For container terminals, running out of space is a good problem to have, but a problem none-the-less. HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) was built to handle approximately 790,000 TEU on its rail terminal. In 2013, CTA had already handled 813,000 TEU making the facility the largest of its kind in Europe. While this is a testament to its highly optimized nature, it was also a sign that it would need to expand. With sustained growth of nearly 20% in volume since 2010, the CTA rail terminal was quickly running out of space, and they knew they had to increase capacity.
Increasing capacity was only the beginning of the rail terminal’s challenge; they also had to consider additional constraints. First, they had to figure out how to expand rail capacity within the terminals existing footprint – no new land was available to them. Second, the terminal had to remain operational throughout any upgrade project – it wasn’t possible to temporarily close the facility. Finally, they needed to deliver the project without impacting the high customer service their clients had come to expect.
With their issues on the table, CTA set to work finding solutions. They established that they could add two additional tracks within their current terminal footprint. This would allow them to use their existing land more efficiently. But in solving this problem, they created another; adding two new tracks would require them to change the way they checked container data.
Previously, small “checkmobiles” would drive the length of the trains between the tracks – without the required space, a new solution would be necessary. CTA devised a digital “train gate” solution that would record container data automatically as a train entered the terminal removing the need for the “checkmobiles” while simultaneously improving terminal performance by allowing train-handling operations to commence promptly on train arrival.
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