Wednesday , March 22 2023

A Hybrid Method for Assigning Containers to AGVs in
the Dynamic Environment of Container Terminals

Radhia ZAGHDOUD1,2, Khaled MESGHOUNI2, Simon Collart DUTILLEUL3, Kamel ZIDI1, Khaled GHEDIRA1

1 SOIE: Laboratoire de Stratégies d’Optimisation et Informatique intelligente
Institut Supérieur de Gestion de Tunis,
41, Rue de la Liberté, Cité Bouchoucha 2000 Le Bardo, Tunis –Tunisie,,
2 LAGIS: Laboratoire d’Automatique, Génie Informatique et Signal Ecole Centrale de Lillle, Cité scientifique –
B.P. 48-59651 Villeneuve d’Ascq,

3 ESTAS: Laboratoire d’Évaluation des Systèmes de Transports Automatisés et de leur Sécurité, de l’aménagement et des réseaux
IFSTTAR Institut français des sciences et technologies des transports,
20 rue Elisée RECLUS BP 70317, F-59666 Villeneuve d’Ascq Cedex, Lille-France

Abstract: The handling operations performed in ports require the use of equipment operating in a dynamic environment. Some tasks may not be fully carried out due to equipment failure or power breakdown that may occur particularly with the automated guided vehicles (AGV). The unavailability of equipment such as AGV has important consequences in terms of respecting the deadlines of different operations that a port should perform, such as the loading and unloading operations of ships. This situation can aggravate if there are also traffic problems in the port with some inaccessible network nodes. A part of the equipment will be blocked or the operations will take longer than expected if they don`t take the optimal path to connect the loading/unloading points and storage areas. These reasons confirm the usefulness of establishing a robust system able to resolve the problem of assigning containers in the static and dynamic environments. In a previous work, we developed a system for assigning containers in a static environment. In order to improve this method, we devote this paper to the study of the robustness of our system to the dynamic environment of the port. The numerical tests included in this paper show an adequate performance of our method for this particular dynamic environment.

Keywords: Assignment, Dynamic, AGV, Containers, Optimization, Genetic Algorithm.

>Full text
Radhia ZAGHDOUD, Khaled MESGHOUNI, Simon Collart DUTILLEUL, Kamel ZIDI, Khaled GHEDIRA, A Hybrid Method for Assigning Containers to AGVs in the Dynamic Environment of Container Terminals, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 24 (1), pp. 43-50, 2015.

  1. Introduction

The maritime transportation has a great importance in global manufacturing and international business not only because it‘s the cheapest transportation way, but also because it has a capacity to transport a huge volume of goods. Since the 1960s, with the appearance of containerization, this field has received an important development. It increases the goods transportation speed and the goods volume. As a result of this development, a new container terminal model was erase built and the existing ones were extended. In the Hong Kong terminal container, turnover has been raised from 9 million twenty feet Equivalent Units (TEU) in 1993 to 19 million TEU in 2002[1]. The number of TEUs in Singapore, as the second port around the world, has been doubled, increasing from 9 million to 18 million TEUs [2].

But the seaports sizes increase has a negative effect on ship loading and unloading operations rapidity because it makes it very slow. As a consequence, the ship has to wait for a longer time at the port. Facing the challenge of the big increase of the container’s number, the transportation systems of container terminals have to minimize the loading and unloading operation duration.In order to perform this operation, the researchers in this field have to decompose it in some subproblems such as storage containers problem, scheduling AGVs and quay cranes problems. Due to the big number of equipements, the environment in the container terminal is uncertain and complexe. All the operations are integrated, so each operation depends on several constraints.

The AGVs scheduling problem is considered as multi-objective, uncertain and complexe. It is proved to be NP-hard problem. Given its large scale, the solution of this problem is not an optimal but near optimal solution. To solve this problem, the heuristic algorithms are widely used. Because of container terminal operation complexity, it’s difficult to optimize the whole operation system with a single analytical model. Therefore, generally the operation system in container terminal is divided into several sub-processes and each sub-process is optimized separetly. This paper is organized as follows. The second section studies the literature review of the AGVs and containers scheduling in a dynamic enviroment. In the third section we propose the problem description. The fourth section describe the robustness of the proposed approach in the dynamic environment. Finally the conclusion and perspectives will be presented in the fifth section.


  1. STEENKEN, D., S. VOB, R. STAHLBOCK, Container Terminal Operation and Operations Research – A Classification and Literature Review, Operational Research Spectrum, vol. 26, 2004, pp. 3-49.
  2. RASHIDI, I. H., E. P. K. TSANK, Container Terminals: Scheduling Decisions, Their Formulation and Solutions, submitted in Journal Scheduling and Engineering, 2006.
  3. EROL, R., C. SAHIN, A. BAYKASOGLU, V. KAPLANOGLU, A Multi-agent based Approach to Dynamic Scheduling of Machines and Automated Guided Vehicles in Manufacturing Systems. Applied Soft Computing, vol. 12(6), 2012, pp. 1720-1732.
  4. FISHER, M., Vehicle Routing, in Ball, M. O., Magnanti, C. L., Monma, C. L., Nemhauser, G. L. (eds.) Network Routing, Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1995, pp. 1-33.
  5. LUCAS, B. B., R. R. EDILSON, E. KATO, A MultiAgent System using Fuzzy Logic to Increase AGV Fleet Performance in Warehouses. International Conference on Fuzzy Systems, 2008, pp. 2291-2298.
  6. GOTTING, H. H., Automation and Steering of Vehicles in Ports. Port Technology International, vol. 10, 2000, pp. 101-111.
  7. FAZLOLLAHTABAR, H., N. MAHDAVI-AMIRI, An Optimal Path in a Bi-criteria AGV-based Flexible Job-shop Manufacturing System Having Uncertain Parameters. International Journal of Industrial System Engineering, vol. 13(1), 2013, pp. 27-55.
  8. MEERSMANS, P. J. M., A. P. M. WAGELMANS, Effective Algorithms for Integrated Scheduling of Handling Equipment at Automated Container Terminals. ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2001-36-LIS, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 2001.
  9. ZAGHDOUD, R., K. MESGHOUNI, S. C. DUTILLEUL, K. ZIDI, K. GHEDIRA, A Multi-objective Approach for Assignment Containers to AGVs in a Container Terminal, The 2013 IEEE International Conference, Manchester, UK 13 – 16 October 2013.
  10. ZAGHDOUD, R., K. MESGHOUNI, S. C. DUTILLEUL, K. ZIDI, K. GHEDIRA, Optimization Problem of Assignment Containers to AGVs in a Container Terminal, 13th Symposium in Control in Transportation Systems, Bulgaria, 2012.