A conversation between Prof. Dr. Holger Schütt and Prof. Dr. Jürgen W. Böse who is professor in logistics at the University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel, and editor of the recently published 2nd edition of the “Handbook of Terminal Planning”
Holger Schütt: Hello Jürgen, nice to see you again. I think the last time we met was in summer 2016. At that time, you were still working at the Technical University in Hamburg Harburg (TUHH). How did you fare since then?
Jürgen Böse: After working for 6 years at the Institute of Maritime Logistics at TUHH as chief engineer and gaining a lot of interesting experience in dealing with students and conducting maritime research projects (especially seaport logistics), I had the opportunity to take the next step professionally in the summer of 2017. I received the call for a logistics professorship at the University of Applied Sciences Braunschweig/Wolfenbüttel, accepted this call and started my teaching and research activities there in the summer term 2018, which I still enjoy doing today.
Holger Schütt: In 2008, you approached me whether I would be interested in contributing a chapter on “simulation” in a manual for terminal planning. How did you come up with the idea to publish the first version of the “Handbook of Terminal Planning”?
Jürgen Böse: Already in the early 2000s – during my doctoral studies – I was often annoyed by the fact that the search for literature sources on the topic of “Terminal Planning” very often led me to publications in the field of process optimization and thus to the algorithmic world of Operations Research (OR), where the search usually ended…
My rather complex design questions concerning the type and dimensioning of the supra- and infrastructure of the terminals (number of STS cranes at the quay wall, choice of operating systems for horizontal transport and container storage, dimensioning of the storage areas, etc.) could mostly not be answered by the impact of these contributions. Not much to our surprise, as the suitability of OR methods for the elaboration of greenfield and (also) brownfield solutions for container terminals was (and is) only given to a limited extent. The primary field of application of these methods is not the development but the optimization of static and/or dynamic structures. What is needed here is “operational experience”, which (condensed into “rules of thumb”) can be used to plan initial solutions for the terminal superstructure and infrastructure, as well as “simulation”, in order to validate or further improve these solutions in a further step. All this was hardly to be found in the relevant literature at that time and for me the actual driving force to initiate the book project “Handbook of Terminal Planning” in its 1st edition.
Holger Schütt: What has changed since the 1st Handbook edition, so that you are offering a new version and not just an update, which was published in the fall of 2020? The topic of “simulation of container terminals” that I have presented has become absolutely accepted in recent years, especially in the field of automated terminals. In addition, the simulation models created are also used beyond commissioning as “digital twins” to improve operational processes. Does this also apply to topics in the other chapters?
Jürgen Böse: Not only for the simulation of container transport and storage processes, but also in other problem areas of terminal development and optimization, a terminal planner’s tools of the trade today include a wide range of methods and technologies which were only discussed conceptually or had only been implemented in few terminal facilities worldwide when the first edition of the Handbook was compiled in 2009 and 2010.
While automated straddle carriers on the quay side and in the yard, the use of OCR gates for the landside check of trucks and containers, or high-performance equipment controls to accelerate the handling processes of ever larger container vessels (especially beyond 15,000 TEU) were still the exception, technical and organizational innovations of this kind are now indispensable for many conversion and greenfield projects and are part of the “1-by-1” of modern terminal planning.
Although always latently present, “environmental aspects” and the associated sustainability issues have now reached a prominent position at all levels of terminal planning (equipment and system technologies, handling operations, hinterland connections, legal regulations, etc.). They have “moulted” into a problem area of its own that planners no longer only deal with on side-lines. The increased importance of environment-related topics is also reflected in various contributions of the 2nd edition of the Handbook.
Holger Schütt: Which topics are addressed and which is the target group you want to address with the book? Do you want to address the scientific community, or is it rather intended for use in the maritime industry (terminal planners, terminal operators, etc.)?
Jürgen Böse: In the sense of a real “manual”, the book would like to provide a summary of important new findings from theory and practice for the successful development and operation of the infra- and superstructure of maritime container terminals. Effective assistance should be offered to both practitioners with disciplinary and technical responsibility of the facilities and application-oriented scientists at universities.
This heterogeneous group of people includes terminal operators and their development departments or port authorities and consulting companies as well as researchers whose work focuses on high-performance handling facilities in international container traffic. Accordingly, the book is intended to serve as a “knowledge provider” for everyone who wants to effectively solve practical problems especially beyond the operational business. This was is also the guiding principle behind the solicitation of the Handbook and the numerous contributions to it. The aim was to present content from all the main functional areas of a seaport container terminal (quayside, yard and landside) that would have a significant impact on terminal planning.
Holger Schütt: By which means did you select the authors?
Jürgen Böse: To be honest, there was no “master plan” for this. As with the 1st edition of the Handbook, I approached those people in my professional environment whose technical expertise I was certain of from joint projects in the past or whose relevant publications on topics of seaport logistics and technology or international container traffic I had followed in the technical literature over the years. Thankfully, most of them were still professionally active and much to my personal pleasure, there were hardly any rejections. Everything else, such as the breadth and balance of the Handbook contents, then somehow fell into place by itself – even without a “master plan”…
Holger Schütt: What is your personal highlight in the book?
Jürgen Böse: This is indeed that the 2nd edition has again succeeded in attracting contributions from recognized experts in strategic terminal planning worldwide, who present the complex design aspects of seaport container handling in a balanced content-related way and thus provide a good overview of the “state of the art” in this field. In addition, it was possible to win over authors for the project who focus primarily on the seaward and landside connection of the “system interface” seaport container terminal and who focus on the integration of these facilities into existing network structures at very different levels (in particular transport, economy, society and legislation).
The book project was considerable in its resulting complexity (with almost 40 authors) and, in cooperation with a publishing house that is now globally organized, turned out as a pitfall to me that had to be “circumnavigated”. In the end, however, the project was successfully completed in the fall of 2020, and it proved true once again what Oscar Wilde had already said more than 100 years ago:
“Everything is going to be fine in the end.
If it’s not fine – it’s not the end!”
Holger Schütt: Dear Jürgen, thank you very much for your explanations. In my opinion, the Handbook published by you is really a very useful documentation of the updated status and certainly offers both terminal planners and operators as well as scientists a solid basis for their work. Thank you very much for organizing the whole work, I am already looking forward to cooperation regarding next joint projects!
Here you can order the “Handbook of Terminal Planning”: https://www.springer.com/de/book/9783030399894