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.
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Yard Crane Scheduler developed by TBA
TBA’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 ranges
The 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.
The 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 operation
The 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.
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* 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 processes
Emulation = a real TOS connected to a simulated terminal --> purpose: used for TOS tuning, testing and training