Huarong Zheng (Transport Engineering and Logistics/3ME/TU Delft) first prize winner at Rotterdam Smart Port Event

On October 2, 2014, the smart port event took place, sponsored by Port of Rotterdam and with no less than 32 contributions showcasing research results in port-related areas, from Groningen, Delft, Rotterdam, and various Belgian universities.

Each contribution resulted in a poster, prepared by a PhD student who is taking care of the research; research was at very different stages, and with a quite wide focus (from historical studies to geography, emission trading, optimization algorithms). Among the goals are facilitating the interaction between the port research and the industry, represented by logistic companies and the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

One of the nice features of the event was the awarding of two prizes, one academic and one for the best poster, chosen by the public. Bart van Riessen (PhD student at Erasmus University and Transport Engineering & Logistics at TU Delft; supervisors Rudy Negenborn and Rommert Dekker) received the public prize for his work on “decision support for synchromodal transport“.

Moreover, Huarong Zheng (PhD student at Transport Engineering & Logistics at TU Delft; supervisors Rudy Negenborn and Gabriel Lodewijks) was the first prize winner, to her biggest surprise. “I did not expect this at all”, she said. She started her PhD almost 2 years ago, coming from the Chinese city of Wuhan, with a China Scholarship Council grant. She is happy to have received the first prize, which comes with 2500 euros contribution. What is the key feature of her approach?

IMG_7012a“Using Waterborne Automated Guided Vehicles (wAGVs in short) for transport is a new idea that can be used successfully to bring containers over short stretches of water. It is a typical problem that is found for transportation of containers within the port area, such as in Inter Terminal Transport. My contribution is here extending the landside AGVs in Automated Container Terminals to the waterway side to formulate a closed loop automated container transport system for a smarter port.

I propose the use of a model describing dynamics of vessels in 3 degrees of freedom for use in a Predictive Path Following with a Required Time of Arrival controller. By using this controller, the following 3 system requirements can be achieved:
1)a given geometric reference path – that will be in practice the shortest path- is tracked with deviations as small as possible;
2) operational performance requirements are met: a given required time of arrival at the destination is achieved, if that is feasible, or a minimal delay within a time window is reported otherwise; and
3) the aforementioned two objectives are achieved in an energy efficient way, i.e. that minimizes energy consumption and costs.

These goals align well with the ones of Inter Terminal Transport. A lot of questions have been asked about how much time it will take to see the real implementation time of our Waterborne AGV concept. This is generally hard to say: 10 years, 20 years or even longer. The idea is new, and we are currently only focusing on the control perspective at the operational level. Before the whole system can be implemented, research is needed at other levels of the system, e.g., on strategic and tactical issues, and detailed ship hydrodynamics and design issues. Besides this, there are legal issues that need to be considered. We hope to see more researchers and practitioners become interested in our topic.”

Why do you think you won the prize? Which suggestions would you give for the next would-be winner?

“For PhD students who want to attend the poster session next year and who are ambitious enough to win a first prize, I suggest to keep the audience, namely, the port authority, in mind. They organize this poster event to seek ideas innovative in theory but also promising in practice. So relate the research to their port related issues and illustrate to them how the research is going to help solve those problems.”

What are you going to do with the money?

“Spend it in some way:)”

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One Response to Huarong Zheng (Transport Engineering and Logistics/3ME/TU Delft) first prize winner at Rotterdam Smart Port Event

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