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WorldCargo News the world's leading resource for international cargo professionals
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Container Terminal Planning - A Theoretical Approach

A major new study by Dr Itsuro Watanabe (Container System Technology)

This brand new 245 page study is an in-depth analysis of capacity constraints, productivity, selectivity and flexibility of different container handling systems in terminals of different types and sizes: common-users or dedicated; hub centre (transshipment and/or relay) or import/export vocation; gateway or feeder port; intermodal rail or truck distribution inland; with or without CFS, etc.

About the author
After graduating from Tokyo University as a naval architect in 1953 Itsuro WATANABE began his career at the Yokohama shipyard of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI), where for several years he was involved in the design of liner ships and tankers.

He carried out his first study of container technology in 1958 in relation to ship conversions and in the mid-1960s became a member of MHI's special container project team, charged with designing and developing the company's first containerships, dry cargo and reefer containers, container manufacturing facilities, shipboard, quayside and yard container cranes and other container handling equipment. This work was subsequently extended to planning Japan's first container terminals in Tokyo (Shinagawa) and Kobe (Maya).

Subsequently Watanabe was appointed project manager for new container terminals under construction in various parts of the world, such as Vostochniy, Port Klang and Termoli. He was also involved in the development of cargo handling facilities at the new airport then under construction in Osaka Bay.

Between 1981 and 1984 Watanabe was based in Sydney, Australia, heading up MHI's first office in Australasia and in charge of the company's R&D work on various container handling, mining and coal handling projects throughout the region. He subsequently returned to Tokyo to take over MHI's container-related businesses and was in charge of planning new container terminals in Hodeidah and in the Philippines.

On retiring from MHI in 1986, Watanabe acted as a consultant for a number of Japanese principals such as Ebara Works, Sumitomo Corporation, Suehiro and Mitsubishi Corporation, Projects included the Amtech RFID AEI system, the second trolley crane design licensed by ECT and multi-trailer systems.

This work led directly to the founding in 1992 of his own independent consultancy business, CST Container System Technology and in this capacity he has carried out major projects for KCT in Port Klang, for Cosco/Shibusawa in the Port of Kobe and for Uni-X in connection with the new NYK terminals in Kobe and Yokohama.

More recently still he completed a major study for a leading Mediterranean port. Watanabe has been a licensed consulting engineer since the early 1960s and in 1995 was awarded a Doctorate by Tokyo University for his work on container terminal design and handling systems. His numerous technical articles have been published in Japanese and English and he is well-known as a speaker and panellist at TOC and other international port conferences over many years.

He played a leading role in the Japan Container Association over the years and in 1967 was the first chief delegate to be appointed by Japan to ISO TC 104. He has been an active member of various TC104 committees working on many different aspects of containerisation.

An important factor to consider when planning or designing container terminals and cargo sheds is the so-called "peak factor", which may be likened to the safety factor in strength calculations when designing any structure. It is shown in the formula of Dally and Maquire (H K Dally and F J Maquire Container Handling and Terminal Capacity - Container Handling and Transport, C S Publications Ltd, 1983) which represents the relationship between annual container handling capability and storage capacity of a container terminal.

    C = (L . H . W . K)/(D . F)
Where C = annual capability (TEU/year); L = number of container ground slots (in TEU); H = mean stacking height of containers (L . H is static capacity of the container storage yard); W = number of working slots (in TEU) in container yard expressed as a proportion (0 < W < 1); K = total number of working days in the period (365 days per year); D = mean container dwell time in the container yard; F = peaking factor F > 1)

The numerical values of W and F can be chosen arbitrarily. The formula indicates, in summary, that annual container handling capability is obtained from the product of container storage capacity and annual turnover based on dwell days. Hence, landside operations - receiving/delivering containers through the gates - are taken into account, but waterside operations - (un)loading containers from/to ships - are not.

This peak factor methodology has seemed less than satisfactory to me since as far back as 1966, when I was first engaged in planning container terminals, for the ports of Tokyo and Kobe.

During the past 30 years, containerisation has developed strongly (Table 1) and fourth generation (post-Panamax) containerships began to appear in the mid-1980s. Today, even larger superpost-Panamax containerships are being deployed and can be seen in container terminals in many parts of the world. However, these terminals, with the exception of a handful which have adopted automated operations, have broadly retained operating methods established in the 1960s. It is very easy to see the progress which has been made in computer systems in the fields of documentation and information flows in the container business. Conversely, it is difficult to see such progress in container handling equipment - methods of handling containers are essentially unchanged since the dawn of containerisation. There are two underlying factors to consider. Firstly, port planning and operational research and studies should be interdisciplinary in that they straddle the border lines of different engineering disciplines. Planning of ports and harbours usually comes within the remit of civil engineers working for administrative authorities such as national or municipal governments or port authorities.

Their primary objective is to ensure that there are safe and sufficient facilities for navigation and berthing and frequently the concept of providing efficient and safe facilities for handling cargoes is ignored. This is particularly the case where, traditionally, cargo handling has been carried out mainly by ships' own gear.

Although some official organisations have begun to carry out or organise research studies of cargo handling equipment and practice, most still devote their time to civil construction and design work, so the task of planning and analysing the real functions and performance of container terminals falls to container terminal operators and/or their shipping line customers.

In these circumstances, no single body has had the responsibility for or been able to take a holistic approach to planning and designing container terminals. The work has been split between administrative bodies of one kind or another and users on a case-by-case basis.

The second point, which is partly a consequence of the first, is that planning and design of container terminals have always depended mainly on empirical experience, while a corpus of theoretical knowledge, which could help inform this experience and in turn be verified or modified by it, has been lacking. At the onset of containerisation, it was indispensable for terminal operators to build up experience. It was relatively easy to perform daily operations based only on what that experience indicated was the storage capacity of the terminal.

However, the environment today is completely different. Many operators are under immense pressure because of ongoing rapid increases in container traffic and severe restrictions placed on the size of the terminals, due to economic scarcity of land resources, environmental concerns and so on. A theoretical approach to planning and design is thus not only important in its own right, but is also now very urgent. Nevertheless, practice based on experience still predominates and, for as long as this conservatism persists, there can be no major progress or innovation in container handling equipment and handling practice.

Against this background, and speaking from the rare standpoint of one who has planned container terminals but is neither an administrator nor a terminal operator, I feel strongly that there is need to establish and set out a theoretical approach to planning work. I began working on this project 15 years ago, investigating and collecting data from as many sources as possible, such as specialised magazines and periodicals, books, pamphlets, conference papers and so on. Frankly speaking, however, the available data were, unfortunately, never sufficient. I decided, therefore, to develop my own theoretical model. The planning procedures described in this book are based on the indices which I have developed. These indices are not an intellectual game but have been successfully used to analyse and evaluate activities of existing terminals.

Acknowledgements I would like to thank Prof. Dr Takeo KOYAMA of Tokyo University for his theoretical help and Vincent CHAMPION, Editorial Director of WorldCargo News for his textual and language suggestions. He in turn would like to thank Marion FINLAY for her help with the table formats. I remain, however, fully responsible for the contents of the study.

    Itsuro WATANABE
    Doctor of Engineering/Licensed Consulting Engineer
    Yokoyama, Japan

Section Chapter title Page No
1 Functions and Facilities of Container Terminals 1
2 Characteristics of Container Terminals 7
3 Fundamental Criteria and Targets of Container Terminals 11
3.1 Fundamental elements of container terminals
3.2 Targets of container terminals
3.3 Indices representing targets of container terminals
      3.3.1 Index of container handling productivity
      3.3.2 Index of accessibility of stacked containers
      3.3.3 Index of land-availability
      3.3.4 Relationship between indices of accessibility and land-availability
4 Planning Procedures for Container Terminals 51
4.1 Premises for planning
4.2 Procedures for planning
5 Theoretical Analysis of Required Container Storage Capacity 57
5.1 Analysis based on receiving/delivery distribution patterns of containers
      5.1.1 Exponential distribution
      5.1.2 Uniform distribution
5.2 Analysis of ship delays
      5.2.1 Case of ship being late
     5.2.2 Case of closure of container terminal
5.3 Various other factors influencing required storage capacity
      5.3.1 Relationship between call patterns and number of containers (un)loaded per ship call
      5.3.2 Case of plural berths
      5.3.3 Effects of different delivery pattern of containers
      5.3.4 Effects of fluctuations in numbers of containers received and delivered
6 Basic Planning of Containers Terminals 95
6.1 Detailed premises for planning
6.2 Static planning
      6.2.1 Required storage capacity
      6.2.2 Required number of ground slots
      6.2.3 Selection of container handling systems
      6.2.4 Required annual container handling capability
6.3 Dynamic planning
     6.3.1 Container flows in container terminals
      6.3.2 Required size of container handling equipment fleet for yard operations
6.4 Planning concepts for the gate and CFS
     6.4.1 Gate operations
     6.4.2 Size of CFS
7 Layout of Container Terminals 153
7.1 Zoning
     7.1.1 How different facilities interrelate
     7.1.2 Allocation of area to different facilities
7.2 Concept of layout of the facilities
     7.2.1 Berth apron
     7.2.2 Marshalling yard
     7.2.3 The facilities
7.3 General rules on layout of container terminals
8 Relationship Between Annual Handling Capability and Transshipment Ratio 193
8.1 Annual container handling capability per area of terminal
8.2 Case study on relationship between and P
8.3 Relationship with dynamic annual handling capability
8.4 Comprehensive analyses
9 Summary and Example of Container Terminal Planning 203
9.1 Premises of planning
9.2 Static planning
9.3 Selection of container handling system
9.4 Dynamic planning
9.5 Layout
9.6 Analysis of storage capacity
Postscript 213
Appendix A Indices Used for Analysis of Existing Container Terminals 215
Appendix B Analysis of Container Arrival and Delivery Patterns 221
B.1 Pattern A
B.2 Pattern B
B.3 Comparison of patterns A and B
Appendix C Case Study of Gate Systems 230
C.1 Premises of case study
C.2 Results of calculations
C.3 Analysis of the study
C.4 Conclusions of study
Bibliography 243
Questionnaire 245
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