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Engineering Assignment: Decision Support Tools & Techniques For Moving The Ports Of Auckland


Prepare an engineering assignment addressing the following questions:

Question 1 –
Critically analyse issues relating to operating a container terminal in a large metropolitan city using the Port of Auckland as an example.

Question 2 -
Identify quantitative models and tools that would be necessary to run the container terminal in an effective and efficient manner. Justify how these quantitative models will be particularly relevant for a port located in a metropolitan area. [Remember that the major operations include loading/unloading of containers on/from ships, storing containers on the yard, transporting containers to/from inland locations]

Question 3 -
Identify some of the challenges that would arise if the container terminal is moved from Auckland. Comment on how these risks could be mitigated.


Answer 1: Issues regarding operating a container terminal in the port of Auckland discussed within the engineering assignment
Transitional destination facilities that allow shipping containers to change modes of transportation enroute to their ultimate destination are known as container terminals or container ports. The pandemic of Covid 19 has imposed several barriers in handling the operating container terminal in the port of Auckland. Workplace interruptions, cargo surges from large ships, infrastructural demands, marine terminal productivity, and equipment shortages are a few of the reasons for this situation. On the other hand, Auckland port has been plagued by constant bottlenecks. It is very uncommon for ships to be left stranded for days or weeks at a time as they await the opportunity to unload. Previously, various studies were presented regarding the operation of container terminals in the large cities. As per the words of Butler et al. (2020), in Auckland the port-city interaction has been significantly impacted by marine networks during the previous three decades. In Auckland the worldwide shipping sector is becoming competitive and fast paced due to the increasing demand of sufficient supply chain.

As container shipping technology advances and shipping corporations consolidate, container terminals are becoming more and more important as more and more ships carry more and greater international commerce volume on board. A significant shift in port technology took place in ship reception and cargo handling equipment at container terminals throughout the 1960s and 1980s as containerization spread as a major manner of international commerce. The driving force was the necessity for quick cargo transfer and ship turnaround, as well as a more efficient shipping business. However, despite impressive mechanization in most ports during the 1990s, communication and document transfer efficiency remained a significant bottleneck, hurting overall performance across the terminal and between customers and important stakeholders.

According to the words of Dong et al. (2019), Auckland's container supply chain continues to experience issues, as recently noted by a number of industry players, including the NRC. Service providers and freight property owners are feeling the effects of high season volumes, empty plastic yard overcrowding, vessel schedule changes, and delays at ports. Empty container desire restrictions are a specific source of concern. On the other hand, prior studies have also revealed that the inception of inappropriate supply chains is one of the major issues presented within the large cities that can directly hinder the operation of container terminals. Apart from that, in large metropolitan cities operations of container terminals have been severely disrupted as a result of the traffic. Shipping dependability at New Zealand's ports was 70 percent on average in August of last year, but with the pandemic in play, it constantly dropped to 6 percent.

In addition to that, Auckland's principal maritime freight port had a dependability rate of 9.57 percent in November; that number dropped to 5.56 percentage points in April. As a result of the congestion, shipping companies are unable to meet timetables in foreign ports. As per the words of McArthur (2018), lack of sufficient employees is another crucial issue within the large cities that may affect operations of container terminals in large cities. Moreover, there were delays, traffic bottlenecks, and blocks all around the globe by the end of 2020 after a drop in shipping demand in the early days of the epidemic. However, due to the increased demand and an ongoing lack of dockworkers and trucks, containers are piling up at port. Hence, these are the issues that may arise while operating a container terminal in a large city.

Answer 2: Quantitative method for enhancing the operational efficiency of container terminal
Ports in Auckland play a significant role because of their strategic position and capacity to manage transshipment. The inclusion of container terminals can also facilitate the international and domestic trade of a country or city. Auckland’s ports handle 95% of Auckland's foreign commerce, which accounts for 70% of the city's total volume (Iris & Lam, 2019). As of 2018, Auckland’s container ports alone handled 2% of the world's container throughput, with a combined throughput between 2017 and 2018 of 1208 million metric tons. However, in order to maintain the efficiency of the container ports the management needs to implement several quantitative models that can easily enhance the operational efficiency of the container terminals. In spite of all of the advancements in technology and container stacking systems (CSS), container terminal operators still face several obstacles. As a result, there are additional movements of containers inside the stacking area due to a lack of knowledge regarding future transit options.

In this regard, the researcher has also recommended adapting the multi criteria decision making tool for maintaining the operational performance of container terminal. Nevertheless, the application of this tool can easily support the port management to maintain the operational efficiency of the port in a succinct manner. On the other hand, TOS (Terminal Operating System) is an effective quantitative tool that can aids the organizations to enhance the performance of the container terminals in a succinct manner. Additionally, it also helps in managing the daily transaction of the ports that can easily improvise the operational efficiency of container terminals. Moreover, international shipment of commodity especially in the port sectors are mainly relies on the container transport. In this regard, little law can be taken under consideration for enhancing the performance of Auckland container terminal.

However, these containers are made in a standard sized and it can be transported effectively over long distances and it can also be transferred from one means of transport to another one. Needless to say, that the application of TOS can be effective in this regard for managing the cargo coming in containers. For this present examination, spiral sampler tool is used as a simple instrument for the analyzer to comprehend the operating efficiency of container terminals. Large ships have been steadily increasing in size in order to lower the cost per TEU and boost profitability by taking use of economies of scale, according to this tool. The multimodal transfer of goods by containers has enhanced the speed and cut the cost of sea transport, especially since many containers have become bigger.

When it comes to port operations, shipping companies concentrate on a few hub ports, while the expanding form of transportation is connected to feeder service or land transportation in other parts of the world. In order for huge ships to dock and disembark in a smooth and efficient manner, they must pick ports that are large enough, well-equipped, and well-run. Increasing the efficiency of port operations is a key success element for terminals when handling large ships. Automated container terminals are one such example of how port efficiency may boost a terminal's competitiveness. A competitive advantage over other ports is ensured by container terminal automation, which increases yard efficiency in comparison to existing container terminals and does so through well-organized placement of devices in step with increasing cargo volume and advanced information changes among equipment units.

ABM is a dynamic modeling system that allows both agents and systems to remember their actions. Apart from that, complex systems over a long period of time are ideally suited to ABMs. In addition to that, it enables the operation teams to discover the micro- and macro-level patterns that arise from the interactions between agents (Zhen et al. 2019). On the other hand, in this model container stacking methods have been studied using a variety of models and approaches. However, in order to deal with unsafe containers and provide decentralized management in an unpredictable and unsettling environment, the researchers developed a container stacking system. A two-stage search algorithm was used to evaluate the incoming container volume, unloading and stacking issues. An integer linear programming model is developed based on the formulation in order to reduce remanding of containers and best redistribute reloading services depending on the stacking strategy.

Using the Kahoot tool, the analyst easily implements that port facilities and discharge equipment are determined by the size of a container ship. Because container ships are becoming larger, the length of time they spend docked at a port has become critical. Automated container terminals are becoming more popular as the amount of containerized goods, ship size and speed, and terminal operation expenses all rise. In order to build a port, you need a lot of material, and you also need a lot of time and money to modify an old terminal. In addition, the long-term neglect of the existing facilities incurs an opportunity cost that must be taken into consideration. By far, the most significant impact may be achieved with the least amount of money spent by enhancing an automated information system. Upgrading an automated information system has the dual benefit of improving terminal efficiency while also ensuring the system's reliability between sessions.


Figure 1: The components of ABM model

(Source: Cuevas, 2020)

In the above figure, the way ABM can improvise the performance of container terminals has been demonstrated in a succinct manner. Depending on the number of ships, barges, trains, and trucks carrying containers, as well as the number currently present, the pace at which new containers attempt to access is called the container influx. According to the words of Kerr et al. (2021), containers in a block stacking are determined by adjusting the stacking-area sliders, and in this example, 300 TEU were selected.

However, the value of this option varies depending on the specifics of each situation. Another consideration is how many containers are currently in the system and how efficient the terminal is when it comes to container outflow. All parameters were calibrated in order to perform a sensitivity analysis and to be consistent with various scenarios. Only container handling for inbound transportation modalities, such as ship, barge, rail and truck are addressed in this model.

As a result of the ABM, container inflow was governed by the number of packages set for various modes of transportation, which were controlled by the number of trains (TEU), number of trucks (TEU), number of barges (TEU) slider, and number of boats (TEU) sliders. In this regard, a total of 300 TEU containers in the model have been divided among each of the blocks. The number of containers in each stacking block was set using the number-of-stacking-blocks sliders (Wan et al. 2018). The output of the ABM was used to produce the data for the present study's scenario analysis.

The Auckland port terminal operator provided the data that was used to compile this report. On the other hand, it is therefore possible to have a complete picture from this stakeholder about container terminal activities and the number of containers coming in and going out, as well as how many containers are being transported out of the terminal. In order to put it simply, the port of Auckland container terminal today 41 quay cranes spread out across 9 docks. Therefore, based on the above observation it can be easily interpreted that the complicated container terminal transportation systems can be better understood with the use of an agent-based model approach.

Answer 3: Challenges that would rise in case the container terminal is moved from Auckland
The amount of freight traveling between Northport and Auckland by rail or road will be too much for those modes of transportation. In order to get the 1 million containers from Northport to the inland road-rail port at Swanson in west Auckland, an estimated 20,000 freight trains (each with 37 waggons) and 340,000 heavy truck journeys are required. It is only possible for a container truck to complete one of its five daily excursions from Northport to the Ports of Auckland and South Auckland. It is possible for a truck to make up to seven journeys a day from Auckland's Ports of Auckland to Penrose, but it can only make one trip a day from Northport. The number of car carriers using the Auckland-Northport route would be one every 2.5 minutes, 24/7, based on the average monthly importation of 21,000 vehicles.

More than half a million tons of cement are imported every year for usage in the Auckland region. In order to maintain Auckland's standing as New Zealand's sole international-scale metropolis, it would be detrimental to move freight between 160km (road) and 215km (rail) before it approaches Auckland. The amount of freight transported by road is increasing at a rate of roughly 6% each year. As per the words of Meurisse et al. (2019), only 3% to 4% (approximately 1300 HVs) of Auckland's 35,000-strong heavy truck fleet service POAL, with some trucks making as much as 3-5 journeys to and from the port each day. The number of trucks in Auckland's central business district would not be affected by these adjustments. They would lower the number of trucks traveling along The Strand and Beach Road to and from the Ports of Auckland, but would boost truck traffic on city streets between the south and northwest Auckland areas. About 7.5 percent of the 44,000 cars on The Strand each day are heavy trucks; while another 500 heavy trucks drive to and from the Port on Beach Road.

However, once more trucks are used to transport goods from Northport to and from South Auckland; the number of trucks on the City’s Motorway will considerably grow. It is expected that the existing choke point, SH1 beneath Mountain Road, would become even more congested, and not less so. On the other hand, according to one freight operator, truck traffic surrounding the Swanson Road-Rail Inland Port is projected to rise in conjunction with an increase in Neilson, Church streets, next to the Southdown Rail Center. Apart from that, NZTA estimates that a large truck travels down Neilson Street, a major thoroughfare in this part of Auckland, every ten minutes. In addition to that, the number of containers passing through the New Zealand ports of Auckland, Wellington's Centerport, and Otego’s Port is on the decline.

On this note, proponents of moving the port argue that it is taking up valuable coastal real estate and causing traffic jams by moving cargo mostly by truck. Tauranga was identified as a possible location for the importation of foreign vehicles, and freight could be transported back to Hamilton through road or rail. The Auckland-based imported car industry sector would have to move to serve the trade, which would generate community concerns and raise the cost of automobiles in Tauranga. On the other hand, ports in Auckland and Tauranga are anticipated to collaborate. There is a weak surface supply chain in an area with more than half of New Zealanders and 70 percent of the country's seafaring traffic is carried out by them.

Although Northport is located in the north, the needs of Auckland's freight customers are shifting south. There is enough room in the Firth of Thames to construct a port that can grow in size as ship sizes and cargo demands rise. UNI's long-term freight jobs can only be accommodated in case both Auckland and Tauranga demonstrate capacity challenges that indicate they are nearing their respective capacity limits. Hence, these are the possible ways that can be taken into account for addressing the issues that may be raised due to the shipment of Auckland container terminal.

Butler, R., Vernall, D., & Douglas, H. (2020). Sustainable ports: Local air quality effects and the feasibility of installing emission reduction technologies at the Port of Auckland. Air Quality and Climate Change, 54(3), 49-54.

Cuevas, E. (2020). An agent-based model to evaluate the COVID-19 transmission risks in facilities. Computers in biology and medicine, 121, 103827.

Dong, G., Zhu, J., Li, J., Wang, H., &Gajpal, Y. (2019). Evaluating the environmental performance and operational efficiency of container ports: An application to the maritime silk road. Engineering assignment International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(12), 2226.

Iris, Ç.,& Lam, J. S. L. (2019). A review of energy efficiency in ports: Operational strategies, technologies and energy management systems. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 112, 170-182.

Kerr, C. C., Stuart, R. M., Mistry, D., Abeysuriya, R. G., Rosenfeld, K., Hart, G. R., ...& Klein, D. J. (2021). Covasim: an agent-based model of COVID-19 dynamics and interventions. PLOS Computational Biology, 17(7), e1009149.

Lim, S., Pettit, S., Abouarghoub, W., & Beresford, A. (2019). Port sustainability and performance: A systematic literature review. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 72, 47-64.

McArthur, J. (2018). Comparative infrastructural modalities: Examining spatial strategies for Melbourne, Auckland and Vancouver. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 36(5), 816-836.,5&as_ylo=2018&scillfp=16440050

Meurisse, N., Rassati, D., Hurley, B. P., Brockerhoff, E. G., &Haack, R. A. (2019).Common pathways by which non-native forest insects move internationally and domestically. Journal of Pest Science, 92(1), 13-27.

Molavi, A., Lim, G. J., & Race, B. (2020).A framework for building a smart port and smart port index. International journal of sustainable transportation, 14(9), 686-700.

Wan, C., Zhang, D., Yan, X., & Yang, Z. (2018). A novel model for the quantitative evaluation of green port development–A case study of major ports in China. Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, 61, 431-443.

Zhen, L., Zhuge, D., Murong, L., Yan, R., & Wang, S. (2019). Operation management of green ports and shipping networks: overview and research opportunities. Frontiers of Engineering Management, 6(2), 152-162.


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