LT.20.001 – Container Terminal Bottlenecks

Route: Logistics and transport in an energetic, innovative, and sustainable society

Cluster question: 027 What are smarter and greener ways of transporting passengers and goods that make optimal use of all forms of transport?

Smarter and greener transport systems are critical for our society. Maritime container terminals represent an essential part of freight transportation systems. Bottlenecks at maritime container terminals are taking place regularly and improvements in this area will contribute significantly to the reliability and efficiency of freight transportation systems. Nevertheless, in literature, a holistic approach looking into the classification, detection and alleviation of bottlenecks is missing.
The classifications of bottlenecks found can be often linked to infrastructure, operations, and managerial but these classifications are often not widely accepted due to overlap in – or missing categories. One of the causes for this is the wide diversity of possible bottlenecks at the terminals. Besides classification of the bottlenecks, also the methodologies to detect bottlenecks at container terminals are quite scarce which is remarkable given the importance of the container terminal industry in trade volumes, and the costs of these bottlenecks.
To the best of our knowledge, only three methods are used to detect bottlenecks in maritime container terminals: 1) Capacity utilisation method, 2) Queue length and waiting time method, and 3) Sensitivity analysis method. The challenge with these methods is that they often focus on one bottleneck while also the interaction with the whole terminal (e.g. other bottlenecks) is needed. Alleviation of bottlenecks is quite often driven by practice and seeks fast solutions to problems occurring. However, a more structured approach (e.g. a model) could greatly help terminal operators in order to optimise their operations.
Within our project we aim for a PhD project that seeks a literature review on bottleneck classification, detection and alleviation, building a bottleneck detection simulation model, and running scenarios to seek importance of the respective variables and analyse the impact of changes in order to mitigate certain bottlenecks.


bottlenecks, efficiency, optimization, terminals


Organisation TU Delft (TUD)
Name Dr. B. (Bart) Wiegmans