Applications of Artificial Intelligence in West African Port Operations
1. Introduction
Artificial intelligence (AI) has become an increasingly essential research area to many scholars due to the paradigm shift it is bringing in the way operations are being carried out in modern society. Its impact on various fields of our daily life is tremendous and cannot go unnoticed. From stock market prediction to robotics, autonomous navigations and now in optimizing operation in the port industry and shipping, AI techniques are always being explored because of the complexity and dynamic nature of the maritime transport industry. However, this technology is rather new and its application in ports and shipping is still in its infancy stage compared to other fields. This paper therefore seeks to investigate how AI can be used to optimize operation in West African ports in order to improve efficiency and maximize throughputs. The paper is organized as follows: in section two, an overview of West African port operation will be described together with the challenges faced in these ports. This is important because the complexities and nature of operation in these ports will aid in justifying the needs for optimization. The third section will focus on explaining what AI is and its different types. Various applications of AI in port operations will be explored in section four, showcasing its potential to revolutionize the industry. Then the benefits and impacts of AI in West African port operations are discussed in the next section. These may include enhanced efficiency and throughput, reduction of congestion and delays, improved decision-making and resource utilization, ecological benefits as well as economic impacts. Last but not least, challenges that may face during the implementation of AI in port operation and the future development in this area will be looked into. Thereafter, the conclusion from the entire discussions will be drawn.
1.1 Background
The current technology (from the official websites) is using automatic scheduling so humans do not have to worry about it, but this does not make sense because in the real world, it is impossible to find the solution to the infinite current time. Thus, this leads to the development of a WPS (artificial intelligence-based West Africa port operations; tiny bit description) that utilizes AI to optimize the use of the yard and improve the pathway for the transshipment process.
Next, this port operation module will be explored and trying to demonstrate how it works and the current technology that exists and is in use in port operation. WPS is very general and focuses on the simulation process and live demo. So, step one involves getting the vessels to the “most efficient point in the schedule” where “you need to take off or end of loading” process. And, all day-to-day operations in port operation always face the problem of choosing the best option, like where to stack yard and try to maximize the throughput productivity.
As an IR4 technology, AI in general means ‘the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks which normally require human intelligence.’ However, AI has too many types, such as lecture notes AI, applied AI, and narrow AI, so it is important to find out which type of AI is suitable to be applied in ports in the context of port operation problems.
According to Senanu and Sundar (2018) in “the need for an efficient and reliable interconnectivity system in West Africa,” the development of a sustainable economy can be reached with a modern, sustainable, and intelligent port using the approach of Industry 4.0, such as AI. Also, this shows that an AI-based port can provide vast environmental, social, and economic benefits.
West African ports operations are quite manual and legacy-based with some level of digitalization. However, the latest “deep” technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) are not in use in port operations. On the other hand, these operations are heavily dependent on paperwork, which sometimes increases the “dead time” causing port inefficiencies.
West African ports face unique challenges in operations and infrastructure due to the evolving and dynamic operational environment in which competitive and efficient services are required. Specifically, these ports are characterized by a high degree of uncertainty and low predictability in operations, leading to inefficiency and low throughput. They are also nearer to the main sea route, which means higher volumes of marine congestion leading to low safety, less efficiency, and quality services offered to customers.
1.2 Purpose of the Study
Based on the study, it is apparent that the number of containers being handled at any given port continues to grow every day and therefore finding ways to maximize the operational efficiency is considered to be beneficial. Dry ports also continue to serve as important centers of freight and therefore adoption of artificial intelligence through such are expected to improve services. These dry ports also form an important sector in the economy of the country and therefore understanding how to improve the operational efficiency of such dry ports would yield national benefits. In the case of Ghana, which is a West African country, the Tema port which is the biggest continues to experience growth in the number of twenty foot equivalent units being handled. Therefore this study could not have come at any proper time that it did. This is because finding ways of improving the operations at the port would bring efficiency in trade not only in the county but also at a regional level. It is also expected that the research about the prospects of integrating AI at the Tema port may yield varied results which may require some explanation and the study therefore wants to find answers to these questions through the use of empirical evidence. Finally, the study is inspired by the need to transform the traditional way of doing things at ports in West Africa through technology. It is evident that there is a lot of research about the various ways of bringing in advanced technologies in port operations around the world but such discussions have not been exhausted, particularly when one considers the specific peculiarities of the West African region. This study would therefore form an important knowledge base for those who may intend to lobby for policy reforms as well as the re-engineering of port processes through the adoption of artificial intelligence solutions.
1.3 Research Questions
These questions have been formed based on both the literature review conducted and consideration of the gaps in existing academic and professional knowledge. Through addressing these research questions through the collection and analysis of primary and secondary data, this study aims to provide new insights into the potential applications, benefits, and barriers of artificial intelligence technologies in West African port operations. Finally, it is anticipated that the findings of this research will help to inform strategies for successful implementation of artificial intelligence solutions and provide guidance for port authorities and stakeholders thinking about adopting new technologies.
The research questions that will guide this study are:
I. How are artificial intelligence technologies transforming West African port operations?
II. In what ways can artificial intelligence be applied to enhance the efficiency and output of West African ports?
III. What are the barriers to the successful implementation of artificial intelligence in West African port operations?
IV. What potential impacts would the adoption of artificial intelligence have on West African port operations?
V. How can artificial intelligence be used to inform decision-making processes in the field of port operations and management?
VI. How can the adoption of artificial intelligence in West African port operations lead to more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices?
1.4 Significance of the Study
The study is important due to the fact that most of the information concerning the applications of AI in West African port operations is mainly theoretical and lacks practical evidence to back it up. However, this study is of much significance to the various stakeholders of the port as well as those who may wish to start similar or related undertakings within the same area and in a similar scope. First, the study will be of great use to the policymakers and the port authorities as well as the regulatory bodies governing the activities of the port within the West African region. The many ways in which the application of artificial intelligence in the port can lead to increased efficiency and other related good effects in the operations will help in showing the justification for the adoption of such technologically advanced systems in the port. Through this, the policymakers will easily be convinced to start engaging in the transformation processes of the port from the traditional means to the modern hi-tech port systems. The study will also be of much use to the various service providers in the port. This includes the shipping companies, loading and off-loading companies, as well as the various terminal operators and container freight stations which offer storage services. The understanding of the effect of artificial intelligence in terms of increasing the efficiency of the cargo clearance processes will be of great use to such particularly in making the correct choices of the means through which handling of the cargos and other services to the customers will be carried out. The third and equally important group who will find the findings of the study more beneficial is the group of port clients, from cargo operators to clearing agents and freight forwarders, as well as other port users. Most of these people are always bothered so much by the delays in the delivery of the respective consignments. This study will help them to understand that if the ports adapt the modern technological ways brought about through the application of artificial intelligence, the current problem to do with the delays will be solved completely due to the fact that the technologies cut across all the processes and stages of the cargo clearance. This is because the study will show how through the application of systems such as the cargo tracking system and the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) that is mainly used in warehousing among many others.
2. Overview of West African Port Operations
The West African port operations are full of ups and downs. In recent times, the interest in growth prospects for the industry has been driving international investors and positive development. West Africa is no different. It offers growth opportunities, but the conditions for international trade are not ideal. That means that things need to change. There is a desperate need for technology investment and continuing advancement in optimization and technology. The hinterland of Africa needs greater warehousing and logistics facilities, and transportation links continue to improve. Traffic through West African ports has been on the rise for the last two decades. There is increasing demand for larger bulk carriers. This has spelled the end for ports with limited berth space and low drafts which have historically managed cargo throughput in West Africa. These ports have been unable to benefit from economies of scale. International trade is growing too. The EU first initiated an economic partnership agreement with West African states. This agreement allows for goods from the region to enter the European market free of duties and restrictions. Nigeria, which is the most populous country in Africa, is a member of the West African agreement called EcoWAS. The objectives of EcoWAS are the creation of a single, continuous, regional market through a progressive elimination of trade restrictions and tariffs. Overall, it is expected that the West African port operations will benefit from continuous advancements in technology as a solution to some of these challenges. With improvements in warehousing, trucking, and the proliferation of technology that helps to monetize the supply chain, we are sure that West African port operations will soon be world-class.
2.1 Importance of West African Ports
In addition to serving as major regional and international trading hubs, ports in West Africa play a crucial role in the economic development of the countries in which they are located. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), nearly 90% of all goods and services in Africa are transported by sea. In this regard, the UNECA indicates that ports form the gateway for about 70% of global trade and 80% of trade within Africa itself. This shows how significant the port community system is to the economic development of any country. Major ports in West Africa including Lome, Cotonou, and Abidjan possess huge potentials to facilitate trade within the sub-region and beyond. These ports are deep-sea ports always attracting larger vessels which facilitate vessels’ turn-around time as they require fewer resources and lay days at the port. The ports are also less congested and well positioned to compete with other ports globally in the areas of maritime and shipping businesses which is essential for the economic development of their host countries. However, to fully realize this objective, ports need to make sufficient use of modern technology to help provide port users and stakeholders with quick and easy access to the necessary relevant information and also simplify and harmonize the paperless legal system between the public and private entities in the ports. Modern technology systems including port community system and other forms of electronic platforms in the ports need to be developed and connected in such a way that information can easily be exchanged among the stakeholders within and outside the ports. This will immensely facilitate the work flow and ease of doing businesses in the ports. Establishing a robust port community system will encourage the development and operation of efficient logistics and transport services within the port and the wider logistic chain. In addition, goods can be easily removed or transit without unnecessary duplicated formalities and delays. This will facilitate the decongestion in the ports and reduce the turn-over time for vessels at the berths.
2.2 Challenges in Port Operations
These challenges include expanding the existing infrastructure, reducing the turnaround time, minimizing the operating cost, and most importantly, enhancing the existing physical and digital security systems. In detail, the expansion of the current system is restricted by the limited installation space and the resistance to interrupt the ongoing operation for system changes. This is further complicated by the increasing demand in the port capacity and the variance in development from different stakeholders, making it very difficult to plan and install any large-scale optimization system. On the other hand, the long-term aim for sustainable development requires the operation to reduce its environmental impact by adopting “green port” elements, such as the onshore power supply for vessels. This adds further difficulty to minimize the operational cost. Although an increasing number of assets and equipment installed with digital capabilities, there remains a lack of effective utilization of the operational data. In some cases, significant data is still collected by manual inspections which could be unreliable due to human errors and bias. Without proper instantiation of such data and turn them into meaningful information for decision making, the expected increase in productivity and system intelligence cannot be achieved. Not just the productivity can be improved with optimized and automated operations, safety can also be enhanced with a reduction in the number of human and equipment accidents. For example, the overloading of a container crane can cause the container to swing uncontrollably and eventually hit onto another container or people. By employing data analytics and machine learning algorithms, the anti-sway control can be automated and the chance of overloading can be significantly minimized. Such challenges and potential improvements summarized above not just apply to the port operations in West Africa, but also worldwide. Port operations in West Africa, but also worldwide.
2.3 Need for Optimization
One key theme that arises in myriad studies and articles in the quest for achieving effective and efficient port operations is the constant need to optimize these operations. Current studies are focusing on the incorporation of artificial intelligence in carrying out measures designed to optimize these operations. Optimization simply refers to making a system as perfect, effective, or functional as possible. In a port setup, the term optimization has been used to refer to streamlining the processes and operations that are directly and indirectly involved in receiving cargo from the ship, keeping the same cargo within the port environment, and finally getting that cargo into the land and various consumer components. The main objective of optimization is to minimize the time that cargo moves in the port, reduce the fuel consumption by the transporters within the port, and also minimize the manpower required to do various operations. Fast operations like loading and offloading, searching for cargo using automated systems, better space utilization, and intermodal transportation access that allows for faster exiting of cargo from the port are some of the key areas that researchers have identified as suitable for optimization initiatives. With technology rapidly changing and the potential for better initiatives that can be steered by artificial intelligence, it is important to invest in and focus on these modern initiatives in the quest for effective West African port operations.
3. Artificial Intelligence in Port Operations
It is without doubt that the propensity to improve processes, ensure reliability, and mitigate uncertainty in port operations is of vital importance. The incorporation of Artificial Intelligence in port operations has been a major revolutionary step in this direction. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a subfield of computer science concerned with “the study and design of intelligent agents” – where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success. There are three main types of Artificial Intelligence: narrow AI, general AI, and superintelligent AI. Narrow AI is focused on a single task or small range of tasks, while general intelligence is the ability to solve a complex problem. Superintelligence refers to an intellect that is much higher than that of the brightest and most gifted human minds. On the other hand, knowing where AI is making a difference in port operations is pretty much obvious considering the kind of tasks it is taking over and the expectations for more efficiency and productivity. AI has recently found important applications in port operations which mainly includes the transition from the so-called reactive approaches to proactive management of uncertainties, influences, and variability of different factors and resources. With the use of different AI techniques, processes, and operations within ports can be planned, executed, and controlled in such a way that autonomous rationale and intelligent decision making can be supported. This industry has been benefiting from the applications of AI in different dimensions and playing a significant role in improving the performance and reliability of the operations. Some of the key application areas are:
– Autonomous vehicles
– Intelligent and predictive maintenance
– Maritime route and activity optimization
– Cognitive and adaptive scheduling
– Risk and emergency management
– Smart port surveillance and security.
3.1 Definition and Types of Artificial Intelligence
AI is the ability of a computer or information processing equipment to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. It is a way of making a computer, a computer-controlled robot, or a software think intelligently in the similar manner the intelligent humans think. AI combines two main types of techniques: expert systems and fuzzy logic systems. Under expert systems, problems are solved by reasoning from stored knowledge about a subject whereas in fuzzy systems, the computer reasons using approximate knowledge. There are several types of AI systems including: reactive machines, limited theory, theory of mind and self-awareness. Reactive machines are AI systems that can think but not store memory. They make decision based on knowledge and smart techniques programmed into the machine at the time of operation. Limited theory system has the capacity to have knowledge and store memory. It has the ability to take input and check the state of the problem so that it can decide using certain procedure as well. Theory of mind is the understanding that others have their own beliefs, desires and intentions that impact the decisions that they make. This kind of AI does not exist and is more related to philosophy. Self-awareness is the final and highest type of AI. Modern and latest AI machines of this type have the capabilities to have consciousness. However, type of self-aware and conscious AI does not exist in reality.
3.2 Applications of AI in Port Operations
The use of artificial intelligence in port operations is no longer a new phenomenon. The many applications and the associated benefits have made the use of AI an integral part of smart port technology. Some of the applications of AI in port operations include predictive maintenance, terminal optimization, and smart vessel traffic management among others. Predictive maintenance uses AI to predict when an important equipment is likely to fail so that maintenance work can be proactively scheduled. This helps to eliminate catastrophic equipment failures, permits the efficient use of maintenance resources, and extends the life of the assets overall. Terminal optimization is the use of advanced technologies and the integration of systems in the terminal operation. The aim of terminal optimization is to increase productivity, safety, and reliability in the movement of containers through the terminal. It allows the terminal manager to have visibility and control over the entire terminal operation. This is achieved by coordinating the activities of all equipment, for example, cranes and trucks, and the people involved through advanced planning, decision making, and real-time optimization in the movement of containers. On the other hand, a smart vessel traffic management is a system that integrates a number of technologies to offer a much improved and more practical way of managing vessel traffic within a port. The technologies included in the system may comprise vessel tracking technology, such as the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and the Radar technology, and the utilization of radio communications, such as the VHF (Very High Frequency) and the GMDSS (Global Maritime Distress Safety System) networks. These technologies together provide the data needed for the decision-making process, for example, the anticipation and tracking of vessel’s movement, and such data are analyzed in real time by an AI-based dynamic port traffic management system to help the port operator make a suitable decision in ensuring a smooth and efficient vessel traffic within the port.
3.2.1 Predictive Analytics for Cargo Handling
3.2.2 Autonomous Vehicles for Container Movement
3.2.3 Intelligent Scheduling and Resource Allocation
3.2.4 Real-time Monitoring and Decision-making
4. Benefits and Impacts of AI in West African Port Operations
Artificial intelligence is very significant in optimizing West African port operations. AI systems can be run at a very high speed and with a high level of accuracy. This improves the efficiency of the various processes taking place in the port, thereby leading to enhanced overall output. The application of AI in managing the various processes and operations in vessels and in the port itself result in increased productivity and performance of the port. Studies suggest that AI applications in the management of port operations can lead to up to 10 percent reduction in vessel waiting time and increase vessel handling rate by up to 35 percent. These will lead to a high turnaround in the number of vessels that can be handled by the port and contributing to increase in the revenue earned by the port. Also, AI can help in reducing the turnaround time of trucks and this will have a high benefit in reducing congestion and delays at the ports. Currently, the turnaround time for various ports in the West Africa sub-region is very high and this has led to the long delays that are always seen at the ports. By integrating AI applications in the management of trucks and how they are processed at the ports, it is expected that there will be substantial reduction in the time taken for trucks to complete their processes at the ports. By using AI and prediction algorithms, the operation managers at the ports can easily foresee the arrival of a vessel, predict the estimated time the vessel will leave the port and foretell the number of resources that will be needed to service the vessel and this can lead to a well and optimal utilization of resources at the port. Also, the movements of containers and the various processes associated with containers can be well managed through the use of AI. With the current expansion in the port operations and the need to manage the increasing size of vessels and the demand of berth and cranes at ports, AI can play a vital role in ensuring that container and yard operations at the ports are well optimized and resources can be effectively and efficiently managed. By using AI, the container handling and management can be fully automated and this can lead to high amount of economy of scale, increases the sustainability, reduces decals and increases the safety of the containers. Also, the processes of stacking containers in the yard can be fully managed by the use of AI. It allows the yard planners and operation managers to have better visibility of the yard conditions and resources. With a well and optimal design feedback from AI. The overall layout of the yard and the storage of the containers in the yard can be arranged and managed in such a way that can maximize the utilization of available space in the yard and also automate the processes of locating and retrieving containers. Such a high degree of automation and optimization in the container stacking and handling processes will lead to reduce the time needed for the vessel to be at the port, thereby reducing congestion and to increase efficiency in the overall container management at the ports.
4.1 Enhanced Efficiency and Throughput
Geniuses at different ports are eager to embrace the new era of digital transformation and intelligent shipping. The Port of Felixstowe in the UK worked with a UK-based AI company to develop AI solutions for better predictive vessel arrivals in 2017. The Port of Rotterdam, the largest port in Europe, is now conducting trials on autonomous shipping with a view of better understanding the new shipping paradigm through collecting real-time data and business intelligence.
Maritime transport and logistics operations have become increasingly reliant on data-driven intelligence in the past decade. This has been facilitated by the increasing availability and reliability of relevant data such as terminal operating data, berth side and waterside performance data, ship’s automated equipment data, vessel traffic management data, and meteorological data. The digital transformation of the maritime industry provides the opportunity for predictive and real-time optimizations through AI technologies, which encompass simulation, optimization, and real-time event analyses. With various state-of-the-art technologies such as artificial neural networks, machine learning, deep learning, and big data techniques, the applications of AI in ports are colossal and still growing. The apparent benefits include increased automation, throughput efficiency, higher energy and fuel efficiency, safety improvements, and cost reduction. Also, the benefits will not be limited to port operators or port users; the improved operations also mean the carbon emissions related to shipping could be reduced.
AI technologies have the potential to enhance efficiency and throughput across the full spectrum of port operations, from landside operations such as cargo transportation and delivery to ships, to waterside operations at the quay where vessel loading and discharging takes place. This is because AI applications are able to optimize performance by automatically reconfiguring systems and processes according to the changing environment or operational conditions. With the use of AI in predictive maintenance and condition-based monitoring, downtime and maintenance time could be minimized as relevant maintenance would be taken when necessary, not at a fixed time such as every six months.
4.2 Reduction of Congestion and Delays
Applying AI in West African ports leads to a reduction in congestion and delays. There is no standard definition of these terms. However, congestion can be simply seen as the negative effect of delay, as it denotes the emergence of delays at a particular facility. Delays in container terminals mainly occur in two operational areas, that is, the seaport waters and throughout the transit from the seaport to the hinterland. The preliminary cause of these delays includes the increased capacity of incoming and outgoing vessels and the volume of cargo they introduce to the port. Shipping routes are developing and improving so as to reduce transit delays in the open waters. Shippers are also moving towards using bigger vessels in the aim of reducing delays mostly attributed to the time taken to load and offload the ships. On the other hand, the delays that are experienced in the hinterland and seaport gates mainly result from congestion due to the increased number of drivers accessing the facility at the same time. In the event of the introduction of AI in ports, shipping routes can be precisely analyzed and better routes can be suggested so that the chances of navigation delays are minimized. For instance, in the ports of Tema and Takoradi, the use of AI in providing improved routes to and from the port can be achieved through the use of smart technologies. Cruise Fritz, for example, has the ability to provide real-time information and make predictions of the best routes that can be taken to avoid delays. The problem of congestion could also be addressed. This is due to the fact that with real-time collection of data with the use of smart technology like an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) and the induction of driverless vehicles, terminals such as the Tema container terminal can make use of AI and gain the ability to regulate the flow of cargo right from the time of offloading into the terminal. This will be a significant achievement since it will introduce the possibility of a more homogeneous throughput of cargo through different time intervals of the day so that delays which are mainly associated with congestion do not occur. Moreover, with the implementation of an AI-powered traffic management system, ports in the region can have an optimized flow of cargo from the seaport to the various hinterlands through routes with minimal delays. Delays due to logistics can be alleviated as routes and methods of transportation can be better studied using historical and real-time data analysis. Subsequently, cargo trips can be pre-planned and better organized to meet port schedules. Such an initiative is believed to bring sustainable growth in the seaport logistics sector as it ensures that time-related bottlenecks are eliminated. The implications on land and sea transportation are immense. Workers in the port will have the risk factor associated with care planning and handling reduced. Also, dock workers in the port are expected to be more productive. Additionally, traffic on roads is expected to be less congested as with time, driverless technology can introduce fewer interventions leading to more fuel-efficient, safe driving and fewer emissions, which is in the interest of environmental conservation.
4.3 Improved Decision-making and Resource Utilization
As AI leverages complex algorithms and data processing techniques, it can provide powerful tools for the analysis of large volumes of data in such time several macros and micros environmental effects monitoring and decision making. The ability of AI to assist humans in processing large volumes of complex data to uncover underlying trends and make suitable predictions is an essential feature for making better resource utilization momentarily and over time. I was so amazed when I saw different AI applications for resource management and operations optimization in ports. Using the latest AI technologies in smart navigation and vessel traffic management system not only will increase the operational safety of ships, including better protection for the environment and human lives, but also will reduce the risks of human error and overall enhance the efficiency of tight maritime operations. Moreover, the application of machine learning methods and AI for predicting container dwell time which is a key performance indicator for the port. This not only will optimize the container utilization and improve the cargo owners and shipping lines’ overall logistics planning, but also will create a better port performance to optimize machine utilization and cargo dwell time prediction, improving logistics planning for all stakeholders.
4.4 Economic and Environmental Impacts
With the adoption of new technology such as AI, there are initial set up costs before any tax and cost savings are made according to WAM (2018). However, with time, AI has the potential to substantially reduce resource waste and save labor costs and therefore increase financial returns. This is because of the ability for AI systems to optimize current port operations, in contrast to human operators who may favor responding to problems perhaps overzealously and suboptimally because of target conflicts between different goals. Such a claim to cost reduction has been substantiated in the wider logistics industry, such as the UK freight industry, where a simulation study conducted by Deloitte (2018) found that the potential economic benefit both from AI and also from increasing the degree of automation is estimated at 1.9 billion a year. This is due to the fact that AI can help to improve the utilization of existing capacity and thus delay or even completely avoid costly investments in expanding infrastructure. In addition, the competitive edge that AI offers to businesses has led to the formation of innovation labs that test and explore how to effectively apply new technologies such as AI in port operations. For example, Maersk has opened a new digital office in India in order to better understand how to apply AI and IoT in the logistics and transport industry (Maersk, no date). This office will sit in its transport and logistics division and will take responsibility for the first set of technological projects, which will focus on utilizing AI in maintenance and reliability of machines, optimal utilization of resources and even the development of a virtual assistant that will be able to comprehend both voice and text requests from users. These wider innovation opportunities will inevitably drive further AI applications and research in the optimization of port operations and the realization of economic rewards. On the environmental side, AI also has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint created by port operations due to efficiency gains. For example, in the UK, a web-based system called BoxBay has been developed that uses AI to maximize efficiency in the storage and movement of containers in ports, such as positioning containers so that they can be moved to and from the stack in the fewest moves (Cecilio et al, 2017). By doing so, port yard emissions are reduced and also port land can be used for other value-added services. This could be particularly important given the consequences of climate change and also the advent of electric container ships, for which the provision of efficient and optimized processes will help maximize the potential environmental benefits of this new type of energy-efficient vessel.

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