. Our clients include all major container terminal operators worldwide and many local port operators. We have designed several automated container terminals worldwide from layout design, to performance testing by simulation, and to live operations with delivery of software for the robotized machines. As such we have experienced that automated terminals perform very well in a simulated environment, but often perform not so good, when actually going live. This article focuses on improvement measures for automated terminals. Introduction In the world of container terminals there is a conception that fully automated, or robotized, container terminals are performing at low productivity. How can it be that in the simulated world, the designed and tested automated terminals perform very well (above 35 moves per hour under peak circumstances), and not in real life? This question we have asked ourselves, also to critically review our simulation models. In order to do so, we started from one of the existing state-of-the art fully automated facilities, and added latest improvements to the model to see whether the performance could be increased. We used TBA’s own proven container terminal simulation suite to quantify the effects of each adjustment individually. In this article we describe this step-wise improvement approach from an imaginary existing terminal with Dual RMGs and AGVs, as would have been constructed around year 2000. For each step towards a state-of-the-art terminal with Twin-RMGs and Lift-AGVs we show the effect on productivity. We start by briefly describing the different equipment types. RMGs are Rail-Mounted Gantries that are installed on a stack module, the area where containers are stored and exchanged between ships, trucks and trains. Containers from the ships enter the stack module from one side. They are stored for several days in the stack, after which they are delivered to a truck that picks up the container on the other side. Of course, this process can also be supported in reverse order (truck → stack → ship); or containers that were delivered by a ship, are later loaded onto another ship, called transshipment. Dual RMGs are RMGs that can pass each other, because one is larger than the other. Both RMGs are able to work on both ends. Twin RMGs are equally large and cannot pass each other. Each is dedicated to serve one end of the stack module. These cranes require less space than dual RMGs, since they share the same rail track and they are faster. However, they have less flexibility in job selection.AGVs are Automated Guided Vehicles, robotized machines that carry containers and transport them between ships and stack. The AGVs of the start situation cannot take or drop containers. They wait under a quay crane at the ships, or an RMG in the stack until a container is lifted off, or dropped onto them. Lift-AGVs have a platform that can lift, and are able to take or drop containers at so-called racks. This makes them less reliable on other equipment, since they do not need to wait until a crane can serve them directly. They can deliver a container at the rack, and an RMG will take the container when it has time to do so. The RMG can also drop containers at the rack a few minutes before a Lift-AGV needs to pick it up. Racks are only installed at stack modules. The start terminal is suitable to handle approx. 1.3 million containers per year, with 16 double trolley Quay Cranes on 1,500m quay, and a landside peak of 320 containers per hour (this is how many containers are delivered and taken by road trucks in the busiest hours). The yard consists of 35 stack modules with dual RMGs. The containers in the stack can be stored on piles of 4 containers high. Waterside transport is done by AGVs.This investigation focuses on average quay crane productivity that can be achieved in the peak hours. The simulation results of all steps including the start situation are shown in Figure 2. The different steps are represented in the “improvement tree” shown in Figure 1.Figure 1: Improvement tree. Step 1: Replace dual RMGs by twin RMGs Twin RMGs cannot pass each other, but have a higher gantry speed (4.0 m/s instead of 3.5 m/s). Furthermore, the width of a 10 wide twin-RMG is less than for a cross-over RMG, hence in the same footprint 6 additional stacks can be realized: +19% storage capacity. Results The increase in quay crane performance equals 0.5 to 1.5 bx/hr, a quite limited result. The truck service times drastically decrease when we use twin-RMGs, with one RMG dedicated to the landside. Trucks are processed 6 minutes faster on average in the “Step 1” scenario with twin RMGs. Step 2: Increasing terminal throughput In step 1 we already saw an increase in storage capacity. In this step we also increased the maximum stacking height from 4 to 5. The overall throughput increase equals 119% * 125% = 48%. This means that the yearly throughput can be 1.9 million containers. The twin-RMGs should be able to process a larger volume because they are faster (4 m/s instead of 3.5 m/s) and there are more cranes (six extra modules: 82 instead of 70 RMGs). The peak landside volume increases to 470 boxes per hour. If the 16 quay cranes should be able to achieve 48% higher peak throughput as well, the cranes must perform 40 to 42 bx/hr. Results The impact of a higher stack and higher volume can mainly be observed on the landside: the RMGs have to do more digging for containers, and hence the service time of trucks increases. The required peak volume can be processed though. Step 3: Replacing AGVs by Lift-AGVs AGVs require a “hand-shake” interchange with RMGs at the yard. This causes waiting times for both RMGs and AGVs, because for almost every move one of them has to wait for the other to arrive. This hand- shake can be excluded from the process by using Lift- AGVs instead of AGVs. In this step we use Lift-AGVs with – besides the lifting ability – the same specs  as the (10 years old) AGVs. The racks require more space than interchange positions that are used for AGVs, hence the total number of interchange slots at the stack is reduced. Lift-AGVs need time to lift and lower their platform, which requires additional handling time. Results The quay crane performance increases with 3 to 3.5 bx/hr for any number of vehicles per crane. The reduced waiting times largely outweigh the longer handling times and fewer transfer points. The impact can be seen in the time per container move of the Lift-AGV versus AGV. Whereas AGVs stand still at the stack interchange for 2.6 minutes per cycle (waiting for RMG and the actual placement or removal of the container), Lift-AGVs only spend0.3 minutes per container at the rack, reducing the total handling time of one container from more than 11, to 10 minutes. Step 4: Using state-of-the-art Lift-AGVs In the previous step, we used year-2000 AGV technical specs for the Lift-AGVs. Now we increase the driving speeds according to latest standards, meaning increasing top speeds and acceleration values. The new Lift-AGVs can drive faster straight, faster in curves, and accelerate faster. This should cause shorter driving times per box, and hence increased QC productivity. Results The quay crane productivity increases significantly again: with 4 to 5 bx/hr. The quay crane productivity increase is caused by the huge reduction in Lift-AGV driving times per box: from 6.5 to 5 minutes. The Lift-AGVs generally arrive at the quay cranes earlier. Occasionally they have to wait before they can be served at the quay cranes now, because they are too early. Step 5A: More opportunity moves Glossary: handling opportunity moves is the handling of multiple containers in one order. E.g. two 20ft containers can be transported by one Lift- AGV because the platform is large enough for 45ft, and the quay crane can also lift two 20ft containers off the Lift-AGV. This is called twin-lift.In the original situation it was not beneficial to handle more than 10% of the containers with twin-lift moves at the quay cranes because of yard handling limitations. After step 4, both the waterside and the landside RMG in the stack modules have idle time. To make use of this spare time, we increased the twin-lift percentage at the quay cranes to 30%. We assume most 20ft containers could be twin-lifted when planned right.The quay cranes can now handle more containers per cycle (per move). If the container supply can   be increased the productivity will go up. The RMGs need to supply more containers faster, and the Lift- AGVs should transport and deliver them more just- in-time. Results The quay crane productivity is increased with about 3 bx/hr. The quay crane performance increase is only possible because the RMGs were able to supply more containers to the interchange racks (and take more containers from them). Each stack module was able to process one additional vessel job per hour. The increase in productive moves causes the time spent on productive moves to go up from 62% to 66%. Idle percentage decreased from 19% to 16%. The remaining idle time indicates there is still room for improvement. Step 5B: Faster quay cranes (and NO increased twin percentage) The (1990-2000) quay cranes in the original scenario that have been used up to now, are relatively slow. The landside hoist has an average cycle time of 99 seconds. With modern cranes cycle times of 63 seconds should be possible. The kinematics of the cranes in the model have been adjusted in step 5B to be able to make cycles of 63 seconds. Results The quay crane productivity increases by 5 to 7 bx/ hr. Step 6: All adjustments combined The final step is a comparison between the start scenario and all adjustments described in the previous steps. We will see the overall impact on performance levels.Quay crane productivity has increased with 17.2 bx/hr in the experiments with 5 vehicles per QC, or 68%! Remember that in step 2, with the increased throughput, we already stated that QC productivity needed to go up to between 40 and 42 bx/hr and this goal has been achieved.The increased quay crane productivity is only possible with more efficient Lift-AGVs and RMGs. The lift-AGVs in the final scenario only need 7 minutes to complete one container move, while originally the AGVs needed over 11 minutes.With the increased waterside productivities the stress on the yard has increased as well. The terminal throughput and according gate volume cause additional moves in the yard. The gate report shows that the RMGs are able to cope with this increased demand, because 460 truck moves have been handled and the truck service times are still acceptable.The increased demand on the yard is supported by the two RMGs in each stack module, which together handle 18 vessel boxes and 12 gate boxes per hour, about 50% more than the original scenario. Conclusions In this article we described a step-by-step approach to improve large automated terminals to state-of- the-art terminals and what each step can bring. Besides faster truck and vessel handling, the described adjustments lead to a throughput increase of almost 50%. Adjusting existing terminals with the described changes is a costly and time-consuming operation; this may be a bridge too far. However, this study shows how important it can be to build new terminals according to the latest technology, because the performance is highly dependent on this.Furthermore, the study proves that although the results of simulations seem to be too high compared to current experience, the steps from today’s state- of-the-art – which can be validly represented in the same type of simulation model – to the future’s state-of-the-art are concise and largely doable.  This provides a solid and prosperous outlook for tomorrow’s fully automated terminals! This article has been published in Sector Magazine  Click here to read the article as a pdf file

Publication
TBA Brings Leadership To Global Port Technology Industry Event Addressing Port Terminal Automation Challenges
February 2017

Industry-leading port technology resource for news and technical content, Port Technology International, follows up success of 2016 event with larger, more senior second annual meeting; Terminal Automation & Training C-Level Networking Conference. The Terminal Automation & Training C-Level Networking Conference 2017, taking place on April 19-20 in London, will bring thought leaders in the automation and training sectors of the port industry to do business, network and discuss the stages of terminal automation, implications on port staff training and the need for simulation to facilitate this.   Yvo Saanen about last years conference: "Inspiring event, with a highly interactive audience; covering a lot of ground in the area of automation" Speaking at the announcement of this year's conference, James AA Khan, Managing Director at Port Technology, said: "We have all seen the huge and growing investment in automation made by our industry over the last few years, as a means of staying competitive and driving the sector forward, but what has lagged behind is investment in training. This is where operators can really differentiate themselves from the competition, ensuring they have the best people to take advantage of these new automation technologies.” To find out more about the importance of the industry meeting C-level event, visit www.porttechnology.org/conference

Press release
Merry Xmas and Happy 2017
December 2016

TBA wishes you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

Publication
IT solution award 5th time winner at IBJ
November 2016

DBIS wins the IT Solution Award at the International Bulk Journal Awards at the Tower of London Pavilion last week. This is the 5th time that DBIS has been recognised at the awards. Congratulations to Glynn Thomas and Ian Crowder here collecting the award.

Press release
TEAMS software to automate POAL
November 2016

TBA’s proven automation software TEAMS will be delivered in the Port of Auckland. For more information check the links below: https://www.porttechnology.org/news/terex_gets_auckland_automation_underway https://www.porttechnology.org/technical_papers/innovation_and_process_optimisation_drive_success

Press release
Entering the Maritime Sector / Logistics 4.0 Revisited
November 2016

In a special edition of The Journal of Ports and Terminals (Top 30 Papers 2014-2016), an article on brownfield automation by Yvo Saanen that was originally published in Edition 69 – The Mega-Ship Issue has been updated. Find a pdf version of the same article here: Brownfield Automation    

Publication
Frank Tazelaar to join TBA as Managing Director
October 2016

TBA has strong ambitions to further grow both its consultancy and software business in the coming years, by increasing its market presence globally and by growing the installed base of existing and new software products.  We are very happy to announce that Frank Tazelaar will join TBA as Managing Director to support these ambitions. He will take up his position on November 1st, 2016. This also enables the other directors Yvo Saanen and Martijn Coeveld to increase focus on commercial activities and operations respectively.  Frank, previously Managing Director of APM Terminals Maasvlakte II (the Netherlands), has a proven track record of more than 15 years in growing organisations in the ports and maritime industry. “Customers in the ports business have an ever increasing need for innovative and effective software solutions. TBA is well positioned to meet those customer needs, building on its dedicated employees and clear values. I look forward to join TBA and support its development in the years ahead”, says Frank Tazelaar.

Press release
DBIS to deliver MRF plant automation
September 2016

DBIS have been Awarded a contract by Sutco Recyclingtechnik GmbHto provide a complete electrical and automation solution for a new waste materials recovery facility in the UK.DBIS will be providing a complete solution from design and build of the MCCs, design and installation of site control cabling as well as PLC / SCADA design and delivery.

Press release
DBIS Secures new automation project in Russia
September 2016

DBIS have been Awarded a contract by Vigan Engineering UK to provide electrical design and automation software for a sulphur plant in Ust-Luga, Russia. DBIS will be responsible for the full electrical design of the plant control system including Functional Design specification, panel design and cable installation as well as design and programming of the PLC and SCADA system.

Press release
TBA in Archis Volume #49: Hello World!
September 2016

Archis is an experimental think tank devoted to the process of real-time spatial and cultural reflexivity and action. One of their initiatives is publishing the Volume magazine. In which various editorial concepts and publishing formats of have been realized over the years. Archis Volume #49: Hello World! includes an article on the recent developments on Maasvlakte II in which TBA has played and is still playing its role.   

Publication
World Port days Rotterdam; visit the automated terminals APMT MVII and RWG in virtual reality!
August 2016

Port Authority Rotterdam has invited TBA to participate on the stand of the Port authority during the World Port days, 2, 3, and 4 September. The World Port days are the biggest public event in the Port of Rotterdam, where numerous companies open their doors for the general public to show the latest innovations on one of the largest ports in the world. World Port Days demonstrate how multi-faceted and fascinating the Port of Rotterdam is. Port authority Rotterdam manages, operates and develops the port and industrial area of Rotterdam. TBA will showcase in cooperation with APM MVII and RWG both terminals in virtual 3D. Visitors can play a specially developed World Port Days mission on one of the terminals in virtual reality with the Oculus Rift. These virtual 3D terminals have been built to train terminal personnel in near real live circumstances while not disturbing any real live operations. This is the most advanced training game for automated terminals worldwide, TBA’s SAFE T GAME, developed in cooperation with Dinalog, the national top institute for logistics. During the World Port days mission you are flying in a drone around one of the two terminals. You will have two minutes to find a number of objects on the terminal, such as a quay crane, an AGV, a stacking crane, a barge, and safety fences around the automated area. You can find the event in the following link: http://wereldhavendagen.nl/programma/ontmoet-het-havenbedrijf-rotterdam-aan-de-wilhelminakade/ Please come and meet us here on 2, 3 or 4 September!

Press release
Tilbury Grain Terminal orders major new upgrade
August 2016

Tilbury Grain Terminal will be the first of our customers to upgrade to Version 4 of our terminal operating software CommTrac. The Grain Terminal, part of the Forth Ports Group, have placed an order with DBIS that will see both their grain and bulk operations upgraded to our latest web based application CommTrac V4. As part of the upgrade works DBIS will supply a redesigned SCADA package which will give seamless integration into the new TOS system. 

Press release
AGV Versus Lift AGV Versus ALV: a qualitative and quantative comparison
August 2016

Dr. Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands The question introduced It is a recurring question in the planning of automated terminals: what is the ‘best’ mode of horizontal transportation? For many, horizontal transportation is seen as one of the most complex components of terminal robotisation, and this is right in my view. The horizontal transportation system connects two (more expensive) pieces of equipment (the stacking system and the quay cranes), and therefore always fulfils the role as a buffer. Furthermore, it consists of many vehicles which are dynamically interacting in a space that is kept as tight as possible. After all, apron space is expensive real estate. The question we aim to answer in this article is: What is the most cost effective automated transportation system, with the today available technology? Before we do that, we need to discuss the accusation of a possible professional bias we at TBA may have. It is true that since the late nineties, we have carried out many studies with the emphasis on automated guided vehicles (AGVs) of various kinds. This work led to the implementation of the Lift-AGV at the new terminals in Rotterdam. In those studies, however, it was always the Automated Lift Vehicle (ALV) – also addressed as the automated shuttle carrier, or automated sprinter - was part of the comparison. The information with regard to the AGVs mostly came from former Gottwald, nowadays Terex Port Solutions (TPS), whereas most information with regard to the ALV came from Kalmar (Cargotec). The analyses were based on detailed time and motion studies of existing automated systems, for instance at CTA (Hamburg), and later at Patrick’s in Brisbane and Euromax in Rotterdam. In the study carried out for APMT Maasvlakte 2, an extensive peer review and validation of our simulation work has been done by an expert third party. This validation study did not reveal any irregularities or bias towards any of the systems. Finally, during the implementation process of the terminals in Rotterdam, a performance comparison between the real AGV system and the simulation was carried out. This test – highly recommendable by the way for any operator implementing an automated system – had a duration of at least 4 hours (even 8 at Rotterdam World Gateway) and did not deviate more than 5% from the simulation that determined the number of vehicles required to achieve the target performance. The result in both cases was more than satisfactory: the deviations were well within the tolerances, which means that our model of Lift-AGVs and its control system is very close to reality. For the ALV system this is lesser the case, hence we had to design the control logic ourselves. Meanwhile, TPS also developed and tested an ALV, of which the specifications could be used. The remainder of this article focuses on the comparison itself. First, we discuss the principle pros and cons of each of the systems (AGV, Lift-AGV and ALV) in a combined qualitative and quantitative way. Subsequently, we discuss some quantitative results from a recent comparison study. Finally, we conclude the picture with a cost comparison. Qualitative comparison In the qualitative comparison, we focus on a number of different aspects: Apron size Wheel load Energy consumption Maintenance Interaction with the QC Interaction with the ARMG Travel performance (speed, acceleration, deceleration) Technical complexity (breakdown risk, recovery, flexibility) Apron size The apron size is important as it determines how much real estate is required for a certain terminal throughput. In the cross sections below, two possible high density and high performance layouts are shown. There is little difference between the three systems (see the layouts of ALV and AGV in Figure 1). The fact that we chose to show layouts with four highways with ALVs and six with AGVs, is not because the fifth and sixth highways do not benefit the ALV system; they do. However, we reckon it takes too much (expensive) space, hence the performance impact (limited to 1-2 bx/h) we take for granted. Figure 1: A typical cross section of a high density, high performance ALV apron In the back reach of the quay crane four transfer lanes can be installed. All transfer lanes are also used as drive through lanes which means that picking up or dropping a container with an ALV occupies a drive through lane. Due to the driving patterns of ALV neighbouring lanes can be affected when entering transfer points. In contrast to this, in the AGV concept transfer lanes and drive through lanes are separated and can be used independently. In a typical back reach, four transfer lanes and two to three drive through lanes can be realised.Some argue that the ‘parallel buffer’ (the space where vehicles can wait until approaching the lanes in the back reach of the quay crane) is not required in case of ALVs. We completely disagree with that solution, when it concerns large terminals that require high performance. It may work when there are only three to four cranes at max on a vessel, but as soon as it exceeds that, a waiting area is required. More so because the ALV cannot always enter in case the quay crane (QC) is accessing the interchange zone. Actually, the AGV can access the transfer zones more frequently, as it can wait under the QC, where the ALV cannot. Figure 2: A typical cross section of a high density, high performance lift AGV apron Wheel load The deadweight of the vehicle, the maximum pay load and the number of wheels determine the maximum wheel loads, which is an important factor in the pavement design. In the below table, the static values (dynamic influences for ALV will be higher due to higher center of gravity) for various types of vehicles are shown:Figure 3: Vehicle weights and wheel pressures Two things can be seen in Figure 3: the wheel loads of an AGV and ALV are almost the same, where the maximum pay load of the ALV is 20 tonnes (t) less. This is an issue with twin containers above 50t, which is typically 5-10% of the twin pairs. They have to be delivered in singles, reducing the productivity of the ALV substantially. This can already be observed in many straddle facilities that have twin-lift QCs, and single lift straddles: during twin-lift operation, the QC is waiting for the straddles, despite the – in the end – higher QC productivity (as it lifts two containers per cycle). Energy consumption Fuel (or energy) consumption is an important cost factor when a machine operator is taken out of the equation. Obviously, a heavier machine consumes more fuel, especially in an operation where there is a lot of starting and stopping, as acceleration consumes most power. In addition, there is the need for lifting (Lift-AGV) and hoisting (ALV) that requires additional energy. Apart from the demand, there is the possibility to run the machines completely by battery; increasing the energy efficiency quite dramatically and resulting in a real zero-emission when purchasing green energy. In a linear fashion this also affects the CO2 emissions, which are two (diesel-electric) to ten (batteryelectric) times less between a Battery AGV and a diesel electric ALV. The Lift-AGV hovers somewhere in the middle, being heavier, and having to lift the containers at the interchange with the stacking crane (ARMG). Figure 4: Fuel consumption and emission data (diesel at 1 Euro per liter, and energy at 0.15 Euro per kWh) Maintenance Maintenance practices worldwide vary tremendously and solid comparative data is hard to get. Not least because maintenance cost are measured quite differently. Typically, one should consider the labour hours involved, the spare parts required, as well as the wearing materials such as tyres and lubricants. In general, one can say that the less moving parts, the less maintenance, and as a consequence, the battery AGV is very low on maintenance, followed by the Lift-AGV. Most maintenance – and easily five times as much per running hour – is the ALV. A hoisting mechanism, a spreader that locks and unlocks all the time, a heavier vehicle, a powerful diesel drivetrain and difficult accessibility of components: these are all factors that make it maintenance intensive. If we would have to rank them, the following table results: Interaction with the QC An area of much confusion and misunderstanding is the interaction with the QC. It is obvious to everyone that the AGV and Lift-AGV have a linked interchange with the crane, where ALV has an unlinked interchange with the crane. This inevitably means that the QC should never wait for the AGV, and in most cases the AGV has to wait for the crane (as it is supposed to be). Most operators think that the ALV never has to wait for the crane or vice versa, which is a misconception. When the QC is going to be at the transfer point, the ALV cannot always enter (it depends on the transfer point arrangement, but the access is certainly limited). The other way around is also true: in some cases the QC cannot enter because the ALV is at the transfer area. As a result, both QC and ALV lose time during this interchange process. Moreover, the picking up and dropping off of the container takes a substantial amount of time. Whereas crane and AGV will find each other blindly, the ALV has to search for the container, which is inherently slow (in practice we measured here interchange times of 60-120s, whereas the handshake crane-AGV typically takes in the range of 15-30s). Another complicating factor is access to the QC. As vessels are getting wider, the crane density on a vessel is increasing (sometimes to up to six to eight cranes). This leads to large clusters where access is limited (see Figure 5). AGVs are 3 metres wide, ALVs just over 5 metres, requiring lanes of 4 metres and 7 metres wide to drive on, respectively. Furthermore, the ALV needs to align before it drives over the container, where the AGV is not slowed down by containers standing on the ground. Driving over other containers (standing on transfer points of neighbouring cranes) seems so convenient, but takes place at very low speed (typically less than 5 km/h), blocking access of the QC to those transfer zones. Figure 5: Access with AGVs to a dense cluster of 5 QCs. As a consequence, we observe waiting times and the need for queueing also for ALVs, before entering the transfer zones, which requires space. This becomes worse in case a QC is operating in tandem 40, or quad 20, mode. Since ALVs cannot access two adjacent transfer lanes simultaneously (due to the limited spacing a dual hoist or tandem spreader can achieve between containers), the ALVs have to pick-up the containers individually. As the duration of two consecutive pick-up moves exceeds the cycle duration of the QC, the only way is to use at least four interchange lanes. As can be seen in above figure, this becomes quite complicated, if not impossible in case of large clusters. On the contrary, with AGVs side by side access is quite easily realised, especially because the solutions existing today, already cater for two adjacent transfer lanes per QC. A last remark plays a role in areas with swell: the vessel may move along the quay, causing the transfer point to move (up to 50 centimetres left and right). If a container is already placed by the ALV, the QC needs to gantry (at very low speed) to fetch the misplaced container, which will considerably reduce the crane productivity. AGVs, waiting for their turn, will follow the crane automatically, as such not influencing the STS productivity. Interaction with the ARMG At the stacking crane (automated rail mounted gantry, or ARMG), the decoupling (interchange) is less cumbersome, especially for the ALV. The interchange zone consists of nicely aligned lanes, typically offering up to 16/20 TGS space, even usable two high. The interference between ARMG and ALV is less (due to the lower productivity of the ARMG compared to the QC: an ARMG accesses the interchange zone 10-15 times per hour, the QC three times more), and can be controlled by the ECS in an easy way, as both are serving the QC. Here we can then observe the largest benefit of ALV over AGV and to a lesser degree over the Lift-AGV. The Lift-AGV also allows for decoupling through the rack, but this buffer has less capacity, and there are still containers (such as tank containers) that cannot be transferred through the rack. When we analyse the duration of a typical AGV cycle, we see that the AGV waits at the ARMG transfer point to be served in the range of 35-45% (of the entire cycle) under peak conditions (meaning also the ARMG’s are under pressure). Lift-AGVs and ALVs only spend approximately 5% at the ARMG transfer point, which immediately explains the benefit of Lift-AGVs over AGVs. Figure 6: Lift AGVs entering the racks If we compare the size of the ARMG interchange, we also see clear differences. In case of a nine wide stack (a typical average value), we see five AGV transfer lanes, four racks plus one direct interchange lane, or four independent transfer lanes for ALVs which are four TEU deep. The total decoupling possibilities hence range from 0 (AGV), to eight TEU (Lift-AGV) to 16 TEU (ALV). The larger buffer of the ALVs has another benefit, as has the rack interchange to a lesser extent: it improves peak productivity of theARMG’s by 10-15%, and by 5-10% in case of the Lift-AGV. So for a proper comparison between transportation systems, this is also a factor. Travel performance (speed, acceleration and deceleration) At equal waterside productivity, every horizontal transportation system has to deliver the same number of movements per hour. This means that the traffic – except for the space occupation of an individual vehicle – is equal as well, regardless of the amount of vehicles in operation. More important is the actual space consumption of an individual vehicle while driving. This is in the first place determined by the size of the vehicle, but also by the speed and the achievable acceleration/deceleration. Figure 7: AGVs waiting for each other Automated vehicles drive according to the ‘brick-wall’ concept, reserving space ahead of them equal to their braking distance extended with safety distance needed to compensate for reaction time. So the faster they drive, the more space is being reserved (with increases quadratically with speed increase). The actual deceleration helps to decrease the space consumption. This is one of the reasons why faster driving does not necessarily result in a higher vehicle productivity. Moreover, the speed in curves is also limited, and the vehicles need to decelerate to this lower speed before entering the curve – as such posing a blockage to succeeding vehicles on thesame path. Compare it to normal traffic: if you follow a car that has to take a turn, it slows down before doing so, causing a ripple effect behind him. Figure 8: Kinematics of vehicle types (Source: TPS) Summary pro’s and con’s Within the preceding sections we discussed various aspects of the options for automated horizontal transportation. In summary, we have listed the system, as well as a benchmark in the form of manual shuttle carriers (see Figure 10). Performance and cost comparison A single performance comparison between the systems in question cannot be made. Various terminals pose different circumstances, and therefore different results. Especially the type of QCs, the number of ARMG’s in relation to the number of QCs, as well as the overall targeted performance level determine to a great extend how large the fleet of vehicles needs to be to achieve the targeted performance levels. Figure 9: Performance and cost comparison (note: labour @50 Euro / h, 1.5 men per machine hour, fuel at 1 Euro / l, electricity at 0.15 Euro / kWh).However, if we have to provide a rule of thumb to compare the system, comparing results from at least 15 different terminal simulations across the world, the following ratio results (note that prices may vary based on commercial conditions; they should be treated as indicative): Figure 10: Overview of qualitative KPI's;(here green = best, orange = middle, and red = worst) In Figure 9, we see that the most productive vehicle is the manual shuttle carrier, which is proven in several highly productive ARMG-shuttle carrier operations. The ALV, due to restrictions in traffic, and at the QC, performs significantly less well, hence to achieve the same productivity level, more vehicles are required. The lack of decoupling of the Lift-AGV, requires an additional 0.5 vehicle per QC, despite other advantages in traffic compared to the ALV. The AGV system is least productive (per vehicle), mainly due to the coupling at ARMG and QC, which costs about 50% of its theoretical performance.The picture changes however when we combine the performance figures with the financials. We decided to quantify this as a CAPEX per QC and a yearly OPEX per QC (for the vehicle system). Here we can observe that in a developed country (with high labour costs, here assumed at 50 Euro per hour), the manned system is much more expensive than the automated systems. Already within the first year, the additional CAPEX for any of the automated systems is earned back. This leaves us with the comparison between the automated systems: here the lowest CAPEX and OPEX are achieved by the battery Lift-AGV, not in the least because of the much lower OPEX (the benefit of the fully electric drive and hence lesser maintenance, as well as the energy consumption being much lower) outperformance both the battery AGV and the ALV. Conclusion In our view, momentarily the battery driven Lift-AGV provides the best value for money and can present zero-emission at reasonable investments. The attractive performance of manual shuttle carriers in some terminals is no guarantee that an ALV will show the same high productivity. As can be seen from our simulations, there is a substantial decrease in vehicle performance to be expected when modifying manual shuttle carrier system into an automated ALV system.From a total cost of ownership point of view the Lift-AGV may prove to be he most attractive concept. However some operators prefer simplicity and lower infrastructural investments that an AGV brings. The somewhat larger fleet of vehicles (in an AGV system) has theadvantage of less risk from breakdowns and the replacement of vehicles (at the end of their lifetime) will come much later in time. After all, ECT, CTA and Euromax are proving to be very successful terminals, with reliably high performance levels. This article has been published in Port Technology Magazine edition number 70.

Publication
New services movie at TOC Europe 2016
June 2016

At TOC Europe 2016 in Hamburg, we presented a new services movie.

Press release
The world's first e-Learning training portal for ports and terminals
June 2016

Empowering your workforce to discover their profitability for more info, click the picture below:

Press release
How can simulations help ports and terminals?
June 2016

Remmelt Thijs and Dr. Yvo Saanen, TBA Group, Delft, the Netherlands The container industry is dynamic by nature. Due to considerable growth, the competitive situation in and between ports, and the changes in shipping line alliances of recent years, the container market has gained a certain dynamic, reflected at container terminals accommodating larger vessels, new combinations of shipping lines and often a step-wise growth. However, this growth could result in higher utilization of existing sites as well as regular expansion projects and new greenfield developments.As one can imagine, planning of new sites and places of expansion as well as operations improvement is not that simple and requires answering several important questions about the lay-out, the attainable quay crane productivity, the yard operating strategy, the terminal operating system, and the equipment. We’ll try to show you that it all can be done in an efficient and reliable way. The power of simulations Although simulation is increasingly used in container terminals, it is not as common as for example in the automotive industry, where no significant investment is made without thorough proof by means of simulation. This is not strange at all when using a benchmark that for every Euro spent on simulation, ten are saved.But what exactly is “simulation”? The essence of it is to make a model of the (future) reality within the scope of a few objectives. With this model all kinds of experiments can be performed. Usually, simulation is used to assess the effect of different alternatives, for instance, an operation with straddle carriers versus an operation with rubber-tyred gantry cranes (RTGs) and terminal trucks. However, as we will discuss further on, simulation can be applied for many more uses. In general, a simulation project exists of four steps: First, specification and development of a model, second the validation of a model, then experimentation with a model, and finally analysis of the results. By means of the animation, which visualizes the behaviour of the system, people involved are able to look closer and validate the work of the system. Model terminal operations Some terminals are influenced by shipping alliances and may be under pressure to grow quickly. Therefore, a simulation can be a tool to help assess where bottlenecks could be expected – e.g. at the quay due to larger vessels, the yard due to storage constraints or in the yard or transport equipment to support the targeted service levels. It is very valuable to be able to ana-lyse a what-if-scenario, using suitable tools to answer such questions.Many terminals, for instance, are reconsidering their yard handling system to increase the stack density and therefore increase the throughput capacity of the terminal. As shipping lines are requesting higher service levels, terminal systems need to be designed striving for various – mostly contradictory – objectives. Quay crane productivity has to go up, stack density has to increase, operating costs have to go down, and the landside service has to be improved. In order to create handling systems that comply with those requirements, the use of a simulation approach can be beneficial to separate good from bad solutions and to prioritise improvement measures. Moreover, simulation provides an environment where one can evaluate under varying, but manageable, conditions, e.g. busy and quiet operations, breakdowns, and so forth. In the end, this will result in a more robust plan, solutions that are better thought through, increased software robustness, all leading to a reduction in risk. We aim to assess a solution within the overall system performance and include not only the technical capacity of a component, but also consider the una-voidable inefficiencies when considering a system comprised of several of those components. For instance we consider it much more realistic to consider the dynamics of 20 RMG blocks with twin cranes with its dynamics, than considering the capability of one block with twin cranes and multiply the result by 20. The overall system has in-efficiencies that should be considered and therefore a system view is preferred.The key to supporting these decisions by means of simulation is to model the equipment and operational procedures at a rather detailed level. Many attempts fail to link with reality, because the details that make an operation complicated – for instance the container loading sequence, the grounding rules, and the equipment assignment rules – are left away. We ad-here an approach where those aspects are considered, so that the results from the simulation are similar to the operational data. Close cooperation between a modelling team and terminal operator to arrive at a valid model is essential here.The output of these kinds of models typically consists of productivity numbers of all the equipment (quay cranes, RTGs, and so on), service times (e.g. of hauliers and trains), occupancy rates of equipment, but also the utilization of the stack, and also the equipment’s operating hours. Example view within a simulation model of operations using an automated rail mounted gantry crane (ARMG) and automated guided vehicles (Lift-AGV) Terminal planning of a greenfield site The development of a new container terminal and the expansion of existing ones create new questions to be answered. Which layout, what kind of equipment and how many pieces of that equipment to purchase in order to have lower costs per move, an acceptable investment level, and competitive performance? These are typical questions awaiting a new container terminal’s development team. In the decision making process around these questions, simulation can play a supportive role regarding the dimensions of the terminal (e.g. quay length, stack size), the type of handling system (equipment, operation, and layout), and detailed specifications for Under these external conditions, the main requirements are assessed. This means that we analyse the service level (vessel service time, gross berth productivities, and crane density on vessels) under varying terminal configurations (quay length, number of quay cranes, gross quay crane productivity). Typically, per configuration, one year of operation is simulated, creating a picture of the service over the year. During the year, the variation in the stack (seasonal effects, peaks during the peak and even hourly peaks due to large discharge calls), the variation in berth occupancy (due to vessel delays, and variation in the call size), and the occupation of quay cranes can be observed, giving a rich pic-ture of the service the terminal provides.For a robust design, several important parameters can be modified to obtain an even richer picture in the terminal planning. A variation in cargo mix, dwell times and vessel mix can be varied to understand the terminal’s requirements for varying circumstances. As important input for the next step (determination of the handling system), the model creates an understanding of the peaks in handling (waterside, but also rail- and truck-side). These peaks are important to determine how much equipment is required to supply the quay cranes with enough containers .The key to supporting these decisions by means of simulation is to model the equipment and operational procedures at a rather detailed level. Many attempts fail to link with reality, because the details that make an operation complicated – for instance the container loading sequence, the grounding rules, and the equipment equipment, layout and terminal operating system’s (TOS) functionality. The first step is to determine the main requirements for the terminal. Here we apply an outside-in approach, taking the container flows that go through the terminal (vessel arrival pattern, rail pattern, truck pattern, dwell time) as a starting point. Example view within a simulation model of operations using an automated rail mounted gantry crane (ARMG) and automated guided vehicles (Lift-AGV)during these peak circumstances. Based on the outcome, decisions can be made concerning the quay length, the number of quay cranes, the gross productivity that quays have to achieve to accommodate a certain terminal throughput, the require-ments for storage capacity, and the peak handling conditions.The second step is more comprehensive, in the sense that there are many variables involved. Planning of the handling system involves the layout, type of equipment for the various operations – think of the number of trucks and RTGs, the number of rail cranes, the number of gate lanes, and so forth, and the logistical concept (incl. yard operating strategies). The latter is gaining importance in the case of automated terminals, since many tasks are taken over by computers. However, also at manually operated terminals is the emphasis put on efficient operations – for instance the implementation of truck or straddle carrier pooling. In this step, the TOS should be considered in close relation to the equipment as the TOS will make important decisions on grounding and dispatching and a realistic decision systematic is important to be included with a realistic feed of information from the operations, such as the equipment position and estimated time for finishing a job.An example of this second step is a recent comparison we carried out be-tween manually-driven shuttle carriers (SHC), automated shuttle carriers (ALV) and Lift-AGV’s. All in combination with an automated high density yard, operated by ARMGs. In terms of productivity, all three systems achieved the same performance level (40 net bx/h), but with different equipment numbers. In a peak operation the ratio between SHC, ALV, and L-AGV was 2.5-3.5-4 (per QC). The automated equipment is more sensitive to the density of the operation in terms of operating speed. Subsequently, one needs to compare the CAPEX required for each system, as well as the OPEX and understand key risk factors to coma to an evaluation of such systems. A simulation detailing such can be taken further getting close to civil design questions on pavement design, electric system requirements but also detailed kinematic characteristics of equipment and TOS functionality specifications. Optimise the day-to-day operation Although everyday operations at a container terminal differs from that of the day before, it is worthwhile to explore the possibilities of using models to improve such operations. The models are getting more comprehensive and are able to capture real operational procedures and handle real operational data. They can also depict processes at the level of individual container moves around the terminal and represent decision-making around grounding containers based on a container’s profile. With these models we see a great opportunity to apply them in the analysis and replay of past operations and in the pre-planning of upcoming operations. In this way, we can address questions around equipment usage and manning given a certain operation at a quay, rail and gate, as well as decisions concerning the in-advance preparation of the yard. Similarly operational procedures, namely equipment pooling, sharing part of the equipment, real-time re-allocation of equipment, and sizing the gangs, together with strategies and patterns for yard operations in terms of yard density, travel distance and unproductive moves (shuffles). Figure 1. Screenshot from the simulation model to determine the key terminal parametersThe outcome of these analyses can be fed back into the TOS functionality specifications, and into the minds of the managers, planners, dispatchers, and operators, running the terminal. It can overcome the often contradictory perceptions of the bottlenecks in the current operation, and prioritize improvement measures. Thanks to the use of real data and operations, the value of these exercises heavily increases, because it becomes much easier to translate the result back into the consequences for coming operations. Examples of the recent findings comprise the effect of equip-ment pooling (15% increase of equipment productivity and therefore the potential for reducing operating costs), and the effect of an improved RTG assignment and yard grounding strategy (20% less equipment required on average with the productivity level remaining at the same level).The essence of arriving at models that can accomplish this added value is a good understanding of the operation, including the rules in the terminal operating system. An alternative to overcome cumbersome modelling of TOS functionality is to link the simulation environment directly to the system. In this set-up, the simulation represents all the physical processes, the TOS uses the real container data to control the operation. By doing so, it can be configured much faster to accomplish a smooth and performing operation under various conditions.Operations at container terminals are highly complex, but automation makes them even more complex. Optimisation tools treating the operation as a deterministic process are difficult to apply because in real-time the operation differs highly from the planned situation due to the dynamic processes, weather delays and human intervention. Therefore, tools that explicitly consider the dynamics of a life operation should be favoured over others. Simulation is such a tool, able to represent and visualise container terminal operations – both the physical processes and the rules in the terminal operating system. Applying simulation makes the decisions concerning the investment in quay and quay cranes, the choice of handling system, and the configuration of a terminal’s control system better founded, better to understand, and more transparent to follow. It enables a terminal operator to reduce the risk of developing a new terminal or improving an existing one for similar or changing circumstances. If simulation is applied, one should make sure that the specific characteristics of an operation are validly represented in the model. Otherwise, the risk of nice pictures over sound results lies just around the corner. This article has been published in Harbours Review 2016/2. A pdf version can be found here: How can simulations help ports and terminals? 

Publication
The journey of CONTROLS: DPW Antwerp
May 2016

DPW ANTWERP DP World Antwerp Gateway is a high-class semi-automated terminal located on the left bank of the Port of Antwerp. Since 2007, it has been the first terminal in the global DPW portfolio to operate automated stacking cranes, providing the container storage for a large part of the terminal stacking capacity. The other part is done by a fleet of 1 over 2 and 1 over 3 straddle carriers. This mixes the benefits of a high stacking density on the yard by use of ASCs with the flexibility of straddle carriers. Combined with truck loading automation and world-class twin, tandem and quad ship-to-shore cranes, it delivers the tools to successfully run a container terminal in the Hamburg-Le Havre range. THE CONTROLS MODEL Because of the high-degree of automation in the terminal and the drive for optimisation, a good working TOS is essential. The operations have to be highly performant, even when in project roll out mode and after every update. This is where emulation kicks in for DPW Antwerp. The terminal came in contact with the CONTROLS product during the 2009 TOS implementation of Navis N4, coming from Cosmos. At that time, the emulation model was used for TOS testing in the pre go-live stage. This way, DPW Antwerp became acquainted with the benefits of emulation. After this TBA launched its new fully developed, now Java based emulation platform CONTROLS2. Because this new version could do much more, DPW Antwerp decided to upgrade, in order to use the potential of emulation to its maximum. This was the pilot project for TBA in 2011 to integrate CONTROLS2 with Navis XPS and ECN4, bringing emulation support to the latest generation of Navis TOSs. The CONTROLS2 model of DPW Antwerp was implemented with a high level of detail, modeled according to equipment specifications such as Gottwald’s trolley position dependent gantry speed system of the ASCs and load dependent quay crane (QC) hoisting speeds. Realistic operator behaviour was implemented in the emulation model as well, resulting in smooth QC spreader paths and realistic straddle carrier driving. The emulation model was validated against terminal data to ensure valid emulation results.   CONTROLS USAGEEver since, DPW Antwerp has embraced the usage of CONTROLS2 inits optimisation team for multiple purposes: TOS optimisation: Expert Decking and PrimeRoute offer advanced functionality and can bring major productivity improvements to terminals. These modules use complex parameter sets. Changing one parameter can affect the behavior in unexpected manners, even more so on a terminal with multiple types of stacking equipment. After determination of the desired improvements and corresponding parameter changes, CONTROLS brings the possibility to try the changes in real live situations and compare the outcomes to the benchmark. This way, a sensitivity analysis of the parameter can be made, showing the impact and side effects of the setting. Based on the outcome, the scenario is reset and run again with the lessons learned from the previous emulation experiments. This leads to a thorough understanding of the complex parameters, and optimal configuration for the specific terminal Patrick Van de Walle, Optimization Manager, says: “In the field of optimisation we have had several successes with the help of CONTROLS2. It has allowed us to verify the use of the Navis Autostow functionality and to determine the base parameter settings. Also, CONTROLS2 made it possible to reduce our horizontal driving distance by validating the renewed parameter sets for Expert Decking and Prime Route” TOS upgrade validation: Before the roll out of every TOS upgrade, DPW Antwerp runs complex emulation scenarios which allow the testing of the new TOS version to high volume scenarios under dynamic, near-to ­live circumstances. This enables a validation of both stability and productivity when using the new TOS version, prior to applying it onto the production environment. In this process, DPW Antwerp focuses on the handover scenarios between manual and automated equipment. This is a very important aspect for the semi­automated terminal, and shows the variety of benefits which CONTROLS2 can deliver. DPW Antwerp has used CONTROLS2 in conjunction with GTE and measurement tools to calculate the impact for significant civil changes to the terminal. This allowed to formulate the operational impact for civil restructuring. GRAPHICAL TERMINAL EDITOR As part of the CONTROLS suite, Graphical Terminal Editor (GTE) can be used to modify the terminal layout in the emulation model. The GTE application is aimed to support the CONTROLS user with the configuration of the terminal layout in a visual, user-friendly manner. The user can modify the terminal by adding or changing container terminal objects, such as stack, road, quay, parking places, buildings, and so forth. The real dimensions of each object can be entered and, for instance, sourced from CAD drawings of the terminal. For roadways, settings such as driving directions, maximum speed and the allowed equipment on each road can the configured. Extra yard blocks can also be added, or existing blocks changed. The output of the GTE application can be imported by the user into the CONTROLS2 model. CONCLUSION As witnessed by the examples in this article, CONTROLS has brought the benefits of emulation in the full extent to DPW Antwerp. In order to go even beyond, DPW Antwerp has decided to extend its CONTROLS model to include a full N4 cluster in the emulation setup. This will enable DPW Antwerp to further expand the scope and deployment of emulation. TBA will upgrade the emulation environment of DPW Antwerp to support this extension in the same user friendly manner. For instance, an upgrade of the MONITOR application, another part of the CONTROLS suite, will allow the users to start an emula-tion experiment by a single mouse click, including N4 database restore and startup of N4, regardless of the size of the N4 cluster. In summation, CONTROLS emulation will continue to support DPW Antwerp in this ever evolving industry. This article has been published in Port Technology Magazine Edition 70. Find the full article here:https://www.porttechnology.org/technical_papers/the_journey_of_controls_dp_world_antwerp Or view a pdf version of the same article here:The journey of CONTROLS: DPW Antwerp 

Publication
New intelligent apps innovate multiple terminals accross the globe
May 2016

Intelligent Apps went live on several terminals accross the globe, marked in the movie.

Press release
Simplifying your operation at TOC 2016
May 2016

We are happy to announce that we will share the stand with our sister companies CSA (providing software for warehouse and container terminals) as well as TBA (providing consultancy and software for bulk and container terminals). Our common goal: Simplifying your operation! David Trueman will speak on Tuesday June 14th at 14.30 in the session about:  

Press release
Simplifying your operation at TOC 2016
May 2016

We are happy to announce that we will share the stand with our sister companies CSA (providing software for warehouse and container terminals) as well as DBIS (providing software for bulk and break bulk terminals). Our common goal: Simplifying your operation! VISIT MAASVLAKTE II IN VIRTUAL REALITY ON OUR STAND! Want to visit the Second Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, where TBA delivers their state-of-the-art TEAMS software for equipment control in two of the newest automated terminals? In TBA's virtual reality terminals you can drive and walk around the terminal wearing the Oculus Rift on our stand for a fully immersive experience! Read more here on our VR serious games.

Press release
On the way to optimised productivity and enhanced customer service levels for Eimskip
April 2016

EIMSKIP CHOOSES AUTOSTORE TOS FROM CSA TO CONTROL FOUR CONTAINER TERMINALS ACROSS ICELAND AND THE FAROE ISLANDS Leading Icelandic cargo transport company to install Autostore Terminal Operating System (TOS) in major IT infrastructure upgrade CSA (Central Systems & Automation Ltd) is to implement Autostore TOS for Eimskip (Eimskipafélag Íslands hf) across four container terminals: Sundahöfn, Reyðarfjörður and Grundartangi in Iceland and at Tórshavn in the Faroe Islands. As part of the contract, CSA’s sister company and leading European terminal software consultancy TBA will work jointly with CSA and Eimskip on TOS migration across operations, planning and IT integration. The initial TOS implementation will be at Sundahöfn Terminal in Reykjavik, Eimskip’s largest terminal. Established in 1914, Eimskip provides substantial cargo handling operations across the North Atlantic alongside an extensive worldwide network of reefer logistics services. The new TOS implementation spans the Autostore Container Terminal Management System (CTMS) plus a range of additional modules to increase cargo throughput and enhance operational efficiency at Eimskip’s facilities. TBA will also work with Eimskip on a performance improvement programme designed to enhance customer service levels, leveraging the best practices to be brought into Eimskip’s new software landscape. Spanning 13 cargo terminal operations and a fleet of 20 ships backed by 42 chilled, cold storage and warehouse operations - plus air freight, freight forwarding, agency and road distribution services - Eimskip has 57 offices in 19 countries and employs nearly 1,600 people. All four terminals will be run from a single centralised Autostore TOS implementation using the Autostore Multi Terminal Management module. Other TOS modules to be deployed include: Berth Planning; Graphic Vessel Planning; Vehicle Booking; EDI; Activity Charging; Vehicle Booking; 3D Yard Visualisation and Value Added Services for container maintenance and repair. CSA will also offer 24/7/365 support across remote virtual private network (VPN) for all operations. The new TOS implementation focuses on terminal performance and cost-efficiency. Key here will be the integration of other Eimskip businesses in trucking and liner operations: Sundahöfn Terminal acts as an important node in the Eimskip network that serves the company’s other businesses. With clear goals defined for the Eimskip TOS implementation, this IT project is a long-term performance improvement programme that will enhances Eimskip’s competitive position in the market place. Effectively the new TOS is the starting point to continuous operational improvement, thus marking a shift in traditional TOS deployment towards it being a fully integrated part of the customer’s strategic business plan. Kristjan Thor Hallbjornsson, ICT Director at Eimskip said: “Optimised productivity and enhanced customer service levels are the objectives we seek to support our growth plans into the next decade. CSA and TBA are critical parts of the delivery equation: the proven expertise of both companies in delivering business benefits and future-proofed software platforms was key to our decision”.   Andrew McKaig, CEO at CSA, said: “We’re delighted to expand our TOS capabilities into the crucial North Atlantic cargo market. The Eimskip contract highlights the ability of Autostore TOS to handle integrated multi-terminal operations – simplifying complex distributed operations while adding both value, performance and real-time flexibility to frontline container cargo management”. Yvo Saanen, Managing Director at TBA, said: “Eimskip, CSA and TBA have much in common: lean and responsive structures underpinned by a strong, entrepreneurial culture. TBA’s extensive simulation, emulation and modelling capabilities will create a powerful performance optimisation layer for Eimskip, one that that helps drive long-term efficiency and profitability”.

Press release
TBA @ 1 Year SmartPort Celebration
April 2016

SmartPort celebrated a 1 year anniversary on April 7 in Rotterdam. TBA was invited to showcase one of the outcomes of a research initiative with a.o. the Delft University of Technology and the new container terminals at Maasvlakte 2.

Press release
Terminal Automation & Training Conference in London
April 2016

TBA is headline sponsor of the conference. For more information click the picture below. 

Press release
Entering the Maritime Sector: Logistics 4.0
March 2016

To read the article check:  https://www.porttechnology.org/technical_papers/entering_the_maritime_sector_logistics_4.0 

Publication
TOS in a box, Plug and Play all over the planet
March 2016

Typically the delivery of TOS systems requires considerable effort both by the provider and the client to establish the infrastructure, train the users, test the functionality and integrate the software with other local systems. However this is not always easy or practicable, especially where local IT skills are limited or travel to a particular region is risky or difficult. Nectar Group recently signed a 10 year agreement with the Government of Sierra Leone to manage and run the Bulk Terminal located at Queen Elizabeth II Quay, Freetown. To operate the terminal, which is known as Nectar Sierra Leone Bulk Terminal (NSBT), Nectar needed to implement a TOS system and weighbridges. To do so they consulted with DBIS (Software and Automation) Ltd and in a sharing of ideas produced a blueprint for a self-contained  TOS solution, which could be delivered to the terminal and once connected to the main electricity supply operate the terminal “out of the box”.  Standard shipping container with secure window for interaction with drivers on the weighbridge The terminal required two weighbridges one on the in gate and one on the out gate so the decision was made to use standard 20’ shipping containers as weighbridge offices and use the same containers as the administrative office and the server room. The two containers are fitted with internal linings to create an office environment with power and networks installed to the requirements of the users. The two containers have a network connection using Wi-Fi with the server in the main office container. The weighbridges were manufactured in the UK and the weighbridge controllers were integrated with the IT environment for testing and training prior to the containers being shipped. Once the solution was built the operators travelled to the UK for training both on how to assemble and connect the weighbridges and how to use the software in their application. Training certificates were issued and on sign off of the software functionality the server and workstations were packaged for transport and the containers shipped to the site for deployment. DBIS is able to connect to the server via the web to handle any support issues in the future. The solution has created a solution which meets all the requirements of the terminal without requiring any construction or local IT preparation. Deployment and training costs have been minimised and the system will be operational within a week of delivery to the terminal.

Press release
The journey of CONTROLS: 10 years
February 2016

A brief history about TBA's emulation platform CONTROLS. This article takes you through the development of this concept from the early days - more than 10 years ago - to today. The article can be found here: https://www.porttechnology.org/technical_papers/tba_the_journey_of_controls Or view a pdf version of the same article here: The journey of CONTROLS 

Publication
TEAMS @ LBCT
January 2016

Watch TEAMS in action @ Long Beach Container terminal from 50:35. 

Press release
Terminal Automation: Key Questions Answered
January 2016

SWZ Maritime published the article and can be viewed here: Terminal Automation: Key Questions Answered

Publication
Merry Xmas and Happy 2016
December 2015

TBA wishes you a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

Publication
Innovation and process optimisation drive succes
December 2015

The Ports of Auckland operates New Zealand’s largest container-based port. The terminals are situated in the heart of Auckland and hence have the largest consumer market in the country on their doorstep. More than 2 million people (out of 4.5 million in New Zealand) live in Auckland. Despite this relatively small population, large volumes of exports – New Zealand is one of the largest dairy exporters in the world – are handled through the Ports of Auckland (PoAL). The main container facility of PoAL is operated on the Fergusson berth and handles just over 1 million TEU annually. On a small footprint, operated with 1 over 2 straddle carriers, with the flow being predominantly import-export, this is an everyday puzzle to achieve quality of service both on the waterside and landside. Preparing for the future In order to be prepared for the future, PoAL partnered with TBA in 2008 to develop a long term plan, and to keep this up-to-date as time progresses. Since then, PoAL and TBA have been working together on the ‘master planning’, as well as enhancing operational efficiency to make it not only the largest but also the most productive and efficient terminal in New Zealand... To read more:  https://www.porttechnology.org/technical_papers/innovation_and_process_optimisation_drive_success

Publication
DBIS wins IBJ Innovation award
November 2015

DBIS won an award at the IBJ ceremony in Antwerp this week. This is the 4th award in 7 years of the event. DBIS won the award in the Innovation category together with ABP. DBIS was also shortlisted in two other categories. From left to right Damir Lovrinov, Director Caravel, Hong Kong. Mike Sellers, Director ABP. David Trueman, Director DBIS. Ray Girvan, IBJ.

Press release
Nectar sign multiple contracts with DBIS software
October 2015

Nectar was established in 1972 and in the early 1980s revolutionised the bulk handling industry at developing ports around the world when it invented and launched the world’s first mobile bagging system.More recently Nectar has developed its strategy towards the management, operation and maintenance of terminals starting in 2011 with the Beira Coal Terminal in Mozambique. In operating the coal terminal, Nectar is responsible for all of the activities within the terminal from unloading of coal from the trains up to loading of the vessels including maintenance of all terminal equipment. The terminal has a design throughput capacity of 5 million tonnes per year and has a vessel loading capacity of 2,400 metric tons per hour. Nectar chose DBIS to provide their terminal management system for Beira and the organisations have worked closely together on various initiatives until 2015 when Nectar was awarded two major projects; firstly a ten year concession to operate the Freetown Terminal in Sierra Leone and then a joint venture between Seasia Logistics Philippines Inc. and Nectar to construct a US$18.5 million terminal in Bataan, Philippines. Nectar will operate each terminal with a local management team but at the same time allow the central management to interact with the terminals to monitor the performance of the operations from both a process and a financial perspective. For this to work effectively Nectar needed consistency in the local operational practices and the capability to access real time information remotely. To facilitate this Nectar has followed up their decision at the Beira terminal and implemented the CommTrac terminal management system from DBIS. In 2015 DBIS released CommTrac V4, a totally new release of the CommTrac software created using a web user interface, which is perfectly suited to the requirements for remote access required by Nectar. CommTrac V4 has also been created to meet the needs of break bulk and general cargo terminals as well as DBIS’ traditional customers in the bulk sector. This additional functionality provides Nectar with the perfect platform to develop their terminal business in whichever direction the market requires. To keep human resources to a minimum Nectar will use a single system administrator based in the UK to manage master data and commercial terms within the systems, training of local teams will also be performed by Nectar’s own super users.To deliver the software to the terminals in a quick and simple way the decision was made to construct containerised offices, which use modified shipping containers as administrative offices and server rooms, interconnected using Wi-Fi. This allowed the systems to be connected to weighbridges and fully tested in the UK prior to shipping by standard container liner service to the destination country where they could be set down, powered up and put into operation, quickly and easily.DBIS and Nectar have put in place a multi-site agreement with the plan to implement the DBIS solution wherever Nectar establishes a terminal operation, to ensure consistent and remotely accessible information is provided to the key decision makers in the organisation.   Standard shipping container with secure window for interaction with drivers on the weighbridge Container fitted out to create an office environment User training at DBIS’ office

Press release
3 ways to optimise your port
October 2015

Press release
Optimising Bulk Operations
September 2015

http://www.porttechnology.org/news/optimising_bulk_terminal_storage_with_simulation

Press release
In 2025 werkt een derde van alle havens volautomatisch (Dutch)
August 2015

In 2025 werkt een derde van alle havens volautomatisch

Publication
TBA @ Terminal Automation Seminar
August 2015

Yvo Saanen (MD) is expert speaker at the Terminal Automation Seminar 2015. Terminal Automation Seminar: A comprehensive guide to successfully implementing automation technology in port and terminal operations For more info check:

Press release
360 Container Terminal Experience
July 2015

Press release
Lean and Mean Terminal Design
June 2015

This article was published in Terminal Operator June 2015 View article

Publication
Simplifying your operation at TOC 2015
May 2015

We are happy to announce that we will share the stand with our sister companies CSA (providing software for warehouse and container terminals) as well as DBIS (providing software for bulk and break bulk terminals). Our common goal: Simplifying your operation!   VISIT MAASVLAKTE II IN VIRTUAL REALITY ON OUR STAND! Want to visit the Second Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, where TBA delivers their state-of-the-art TEAMS software for equipment control in two of the newest automated terminals? In TBA's virtual reality terminals you can drive and walk around the terminal wearing the Oculus Rift on our stand for a fully immersive experience! Read more here on our VR serious games.

Press release
Chimney App
April 2015

The goal of the chimney Intelligent plug-in is to increase safety in the yard. On terminals chimney stacks are undesired because of safety due to the risk of falling when handling other containers, and the risk of falling due to wind. Here, we define a pilein the yard as a chimney (stack) when either: 1. The difference between the pile height of the pile and the maximum pile height of the adjacent piles (in the same bay) is 2 or more 3 or more (depending on user configuration) 2. In RTG terminals, the pile on the lane closest to the truck lane is already a chimney when it is higher than its adjacent inward pile Due to stacking parameters, and loading sequences, chimney stacks will evolve. On RTG terminals, for safety reasons, chimneys in the yard need to be avoided On ASC terminals, in case of approaching storm, chimneys in the yard need to be avoided and now manual planning is needed to prepare the yard  The app will Identify the chimney stacks Avoid new chimney stacks List the moves to resolve chimney stacks Make the chimneys visible in the TOS Plan moves for the containers to new piles First take chimneys of MTYs  down Then take chimneys of fulls down This article was published on Port Technology International

Press release
APM Terminals Maasvlakte II Officially Open
April 2015

On 24 April 2015, APM Terminals hosted a celebration attended by The Netherlands’ Monarch King Willem-Alexander, and 500 senior representatives from the global shipping industry and world governments in honor of the official opening of the new APM Terminals Maasvlakte II Rotterdam facility, the world’s most technologically advanced and environmentally sustainable container terminal.  Please find the full press release here: APMT MVII officially opens. Watch the movie

Press release
Smartest port of the world
April 2015

On Sunday 26 April 2015 at 21:00, TBA will play a role in the documentary titled 'De slimste haven van de Wereld' / 'The smartest port of the World' on Dutch national television made by VPRO.

Press release
Machines zijn betrouwbaarder dan mensen (Dutch)
April 2015

Klik hieronder voor het interview  

Publication
Verification App
April 2015

This article can be read on:  http://www.porttechnology.org/news/feature_app_of_the_week With TOC Europe just around the corner, simulation, emulation and software specialists TBA is presenting an ‘App of the week’ initiative together with Port Technology International. The Intelligent App platform is developed in conjunction with terminals to optimise operations. The apps presented in this series are working apps and apps currently in testing. The Intelligent App platform is working together with Navis SPARCS 3.7, and N4 2.x.   App of the Week: Plan Verification App Planners at terminals have to think of many factors when planning the handling of a vessel. Key questions revolve around whether a team is using the right working patterns, whether the right containers are being handled in the right sequence from the yard, whether a yard supports the cranes and so forth. An extensive analysis of training results in our planning training has revealed that the improvement of planning can lead to much better productivity, while avoiding the typical ‘fire-fighting’ that happens in the control tower. From the same analysis we gathered the most commonly made mistakes and implemented them in our Plan Verification App which instantaneously checks plans for common mistakes. The latest release also checks for optimisation opportunities, minimises yard clashes and checks for twin-lift possibilities as well as dual cycling. The Plan Verification App is part of the Intelligent App platform and works seamlessly with Navis SPARCS 3.7, and N4 2.x. It can be remotely installed and has no effect on the production system, hence it is risk free.

Press release
Serious Simulation
March 2015

Port Industry has published an article on Serious Simulation To view the article in low resulotion: Serious Simulation Low Resolution To order the magazine: http://www.ynfpublishers.com/port-industry

Publication
Optimization as mantra for operational excellence
March 2015

In the first edition of Terminal Operator Yvo's article has been published: To see it in high quality on their website: http://issuu.com/terminaloperator/docs/terminal_operator_volume1_jan-mar20/19?e=0 To view it in low resolution: Optimization as mantra for operational excellence

Publication
De Havenindustrie is conservatief
March 2015

Yvo Saanen heeft een missie: mensen winnen voor de techniek. “Iedereen moet een grafiek kunnen lezen in de huidige maatschappij.” Zijn bedrijf TBA levert besturingssoftware voor geautomatiseerde containerterminals in havens als Rotterdam, New York en Los Angeles. De TU-alumnus is genomineerd voor de titel Ingenieur van het Jaar. Foto's: Sam Rentmeester U vindt dat meer mensen ingenieur moeten worden. Hoe wilt u daarvoor zorgen?“Als ik deze prijs win, ga ik met lezingen het ingenieurswezen uitdragen. Het ingenieur-zijn en op die manier naar de wereld kijken, daar moet veel meer van zijn. Ik merk het in het college dat ik geef aan de Erasmus Universiteit: een deel van de alfa-studenten kan geen grafiek lezen. Iedereen moet dat kunnen in de huidige maatschappij. Het is verweven in alles wat je doet.” U wilt ook het ondernemerschap promoten. Wat weerhoudtmensen ervan om te ondernemen?“Risico mijden, maar ga voor jezelf na: wat is daadwerkelijk mijn risico? Dat kan erg meevallen. Je moet durven falen. Wij hebben ook dingen opgepakt die niet gelukt zijn. Denk erover na hoe je een bedrijf kunt opzetten waarmee je meteen een basisinkomen voor jezelf kunt genereren. Misschien moet je dingen erbij doen die niet na aan je hart liggen, maar waarbij je wel je eigen kennis en kunde inzet. Je moet daar wat minder kritisch in zijn. Daarnaast wil ik uitstralen hoe leuk de maritieme industrie is. Nederland is toonaangevend. Overal in de wereld kennen ze het Nederlandse watermanagement en de maritieme techniek: schepen ontwerpen, kades, terminals en alles wat erbij komt kijken. Dat maakt me trots, maar we hebben meer mensen nodig.” Uw bedrijf ontwerpt onder meer simulatie- en besturingssoftware voor geautomatiseerde terminals, overal in de wereld. Waarom is de havenindustrie daar nu pas mee bezig?“De havenindustrie is conservatief. Op veel hoge posities zitten oude dokwerkers. Ze hebben gesjouwd, op een kraan gezeten, waren kapitein. Zij hebben minder affiniteit met technologie en computers. De grote operators wijzigen dat stap voor stap: in de managementslagen komen steeds meer hoogopgeleiden. Dat is een onomkeerbare trend.” Wat zijn de voordelen van geautomatiseerde containerterminals?“Ze kunnen meer volume afhandelen, veroorzaken minder schade aan machines en containers, zijn stiller en emissievrij. In een traditionele haven werkt alles op diesel, in een automatische haven op elektriciteit. Neem Hamburg: daar ligt de haven in de stad. Daartegenover ligt een dure villawijk. De bewoners daarvan zijn niet blij als er containers worden overgeslagen vanwege lawaai, uitstoot en lichtvervuiling. De automatische haven is ook veiliger. Jaarlijks vallen er wereldwijd honderden slachtoffers, het is een gevaarlijke industrie. Sommige mensen komen onder een container terecht, de meesten worden overreden. Kijk naar India. Daar komt een truckchauffeur de terminal binnen, vaak met een tweede mannetje bij zich voor de papieren. Dat rent blootvoets over de terminal, tussen de trucks door. Haal je mensen weg van de werkvloer, dan worden de risico’s veel kleiner. Het gaat wel gepaard met banenverlies, dat is onvermijdelijk.” Hoe groot wil TBA worden?“We hebben de laatste drie jaar twee bedrijven gekocht. We zijn nu in totaal met tweehonderd man. We willen daarmee een meer compleet bedrijf worden. Een houdt zich bezig met bulk, de ander met planningssoftware. De omzet nu is ongeveer twintig miljoen euro. Gezamenlijk hebben we het doel binnen vijf jaar te verdubbelen. Dat moet lukken, want ik verwacht dat het aantal automatische terminals binnen tien jaar vertienvoudigt, als eerste in hoge-lonen landen, zoals de Verenigde Staten en Australië. Wij verwachten daar een flink aandeel in te hebben.” Waarom daar?“De loonkosten zijn er astronomisch hoog. Aan de westkust van de VS is het gemiddelde salaris van havenwerknemers 150 duizend dollar. In New York zijn er mensen die zeven dagen in de week 25 uur per dag betaald worden, maar niet eens op de terminal aanwezig zijn. Dat komt door de macht van de vakbonden. Het is daar helemaal uit de hand gelopen. Zijn er onderhandelingen tussen werknemers en werkgevers aan de westkust, dan gaan havenwerkers aan de hele kust langzaam werken. Zeventig, tachtig schepen liggen dan in de haven op afhandeling te wachten en op termijn raken de schappen in de supermarkten leeg.” De bonden zijn vast niet blij met jullie.“Onze opdrachtgevers zijn de terminals. Zij onderhandelen met de bonden. Als ontwerpers staan wij op afstand. Ook in China, waar we de afgelopen twee jaar twee grote projecten hebben gedaan, zijn stijgende lonen naast prestige een reden om te automatiseren. En verrassend genoeg kunnen ze niet aan personeel komen dat in de haven wil werken. Het verloop is er 25 procent per jaar. Dat leidt tot kwaliteitsinbreuk.” Hoe bent u in de havenwereld terechtgekomen?“We zijn met zijn tweeën – Klaas Pieter van Til en ik - begonnen met logistiek advies. TBA staat voor Technisch Bestuurskundige Adviesgroep. De combinatie van technische projecten met juridische aspecten, business cases, draagvlak creëren, dat was een niche. Daarmee zijn we bij ministeries langs geweest en diverse partijen in de Rotterdamse haven. Dat leidde tot allerlei verschillende projectjes. We pakten alles aan wat we konden krijgen. De TU heeft ons ook aan opdrachten geholpen: derde geldstroomonderzoek dat ze zelf niet aankonden. Zo zijn we op het simulatiespoor gekomen. Werktuigbouwkundehoogleraar Joan Rijsenbrij werkte voor het Duitse bedrijf Gottwald, dat automatisch geleide voertuigen heeft geleverd op de Maasvlakte. Gottwald had simulatiesoftware nodig en had gezien dat ik daar wel handig in was. Toen is het balletje richting havens gaan rollen. We hebben een bibliotheek aan simulatiemodellen ontwikkeld. Nog steeds is dat de basis van veel van ons werk wereldwijd.” Nu hebben jullie naast het Delftse kantoor vestigingen in Duitsland en Roemenië.Waarom daar?“In 2006 hebben we een groot deel van onze aandelen verkocht, aan Gottwald, dat weer onderdeel is geworden van Terex, een Amerikaans concern.Zo zijn we in Duitsland terecht gekomen. Tot die tijd deden we alleen advies en simulatie, daarna zijn we software gaan bouwen. Met onze simulatiesoftware voor ontwerp en verbeteringen zijn we wereldwijd veruit de grootste, net als met de besturingssoftware voor automatisch gestuurde terminals. In Roemenië belandden we, omdat er in 2005 in Nederland niet aan ingenieurs te komen was. Vlak voor de crisis was alles hype. We hadden een Roemeense werknemer die een paar vrienden aanbeval. We hebben ze een pilotproject gegeven en dat beviel goed. Roemenen zijn fijne mensen om mee te werken: uitstekende informatici en zeer loyaal. Met hen hebben we een nieuw product ontwikkeld: het emulatieprogramma, dat we gebruiken voor het testen en finetunen van software. We zijn de eerste die daarmee zijn begonnen en we zijn wereldmarktleider. Hoe je uit een promotietraject nog een leuke aanpak kunt halen.” Waarom wilde u promoveren? U had al een eigen bedrijf.“Ik werd enthousiast gemaakt door een paar simulatiecollega’s aan de TU. Het leek me leuk, maar ik zou het niet weer doen. Ik zou promoveren niemand aanraden, tenzij iemand een academische carrière ambieert. Het is erg individueel, je moet zelf dat boekje af krijgen, een heidens karwei. Ik houd meer van samen dingen doen. Maar er is wel iets uit voortgekomen. Ik ben er trots op dat emulatie een succes is geworden. Steeds meer internationale bedrijven doen ons na.” Wat is het verschil tussen simulatie en emulatie?“Emulatie is complexer. Je moet details toevoegen en in real time kunnen samenwerken met werkende software. Het is heel krachtige technologie. We zijn nu hard bezig met training van werknemers in dat soort omgevingen. Neem een planner in de containerterminal. Die doet gewoon zijn werk in zijn plansysteem, alleen is het een virtuele omgeving. Hij kan op een veilige manier aan moeilijke omstandigheden worden blootgesteld, zonder dat hij het fout kan doen. We maken nu de stap naar de combinatie met virtual reality, zodat we ook mensen kunnen trainen die buiten werken. Dat doen we met een Oculus Rift-bril. Daarmee waan je je in een 3D–omgeving. De man die in de containerterminal reparaties moet uitvoeren, zet die bril op en loopt rond. Waarbij alles wordt gesimuleerd: voertuigen rijden rond, schepen worden afgehandeld. Dan kan hij zijn taken uitvoeren volgens alle protocollen.” U zit in de raad van advies van uw oude faculteit TBM. Wordt er naar u geluisterd?“We zitten met zeven, acht mensen uit het bedrijfsleven en de ambtenarij twee keer per jaar bij elkaar om mee te denken over onderwijsprogramma’s en onderzoeksvelden. Het faculteitsbestuur legt zijn plannen aan ons voor en wij kraken wat kritische noten. We hebben geen zeggingskracht, het is puur klankborden. Iedereen neemt er het zijne van.” Is er veel veranderd sinds u technische bestuurskunde studeerde?“Natuurlijk is er van alles anders, maar de hoofdlijn van het curriculum staat overeind. Al zijn er wel wat dingen vervallen, waarvan ik me afvraag waarom. Ik vind dat elke techniekstudent zou moeten leren programmeren. Niet omdat ze later moeten gaan programmeren, maar omdat het ze een denkwijze aanleert die in elk vak buitengewoon nuttig is: objectgeoriënteerd en gestructureerd denken. Programmeren dwingt je structuur aan te brengen in je probleem. Maar helaas komen er nog steeds studenten van de TU die niet kunnen programmeren. Als van de afstudeerders vijftig procent zelf een app kan bouwen, vind ik het veel. Dat moet veel meer zijn.” CV Yvo Saanen (41) begon in 1991 aan de toen nieuwe opleiding technische bestuurskunde. Daarvoor deed hij een jaar wiskunde, maar vond dat te saai. “Te veel wiskunde.” Saanen was lid van het eerste bestuur van studievereniging Curius en medeoprichter van alumnivereniging Arachnion. Ook was hij als student bestuurslid van de Landelijk Overleg Bestuurskunde. Na zijn studie begon hij samen met studiegenoot en vriend Klaas Pieter van Til het bedrijf TBA. Terwijl ze wereldwijd opdrachten binnensleepten, promoveerde Saanen tussen 1998 en 2004 bij TBM op een nieuw vakgebied: emulatie. Tot 2008 gaf Saanen op de TU het vak simulatie en logistiek. Hij stopte toen hij het niet meer leuk vond. “Het was een verplicht vak. De motivatie van de studenten was niet altijd om over naar huis te schrijven. Het moet wel van beide kanten komen.” Saanen doceert aan de Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, binnen de postacademische master maritime economics and logistics. Een van zijn werknemers nomineerde Saanen voor de titel Ingenieur van het Jaar. Dit artikel is gepubliceerd in het universiteitsblad Delta van de TUDelft. http://delta.tudelft.nl/artikel/de-havenindustrie-is-conservatief/29637

Publication
New web based CommTrac V4 is here!
March 2015

The latest version of our terminal management software, CommTrac V4, brings together all the core functionality of previous versions with a new web based front end.Being web based, CommTrac V4, now makes it easier for companies to adopt a centrally hosted solution with multi-terminal roll out via standard web browsers. It also allows user to take full advance of new mobile and tablet technology.

Press release
Vote for Navis Inspire award Terminal Operations Improvement SCCT
February 2015

To Vote, press like on http://community.navis.com/t5/Navis-Inspire-Awards/Suez-Canal-Container-Terminal-SCCT-Terminal-Operations/idi-p/25059   Terminal: Suez Canal Container Terminal Entry Submitted by: Jan Buijze, COO Navis Inspire Awards Category: Terminal Operations Improvement   Tell us about your terminal.  The most unique characteristic of Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT) is that it is located in Port Said, Egypt at the mouth of the Suez Canal on the Mediterranean Sea. It is a major transshipment hub for the Eastern Mediterranean region and a gateway port for local Egyptian cargo. The terminal’s current capacity is 5.4 million TEU, making it one of the largest container terminals on the Mediterranean Sea. SCCT started operations in 2004 and is operated by APM Terminals, the major shareholder.    We are one of the largest sites in the world that has gone live successfully with Navis N4 (our old TOS was RBS) where the advanced modules as Expert Decking and Prime Route were implemented from the very start. A large portion of world trade is passing doors, providing us significant opportunities to attract customers.  Why are you nominating your terminal for this category? Describe the project, what was it and why was is/it unique and important? We are nominating our project in the terminal operations improvement category. The biggest challenge was the migration of a large and complex facility from RBS (Australian TOS) to Navis N4 TOS. We have migrated to N4 including all the advanced functionalities such as Expert Decking and Prime Route and in fact this is the first go live where the advanced modules of Expert Decking and Prime Route were successfully implemented from the start. SCCT, APMT, TBA and Navis teams have worked closely together to achieve a successful implementation. Furthermore, the SCCT migration has been one of the largest, if not the largest, N4 migration in the history of the TOS. Currently, it is one of the largest sites in the world running with the advanced modules of Navis TOS. After go-live (September 2014) experienced a significant drop in Productivity (15 moves/hour) but we have steadily increased productivity and are presently (February 2015) operating between 26-27 moves/hour. We are not there yet (29+) but this will hopefully be a matter of time. An added complexity was the fact that we simultaneously went live with N4 billing and it is fair to state that no vessel related invoices were delayed more than a few days during go-live and we have internally and externally validated that no revenue was leaked as consequence of changing systems. The success of this large terminal using Navis’ state-of-the-art software shows what N4 is capable of achieving. Describe the Goals and Objectives that you had for the project. Goal for the project included the following: Optimise terminal logistics through automation  Eliminate manual interference Use automation to enhance our productivity Please tell us about the project planning, development and execution. We had a project manager who reported to the steering committee, which included the COO, CFO, Chief Commercial Officer, Operations Manager and Planning Manager. This group took all the key decisions, approved project plans, budgets and followed up on the progress of the plan as agreed. For the first nine months, we met once a month and when we were closer to the go-live, we met bi-weekly. In the last month, the meetings happened on a weekly basis. Even after the go-live, we continued to meet twice a week to be able to act quickly on issues and developments that needed escalation or attention. The go-live preparation took a year and we were committed to keeping the whole organization informed on all decisions and steps, what was to be expected and what the changes would entail. Since we did this from the beginning of the project, it created good faith and a positive vibe about the whole project. We focused on all employees from yard planners to the equipment operators. We have 1,200 operators and another 1,000 contractors who are working in our trucks. We put a lot of focus in keeping them involved and abreast of any changes and benefits. We spent significant time on training. Overall, we have been able to make the change to N4 without to much noise. Productivity went down temporarily due to various technical issues we had in the beginning of the project—network coverage, certain things in the release and mistakes from our own staff. As the project progressed and people got better at operating the system, things started to improve. We developed in-house applications for RBS, but many of these in-house apps became redundant for N4. Either functionality was available fully or partially in N4. Please detail key measures, metrics, and ROI results. Include as much detail as you can including examples and evidence. How has your operation or business improved as a result of this project? We expect to grow substantially over the next couple of years and we would simply not be able to manage with our old (RBS) TOS. We migrated mid September 2014 and the productivity level is now between 26-27 moves/hour, which is 1-1.5 points below what it was before the N4 implementation. However, the expectation is that we will do better than that in the long-term. The good thing is that we did not have a meltdown. There are various examples in this industry where a change of TOS has resulted in a meltdown at the terminal and where it took months to recover. The process of handling a truck when it gets into our gate has been reduced by 50%. We are also expecting increased efficiency in both planning and execution. It’s important to involve your own workforce and key people from an early stage at terminals, so you are familiar with the people and they are ready to help you when you need them. What are the factors that affected the project positively or negatively? What lessons would you like to share with the Navis community? From the preparation period, our teams were well-organized. This allowed us to catch any issues at an early stage before they became an obstacle. As with all projects, communication is key, particularly with our internal teams. If everybody remains open and objective, things go smoothly.  The big lessons we learned are to make sure you get the real buy in from the people who will be using the new application. In the test period, try to implement the system with as little customization as possible, and when you have a release with some level of customization, test it over and over again. We started testing in April and did several full cycles before the go live. We started the testing process first with super users and then we involved more people within the organization. We did that on a rotation based on their shifts. In doing all the testing, everyone got a good number of hours using the system. Who were the key team members who drove and contributed to the success of the project.  SCCT: Mohamed Abouwarda – Project Manager Mohammed Tamer – Planning Manager Jan Buijze – COO Fredrik Klinke - CFO Eslam Hossni – Superuser Lars Koch-Soelyst  - CCO   APM Headquarters:  Brian Hibbert James Burgess   TBA: Raoul van Heffen Santhana Manickam Richard Chan Richard Bennis  Bert de Groot

Press release
Vote for Yvo as engineer of the year
February 2015

http://www.dagvandeingenieur.nl/stem-nu/

Press release
Bulk simulation page lauched due to succes bulk simulation projects
February 2015

TBA has launched a new Bulk subpage on their website under Simulation Analysis. After completing a significant number of Bulk simulation and consultancy projects over the past year TBA has noticed that there is a high demand within the Bulk market for proven simulations. More and more Bulk companies want to know where they can optimise their current facilities, what the maximum capacity is and how they should design their new facilities for an optimal layout.  With the proven accuracy of our simulation models of within 5% TBA has been the choice of the largest Bulk operators over the past years.  For more information about Bulk or to download our Bulk brochure click the picture below: 

Press release
Yvo Saanen in finals for Engineer of the Year
January 2015

Yvo Saanen, Managing Director and co-founder of TBA, was selected as one of the three finalists for Engineer of the Year! You can vote for Yvo from February 10th until March 15th by clicking the picture or link below:   http://www.dagvandeingenieur.nl/ The link to the official press release: https://www.tba.nl/resources/press+section/press+releases/20150126 Persbericht Finalisten Prins Friso Ingenieursprijs bekend.pdf.

Press release
Explore the Virtual Terminal
January 2015

Always wanted to experience your future terminal in its greatest detail before actually building one? Interested in experiencing the future layout, buildings, and combination of equipment in the terminal planning phase? So far the domain of simulation only, TBA now introduces the combination of highly accurate terminal simulation models with state-of-the-art technology in the form of the Oculus Rift https://www.oculus.com/rift/ This revolutionary combination create a unique experience of walking around in your newly planned terminal years before go-live. At Maasvlakte II in Rotterdam TBA is using their Virtual Terminal simulation model to train people. Connecting the Virtual Terminal to the Oculus Rift, safety training on Terminals will become even more realistic. During the upcoming TOC in Rotterdam http://tocevents-europe.com/ TBA will allow visitors to walk around the terminals of Maasvlakte II: an experience that can only be gained in this virtual world, as fully automated terminals are the exclusive domain of robots……

Press release
Succesful 2014 for TBA
January 2015

TBA has had a very busy and successful 2014, with over 100 projects. We have highlighted some of these projects in our newsletter to inspire you for 2015!  

Press release
The challenge for suppliers; State-of-the-Art Automation
December 2014

On the Second Maasvlakte in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and in Long Beach, CA USA, three of the most advanced automated terminals in the world are being build (Rotterdam World Gateway, APMT MVII and LBCT). End to end the workflows on the terminals are automated, with minimal manual intervention. TBA is involved as a software supplier, where we deliver our TEAMS software, which is the equipment control software. TEAMS software translates the planning from the TOS (terminal operating software) into outside moves, where the software acts between the equipment and the Terminal Operating Software (TOS). Routing, collision detection and high speed operations are among the operational challenges which are executed by our software. As a supplier we are challenged to perform to our best, and to explore new workflows and terminal design in cooperation with our clients and other suppliers. It is exciting to work on state-of-the-art terminal design and to be a part of the building blocks of innovation in operation. We are continuously measuring the impact of automation on productivity and seeing higher levels as the automation software is mature and all suppliers are working together to deliver the best. For 2015 TBA sees a new challenge to expand the TEAMS software to more equipment types, to expand the automation possibilities for terminals with different types of fleets.

Press release
Strategy evaluation; expansion of E-RTG’s for GPA
December 2014

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) asked TBA to evaluate their long term strategy. GPA operates the Garden City container terminal in Savannah, North America’s busiest single-terminal container facility. The 1,200 acre terminal with a fleet of 27 Ship to Shore cranes and 116 RTGs, currently handles over 3.0 million TEU per year. TBA has build a simulation model of the entire Garden City Terminal, which has been used as a decision support tool. During the last two years, the TBA simulation model has been used for a wide range of studies, including a long term capacity analysis, evaluation of improvement measures (yard strategy, equipment deployment, etc.), gate expansions plans and an evaluation of rail operations. One specific and interesting aspect of the simulation studies focused on the implementation of full electric RTGs (E-RTGs). GPA is the first operator in North America to use E-RTGs, to improve their sustainability and to reduce costs in the long term. After positive evaluation, GPA is expanding the E-RTG fleet to 15 E-RTGs. GPA intends to electrify all RTGs by 2024 to become one of the most sustainable terminals worldwide. The TBA simulation model was used to assess the performance of the E- RTGs, including the time impact of (de)coupling to the conductor bar during E-RTG block and lane changes, compared to the existing fleet. Based on this outcome the simulation was used to determine the long term E-RTG fleet size requirements to support GPA current and future throughput targets with a complete and sustainable E-RTG fleet.

Press release
SCCT TOS migration support using CONTROLS
December 2014

Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT), a large Mediterranean transshipment terminal, has recently migrated to Navis N4. TBA was asked to support in several aspects of the project, including testing the new TOS under near-to-live circumstances, giving Virtual Reality TOS training sessions and setting up the advanced modules PrimeRoute and Expert Decking. For each of these activities, TBA used its proven emulation software CONTROLS. The decision of SCCT to deploy TBA’s emulation approach enabled extensive testing of the TOS, using a TOS dataset from production (migrated to the new TOS) to test the system under realistic load. The training sessions with CONTROLS enabled the trainees to use the new TOS during dynamic operations, so they could apply best practices and experience the impact on their future system well in advance of Go-Live. To setup PrimeRoute and Expert Decking, TBA combined its extensive experience in optimizing these modules with the benefits of emulation. The initial configuration was done according to TBA’s vision on these systems, after which the configuration was verified and improved in the virtual reality operations of CONTROLS to roll out into the live operations.  As a result, the large and complex terminal went live without any major problems, with PrimeRoute and Expert Decking successfully deployed from the very first day. This enabled SCCT to handle 4000 container moves per day, ramping-up to an impressive figure of 6000+ in 4 weeks.

Press release
DBIS win the 2014 IBJ award for IT solution
December 2014

The award was won as part of a joint submission with Peel Ports Liverpool for the CommTrac system operating at Peel Ports Agri-Bulk terminals in Liverpool. Having first worked with Peel Ports Liverpool in 2001 when we jointly developed the Management, Operations and Traceability System for the Grain Terminal we then went on to develop their CommTrac Bulk Terminal Management System, which has subsequently become the product of choice for bulk terminals around the world.In 2012 we delivered a major upgrade of the automation and management systems at the Agri-Bulk terminals at the Port of Liverpool and have, this year, implemented CommTrac at Peel's Runcorn docks operation.The award was collected on the night by DBIS director David Trueman (centre left) and Peel Ports,Liverpool,Port Director David Huck (centre right)David Huck said “CommTrac delivers a tangible return on investment for Peel Ports Liverpool through administrative efficiencies, optimisation of operational processes and, more importantly, delivering further added value for our growing customer base. The traceability and QA requirements at Liverpool are intrinsic within CommTrac, enabling the terminals to further advance their compliance with global traceability and product security standards”.The award , which is our 3rd IBJ award, further cements our position as the leading global supplier of integrated systems to bulk and general cargo terminals.See what Peel Ports have to say about the award

Press release
TBA Addresses Automation Challenges with AI & Terminal Performance Expertise at Global Port Technology Industry Event
November 2014

Over the last few years, the shipping industry has seen growing investment in automation. Companies have made this investment in order to remain competitive and in an effort to drive the industry forward, but investment in training and in global standardisation has lagged behind significantly. Global standards are an important part of the process of enabling systems from various suppliers to work together; it is this standardisation that will allow the industry to take full advantage of emergent technologies. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a trendy topic, but does the industry have the right framework in place to support the utilisation of this powerful tool to its full potential? It is questions like the above that will be addressed by Dr Yvo Saanen, Commercial Director of the TBA Group, at the Container Terminal Automation Conference (14 – 15 March) in London. At the conference, Yvo will share his thoughts on how terminals can fully benefit from AI and how variable costs can be drastically reduced by using existing assets in a more productive way. As a pioneer in the process of using simulation in a proofed environment, TBA has an impressive global portfolio of experience assisting different types of terminals and addressing customer needs with proven solutions. The Container Terminal Automation Conference 2018: Automation and AI takes place from 14 to 15 March in London. The event brings together the top futurists, analysts and engineers in AI Automation to uncover the secrets of AI Automation, explore the latest cutting-edge operations along the supply chain, address the human cost and how that can be leveraged, envision what lays in store for humanity and physical trade, and ensure optimum cybersecurity practices are discovered. To find out more about the importance of this prestigious industry event, visit www.porttechnology.org/conference

Press release
APM Terminals Maasvlakte II Begins Landside 24/7 Operations
November 2014

APM Terminals Maasvlakte II has announced the commencement of the landside operations! An important milestone in the life of the new APM Terminals Maasvlakte II container terminal.  Please find the full press release here: APMT MVII opens landside.  

Press release
Play the terminal 'Safe - T Game'
November 2014

WHY The trend in container terminals worldwide is towards more and more automation to reduce costs and improve performance. The most recent terminal designs are fully automated nearly without people on site when things run smoothly. But when disruptions occur, due for instance to equipment breakdown, people have to go onsite to solve these issues. On site the risks are different in an automated environment than in a non automated environment, as automated equipment has no reaction to on site people. In the Port of Rotterdam (Netherlands) two of these fully automated terminals are being build and are close to live operations. Together with the University of Delft, Dinalog, TBA, RWG, APMTMV2 and several SME companies a big research project (SALOMO) has begun in 2011 into shared situational awareness in the container supply chain, to reduce on site risks and therefore disruptions, which have a negative impact on supply chain operations, safety and productivity.  Shared situational awareness aims for a higher awareness of the risks which exist in an (semi-) automated terminal environment and improve overall productivity by reducing disruptions and disruption time. Especially interdependent risks, where multiple parties are involved, can be reduced through a better understanding of the implications of decisions and communication throughout the supply chain. TBA has developed a serious game within this research project to train onsite personnel for day to day operations in fully and semi automated terminals and to create more awareness among personnel about the impact of their decisions on others, on the operation and on reducing existing risks. WHAT The serious game is the first terminal game worldwide pioneered by TBA as the next innovation in training automated terminal personnel based on the actual operation and not an approximation. By connecting their TEAMS equipment control software (used in the live operation for running automated QC’s, ASC’s and AGV’s), their CONTROLS emulation software (runs the virtual terminal and normally is used for optimizing and testing TOS software) and a virtual reality game engine they have created the Safe - T Game. You can walk around in the virtual terminal, which has the exact layout and the exact behaviour as the live terminal outside.  The game is made custom to the terminal to replicate the exact circumstances, such as safety and fence control procedures. Currently you are either a dispatcher or a maintenance technician in the game.  In the Safe - T Game TBA is currently testing with the research partners how to train several risk awareness subjects, such as situational understanding, safety procedures, how to handle disruptions to minimize impact on performance, how to handle equipment breakdown and communications effectiveness. Preliminairy tests have shown technical personnel to behave in the game as in real life and has exposed behaviour which poses a potential risk. In addition effective communication from an operations room to outside personnel seems to be an important subject to improve on to quickly reduce risks for technical personnel. Future developments Together with the two terminals and the University of Delft TBA is currently extending the Safe - T Game into a full training suite, to train dispatchers, technical maintenance personnel and external personnel that occasionally needs to work on site. Depending on the terminal procedures and the training demand the subjects for training will be developed in 2015 and the game will technically become more advanced.  An example of a foreseen technical development is the use of the Oculus Rift virtual reality glasses, which will give the Maintenance Technician an even more realistic experience in the virtual terminal. Preliminary testing has been done with connecting the Terminal Operating System (TOS), where the operation in the virtual terminal will than replay the actual outside live operation, as planned and executed in the TOS. This would allow personnel to recreate live disruptions and vary and evaluate their responses to see the impact on the performance in the TOS. Other extensions which are under evaluation are the addition of more & different equipment maintenance scenarios, add disturbing factors such as sound, add additional roles or using the virtual terminal for one time / specialty maintenance personnel as a quick training tool on procedural behavior and safety risks in automated environments. But it can also just be fun and educational; imagine putting on the VR glasses in the reception room and just walk anywhere on the terminal, seeing up close how the operation works, climb a QC or jump on an AGV, whereas in real live very few people are allowed on site! TBA sees the Safe - T Game as the next generation training tool to improve performance and safety for semi- and automated terminals through increasing awareness and insight of terminal personnel of the impact of their decisions. It is the only serious game to connect real operating software with training scenarios to mimic live operations and behaviour as closely as possible in terminal world. TBA is ahead of the game with Safe - T Game!  

Press release
Doing training Confusian style?
November 2014

The paper was published in Port Technology International. To view the PDF click: Doing training Confusian style? To view the article on PTI click: Doing training Confusian style?

Publication
We are TBA company movie
September 2014

TBA has released their first company movie: We are TBA.

Press release
Near-to-live-training for Container Terminal Planners
September 2014

A proficient use of a Terminal Operating System (TOS) for planning and equipment control isessential for efficient and productive operation of container terminals. The degree to whichTOS is used effectively is highly reliant on human operators. The training of these operatorsis traditionally done through conventional and on-the-job training, with a limited structure,and a narrow scope. Besides, it heavily relies on the expertise of the on-the-job trainer(s). Inthis article we report a systematic training approach we have applied in a number of cases toimprove the skills of control room operators in various container terminals. The approach issupported by a virtual terminal emulation and allows for accurate measuring of the operator’sperformance. As such, we have been able to measure the impact of the training, and theimpact of changed ways of operating, in the sense of improved ways of planning andcontrolling the terminal. Click here to view the paper.

Publication
TBA Main Sponsor at the LOGMS 2014
August 2014

TBA is the main sponsor of the 4th International Conference on Logistics and Maritime Systems will be held in Rotterdam 27-29 August 2014. The objective of this conference is to provide a forum for exchanging ideas on the latest developments in the field of logistics and maritime systems among participants from universities and related industries, and to seek opportunities for collaboration among the participants. Logistics activities worldwide have intensified in the wake of globalization and increased international trade. As a result, global supply chain networks are becoming more complex as they typically involve maritime transport, inland waterways and onshore road and rail transportation systems. The first conference of this series took place in Busan, Korea in 2010 integrating various predecessor conferences like the International Conference on Intelligent Logistics Systems (IILS), held in Busan, Korea (2005), Brisbane, Australia (2006), Kitakyushu, Japan (2007), Shanghai, China (2008), and Gold Coast, Australia (2009), and the Maritime Logistics (MLOG) conference held in Singapore (2009). Later LOGMS conferences were held in Bremen (2012) and Singapore (2013).

Press release
Exclusive interview TBA at TOC Europe
August 2014

Straight from TOC Europe, Dr Yvo Saanen, Managing Director of TBA gives an exclusive interview with PTI at TOC Europe in London.

Press release
Optimisation as mantra for operational excellence
July 2014

The paper was published in Port Technology International. To view the PDF click: Optimisation as mantra for operational excellence To view the article on PTI click: Optimisation as mantra for operational excellence PTI

Publication
New TBA app to alleviate TOS problems
July 2014

How do you optimise the travel path of reefer mechanics while maintaining due times for plugging and unplugging? And how do you create subsequent moves between straddle carriers and empty handlers automatically? Also, what is the best way to set CHE ranges for automated RMGs? All of these can represent small gaps in the functionality spectrum of most terminal operating systems. Which was why Dutch optimisation specialist TBA has created an ‘intelligent app platform’ to fill in these gaps with useful and productivity-enhancing behaviour.   Terminal Operating Systems provide more and more functionality and can facilitate efficient operations. Planning and operation become more automated on a step-by step basis, especially with regard to repetitive functions such as vessel planning and yard planning. Yet, in terms of terminal operations, there is still much uncovered ground requiring manual intervention. The new app platform has been designed to alleviate these problems and connects seamlessly to SPARCS (N4), using Java technology for the apps. The apps produce clear feedback on what has been optimised and when the app ran; they can be easily switched on and off.   A TBA spokesperson added that as practical experience grows, further releases with an increasing number of apps will become available.  

Press release
Minimizing planning errors? Try the plan verification tool!
July 2014

Planning of vessel, yard and equipment at terminals is of increasing importance of the scale and density of operations is ever-increasing. Minimizing unproductive moves, avoiding QC clashes, working in unproductive vessel sequences, working plugged reefers, not twinning 20's are just a few examples of opportunities for productivity improvement that we found when analyzing live plans across a large group of terminals. For this purpose, we developed an assistance tool, called 'plan verification tool'. This tool checks for a large series of common errors made in plans almost instantaneously, and lists them in a clear report, pointing at the specific work queues, work instructions, yard areas or equipment that is involved, so that a planner can easily correct the errors.  The tool works seamlessly with SPARCS 3.x as well as SPARCS N4, as such covering a large range of terminals. The tool can be trialled for a test period. Want to know more? Please contact bert.de.groot@tba.nl 

Press release
TBA launches new container terminal simulation video
June 2014

We have just launched our new container terminal simulation video that is available on YouTube. At just over two minutes long, the brief, realistic simulation portrays the workings of an ideal container terminal, with numerous daily scenarios highlighted. The simulation reveals how various parameters impact on each other and is designed as an aid to effective terminal planning. Therefore, from a safe, office environment, users are able to precisely evaluate the complex current and future situations that are likely to occur at terminals.

Press release
TBA participates at 4th VCWI Talent Forum
June 2014

The Association of Chinese Scholars and Engineers in the Netherlands organizes the 4th edition of the Talent Forum in Eindhoven on June 14th for their members and various companies. TBA is proudly participating in various parts of the agenda.  Please visit the website for the entire programme: www.vcwi.nl. Hope to see you there!

Press release
Win an iPAD Air at TOC with TBA’s online terminal game
May 2014

TBA will offer an online terminal game at this year’s TOC Europe, with the best “virtual terminal” planner set to win an iPAD Air. The game will be offered at www.gametba.com and will only be available during the TOC event. To get the entrance key all you have to do is visit TBGA at stand L38. The Yard Crane Scheduler (YCS) game has been developed – in co-operation with the company InThere - to show the importance of pro-active RTG placement in the container yard, and the capability of dispatching RTG’s in real-time, in sync with container grounding. The technique of micro-gaming is taking off as way of conveying serious training goals in a limited timeframe. It combines key tactical methods with the thrill of a highly competitive game. The highest scores will be displayed on the website until the next TOC Europe in 2015. TOC Europe 2014 will be held in London from the 24th until the 26th of June at the Excel conference centre. http://tocevents-europe.com/

Press release
Dry bulk terminal capacity planning
May 2014

The paper was published on Port Technology International. To view PDF click: Dry bulk terminal capacity planning To view article on PTI's website click: Dry bulk terminal capacity planning PTI

Publication
TBA shows process improvement within 365 days ROI
April 2014

Over the past decades, innovation in the container terminal industry has mostly been focused on keeping up with ever-increasing volumes. At the start of the crisis in 2009, many terminals became painfully aware that as a result, the cost and performance of their operation has been largely ignored. In a number of case studies, TBA has found that a large potential for improvement exists at many facilities. Even now that volumes are increasing, the business case for a systematic elimination of operational inefficiencies is undeniable. With many terminals increasing their focus on cost and performance, the industry is maturing further. Terminals that fail to keep up run the risk of being left behind. The TBA Process Improvement Program (PIP) is centered on improvements in cost or performance, and often a combination is possible as the two are in many cases related. Examples of earlier achievements: More volume (10%-15%) without additional investments, even when the yard is considered “full” Less equipment deployment (10%-25%) without a drop in service levels Higher performance or service levels (5%-10%) without additional equipment Cost reduction targets are 5-15%, but reductions of 20% are not uncommon. Because the PIP ensures that no money and time is spent on the wrong measures, the payback time for the program is limited to about a year in most cases. For more information about process improvement check:

Press release
Virtual training shows major productivity improvement for Embraport, Brazil
April 2014

TBA just delivered another successful SPARCS planning training using its proven virtual terminal tool at Embraport, in the port of Santos. This is the second training at one of DP World’s newest facilities as more and more people get hired in this growing facility. The unique setting of our planning training allows accurate measurement of the quality of the plans planners make, and due to the built-in iteration, we can measure whether the planner’s capability improves during the week of training. As an example, we have shown the comparison of the first plan (“base”), the second and third plan made by the planners in below graph. Being able to assess the work of a planning team on productivity and efficiency (e.g. amount of equipment deployed) is something that is hard in a live environment. What remains stunning is how significant the quality of a plan is on productivity! We typically see differences of up to 30% in berth productivity for instance. Another part of the training is the use of advanced tools and advanced (yard and equipment deployment) strategies. In a safe environment, the trainees can practice their skills with for instance Equipment Control, Yard Impact View, Expert Decking, Prime Route or Autostow.   During the training, in which the planners use their day-to-day working environment (SPARCS, or N4), planners get to see the results of their plans in a simulated terminal that mimics reality (see below). The improvements in planning can be seen in the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), such as berth productivity, quay crane productivity, or truck turn time, for each virtual terminal.

Press release
TBA attends Port and Terminal Development Brazil
March 2014

TBA will be attending "Port and Terminal Development Brazil" in Sao Paulo on the 19th and 20th of May. Dr. Yvo Saanen will be attending as one of the key speakers for this event. For more information check:

Press release
TBA's new Website Live!
March 2014

  We are very happy to announce that TBA’s new website went live! As you will see, it has a much more modern look-and-feel and it is designed to be displayed properly on the various devices we use nowadays i.e. smart phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Thanks to all who have contributed to making this happen. We hope you like it too!   Team TBA

Press release
TBA speaks at UNESCO-IHE International Port Seminar
March 2014

TBA has announced that it will be taking part in the International Port Seminar at UNESCO-IHE in Delft next month. In recent years the Port Seminar has shifted its focus from general organisational and management aspects within ports to port planning and engineering.With simulation becoming a critical part of this, TBA will be taking part in the program by showcasing the latest trends.The theoretical part of the seminar will be given at UNESCO-IHE by lecturers recruited from port authorities, terminal operators, universities, knowledge institutions and international consultants. They will transfer their broad ‘state-of-the-art’ knowledge to the participants by means of lectures, discussions, exercises and role play (SIM Port*).Lecture periods will be alternated with a number of excursions to ports located on the European North-West coast, which is home to the largest concentration of ports varying in size, type, terminal use and management models in the world.Visits to the ports of Rotterdam, Amsterdam and seaports in Belgium and France are included as part of this year’s programme.Sharing experiences is an inherent part of the seminar. The seminar offers a platform where participants can discuss their specific experiences and problems whilst at the same time developing mutual social and business contacts. On the last day of the programme participants will also be given the opportunity to share their experiences about specific topics related to their respective ports as well as other key issues. For more information check:

Press release
TBA developed algorithm to optimize reefer mechanics walking path
March 2014

Netherlands based TBA developed an algorithm that may ease the work of reefer mechanics. Reefers are refrigerated containers that need power for maintaining temperature. Reefer mechanics have to do different types of jobs (connect, disconnect and monitor) related to reefers. Reefers are located at specified locations on the terminal and reefer mechanics have to travel long distances between these locations. Currently, there is no algorithm to determine the sequence of the jobs the mechanics have to execute and mechanics have to determine the order manually. This may lead to inefficient and time consuming schedules. In the current situation reefer mechanics are working for almost the fully 100% of the time. The way of jobs are scheduled today leads to high average travel times per job. The average travel time per job, dependent on the number of mechanics, is up to 3 times more than the optimal approach of the algorithm, while maintaining the time a container may stay unplugged within the defined boundaries. Based on the simulation model that was defined, we can conclude that with proper reefer job scheduling, the reefer mechanic’s productivity can go up by 100%. This would mean that the same amount of work can be done with less than half the man power, or that the reefer mechanics have an easier job.   The scheduling tool has been fitted into an intelligent app, that can be plugged into the NAVIS TOS suite. If you’re interested in this app please contact bert.de.groot@tba.nl  

Press release
Peel Ports new Animal Feed Store extension at Liverpool is now operational.
March 2014

DBIS HAS delivered this as a full turnkey project, being responsible for electrical design and installation as well as PLC / SCADA software. CommTrac HAS ook leg extended from the original store to include management of the new storage area.

Press release
TBA supports in E-RTG strategy for North America’s busiest single-terminal container facility
February 2014

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) operates the Garden City container terminal in Savannah, North America’s busiest single-terminal container facility. The 1,200 acre terminal with a fleet of 27 Ship to Shore cranes and 116 RTGs, currently handles over 3.0 million TEU per year. As part of their long term strategy, GPA has asked TBA, a leading simulation provider, to build a simulation model of the entire Garden City Terminal, to be used as a decision support tool. In 2013, the TBA simulation model has been used for a range of studies, including a long term capacity analysis, evaluation of improvement measures, gate expansions plans and an evaluation of rail operations. One specific study focused on the implementation of fully electric RTGs (E-RTGs). GPA is the first operator in North America to use E-RTGs. Currently GPA is expanding the E-RTG fleet to 15 E-RTGs. GPA intends to electrify all RTGs by 2024. The simulation model was used to assess the performance of the E- RTGs, including impact of (de)coupling to the conductor bar during E-RTG block and lane changes. In addition the simulation was used to determine long term E-RTG fleet size requirement to support GPA throughput targets.

Press release
TBA delivers CONTROLS emulation software to LBCT
February 2014

Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) has ordered TBA’s emulation software CONTROLS. The CONTROLS software will be used by LBCT to thoroughly test the terminal operating systems (NAVIS N4 and TBA’s TEAMS package), prior to the go-live of the new facility, to ensure the target performance can be achieved. Besides testing, CONTROLS will be used to verify the performance capability of the entire system, at full build-out, and under peak conditions. Anthony Otto, President of LBCT, states: “The emulation will allow us to see in an early stage how well the software will perform, which is critical to our success”. Next to testing and tuning, CONTROLS will be used to train the operational personnel on their own 3D virtual terminal. CONTROLS has been used at over 40 terminals worldwide and has proven itself over the last 8 years. The advantages of having your own 3D CONTROLS terminal: -          Testing before go-live -          Risk free tuning and training in your own virtual terminal -          Faster than real-time testing -          Detailed on-line visualization -          Operation replay mode -          On-line and off-line statistics -          Advanced scenario definition capabilities

Press release
DBIS secure large Russian automation project
February 2014

Vigan Engineering have Awarded DBIS a contract to supply the Motor Control Centre for phase 1 of a new bulk storage facility in Russia. Having already completed the electrical design for the project and DBIS will now supply the MCC as well as PLC and SCADA software.

Press release
Lock simulation has proven itself in the Netherlands
February 2014

Netherlands based TBA is supporting the executive branch of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure (Rijkswaterstaat) in their decision making on the main waterway network since 10 years. The Netherlands has one of the busiest networks of inland waterways in the world. These waterways handle a significant part of the hinterland connection from the Port of Rotterdam, and as such are vital in achieving the growth of the port which is spurred from the construction of the Second Maasvlakte terminals. Since the most critical bottlenecks in the waterway network are formed by objects like locks and bridges, careful planning of this infrastructure is of the utmost importance and therefore simulation is deployed. TBA has analyzed a broad range of problems using lock simulation, such as: Capacity check of new lock designs Investigation of delays due to maintenance Effects of the increase in vessel sizes Optimization of lock strategies

Press release
CommTrac live at Port of Tyne
February 2014

CommTrac has now gone live at the Port of Tyne and is being used to handle all bulk and break bulk operations. We are currently working on phase two of the project which includes integration to the terminals automation systems and delivery of CommTrac's new Planning and Scheduling Module.

Press release
TEAMS, the brain of the automated terminal
February 2014

When you look at an automated terminal, the first question you ask is how can all these machines work together? Netherlands-based TBA is the company behind the smart software that makes automated terminals work. TEAMS (Terminal Equipment Automated Management System) is TBA’s fleet management system and supplies customers with advanced control over their automated equipment, such as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Lift AGVs, Automated Straddle Carriers, Automated Stacking Cranes (ASCs) and Ship-to-Shore (STS) cranes. TEAMS sits between the equipment and the Terminal Operating System (TOS) and translates the equipment orders from the TOS into optimal movement plans. TEAMS is currently the only proven system worldwide for controlling a complex robotised terminal and has shown to be up to the task over the past 10 years. It has successfully controlled the AGV fleet at HHLA’s Container Terminal Altenwerder and has been well received at DP World’s Antwerp Gateway Terminal where it controls the ASCs. It has also been implemented at ECT’s Euromax Terminal in Rotterdam where it controls QCs, AGVs, and ASCs. TEAMS is to be deployed at several other terminals around the world in the near future. TEAMS has been coupled with Navis SPARCS and N4, but can be configured to work with any other suitable TOS.  

Press release
Bulk sector takes major step forward using Simulation
January 2014

Bulk terminal operators are turning increasingly to simulation-based tools to assist them in their decision making. As demand for products grow, facilities with outdated infrastructure are in need of expansion or refurbishing end of life equipment. The quantum leap in technology has also given a wide range of options for terminal operators to choose from. Simulation-based tools assist operators in choosing where to invest and determine the potential profitability during every step of their respective investment and development plans. TBA has been involved in over 10 Bulk terminal projects over the past year. Extending its vast expertise in consulting terminal operators in strategic, tactical and operational studies, TBA’s project methodology, with its proven approach, has been applied at various bulk terminals. TBA’s services have been proven to add value to existing terminals by improving operational efficiency, helping existing terminals plan for future expansion and validating design for Greenfield terminals. TBA’s project portfolio covers terminals handling agri-bulk, coal, sulphur, sugar and more having worked for major bulk operators including Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, Vale, and Petronas.  The graphs below indicate the dynamics of real operations quantified by the use of simulation based tools, with a detailed representation of waiting times across different vessels over a whole year and the effect of weather induced and operational delays on storage.          

Press release
CONTROLS supports go live of newest container terminals in the world
January 2014

Advanced emulation software is the way forward in container terminal planning when bringing some of the newest container terminals in the world on-line. TBA’s CONTROLS software acts as a ‘virtual terminal’ that is connected to the Terminal Operating System (TOS). This advanced software enables a TOS to be tested as if the terminal was live before the terminal actually goes live. The software is tuned to specific characteristics of the terminal's operation to deliver its full performance potential and reduce the risk of any start-up problems a new terminal may encounter. "Thanks to Controls we reached high performance 6 months earlier than budgeted" Rich Ceci - IT Director APM Terminals North America  All semi- and fully automated terminals that are currently being built are using CONTROLS to assure a fluent go-live. Meanwhile, more than 30 terminals are continuing to use this emulation tool to constantly improve their terminal in terms of yard strategy, equipment deployment and dispatching, as well as vessel planning.

Press release
TBA supports inland container terminal
January 2014

TBA supports BCTN Meerhout in evaluating their plans for future expansion. BCTN Meerhout is the Benelux' largest intermodal container terminal. As a result of larger container volumes combined with the obligation of port operators to transport more over the European inland waterways, a major growth of intermodal container terminals is expected in the upcoming years. TBA will assess the current mode of operation and several future alternatives giving the Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) and Operational Expenditures (OPEX) for the different modes of operation over the upcoming years.

Press release
CommTrac live at ABP Hull
January 2014

ABP’s Hull Biomass Terminal has also recently gone live using CommTrac to manage an unmanned weighbridge operation for truck movements between the berth and the storage facility.

Press release
TBA’s Virtual Training: A Big Success in 2013
January 2014

TBA delivered more than 10 virtual terminal planning trainings in 2013 that achieved impressive results. The planners at terminals situated across the world showed significant increases in productivity and efficiency by the end of the training program. Due to the unique set-up of the training, the actual performance per planner can be measured, as well as his own achievement during the training. As the graph below shows the difference per planner is significant. During the training, in which the planners use their day-to-day working environment (SPARCS, or N4) , planners get to see the results of their plans in a simulated terminal that mimics reality (see below). The improvements in planning can be seen in the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), such as berth productivity, quay crane productivity, or truck turn time, for each virtual terminal. TBA's Virtual Terminal  

Press release
Happy new year
December 2013

The entire team of TBA wishes you a healthy, stable and prosperous 2014! 2013 is world-wide a year of cautious recovery. Areas with growth, areas with stagnation, winners and losers, and turbulent changes in the shipping world. For TBA, 2013 is the year we entered a country of the future: China. Proudly we can say that we are assisting large terminals in their plans for automation; the next phase of their ambitious expansions. This also makes 2013 the year in which automation finally became an acceptable way forward in any region. For long, it has been restricted to high labour cost countries, and now it will be deployed in a country where labour seems abundant. However, reality is sometimes different. While setting first steps in this ancient society, we have been working extremely hard on the full-scale automation projects in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and in Long Beach, California. Challenging projects, where good co-operation between TOS supplier, equipment vendors, customers and ourselves is the key to success in realizing state-of-the-art, high performance terminals. In 2013, we also delivered a large number of training sessions, aimed at improving control room operator’s skills. Vessel planning training, yard planning training, and performance improvement training has been very popular, and led – most importantly – to good results in practice. Since 2011, DBIS is part of the TBA family. We have continued the world-wide growth, becoming the leading TOS provider for bulk, car and general cargo terminals. DBIS delivered the CommTrac TOS to a large number of sites. We hope you are all looking forward to the new year as much as we are, and wish you wonderful holidays and a prosperous 2014! For the movie check: http://www.youtube.com/embed/IMRXRHRHRfE

Press release
DBIS secures order for Bristol Port Company
December 2013

The Bristol Port Company have chosen CommTrac to manage their Avonmouth operation. With their Portbury site already successfully using CommTrac, The Bristol Port Company decided it made sense for both operations to have a common approach to terminal management. As well as the new implementation at the Avonmouth the project will include an upgrade to the existing Portbury software.

Press release
TBA wins Journal of Simulation award
November 2013

TBA is delighted to announce that our paper “Improving container terminal efficiency through emulation” has won the Operational Research Society’s Tocher medal for best paper published in the Journal of Simulation (JoS) in 2011/2012.  The medal has been awarded to Dr. Csaba Boer and co-author Dr. Yvo Saanen at the Blackett lecture in London on Thursday 28th of November 2013.The K.D. Tocher Medal is awarded in recognition of the most outstanding contribution to the philosophy, theory or practice of simulation published in the Journal of Simulation within the relevant two year period.

Press release
We are moving
November 2013

The extraordinary growth in business over the last 2 years means we are no longer able to accommodate the DBIS team at our current office location. So after over 20 years in our current building we are on the move. The new premises, located on a modern business park in Doncaster, offers us room for up to 50 staff. This will allow us the flexibility to further develop our team over the coming years. The added office space now gives us the ability to be able to offer an onsite training facility for new and existing CommTrac users to learn the system from new, take refresher courses or advanced super user training.

Press release
Analysing terminal facilities for biomass operations
November 2013

Port Technology - Analysing terminal facilities for biomass operations

Publication
TBA at Terminal Management & Planning London
November 2013

TBA's Managing Director, Dr. Yvo Saanen, will speak during the upcoming edition of Lloyd's Terminal Management & Planning London seminar. Dr. Saanen will guide participants through the latest developments in terminal planning, terminal simulation and terminal automation in a series of interactive workshops.

Press release
TBA presents on APMT Maasvlakte II terminal
November 2013

TBA participates in an event organized by KIVI NIRIA, the Dutch association for engineers and engineering students, on and about APMT Maasvlakte II terminal.

Press release
Analysing the stockyard
October 2013

Dry Cargo International - Analysing the stockyard

Publication
DBIS new website
October 2013

DBIS has a new website!. The website is designed to work for both computers and mobile devices and went live in October 2013

Press release
TBA plans new Liverpool2 terminal
October 2013

TBA has assisted Peel Ports with the planning of the new container terminal “Liverpool2” in Liverpool, UK. David Huck, Port Director for Peel Ports Liverpool: "TBA was the primary consultant for planning services ranging from berth capacity analysis to selection of storage site, assessment of operational mode and system validation with simulation analysis. Despite Liverpool2’s challenging site constraints, TBA provided us with a well-balanced terminal plan. Furthermore, TBA helped us understand the opportunities of automation technology.”

Press release
TEAMS on television
September 2013

Last week, our fleet management software, TEAMS, was featured on a television show about the development of Rotterdam's Maasvlakte II port area. TEAMS will control AGVs and ASCs at both APM Terminals MVII and Rotterdam World Gateway. In the show, APM Terminals' IT expert Fieke Mol discusses the new Gottwald Lift-AGV technology and how great it feels to see virtual equipment crawling over the screen. For the Movie check: http://www.youtube.com/embed/JiSV-1QJ-yM    

Press release
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
September 2013

TBA has had a very busy and successful 2014, with over 100 projects. We have highlighted some of these projects in our newsletter to inspire you for 2015! To subscribe and receive our newsletter click the picture below

Press release
Black Sea Ports and Shipping Conference 2013
September 2013

DBIS will be exhibiting and speaking at this year’s Black Sea Ports and Shipping Conference in Istanbul and speak at this year’s Dry Bulk Terminals Group Annual general meeting. During both lectures David Trueman will provide examples of how automation and IT is used to make terminals more cost efficient.

Press release
TBA establishes local presence in Australia
August 2013

TBA are pleased to announce local presence in Australia with Mahim Khanna joining the organization in Sydney. He will be looking after Projects & Business development for Oceania. Local presence & project management will allow us to offer improved service & cost proposition to our customers.Mahim was Operations in-charge for Maersk Line in Oceania & Director Operations with them in Europe. He attended APM Terminal's “Magnum” terminal management training program, and has been a part-time consultant with us in the region for the past three years.    

Press release
Australian Bulk Handling Review
August 2013

Information technology: the aid for optimising bulk terminal logistics Information technology (IT) is a useful tool for improving the handling efficiency of bulk terminals and consequently reducing costs. To achieve this objective it is essential that the IT system is embedded into process flow and integrated into the operation system and considered as a part of the whole system, rather than treated merely as a tool for financial and administrative purposes. This paper explains why an optimal IT architecture ought to be selected, and how it is built and integrated into the terminal operation system at bulk terminals. Together with other significant aspects such as process flow mapping, real time data obtained through interfaces to other systems (e.g. automation, weighing) this optimal IT architecture shows improvements in handling efficiency and cost saving. In addition, three case studies that show the successful examples in real practice are presented. These case studies demonstrate how various operational issues can be solved by well-considered and well-implemented information technology systems.   

Publication
TBA at Terminal Management & Planning Asia
August 2013

TBA's MD, Dr. Yvo Saanen, will speak during the upcoming edition of Lloyd's Terminal Management & Planning Asia seminar.

Press release
DBIS secures automation project in Russia
August 2013

DBIS have been awarded a contract by Vigan engineering for the electrical design and automation software for a fertiliser plant in Ust-Luga, Russia. DBIS will be responsible for the full electrical design of the plant control system including Functional Design specification, panel design, and cable installation as well as design and programming of the PLC and SCADA system.

Press release
DBIS secures order for ABP, the UK
July 2013

Associated British Ports have again chosen CommTrac as the software of choice to manage its bulk terminal operations. The UKs largest port operator will use CommTrac to manage operations at its new Biomass facility in Hull taking its total install to 4 ABP operations.

Press release
Next generation integrated container terminal
July 2013

Box Intermodal - Next generation integrated container terminal

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Container simulation
June 2013

World Port Development: Container simulation

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DBIS secures large automation project
May 2013

DBIS receive an order from Schenck Process to provide a complete electrical and automation solution for the extension to the Animal Feed Store at Peel Ports Liverpool. The Animal Feed Store at 250,000sq feet is already the largest of its kind in the UK and will be expanding its capacity by around 60% by constructing a further flat store area with a new Schenck Maxi-store bridge and shuttle conveyor. DBIS will be providing a complete solution from design and build of the MCC’s, design and installation of site control cabling, PLC/SCADA design, through to supply and implementation of CommTrac.

Press release
Mega ships: positive asset or terminals' worst nightmare?
May 2013

Port Technology: Mega ships: positive asset or terminals' worst nightmare?

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DBIS at TOC 2013
April 2013

DBIS will be present at the TOC Europe 2013 in Rotterdam from June 25-27 at stand F10. The TOC is a leading conferences and exhibitions concerning terminal operations in the world.

Press release
CommTrac live in Maydon Wharf
March 2013

CommTrac went live in Maydon Wharf, South Africa. CommTrac is now live in all large terminals of Grindrod in Africa.

Press release
What customers say
February 2013

According to Dave McEwan from PeelPort, CommTrac allows him to be in control of his operation. Learn more what he and others have to say about DBIS and CommTrac.

Press release
Large automation order for Salt Union
January 2013

DBIS secures a large order for conveyor drive systems for Salt Union in Cheshire UK. The drive solution is a containerized motor control system using 400KW Variable Speed Drives from Siemens.

Press release
DBIS Wins IBJ award in the “IT Solutions" category
November 2012

DBIS has been presented the “IT Solutions, cargo handling” award by leading magazine International Bulk Journal (IBJ) in Hamburg, Germany. The IBJ Award was presented for DBIS product CommTrac, the leading Terminal Management Software for bulk and break-bulk terminals. The IBJ Awards have been presented since 2009 and are globally recognised as one of the most sought-after prizes in the bulk materials handling industry

Press release
DBIS acquired large automation project
October 2012

DBIS received an order to supply Crane Control Systems for automated cranes for the Chinook Sciences Recycling Facility in the UK. This is automation project will be performed in conjunction with DBIS’ parent Company Demag Cranes.

Press release
DBIS preferred supplier for Transnet
September 2012

Transnet, South Africa, has selected CommTrac as standard solution for their bulk terminals. First terminal that will go live with CommTrac is their facility in Saldanha Bay, an Iron Ore export terminal with a throughput of around 45M tons/year. Transnet operates 6 ports in South Africa.

Press release
DBIS first order in Americas
September 2012

DBIS received an order of APMT for implementing CommTrac in their facility in Callao, Peru. APMT is the fifth terminal operator that has more than one terminal in their portfolio using CommTrac.

Press release
Testing, tuning and training terminal operating systems: a modern approach
August 2012

LOGMS 2012 Proceedings - Testing, tuning and training terminal operating systems: a modern approach

Publication
DBIS in International Bulk Journal
July 2012

DBIS has recently seen three major projects go live, confirming the company’s position as a leading international provider of consultancy and software.

Press release
Improving container terminal efficiency through emulation
June 2012

Journal of Simulation: Improving container terminal efficiency through emulation

Publication
DBIS and the Metro in London
June 2012

DBIS have been awarded a large electrical and automation systems contract by Joy Global. The tunnel project is part of the new East to West rail system in London. Joy Global will supply the 8.3 KM surface conveying scheme to remove and stockpile the tunnel spoils and DBIS will supply the electrical and control systems to operate and monitor the operation.

Press release
Planning and Scheduling live
June 2012

The Planning and Scheduling module of Commtrac went live at TCM, Maputo, Mozambique. It was envisioned to have a stepwise approach. Step 1: go live with all basic functionality and allow people to learn to work with the system and step 2: add the extra functionality including the Planning and Scheduling module.

Press release
CommTrac live at PeelPort
May 2012

Commtrac went live in both Peelport (the UK) and in AMPT’s site Pipavav (India). Pipavav is the first site where besides bulk (coal and general cargo), also break bulk is handled with CommTra

Press release
First user conference DBIS
April 2012

On the request of several customers, DBIS has scheduled it’s first user conference in July of this year. CommTrac users will be updated on the development of both the company as on the product CommTrac.

Press release
DBIS secures order for terminal in South Africa
March 2012

DBIS and one of their key clients, Grindrod Terminals of South Africa, signed contracts for the roll out of Grindrod’s 2012 IT roadmap including the implementation of the DBIS Planning and Scheduling module at the TCM Coal Terminal in Mozambique, a new CommTrac implementation at the Maydon Wharf terminal in Durban and further new modules at the Richard’s Bay terminal.

Press release
An operations perspective on new twistlock handling in terminals
February 2012

Port Technology - An operations perspective on new twistlock handling in terminals.

Publication
Phase 2 live in Dhamra
February 2012

Today phase 2 at the Dhamra port in India went live. Where phase 1 was a stand alone installation, phase 2 is a fully integrated with the plant PLC system allowing the customer to: -Plan and schedule routes-Real time monitor the operation-Record of cargo handling information including weight, TPH, faults & stoppages etc.

Press release
DBIS and the new metro line in Paris
January 2012

The Tunnel Boring Machine on “Step 1” Tunnel on the new Paris Metro Line 12 extension to Aubervilliers has broken through, completing DBIS’ involvement in the project. DBIS supplied and commissioned the electrical and automation systems for the spoils removal conveyors in conjunction with Continental Conveyors for the 3.8KM tunnel. See here how the TBM finished the job.

Press release
Advanced 3D visualization for simulation using game technology
December 2011

WniterSim Proceedings: Advanced 3D visualization for simulation using game technology

Publication
CommTrac Goes Live at TCM Maputo
November 2011

DBIS complete the implementation of a fully integrated terminal management system at Grindrod Terminal’s TCM Terminal in Maputo, Mozambique. The implementation of CommTrac at TCM is part of a major expansion and modernisation project which will allow TCM to benchmark against the world’s most advanced terminals. The CommTrac Terminal Management system is fully integrated with the plant automation systems and Grindrod’s SAP ERP financial system to optimise and standardise the operational processes at the terminal, providing real time information to operators, decision makers and customers.

Press release
Optimizing automated container terminals to boost productivity
September 2011

Port Technology - Optimizing automated container terminals to boost productivity

Publication
DBIS secures order for terminal operator in India
September 2011

David Trueman, sales director of DBIS comments. “we are very pleased with this order because it shows that major terminal operators see the advantages of our system. Besides that we this will be the first side where our break bulk module will go live

Press release
DBIS Secures order for Beira Coal Terminal
July 2011

Nectar Group will utilize the CommTrac Bulk Terminal Management Software to handle all their administrative process and optimize the performance of the terminal Beira Coal Terminal in Mozambique. The terminal will be the first client to use the DBIS KPI tool to analyze the operational performance of the asset

Press release
Dhamra Port Company live with Commtrac
May 2011

Dhamra Port Company of Orissa State in India have gone live with Phase 1 of their CommTrac implementation. The new Dhamra Bulk Terminal has the capability to receive 20 million tonnes of coal per annum. Phase 2, which will interface CommTrac to the site automation and ERP systems will go live shortly.

Press release
How simulation modeling can support environmental initiatives at container terminals
December 2010

Port Technology - How simulation modeling can support environmental initiatives at container terminals

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TBA completes training program with CONTROLS at the Port of Göteborg
October 2009

Port Technology - TBA completes training program with CONTROLS at the Port of Göteborg

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No Growth? Squeeze the Lemon!
August 2009

Port Technology - No Growth? Squeeze the Lemon!

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EUROMAX, a new Standard in container handling
August 2009

Port Technology - EUROMAX, a new Standard in container handling

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TOS designers make hub transitions easy
March 2009

Cargo Systems - TOS designers make hub transitions easy

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CONTROLS: Emulation to improve the performance of container terminals
December 2008

WinterSim Proceedings: CONTROLS: Emulation to improve the performance of container terminals

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Industry experts gather in California for TOC Americas 2008
November 2008

Port Technology - Industry experts gather in California for TOC Americas 2008

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Advanced applications for terminal operations
October 2008

Port Technology - Advanced applications for terminal operations

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Breaking free of ASC cycle
June 2008

Cargo Systems - Breaking free of ASC cycle

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Simulations address issue of productivity
May 2008

Cargo Systems - Simulations address issue of productivity

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TBA sets new standard for Port automation at APM's Virginia Terminal
April 2008

Port Technology - TBA sets new standard for Port automation at APM's Virginia Terminal

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Informing choice for container terminals
March 2008

World Cargo News - Informing choice for container terminals

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Heralding an era of automation
March 2008

Cargo Systems - Heralding an era of automation

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EUROMAX on autopilot
February 2008

Port Strategy - EUROMAX on autopilot

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Putting AGVs to the test
September 2007

Cargo Systems - Putting AGVs to the test

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TBA passes CONTROLS to Eurogate
September 2007

Cargo Systems - TBA passes CONTROLS to Eurogate

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Which system fits your hub?
June 2007

Cargo Systems - Which system fits your hub?

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Craney Island moves forward
May 2007

World Cargo News: Craney Island moves forward

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Intelligent stacking as way out of congested yards? Part 2
April 2007

Port Technology - Intelligent stacking as way out of congested yards? Part 2

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Intelligent stacking as way out of congested yards? Part 1
March 2007

Port Technology - Intelligent stacking as way out of congested yards? Part 1

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Picking the right crane
March 2007

Cargo Systems - Picking the right crane

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Software for RMGs at hand
March 2007

Cargo Systems - Software for RMGs at hand

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Simulation: It’s the real thing
March 2007

World Cargo News: Simulation: It’s the real thing

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Using emulation to improve the performance of your TOS
January 2007

Port Technology - Using emulation to improve the performance of your TOS

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Measure for measure
May 2006

Cargo Systems - Measure for measure

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Comparison of three automated stacking alternatives by means of simulation
December 2005

WinterSim Proceedings: Comparison of three automated stacking alternatives by means of simulation

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Emulation for Terminal Operating Systems
November 2005

Cargo Systems - Emulation for Terminal Operating Systems

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Simulation software deal for Navis and TBA
July 2005

Cargo Systems - Simulation software deal for Navis and TBA

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An approach for designing robotized marine container terminals
December 2004

Delft University of Technology - An approach for designing robotized marine container terminals

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Expanding through the use of RMGs
September 2004

Cargo Systems: Expanding through the use of RMGs

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Hemmed in its European heartland
June 2004

Cargo Systems - Hemmed in its European heartland

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Finding the right answers through simulation
March 2004

World Cargo News - Finding the right answers through simulation

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The design and assessment of next generation automated container terminals
October 2003

European Simulation Symposium Proceedings - The design and assessment of next generation automated container terminals

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Distributed E-services for road container transport simulation
October 2003

15th European Simulation Symposium Proceedings - Distributed E-services for road container transport simulation

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