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

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. This article has been published in the Spring edition magazine of Port Technology International. Read the entire article here.

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

On 4th of December in Las Vegas, TBA 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”. The life cycle of a container terminal includes four important life stages: design, implementation, operation and optimisation. 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. Read the full article here.

Publication
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
Applying new technologies in an existing automated terminal
March 2017

This article has been published in Sector Magazine  Press here to read the article

Publication
Merry Xmas and Happy 2017
December 2016

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

Publication
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
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
AGV Versus Lift AGV Versus ALV
August 2016

Based on various recent studies, carried out for various customers around the world, TBA has composed a comprehensive comparison between today's state-of-the-art robotized horizontal transportation systems in combination with automated yard cranes. Find the full article here: https://www.porttechnology.org/technical_papers/agv_versus_lift_agv_versus_alv Or view a pdf version of the same article here: AGV vs L-AGV vs ALV    

Publication
How can simulations help ports and terminals?
June 2016

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 containermarket 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 in regular expansion projects and new greenfield developments. TBA's consultants elaborate on the use of simulation in this setting in a publication in Harbours Review 2016/2. A pdf version of the article can be found here: How can simulations help ports and terminals?  

Publication
The journey of CONTROLS: DPW Antwerp
May 2016

This year, TBA is proudly celebrating ‘10 years CONTROLS’, TBA’s innovative and leading emulation tool. In a series of articles, The Journey of CONTROLS will take you around the world, bringing you to various terminals who are using emulation and sharing their stories. In this second episode, we will write about the usage of CONTROLS at DP World (DPW) Antwerp. 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
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
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
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
In 2025 werkt een derde van alle havens volautomatisch (Dutch)
August 2015

In 2025 werkt een derde van alle havens volautomatisch

Publication
Lean and Mean Terminal Design
June 2015

This article was published in Terminal Operator June 2015 View article

Publication
Machines zijn betrouwbaarder dan mensen (Dutch)
April 2015

Klik hieronder voor het interview  

Publication
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

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