Moving Containers Efficiently with Less Impact: Dynamic Modeling and Decision-Support Architecture for Clean Port Technologies

Working groups of seaports, major global shippers, ocean freight carriers, and logistics firms are now exploring formation of new clean air policies on a global basis (e.g., the Clean Cargo Working Group). Some transnational corporations are starting to voluntarily calculate their Scope III or indirect life-cycle emissions, which include the greenhouse gases (GHGs) and air pollutants associated with the transport of goods. Others are faced with new clean air regulations, such as those from AB32. The Ports of Los Angeles (PofLA) and Long Beach have responded by adopting the Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) which will fundamentally alter operations at the Ports and in the goods movement industry in the region. This plan includes adoption of new programs, shifts in the ratio of modal transport (truck to rail), clean technologies, and alternative fuels. Faced with changing technologies and uncertain costs, goods movement stakeholders are now confronting an array of choices with potentially large impacts on the region's economy and environment. They urgently need information about how these proposed changes will affect key shipping nodes and the goods movement system as a whole. They also need to be able to weigh options and identify optimal leverage points where cost-effective changes can be made. The proposed research seeks to address these needs by answering three crucial questions: 1) What are the emissions, cost and time factors associated with the transport of a typical container (TEU) from China to retail distribution centers in the US?; 2) How will the adoption of modal shifts, clean technologies, and alternative fuels affect cost, delivery time, and emissions from the Port of Los Angeles to the Inland Empire and what impact will these strategies have on the overall emissions footprint of a typical US-China container?; and 3) What is the most effective way to make this research accessible to decision-makers in the supply chain? The project will use a system dynamics (SD) simulation methodology to model the non-linear feedback complexity of the global and regional container movement systems. The variables of interest will be cost, time, geography, technology, criteria air pollutants and GHGs as they interact at the two spatial scales. A major toy manufacturer, the PofLA, and shipping companies have agreed to provide data for the project. To address the first question, the research team will calculate the emissions, time, and cost associated with transport of a typical TEU from the factory gate in China's Pearl River Delta to six destination zip codes in the U.S. For these destinations, SD modules will include routing variations and the impact of deploying clean technologies and fuels for each form of modal transport along the supply chain. To address the second research question, we will model the container movement in the Los Angeles region--specifically the primary operations of the PofLA and extending to selected distribution centers in the Inland Empire--and focus on the new programs being implemented or considered under the CAAP and the regional Climate Action Program (CAP). To make the research results accessible and usable by those who need it most, we will build the prototype architecture for an internet-based goods movement simulation tool. This tool will allow the stakeholders to improve supply chain efficiency by enabling them to locate leverage points that yield the desired change for the lowest cost and shortest period of time. The architecture will be co-developed and tested through two day-long workshops with these stakeholders to assure validity, reliability, and usefulness. This collaboration process will be convened under the auspices of USC's Sustainable Enterprise Executive Roundtable (SEER). The genesis for the proposed project, in fact, comes from SEER workshops where participants identified the need for a dynamic web-based tool that would allow them to make sound decisions in an increasingly carbon constrained world.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research

    University of Southern California
    650 Childs Way, RGL 107
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089-0626
  • Project Managers:

    Valentine, Victoria

  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Southern California, Los Angeles

    University Park Campus
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90089
  • Principal Investigators:

    Rahimi, Mansour

    Newell, Josh

  • Start Date: 20090816
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • Source Data: RiP Project 26959

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01461302
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Center for Metropolitan Transportation Research
  • Contract Numbers: 10-06
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 1:43PM