A metaheuristic approach to the maritime terminal crane scheduling problem
Marine container terminal operations can be broadly divided into container operations associated with ships and involving quay cranes, and those associated with the surface transportation (such as trains and trucks) and involving yard cranes. Since any port related delays could translate into high costs for both the ship operators and the final customers, efficient allocation of the cranes could significantly improve port productivity. This paper proposes a mixed-integer programming model for scheduling both quay and yard cranes, in the presence of availability timewindows. In light of the NP-hard structure of the resulting MIP, we propose a GA-based (Genetic Algorithm) based solution methodology. The proposed framework was tested on a number of problem instances, generated using the publicly available information, of varying size to demonstrate the efficiency of the algorithm. In general, it was noticed that although acquiring additional cranes would improve the turnaround time, one also needs to consider the high equipment acquisition cost -and hence should conduct an appropriate trade-off analysis. Furthermore, attaching higher importance to a specific job could be one of the ways to ensure its early completion.