Design & simulation of an integrated automated maglev system to overcome transportation challenges between inland and seaport terminals

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Port systems face numerous challenges, including limited storage capacity at terminal yards, congestion in road port access due to overwhelmed infrastructure, and inefficient inter-terminal transportation. Close dry ports, situated between 10-40 km from the port, offer a potential solution, but lack flexible and reliable transport connections that efficiently handle transportation without adding extra handling moves. Recent technological advances in rail systems, particularly fully automated magnetic levitation (maglev) cargo shuttles, provide promising solutions for connecting dry ports with seaport terminals.

This research explores the integration of maglev technology into port logistics, focusing on connecting a dry port terminal to seaport terminals, with a direct connection to the berth. Using the Transport System Bögl (TSB) Cargo system as a reference, five different designs were developed for integration. These designs required a redesign of the dry port and terminal yard, as well as the design of the system’s berth connection and connections between all terminals.

Simulation modeling using Siemens Tecnomatix Plant Simulation software evaluated the performance of these designs under various scenarios based on Port of Hamburg demand input data. Results showed that all designs improved median berth times compared to the German benchmark of 18.96 hours, with Design 5 demonstrating the best performance together with Design 2.

Recommendations include continued collaboration with port authorities through simulation case studies, serving as proof of performance for potential integration projects, and exploration of collaboration opportunities with smaller scale ports facing space availability and road access issues. Further research should expand the model to accommodate new export container loading requirements and include all terminals, while studying new algorithms to balance the volumes and requests of all three terminals. This research demonstrates the feasibility of integrating maglev systems into port logistics, challenging the ’status quo’ and opening up new possibilities for improving port operations. Through a systematic approach, this study offers valuable insights for the integration of maglev technology into port logistics, paving the way for future advancements in the field.