Enhancing Container Terminal Performance by Reducing Delays


"This research sheds light on Lebanon’s most important commercial hub, the Port of Beirut, particularly its container terminal. Container terminals are port facilities where container vessels discharge their cargo packed in standard size containers (either twenty or forty feet) that sit directly on the back of trailers with the aid of ship-to-shore cranes. The terminal also employs other equipment, chiefly terminal tractors; used to move semi-trailers in the yard area; rubber tyred gantry cranes, used to stack containers on the yard; and other equipment. Containerization became an international practice in the past few decades because it saves time, secures the shipment, facilitates the transport of sea cargo, and make it possible to transfer the cargo from one mode of transportation to another without having to unpack/pack the shipment each time. The aim of the research is to enhance the performance of Beirut Container Terminal mainly by controlling delays and minimizing them as much as possible. For this purpose, several mathematical models were developed to provide port operators with a management tool that enables them to keep things on track. The first model is coded through Visual Basics Applications built into spreadsheets. One part of it aims to estimate the total time of operation of each of the above-mentioned equipment based on its actual productivity recorded by the port, taking into account the expected downtime (time when machines stall due to a mechanical failure)of each equipment. It then compares the output with the actual times obtained from the port, and computes the difference between the theoretical times and the actual times. This enables the system to calculate the different delays caused by downtime and other factors. Number of terminal tractors and rubber tyred gantry cranes to operate on each ship-to-shore crane are assumed )according to actual data collected form the Port) and set to three TTs and two RTGs for every crane, while the number of ship-to-shore cranes to operate on each vessel is determined by port operators based on the vessel’s size. The second part allows the user to add more vessels to the set, and the third part conducts a financial analysis of the port operations. The cost analysis targets different aspects of the port including equipment, labor, and maintenance costs, as well as losses incurred due to delays. The system gives the user the choice of running the calculation on a daily or weekly basis. The system also let the user switch between best and worst scenarios of equipment productivity. Finally, the program reports the costs and displays the overall revenue and net profit. The model also computes the percentage of utilization of the different equipment (except for ship-to-shore cranes where a separate MatLab model was developed for this computation since the number of cranes is not constant). The percentage of utilization is a ratio between the actual work of the equipment to that of its optimum productivity. Since each machine feeds the containers to the other, a slow service of one of them slows the rest in the network. On the other hand, a MatLab-based model is developed to solve the ships berthing problem. This model allocates berthing positions to mooring ships according to the available quay space. It assigns a priority score to each ship then serves the ships in accordance with their priority. The priority score is based on a formula discussed in the thesis. The program assumes a ten-meter safe distance between vessels. It outputs a full schedule of when each ship should berth, for how long and when it is ready to leave. The input of the arriving vessels along with their size and number of tasks to be done on them is either fed via an Excel sheet or entered manually. Consequently, the objective of the research is to provide a platform to control sea-to-quay operations in order to enhance the port performance and reduce delays."


Fatimah Khalil Bader


Dr. Youssef Atallah, Dr. Ramzi Fayyad