The container retrieval problem with respect to relocation

Dung Ying Lin, Yen Ju Lee, Yusin Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for container terminal yards is growing significantly faster than the supply of available land; therefore, containers are typically stacked high to better utilize the land space in container yards. However, in the process of container retrieval, non-productive reshuffling may be required to relocate the containers that are stacked on top of the target container. Container retrieval is directly related to the operational efficiency of terminals. Because the industry has become increasingly competitive, it has become critical to introduce a systematic approach to retrieving containers. In this study, we develop a heuristic that can generate feasible working plans for rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMGC) in container yards to minimize the number of container movements while taking the RMGC working time into consideration. The methodology takes into consideration the case that containers are grouped in terms of their retrieval order. Multi-lift RMGC models also are studied. Comprehensive numerical experiments reveal that the method runs faster than other methods published in the literature by several orders of magnitude; additionally, our method is able to solve instances larger than practical use. The number of movements approaches a theoretical lower bound, and the numerical results clearly demonstrate the tradeoff between the number of movements and the working time, and provide useful insights for yard planning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-143
Number of pages12
JournalTransportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Mar 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Transportation
  • Computer Science Applications


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