POrt Simulation Environment for Interactive Design of Operation and Networks

Advisor: Agostino Bruzzone, Yuri Merkuryev
Designer: Alessio Carbone

The complexity of port terminals, harbour dynamics, the technology of navigation and the enormous costs involved require increasingly efficient and flexible methodologies and tools to support the planning and to evaluate the present status and ensure optimal investment strategies.
Modelling and simulation are the most important tools for studying and solving these problems since analytical techniques normally cannot handle the complexity of these real systems.
Harbours are complex industrial systems involving many entities and different services. Within this framework, maritime aspects are governed by public authorities, such as port authorities, harbour space allocation and layout redesign managers and various companies operating in the port. This system is very complex due above all to multiple ship operations that are carried out at the same time as other related procedures and sub-activities, in addition to constraints, etc.
Therefore, harbours are dynamic structures undergoing constant growth in order to meet ongoing market requirements and to improve efficiency and safety.
These aspect require the application of re-engineering techniques to ensure proper re-organisation and to support the design of new components, such as:

New Operating Procedures
New Terminals
Requirements for New Systems (i.e. requirements for new tugs)

During the development of the thesis it was possible to acquire information and experience related to some principal Italian harbours (Genoa, Ancona, Ravenna,) as well as foreign ports (Riga), comparing the similarities and the differences.
In fact, the Genoa and Riga harbours, both large centres (i.e. strategically involved in the container field), must deal with different problems:

- Genoa needs to be re-organised to enhance its competitiveness considering changes in multi-modal operations and the development of a new terminal based on a "hub" structure (i.e. passenger, container or oil terminal).

- Riga is a growing reality in the North European maritime sector, in which it is important to introduce new technologies to improve communications (i.e. wireless communications) and the management of loading/unloadingprocedures (such as Van Carriers or transtainers), thus guaranteeing a high level of efficiency and safety.

To ensure that these requirements are properly identified and to support design and re-engineering, it would be very useful to identify the techniques and the methodologies that could successfully deal with such tasks, while guaranteeing flexibility and possible adaptation to different harbours.
For this reason, the first step of the thesis is the development of data acquisition through direct experience in the field and with research related to previous studies about the techniques linked to these problems that may also be useful to solve them.
During the field analysis, it became necessary to develop models that could be "implemented" by users and that were capable of supporting them to ensure continuous improvement in service quality and operating efficiency. To achieve these objectives, particular attention must be focused on the need to operate in a distributed environment (inside the harbour and with regards to the diverse subjects that operate there and geographically to co-ordinate the various companies).
Obviously, ease of use and interactive capabilities are important features to guarantee its diffusion in the final users environment.
To this regard, it became clear that it would be quite interesting to be able to use web-based modelling elements to make distribution more immediate and interactive and to guarantee maximum growth potential.
These techniques can be used to take full advantage of what is now the omnipresent Internet/Intranet network for communications, without having to develop special communication standards and/or interfaces.
This solution obviously involves reduced implementation efficiency (running speed, safety constraints, transmission speed), but the design improvements and the immediate distribution in a different user environment truly make this a convenient approach.
The goal of this study was to verify how some techniques and methodologies already developed in this area (especially in the training sector, initially military operative and then industrial) could be applied to support harbour management activities.
After completing the initial data acquisition phase, tools were developed to summarise all the acquired information. Such tools then became a direct and initial means of supporting harbour management: harbour flow analysis techniques, implemented in a Windows environment, were developed within this framework.
They immediately provide a comparative analysis about harbour activities, highlighting the service quality and thus supporting the statistical analysis and the control requested by the ISO 9000 standards that all harbour operators have recently become aware of.
Once all the field data was summarised, a technological demonstrator was developed to deal with a real problem, oil terminal modelling to support the re-organisation of ancillary harbour services, with particular reference to mooring, tug and pilot services.
This model operates in a web environment, so every potential user connected to the web server through an Internet/Intranet (TCP/IP) link and using a simple browser (explorer rather than netscape, al least with versions less than two years old), can run the mode, interacting to create scenarios and evaluate the results.
The analysis performed focused on an estimate of the efficiency of system developed, as well as the operative times, kinds of procedures, and practical use of the tool applied to the Multedo (Genoa) harbour situation to verify the results obtained through a real application.
For this project similar kinds of model with similar techniques were developed by maritime research groups in Italy (Fincantieri Group) and abroad (Riga Technical University).
This made it possible to verify the correct use of the models and the results obtained and to compare the various performances.
Model implementation was developed using the Java programming language and a graphic interface was built for the graphic validation and verification of the model, utilising its potentials. However, implementation always focused on ensuring that final users could interact directly with the system by means of normal browsers rather than using specific tools or dedicated commercial packages.
To this regard, the part involving the safety management in the maritime environment is particularly interesting.
In fact, the structure developed guarantees an optimal safety level that can be managed by the user.
However, the requirements needed to achieve this goal often make it difficult to construct the model, thus becoming of the main obstacles during development.

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