Harbor terminals are complex systems, subject to the action of several climate and usage and exploitation agents, which must fulfil overall safety and operationality criteria (Losada, 2001). Surveyed harbor simulation models focus either on operational features, estimating the capacity and performance of harbor terminals by studying use and exploitation agents, or on safety factors, studying the climate agents and ship behaviour.

Simulation allows to make decisions at all levels (strategic, tactical, operational ) before compromising the investments required .

This is possible when we get the correct predictions about the development of a system through experiments (experiments run on a computer, using a specific software).

The benefits of simulation in the port :

  • Test your system early in the design process so that you can correct mistakes
  • Optimize investment planning equipment, such as cranes ...
  • Test and optimize complex large-scale systems (eg Container terminals ) without interrupting the real-time operations ,
  • Manage environmental restrictions and badly known events ( eg market demand )
  • View the system in 2D or 3D
  • Defining and analyzing different scenarios,
  • Include the use of simulation software in the core operating system of the terminal .


On ports, investment costs of building and machinery is very high so it is very important to know first the solutions in a virtual world before spending any money.

The objective is to optimize space and resources, as well as optimizing the use of handling tools (human and material resources).

With simulation models, we can know the occupation of the platform stack height containers of the capacity of terminal equipment and the required productivity for every machine regarding the expected capacity.

To get the best solution for the design of a terminal

The simulation is used to evaluate the performance of a system configuration data :

  • In terms of physical structure ( design of new systems);
  • At the decision-making system ( operating reorganization ) .

The simulation allows to answer the question " What do we get as a result if we do this? "

But it doesn't answer the question " What should I do to get it ? ".

To achieve a good solution , test a sufficient number of scenarios in order to compare and retain the most interesting. ? So the simulation is a process by induction ( study specific cases in order to reach a conclusion as general as possible ) and not by deduction ( reasoning solution obtained by an algorithm ) .

Which benefits can be achieved by simulating a port system?


  • A more efficient operational planning in terminals for transit agents: containers , vehicles, general cargo ... etc.
  •  Optimization lay out terminals with capacity based on peaks and parking load
  •  Definition of the optimal solution between the length of the platform and the number of cranes in the various scenarios of traffic expected for the quality of the offered service.
  •  Aid decision making for the selection of optimal operating system port terminal based on traffic characteristics , geometry , etc. .
  •  Optimization of investment in equipment (cranes, transport systems , storage systems , handling systems and operators) by proper sizing of resources for each process avoiding choke points .
  •  the definition of the implementation of a future site (eg quay length , storage area )

 - The design of the optimal number of ways (eg cranes, container , jumpers)

 - The positioning of a ship docked