Container Ship Stowage Planning and Optimization

Project: Research

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Containerization is one of the most important innovations of modern logistics. Intermodal transportation among trucks, rails, and ocean vessels becomes possible through the used of standardized ISO containers that can be sealed, secured and loaded from one mode of transport to another. This results in the globalization of our modern industries.Container ocean vessels have grown in size from a maximum size of 10,150 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent) in 2005 to 14,500 TEU in 2008. And Asia has experienced tremendous export driven growth in the past 10 years, fueled predominantly by China. Today, Asia has five of the busiest ports in the world. Among the top twelve busiest ports in the world, nine located in Asia, and six are in China.Maersk, MSC, and CMA-CGM) and shippers faced intense competition – as such cost, reliability and efficiency become ever more important.This includes the amount of time and cost spent at any port facility for loading and unloading, and maximizing the carrying capacity of a vessel to minimize its operating cost.These costs are dependent on the evolving stowage plan at the different ports of a vessel's voyage. Minimizing the number of loads and unloads of containers can reduce the berth time and operating costs. This is directly related to minimizing the number of over stows. Increasing the crane efficiency is achieved by ensuring that each crane has equal workload. However, this result in a trade-off with the vessel carrying capacity and its operating cost due to safety and engineering constraints.Surprisingly, stowage planning is still done manually today. It seems improbable that human stowage planner can obtain a good stowage plan of a few thousand containers within a 14000 TEU vessel, and especially with limited time.Today, stowage planning software is limited to calculate the state of a ship based on safety and engineering constraints. However, research work in this area with simplifying assumptions on these issues diminishes their usefulness in the real world. The researchers' work intends to fill this gap and extends the cost minimization problem at a port to a sequence of ports. The researchers would also like to extend the cost minimization problem to a revenue minimization problem. They hope this will serve as a preface to revenue management research in the sea freight industry.


Project number9041522
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1030/09/13