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Civil-Comp Proceedings
ISSN 1759-3433
CCP: 84
Edited by: B.H.V. Topping, G. Montero and R. Montenegro
Paper 115

A Study of a Virtual-Reality-Based Real-Time Container Terminal Operation Management System

F. Shu, Y.F. Huang, W.J. Mi and Z.Q. Xu

Logistics Engineering School, Shanghai Maritime University, P.R. China

Full Bibliographic Reference for this paper
F. Shu, Y.F. Huang, W.J. Mi, Z.Q. Xu, "A Study of a Virtual-Reality-Based Real-Time Container Terminal Operation Management System", in B.H.V. Topping, G. Montero, R. Montenegro, (Editors), "Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Engineering Computational Technology", Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, UK, Paper 115, 2006. doi:10.4203/ccp.84.115
Keywords: container terminal, operation management system, information technology, visual reality, system modelling and simulation, real-time database.

The conventional operation management systems (COMS) of container terminals are related to the information organization within the container handling process in terms of numerical and diagrammatical formats. Hence for various container operation activities, it is rather difficult for container operators to handle the information in a real-time manner due to data redundancy and response delay [1]. Because of the advent of information technology (IT), the virtual reality (VR) technology provides a new way to operate container terminals effectively. In this regard, the VR technology creates an integrated environment to model and simulate operation activities using the three-dimensional (3D) visualization [2].

Generally speaking, the VR-based COMS is developed based on existing systems. These systems should drive moving objects for 3D scenes in a real-time manner. The VR technology is applied to generate a virtual world as a computer system. Alternatively, it can represent the motion of scenery objects by employing simulation techniques; meanwhile, the 3D platform can be operated via the human-computer interfaces (HCI) [3]. The VR-based COMS models are conducted on the basis of the 2D models. Meanwhile, some transformation interfaces are postulated for diverse formatted files, so as to avoid repetition of modeling work [4]. Because of a lots of scene models and objects during the simulation process, an SGI workstation together with Creator TM software is utilized to generate the scene models of container terminals. It is completed and further simplified on the basis of the surveying information, such as the dimensions and locations of objects. The details are:

  1. The static scene includes motionless objects such as ground and sea levels, buildings and plants. Accordingly, they are categorized into a unified modeling file. In this way, such tasks as file format transformation, external database introduction and texture acquisition and creation are involved in the modeling process.
  2. The motional scene, containing moving objects like containers, tractor-trailers and cranes, is coordinated via the database information, including models of containers, gantry cranes and container tractor-trailers.

Upon completion of object modeling, two types of modeling files are formed, i.e. an integrated file of static objects and relevant files of motional objects. To a detailed extent, Lynx TM graphical user interfaces (GUI) are generated to interface static objects; whereas applications via Vega TM are conducted to operate motional object numbers and dimensions based on VC.NET TM programming [5]. In this regard, such 3D simulation software such as Creator TM and Vega TM are used for the system implementation, together with VC.NET TM for the in-depth Vega TM programming. A two-step approach is adopted, comprising pre-definition and the secondary development of application programs.

In summary, the VR technology is applied for system modeling and simulation. This provides a cooperative platform for geometrical and motional modelling, where operation activities are visualized in three-dimensional (3D) formats. Furthermore, data of motional models are driven by a real-time database, which contains the operation management information. The case of the Tianjing Container Port in China was consequently employed to study this approach. In this respect, the 3D simulation software, e.g. Creator TM and Vega TM, is used for system implementation, along with VC.NET TM for in-depth Vega TM programming. It is envisaged that the proposed VR-based system will prove effective for the container terminal operation.

L.M. Yu, "Operation Management of Container Terminals", PT Press, Beijing, China, 1999.
X.P. Zhang, Y.N. Yan, "Modern Production Logistics and its Simulation", Tsinghua University Press, Beijing, China, 1998.
M.J. Zhang, "Virtual Reality Systems", Science Press, Beijing, China, 2001.
Y. Zhang, X.Y. Zhang, S.M. Wang, "Application Simulation Technologies for Port Container Docking", Transactions of TTU, 24(6), 188-192, Wuhan, China, June, 2000.
R. Li, P.Y. Liu, X.E. Zhang, "Vega Programs Applied in MFC", Computer Engineering & Design, 23(8), 236-241, Beijing, China, August, 2002.

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