University of Twente Student Theses


Development of a decision support tool for barge loading

Baranowski, L. (2013) Development of a decision support tool for barge loading.

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Abstract:Introduction: Combi Terminal Twente B.V. (CTT) is a terminal operator that transports containers from the Port of Rotterdam via Hengelo to the customer and vice versa. The majority of containers that are shipped between Rotterdam and Hengelo are transported by inland barges. The number of goods that is transported by container is growing and barge planners have to deal with large amounts of data for hundreds of containers when making plans. A barge planner at CTT makes different types of decisions at different moments in the planning process of a barge. Currently, these decisions are based on experience and common sense. Planners do not make use of any structural decision support. In order to profit from the growth in transportation, CTT wants to optimize the use of their transportation means and increase the quality of transportation in terms of transportation time, frequency, flexibility, costs, and reliability. Therefore, the main research objective of this research is: Design a method to support CTT’s barge planners to improve the quality of CTT’s transportation flows. Method: To meet this objective we develop a decision support tool that supports planners in the planning of containers on barges. The main objective for the tool is to create plans where all containers are delivered or picked-up in time. Furthermore, we have two secondary objectives. We want to minimize the trip duration and maximize the utilization rate of the barge. The method considers information of all containers in the planning process, while planners make subproblems. We structure the model in such a way that it is easy to adjust en add different aspects of the model. Results: We test several settings of the model. We use the combination that generally performs best for the experiments we execute to determine the methods’ performance. From these ex- periments, we conclude that the method achieves the main objective and one of the secondary objectives (avoiding lateness and maximizing the utilization of the barge, respectively). The method has a varying performance with respect to the second secondary objective (minimizing trip duration). Conclusions: We conclude that the prototype tool has the potential to become a decision support tool that assists planners in their planning. At this point it provides planners with insights on urgency of containers and terminal visits and a foundation is made to built upon. With further development, the tool will be a valuable addition to the planning process, because it initially considers all information at once, instead of making smaller subproblems. Further- more, will planning become easier when using the tool because it also considers future planning. Recommendations: In order to make the decision support tool fully operational we recommend CTT to further develop the model: To extend the model to plan on hour base instead of day base. - To create a better overview of the states of all containers, CTT should register whether import containers are ready to be picked-up, are planned to be picked-up by a barge, or are already picked-up and on their way to CTT. - To register when original pick-up and closing dates are changed and when a container cannot be served in time, in order to measure lateness. During this study we observed several subjects that are interesting for future research at CTT. We therefore recommend CTT to: - To extend the model to make plans for a longer time horizon. - Develop performance indicators for plans. - Investigate how CTT can make use of their terminal in Rotterdam to increase transportation quality. - Develop forecasting techniques. - Create a preferred customer network.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Combi Terminal Twente, the Netherlands
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Industrial Engineering and Management MSc (60029)
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