Increasing Rail Capacity Utilization in Port of Hamburg

Over ninety percent of the world’s trade containerized, and in the Port of Hamburg in Germany over nine million containers are transshipped every year. Till now the early provision of information for both the estimated time of arrival (ETA) of vessels and containers is not established. Containers are offloaded and stored at terminals, and then they are usually sent by ground transportation to their further destinations. This hinterland part of the supply chain can often become a bottleneck because if a deep-sea vessel gets delayed, it can complicate further shipment processes. Furthermore, the terminal has no information about the hinterland mode selected or the time of off-loading a certain container (first or last).

Fabian Walter, and Ralf Elbert, Chair of Management and Logistics at the Technical University of Darmstadt completed a simulation project for the Port of Hamburg to evaluate and propose a solution for the bottleneck issue. Fabian and Ralf chose AnyLogic Modeling and Simulation software for analysis due to its multimethod modeling capabilities. The objective of the simulation is to compare the effects before and after establishing containerized ETA throughout the transport chain. Within the system dynamics model – for the first time – all relevant actors were modeled. This embraces deep sea carrier, terminal operator, rail operator and railway company.

The simulation results showed that container ETA availability would allow port authorities to shorten container dwell time in terminals, and allow intermodal operators to increase train capacity utilization, and, ultimately, container shipment time.

Also, the Port of Hamburg users focused on the export direction of containers. Here ETA of containers could improve the capacity utilization of container vessels. Read further in the case studies section of