An Optimization Approach for the Integrated Berth Allocation and Yard Assignment Problem in Bulk Ports

  • Jasem S. Al Hammadi

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Maritime transportation experienced an enormous growth in the last decade as a result of globalization. Accounting for 90 % of the world trade, it does not only bring benefits to consumers with relatively low transportation cost, but also opportunities for economic diversification. Due to the rapid increase in sea-borne demand, there is great emphasis on making port terminals more efficient by utilizing the available resources effectively. Therefore, the role of optimization becomes crucial as port operators aim to maximize the efficiency of existing resources, rather than building more berth spaces which is cost inefficient. One of the most important seaside planning problems that received a great deal of attention in the literature is the assignment of quay space and service resources to vessels for loading and discharging, and it is commonly referred to as the Berth Allocation Problem (BAP). Although previous studies in the literature showed that the operations research methods and techniques clearly demonstrate that operations research can be applied successfully to optimize port planning problems and improve terminal efficiency, there remain certain unaddressed gaps. Despite significant contribution made for container terminals, relatively little attention has been directed to the operation of bulk ports. In order to obtain an optimal berthing plan in bulk ports, terminal operators are concerned with integrating and managing the sea-side area (wharf) and the buffer area for storage called yard in the port. The cargo type must be explicitly known to the bulk port operator, which in turn, requires the assignment of the best storage areas and the usage of specialized equipment for loading and discharging. Thus, the integration of BAP with yard assignment is necessary to maximize efficiency and obtain an optimal berthing plan in bulk ports. The current research studied the integrated dynamic hybrid berth allocation problem and yard assignment problem (BYAP) in the context of bulk ports. A Mixed Integer Programming (MIP) model was proposed to solve the BYAP. An efficient heuristic solution methodology called Greedy Randomized Adaptive Search Procedure (GRASP) was developed to solve the mathematical model. The solution methodology provided near optimal solutions for large instances that contain up to 100 vessels within reasonable computational time. The integrated mathematical model was tested on instances inspired from real-bulk port datasets from the literature. Finally, a case study was conducted on Mina Zayed port to optimize their current operations and to define the most important resources, with the objective of enhancing the practicality of the research.
Date of AwardMay 2015
Original languageAmerican English
SupervisorAli Diabat (Supervisor)


  • Port Terminals
  • Optimization
  • Assignment of Quay Space
  • Berth Allocation Problem
  • Port Planning
  • Terminal Efficiency
  • optimal Berthing Plan.

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