Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ant gives Port of Rotterdam a good example

12.12.2008
According to researcher Albert Douma, of the University of Twente, it is possible to optimize the handling of inland container barges in the port of Rotterdam without management from the top. This is similar to the way in which ants organize themselves, without a central director. As a result of his ‘multi-agent’ approach, the time barges spend in the port can be reduced considerably.

Douma has developed a new method for the optimum planning of the rotation of a barge in the port: the barge loads or unloads containers at various terminals in the best possible order, that is, the order that gives the least delay.

A central director would seem to be the most obvious solution here, but this is not usual because barge and terminal operators do not like to divulge competition-sensitive information. However, the present system of making appointments is vulnerable and entails a great deal of uncertainty with regard to waiting times. In a port that is becoming busier and busier, this can cause unnecessary waiting times.

Agents negotiate
Douma has therefore opted for a multi-agent approach that is similar to the ‘self organization’ in an ant colony. An agent is an intelligent software program that has a limited number of tasks, as does the ant: it has to negotiate to the best of its abilities for its client but otherwise has no overview of the greater whole. The barges and terminals each have one of these agents. Mr Douma has the agents negotiate with regard to the ‘service time’ or total waiting time and handling time at any given terminal.

Of the negotiation strategies examined, this service time profile gave the best planning results. The barge’s agent asks for the service profiles of the terminals and can quickly determine the best order in which to visit the terminals. Subsequently the barge’s and the terminal’s agents agree on the times: the barge arrives before a certain time and the terminal promises to complete activities within a maximum service time.

Mr Douma says that simulations with the multi-agent approach in realistic port situations show that the method is able to considerably reduce the average time for which barges stay in the port. The total waiting time decreases, for example, because the barge operator will first try to make agreements with the terminal which seems to be causing a bottleneck; he uses the waiting time for that terminal efficiently by planning other terminals in that same period. However, the system is not rigid: the ‘service time’ concept allows a certain amount of leeway so that it is still possible for terminals to fit in other barges if circumstances change. The research also included the development of a ‘serious game’, which was played in various workshops with port professionals. The game sessions enabled the refinement of the agent concept and discussions on the feasibility of putting the system into practice.

Albert Douma has defended his PhD on 9 December . His thesis is titled ‘Aligning the operations of barges and terminals through distributed planning’. He was supervised by Dr Peter Schuur and Prof. Jos van Hillegersberg. The research is part of the national project TRANSUMO (Transition to Sustainable Mobility, www.transumo.nl) in The Netherlands and is being carried out at the Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT) of the University of Twente.

Wiebe van der Veen | alfa
Further information:
http://www.utwente.nl

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht A helping (Sens)Hand
11.04.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

Im Focus: Computer-Designed Customized Regenerative Heart Valves

Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.

Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...

Im Focus: Light-induced superconductivity under high pressure

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersonic waves may help electronics beat the heat

18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Keeping a Close Eye on Ice Loss

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

CrowdWater: An App for Flood Research

18.05.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>