Transportation Optimization with Simulation Software – Port of Long Beach Pier B Rail Support

Transportation Optimization with Simulation Software – Port of Long Beach Pier B Rail Support


The Port of Long Beach, California, planned to invest up to $1 billion dollars in its Pier B Yard rail facility. TranSystems, with over 25 years of experience in the transport and supply chain space, worked with the port to quantify system requirements to meet capacity goals and to gain stakeholder consensus.

The proposal was to reconfigure, expand, and enhance the existing Pier B rail facility to support growth and provide a more efficient environment for on-dock rail at the port’s shipping terminals. Rail cargo movement via on-dock rail is the most efficient method for moving containers to long-haul destinations. To support projected capacity requirements, it is important to utilize on-dock terminal tracks and improve air quality in the area.

Modeling the rail system of the port was necessary to demonstrate to the stakeholders the required changes. However, previous modeling attempts had failed because the tools and approach had not captured the system appropriately. Success depended on reflecting the real challenges in the port rail system and showing how a new rail facility would improve operations and provide the necessary capacity.

In addition to the need to capture the current dynamics of the system, was the requirement to filter the many design concepts produced by the engineering team.

To meet these requirements, TranSystems selected AnyLogic because of its ability to:

Schematic System Level Animation

Schematic System Level Animation.


To support the modeling, TranSystems conducted site visits and interviews for all the marine terminals and rail operators at the Port of Long Beach. Furthermore, they reviewed operations, both in the port and regionally. As a result, they gained an understanding of the challenges that needed to be met. These challenges included:

When developing the model, a multi-step approach was taken:

Step 1: Screening of major alternatives by sizing the facility based on the project goals, using a quick and unconstrained system.

Step 2: Conceptual layout, constrained to determine the operating rules and tradeoffs needed for realizing the capacity.

Step 3: Visualization to port stakeholders.

Finally, to be true to the real world, systems level analysis with multiple facilities and operators was carried out. This ensured all the facilities would work together.

AnyLogic was ideally suited to integrating the wide variety of systems and variables in one model. The appropriate modeling approach (agent-based, discrete event, system dynamics) could be used for each element and seamlessly integrated into the system.

Measure of Success: Operational Sustainablility

Measure of Success: Operational Sustainablility.

Custom rail and fluid libraries are available to assist the modeling of port systems. TranSystems also harnessed the flexibility of the software to create their own custom libraries and further ease the modeling process.


The measure of success for the rail system was its operational sustainability. This required testing the ability of the system to deliver and remove containers while avoiding unstable build-ups.

The results allowed the project to move forward. After success at different buildout and volume goals had been demonstrated, stakeholders approved the necessary design.

Furthermore, as the project entered the environmental review stage, the model was successfully redeployed for air quality reporting.

To learn more, watch the project presentation at AnyLogic Conference 2016 or download it.

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