OR Spectrum

, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 53–75 | Cite as

Optimizing the landside operation of a container terminal

  • Gary Froyland
  • Thorsten Koch
  • Nicole Megow
  • Emily Duane
  • Howard Wren
Regular Article


This paper concerns the problem of operating a landside container exchange area that is serviced by multiple semi-automated rail mounted gantry cranes (RMGs) that are moving on a single bi-directional traveling lane. Such a facility is being built by Patrick Corporation at the Port Botany terminal in Sydney. The gantry cranes are a scarce resource and handle the bulk of container movements. Thus, they require a sophisticated analysis to achieve near optimal utilization. We present a three-stage algorithm to manage the container exchange facility, including the scheduling of cranes, the control of associated short-term container stacking, and the allocation of delivery locations for trucks and other container transporters. The key components of our approach are a time scale decomposition, whereby an integer program controls decisions across a long time horizon to produce a balanced plan that is fed to a series of short time scale online subproblems, and a highly efficient space-time divisioning of short-term storage areas. A computational evaluation shows that our heuristic can find effective solutions for the planning problem; on real-world data it yields a solution at most 8% above a lower bound on optimal RMG utilization.


Container terminal Yard crane scheduling Storage space allocation Integer programming 

Mathematics Subject Classification (2000)

90C90 90B06 90C06 90C10 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary Froyland
    • 1
  • Thorsten Koch
    • 2
  • Nicole Megow
    • 3
  • Emily Duane
    • 4
  • Howard Wren
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Zuse Institute BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Institute of MathematicsTechnische Universität BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Department of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.c/o Andrew RembelPatrick Technology and SystemsBotanyAustralia

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