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The Space@Sea Transport&Logistics Hub: comparison to onshore and reclaimed land expansion

Dingena Schott, Ioannis Dafnomilis & Mark Duinkerken

This paper presents a comparison between the modular floating Transport&Logistics@Sea (T&L@Sea) hub that is designed in the Space@Sea project, and container terminals situated onshore. Taking into account that the Port of Antwerp (PoA) is already considering expansion further along the river Scheldt the T&L@Sea hub is examined as an alternative to normal onshore expansion or via land reclamation. The research question to be answered was under which circumstances can the designed T&L@Sea hub be more beneficial than the 2 major alternative solutions, an onshore terminal and a terminal situated on reclaimed land. Additionally, 2 other locations are examined as potential deployment sites with different characteristics. A smaller T&L@Sea hub outside the Port of Genoa with limited inland expansion opportunities and situated at deeper water depths, and a much smaller scale and short-term disaster relief effort off the coast of Africa.

Based on the results for the Port of Antwerp, the T&L@Sea hub cannot achieve lower costs than either of the 2 alternatives, resulting in higher Financial Net Present Values (FNPVs) in all cases. The main reason is the high construction costs of the modules that comprise the platform, and the constraints of the modules requiring an equipment unit present on each module, leading to significant equipment acquisition and maintenance costs.

However, in cases of deep water and extremely limited possibilities for expansion, such as the Genoa port, or for short lived specialized operations, a T&L@Sea hub might be the only feasible choice. Furthermore, the T&L@Sea hub offers numerous non-monetary benefits (or non-direct monetary benefits), which may make it a viable option for certain cases, either as an extension of the Antwerp port or as a standalone project. Reduced vessel turnaround times, flexibility in size/operations, low environmental impact and opportunities for temporary deployment may be deciding factors for the realization of such a project.

KEYWORDS: Container terminal, modular, optimization, business case, disaster relief


Dingena Schott is fascinated by cargo and the interaction with equipment operating in a logistic context. In 2007 she started to characterize, model, calibrate and validate granular materials for enabling simulation supported design for cargo handling equipment on an industrial scale. Since then she has worked on developing calibration frameworks, and modelling particle based systems in various design contexts; including terminal designs, as well as an award winning new grab design. Within the Horizon2020 Space@Sea project with 19 partners she leads the Transport&Logistics workpackage.

Her main research interests include: machine-cargo interfaces, simulation supported design, biomass materials and energy transition driven handling and logistics.

She is currently Director of Studies of the interfaculty Master programme Transport, Infrastructure and Logistics at TU Delft.

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