Dispatching vehicles in a mega container terminal

Ebru K. Bish, Frank Y. Chen, Yin Thin Leong, Barry L. Nelson, Jonathan Wing Cheong Ng, David Simchi-Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


We consider a container terminal discharging and uploading containers to and from ships. The discharged containers are stored at prespecified storage locations in the terminal yard. Containers are moved between the ship area and the yard using a fleet of vehicles, each of which can carry one container at a time. The problem is to dispatch vehicles to the containers so as to minimize the total time it takes to serve a ship, which is the total time it takes to discharge all containers from the ship and upload new containers onto the ship. We develop easily implementable heuristic algorithms and identify both the absolute and asymptotic worst-case performance ratios of these heuristics. In simple settings, most of these algorithms are optimal, while in more general settings, we show, through numerical experiments, that these algorithms obtain near-optimal results for the dispatching problem.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-506
Number of pages16
JournalOR Spectrum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Heuristics
  • Port terminal operations
  • Vehicle dispatching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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