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RCMS Report Summary

Project ID: 636158
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.4.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RCMS (Rethinking Container Management Systems)

Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-02-29

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Seaports container terminals serve thousands of container ships, store billions of containers and continually compete for the opportunity to serve the next ship. Sea cargo traffic reflects the majority of world trade, which is continually increasing. In addition, seaports are the entry/exit points of freights in/from complex and geographically distributed supply chains, whose nodes (production plants, markets, or even end-users) are linked by different kinds of transportation networks (rail, road, fluvial networks, etc.). While advances have been made in terminal automation (Automated Ground Vehicle (AGV), gate control, yard cranes, etc.), with current technologies, terminals are limited by their ability to maintain growth and quality of service. To address these trends and demands the Robotic Container Management System (RCMS) has been developed. As a contribution to its implementation, Project main objectives are:
A. to develop a detailed simulation model for RCMS to be evaluated in 2 Terminals (Gdansk and Koper) plus a set of generic simulation tools to be used in all terminals;
B. to assess and compare RCMS performance with other state-of-the-art container handling technologies for 2 Terminals (Gdansk and Koper) with different features;
C. to assess and compare RCMS performance with other state-of-the-art container handling technologies for 2 ports (Gdansk and Koper), with focus on comparison between RCMS solution and port surface extension;
D. to assess impact of RCMS in a simulated transport network in terms of efficiency, reliability, capacity, performance indicators (travel times, average speed, etc.) and impacts (noise and air pollution) in the Port of La Spezia.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During the reference period, significant progress has been made towards the RCMS project’s main objectives.
In terms of Project Requirements and Integration, whose main goals are to provide understanding on the two terminals environment from the terminals point of view as well as to describe the system which meets the client requirements for the two analyzed terminals and to describe all simulation software related requirements such as the logic control, interface requirements between the Container Terminal and RCMS, the main achievements can be summarized as follows:
• Two case studies (Gdański Terminal Kontenerowy and Port of Koper) for which the application of the advantageousness of the new RCMS container handling technology has been analysed and compared against state of the art container handling systems. For Gdański Terminal Kontenerowy (GTK), this has been done by considering the development of alternative layouts, featuring RTG-, ASC- and RCMS-container storage yards.
• Significant progress has been achieved also in terms of System and Subsystem Design. A document defining the RCMS from the point of view of logical architecture and functionality, indeed, has been presented. The System and Subsystem Design document presents the general design of the system and sub systems, explains assumptions and the decision taken in the process and sets the base for further development.
• Another important result refers to the definition of the Simulation Software and ICD (Interface Control) Requirements. In the reference period, indeed, a set of requirements for all software related objects of the project, including the RCMS side, the container terminal side and the interface between the two entities have been defined. The RCMS Control Logic (i.e. algorithms and decision rules) required to control the movements and the driving behavior of all the RCMS components, such as AGVs, elevators and cranes. The document defined the High levels and Low levels software requirements and the Interface Control (ICD) for the RCMS (Robotic Container Management System) simulation program. The RCMS Simulation Program is a means for evaluating the performance of an RCMS, in terms of the quantities, sizes and activities of components of the RCMS, operation of which satisfies the relevant overall performance requirements of a Containers Terminal (CT) which utilizes the RCMS. CT overall performance is defined by CT parameters such as CT Throughput (per berth length) in terms of Containers (and their types) handled annually, Dwell Time (DT) distribution of containers in storage in terminal, and a host of other parameters defined and described in the following paragraphs. The Simulation program shall receive these parameters as input, and shall calculate the resulting RCMS performance.
In terms of testing and validating the RCMS control logic, it is worth mentioning the AGV CAD model document, a study presenting an overview of the AGV (Autonomous Ground Vehicle) systems and characteristics designed as part of the RCMS project and the RCMS layout document. In order to test and evaluate different control logics, management approaches and system efficiency of the RCMS, indeed, a set of preliminary internal layouts was created. In this document a few proposed layouts for the RCMS system are described. The layouts describe the interior design of the building focusing on container storage methods and handling/transporting tactics. The RCMS is a set of one or more multi-level (floors) buildings, which are positioned along the CT berths, and are capable of storing large quantities of containers. The transportation of containers throughout the building will be performed via AGVs (electrically powered Automated Ground Vehicles). Four different layouts are presented and discussed in details. In this document, while the main concept of storing the containers in grouped cells is in common to all of them. The layouts vary between one to the other by means of few main parameters: number of moving lanes between the storage cells, number of elevators and their location within the building and the number and position of balconies.
Further to the above mentioned objectives, another key project goal is to support the simulation project with accurate and structurally feasible building layout and cost assessment. Civil engineering costs of state of the art container handling solutions, indeed, are the largest part of the investment costs of a new terminal. These shall be assessed in order to be able to compare both solutions. New innovative construction procedure and materials to optimize design and construction have been explored and evaluated. To this end, design requirements for each of the terminals regarding required civil engineering works have been developed based on inputs from the terminals taking into account the local conditions (e.g. site conditions; Meteorological Conditions (Air Temperature, Humidity, Precipitation and Snow, Wind); Hydrological Conditions (water levels, waves, soil conditions); Topography, Bathymetry; Seismic conditions; Existing structures etc and constraints. Two state of the art container handling technologies in the container storage yard are considered for each terminal:
• RTG (Rubber Tyred Gantry Cranes)
• Automated Twin-RMG (Rail Mounted Gantry Cranes)
Furthermore, terminals layouts with the RCMS handling container system have been addressed. The document serves the purpose to determine for each of the terminal the design requirements regarding required civil engineering works and based on inputs from the terminals taking into account the local conditions and constraints. This Design Criteria Document forms the basis for the further development of the layout and further project internal documents.
As for the assessment and comparison of the RCMS with other established systems from the container point of view an important document “Qualitative Comparison of RCMS with other technologies” has been prepared. The purpose of this document is to compare the RCMS-Rethinking Container Management Systems- to other state-of-the-art container handling systems. This document provides a qualitative comparison of criteria which are not rated based on numbers but on general knowledge and experience with such systems. The systems that have been compared are on the one side a fully manually operated RTG (Rubber Tyred Gantry) crane system, working together with TTUs (Tractor Trailer Units) as horizontal transport vehicles and on the other side an RMG (Rail Mounted Gantry) crane system, which is fully automated in stacking containers and works with AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) for the horizontal transportation of containers between the STS (Ship to Shore) cranes and the storage area.
Alternative terminal designs operations for the investigated ports/terminals have been also developed in order to identify the most suited container handling system for each individual terminal.
Finally, the completion of the Traffic Model Description needs also to be mentioned.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

RCMS is a robotic parking system that is able to efficiently manage and handle more containers per square-metre than traditional handling systems used in port and inland terminals. The new system also provides optimal and adaptable responses to the needs of shipping companies and port terminal operators, as well as to truck and railways companies.

By taking into account the needs of the entire shipping supply chain, the goal of RCMS is to reduce handling times between, say, the offloading of containers from an incoming ship and putting these on trucks and trains for final delivery. This means less containers stacking up in port, less traffic congestion in and around ports and a reduction in energy use and emissions.

Port services can make more efficient use of existing infrastructure through adopting RCMS. This means that the need to invest in expensive and environmentally risky land reclamation operations in order to create more storage space is reduced. The whole logistic supply chain stands to benefit.
As already highlighted, the first reporting period has been crucial in order to assess, study, evaluate and compare the RCMS from several points of view ( e.g. requirements for design and layout, testing and validating the RCMS control logic, analyzing the main RCMS advantages in comparison with RTG and RMG technologies with reference to Investment costs, Operations, Operating costs, environment and other etc) to lay the foundations for further developments.

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