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Addressing traffic congestion and throughput through optimization.

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Traffic congestion experienced in port precincts have become prevalent in recent years for South Africa and internationally [1, 2, 3]. In addition to the environmental impacts of air pollution due to this challenge, economic effects also weigh heavy on profit margins with added fuel costs and time wastages. Even though there are many common factors attributing to congestion experienced in port precincts and other areas, operational inefficiencies due to slow productivity and lack of handling equipment to service trucks in port areas are a major contributor [4, 5]. While there are several types of optimisation approaches to addressing traffic congestion such as Queuing Theory [6], Genetic Algorithms [7], Ant Colony Optimisation [8], Particle Swarm Optimisation [9], traffic congestion is modelled based on congested queues making queuing theory most suited for resolving this problem. Queuing theory is a discipline of optimisation that studies the dynamics of queues to determine a more optimal route to reduce waiting times. The use of optimisation to address the root cause of port traffic congestion has been lacking with several studies focused on specific traffic zones that only address the symptoms. In addition, research into traffic around port precincts have also been limited to the road side with proposed solutions focusing on scheduling and appointment systems [25, 56] or the sea-side focusing on managing vessel traffic congestion [30, 31, 58]. The aim of this dissertation is to close this gap through the novel design and development of Caudus, a smart queue solution that addresses traffic congestion and throughput through optimization. The name “CAUDUS” is derived as an anagram with Latin origins to mean “remove truck congestion”. Caudus has three objective functions to address congestion in the port precinct, and by extension, congestion in warehousing and freight logistics environments viz. Preventive, Reactive and Predictive. The preventive objective function employs the use of Little’s rule [14] to derive the algorithm for preventing congestion. Acknowledging that congestion is not always avoidable, the reactive objective function addresses the problem by leveraging Caudus’ integration capability with Intelligent Transport Systems [65] in conjunction with other road-user network solutions. The predictive objective function is aimed at ensuring the environment is incident free and provides an early-warning detection of possible exceptions in traffic situations that may lead to congestion. This is achieved using the derived algorithms from this study that identifies bottleneck symptoms in one traffic zone where the root cause exists in an adjoining traffic area. The Caudus Simulation was developed in this study to test the derived algorithms against the different congestion scenarios. The simulation utilises HTML5 and JavaScript in the front-end GUI with the back-end having a SQL code base. The entire simulation process is triggered using a series of multi-threaded batch programs to mimic the real-world by ensuring process independence for the various simulation activities. The results from the simulation demonstrates a significant reduction in the vii duration of congestion experienced in the port precinct. It also displays a reduction in throughput time of the trucks serviced at the port thus demonstrating Caudus’ novel contribution in addressing traffic congestion and throughput through optimisation. These results were also published and presented at the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Computing and Data Communication Systems (icABCD 2021) under the title “CAUDUS: An Optimisation Model to Reducing Port Traffic Congestion” [84].


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.