THE INS AND OUTS OF PORT OPTIMIZATION
Learn how optimization can generate the most value for you by looking at its architecture.
Optimization to overcome port and terminal bottlenecks
The power hidden in a true real-time system architecture
Scalability hand in hand with modularity
OPTIMIZATION TO OVERCOME BOTTLENECKS CONGESTION
Introducing optimization is an intuitive approach when competing against bottlenecks that become too time-consuming and complex to resolve, triggering high operational costs. Congestion can form when trucks continually queue at terminal gates. It can also occur when vessels cannot berth due to the yard reaching maximum capacity and similarly forming a vessel queue. Likewise, major activity disruptions happen when high container volumes clog warehouses or when disorderly instructions distribute amongst Container Handling Equipment (CHEs), performing more moves than necessary. Resolving these operational and process challenges within one system is a tremendous task, but it is most definitely not impossible.
Operational optimization may work in conjunction with automated equipment to extrapolate automation capabilities that streamline operations and improve low container turnover rates. Process optimization may delve into Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology integration which assists in berth planning or even reverse engineering for yard management, ensuring allocated containers move into their optimal yard slots. Despite treating different areas, the overarching objective of employing optimization is to develop intuitive decision-making that maximizes from the available pool of resources, determining the best-fit solution possible in all stages of planning, executing, and maintaining.
Operators may not believe in innovative technology when their expenses exceed their revenues as it defies optimization promises. However, employing various software and applications from multiple providers can easily dismiss the opportunity of interoperability, and hence, contribute to unnecessary operational costs. The consequence stems from using divergent system architectures, which drills down to each software provider applying their interpretation of optimization semantics in their product development process. Therefore, it is critical to building a criterion that can evaluate each software’s framework and its architecture before adopting it.
How to overcome relaying bottlenecks into different areas of a terminal? Instituting a TOS governed on a real-time architecture facilitates a real-time ecosystem connecting all operational channels to an information network. Therefore, data always maintains its most updated state, critical to making reliable decisions that achieve optimization. More significantly, it can ensure that every terminal area sustains constant information flow, performing a harmonious connection between TOS users and the equipment executing the WIs. As a result, this infers interoperability as it strays from shifting hotspots to other areas that include isolating decisions to a specific location which hinders operational visibility.
Uninterrupted information streams enable early detection of hotspots and mitigate the likelihood of congestion spawning in other terminal areas. Real-time data also helps planners achieve optimal moves factoring set parameters (e.g., minimal fuel consumption, fastest route, etc.), transport schedules (e.g., berthing, in-gate, railway schedules), and most importantly – forecasting bottlenecks. Although optimization has now proven its mileage, the efficiency level largely depends on the system’s ability to create a harmonious environment that can identify, assess, draw conclusions, and forecast ahead of time. These indicators deduce the magnitude of interoperability prevalent in the TOS.
THE POWER OF A TRUE REAL-TIME ARCHITECTURE
With a deep knowledge of core components, the TOS’s foundation can strengthen and cultivate a platform open to boundless capabilities. Developing a system on a pure real-time architecture is imperative to achieving automation capabilities that facilitate optimization. A depiction of a pure real-time system architecture derives into shared- and in-memory. These architecture characteristics incite instantaneous startups and allow for simultaneous information sharing amongst users without compromising system performance. Its ability to constantly update information automatically serves as the base for expanding capabilities into new horizons of automation, the cloud, artificial intelligence, etc. – because what good is any solution if the information used to make decisions is outdated?
Solutions withstanding delays fortify a real-time native architecture as the system starts up with virtually zero wait time. TOPX integrates these principles, which is reflective in its single server infrastructure, enabling shared memory— contrasting against other TOS that generally requires pulling and downloading data from multiple servers then re-uploading once an action is confirmed. When planning requires more data, the steps for retrieval will take longer. This directly proportional relationship mirrors transaction processing as it incurs a sequential queue of work instructions and can take long periods since one instruction executes at a time. Consequently, data is also likely to become obsolete by the time CHEs receive these work instructions as vessel data or container data can change at any stage of the planning process. Therefore, decisions derived from fragmented data are liable to many errors and can accumulate into problems that enforce correctional strategies reprimanded for their resource-intensiveness.
Distinguishing the two, shared memory maintains data-integrity and -interoperability while in-memory immediately loads all worked on windows in the previous workspace after initiating TOPX Expert. All steps taken for downloading and re-uploading is eliminated with in-memory, accelerating data processing to grant greater control for better decision-making. Collaboration on tasks is made possible from this architecture, dividing the total workload into smaller and manageable tasks. Flexibility in planning is also a result of TOPS real-time sustaining a combination of real-time, shared-memory, and in-memory processing. Faster task completion rates inherently evoke an enhancement in operational efficiency.
Now understanding the power of true real-time when correctly embodied, we see how it can foster tangible results for automation. Although automation may not produce immediate outcomes, it will surely improve productivity and performance rates only if the terminal operator’s employ the correct automation strategy. Many automation failures occur due to the lack of real-time information flow from using too many interfaces (e.g., third-party software), creating unnecessary layers that block data and work instructions from maintaining their real-time state. Why work harder when you can work smarter? As a result, congestion and redundant WIs, and even possible system hangs are the automation project’s output. If automation executes correctly, it will offer a high visibility environment sustaining connections in real-time and generate results without middleware as a requirement – all the critical factors contributing to cost savings and a competitive edge.
Subsequently, real-time processing has strengthened TOPX Expert’s infrastructure in expediting the benefits of increased workflow and data sharing. Therefore, the disparity drawn from transaction processing requiring micro-planning is incomparable to real-time processing. Achieving a pure real-time architecture enables shared memory for macro-planning and optimization, allowing terminals to increase their cost savings.
SCALABILITY HAND IN HAND WITH MODULARITY
Software embedded with scalability can prove vital in this ever-changing economic landscape. Scalability is a fundamental characteristic of the cloud-native Terminal Operating System (TOS), recognized for its ability to leverage the IT resources required to match the actual workload to power a terminal and operate without compromising performance. These resources that sustain a terminal’s system infrastructure reflect the pre-planned capacity determined to withstand peak demand.
Nevertheless, terminal operators can also easily upscale their IT infrastructure to meet higher demands if needed. Responding to fluctuating requests with scalability optimizes costs since unused hardware will no longer attribute to the operator’s monthly expenses. Being apt and agile, true cloud TOS has offered smaller sized terminals the chance to continue business and larger terminals to downscale to meet new declines in container volume, despite still bearing the impacts of the ongoing global crisis.
Correlations are drawn from scalability and modularity as one drives the other. Modularity exists in both cloud applications and enterprise-level software and commonly refers to comprehensive systems breaking down into smaller modules to deploy into terminal operations. Nowadays, as the economic crisis instigating downward pressure on financial resources, IT managers are not left with an extensive IT budget to exhaust, taking an appeal in modularity. Therefore, as a terminal fluctuates, whether that is growth or sudden decline, their operations and objectives inevitably change. In consequence of the shift in scalability, new capabilities and intelligence must introduce to accommodate the change. Scalability, as a result, drives modularity appeal since they cooperate to create a flexible environment accepting of changing requirements.
Finding a flexible TOS that can easily tailor to changing scalabilities without incurring irrational expenses or fuss rests within its architecture. Modular systems become cost-effective should they interface seamlessly with one another without third-party software requirements. However, this drills down to the software provider, given each develop their modules on different architectures. Due to conflicting constructs that may arise, the modules may not synchronize, and middleware must mitigate this issue. Consequently, it inhibits real-time connections and communication, affecting data integrity. It becomes concerning, primarily when decision-making uses this redundant information. Avoiding these modularity failures like other technologies requires thorough assessment and evaluation upon procuring.