INFORM’s Rail Crane Optimizer allows for smooth CTA expansion project

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HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) put INFORM's Rail Crane Optimization module to the test when they completely reconfigured their rail terminal to accommodate two additional tracks in an ambitious expansion project.

The expansion had to utilize the existing terminal footprint. Subsequently, to add the two new tracks, six of the seven existing tracks had to be disassembled, moved, and reassembled to allow space within the existing terminal footprint; throughout the project, the terminal’s rail capacity was significantly reduced.

The project was delivered in August 2016; it was completed in two phases that took four months to complete; the Rail Crane Optimization module helped Germany's largest container rail yard to expand their rail terminal without compromising on customer service.

"We had concerns that the expansion project would negatively impact on the excellent service that our customers have come to expect from CTA," commented Ingo Witte, Managing Director, CTA.

To build confidence in the Rail Crane Optimization module's ability to handle the unique construction scenarios, INFORM conducted a simulation process and presented the results to CTA.

"The simulation report was crucial in giving us confidence that the project would not adversely affect our customer service standards," added Ingo Witte.

"The project presented multiple unique construction scenarios that challenged INFORM’s team and software," said Dr. Eva Savelsberg, Senior Vice President Logistics Division at INFORM, "but our simulations showed we'd be able to accommodate the project scenarios."

The most complex construction scenario included three of the existing seven tracks closed, reducing the site capacity by 42%. Additionally, the rail cranes were not allowed to move load units over the construction zone.

"SyncroTESS was able to adapt easily to the changing construction scenarios. Amongst many innovations within the project, INFORM’s Optimization Modules were configured with 'virtual construction fences’ that enabled the system to adhere to the constraints of the construction scenarios while managing the workload efficiently," commented Eva Savelsberg.

The expansion was necessary to allow for current demand and future growth. The project increases the rail terminal's capacity by 140,000 TEU to approximately 930,000 TEU per year.

HHLA has noted that this expansion would enable them to ensure the efficiency of CTA thus positioning them well for future increases in shipping volumes through their rail terminal.

CTA has been a customer for 14 years utilizing INFORM's Rail Crane Optimization module as an add-on to their existing Terminal Operating System (TOS). The Rail Crane Optimizer was upgraded to the latest generation module earlier this year.

The latest Rail Crane Optimization module features INFORM's newest Agile Optimization algorithms delivering increased optimization performance. It also provides the ability to readily adjust to changing terminal layouts and capacity to handle additional rail cranes providing CTA with the resources to continue to grow their rail terminal capacity into the future.

The Rail Crane Optimizer dynamically assigns work orders to cranes to optimize their sequence of work reducing travel distances and improving on-schedule performance.

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