Ports research capabilities

Meeting the challenges for ports infrastructure


Monash University has broad research expertise for meeting the challenges for ports infrastructure, in both container and bulk materials ports.  Monash Infrastructure is facilitating excellent, industry-relevant and cross-disciplinary research in ports infrastructure in Australia and internationally.  We can provide the expertise and resources to develop new knowledge, technologies and processes to help design, develop and operate ports more efficiently and sustainably into the future.

Our research focus

Our research capabilities are divided into three key areas:

Improving the performance of ports

  • Ports operations – optimisation, algorithm development, scheduling and advanced simulation models for operational decision making and strategic planning. These can assist with scheduling ships, gantries and cranes and optimising supply chains connected to ports.
  • Port equipment – the Maintenance Technology Institute (MTI) has worked with operators of coal and iron ore port terminals to investigate equipment and infrastructure.  MTI’s capabilities are structural risk assessment, monitoring, management of risk of catastrophic failure, design capacity assessment and strategies for increasing throughput and asset life extension.
  • Logistics and supply chains – innovation in operations and supply chain management, transport/logistics network optimisation and optimal workforce deployment.
  • Freight – transport networking planning, traffic flow modelling, bridge structural health monitoring and strengthening for High Productivity Freight Vehicles.
  • Railways – the Institute of Railway Technology provides technology and research services in railway track and vehicles, including rail management and maintenance.

Smarter ports

  • Intelligent Transport Systems - applications of smart information use to provide better utilisation of the landside transport network.
  • Wireless sensor networks – systems and integrated circuit devices for sensor and communications technologies, including low power and wireless devices. Applications in Internet of Things and environmental monitoring.
  • Tracking – chipless radio frequency systems for identification, tracing and tracking.
  • Robotics and Remotely Piloted Aircraft – remote sensing for diagnostics of infrastructure, swarm intelligence and human-swarm interactions for inspection and cleaning.

More sustainable and resilient ports

  • Environmental impacts – environmental impact assessments in marine and terrestrial environments, biosecurity, environmental risk assessments, environmental health indicators and monitoring environmental management.
  • Water quality – monitoring water quality, reducing pollution of water run-off by green filtration technologies, and improving the aesthetics of ports for cruise ship tourist arrivals.
  • Resistance to biological invasions – transitioning ports from hotspots of biological invasions to being invasion-resistant.
  • Industrial noise – Underwater acoustics, noise mapping and industrial noise control.
  • Structural health monitoring – Structural health assessment of metallic and composite structures, sensor networks, management and analysis of data from sensors, vibration analysis, acoustics, composite structures for repair of structures and RPAs for asset inspection.
  • Hydrodynamics – simulation of wave impacts on channels and quays, erosion impacts, simulation of coastal protection.
  • Infrastructure materials – corrosion monitoring and mitigation, design of concrete structures for durability and resilience and smart technologies to repair steel and concrete structures in extreme and hard to access conditions.

Industry involvement

Monash University researchers have worked with numerous organisations in the ports industry in collaborative research projects and to deliver technical advice, including:

  • Pilbara Ports Authority
  • NSW Ports
  • Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal, Queensland
  • Abbot Point Coal Terminal, Queensland
  • Hay Point Coal Terminal, Queensland
  • Port Hedland iron ore port, Western Australia
  • Asciano
  • Pacific National
  • Queensland Rail

Example projects

Port Hedland – strategic capacity planning

Monash IT researchers worked with an Australian maritime engineering consulting firm to create a Dynamic Port Capacity Model (DPCM), used for strategic planning for Port Hedland.

The DPCM is capable of modelling both the potential throughput of the current port configuration and the effect of changing port configurations (both physical and procedural) on the throughput of the port.

The model was developed to analyse how to increase the Port Hedland throughput capacity under a variety of scenarios.

Sweating the assets at coal terminals

Monash’s Maintenance Technology Institute (MTI) has worked with multiple coal terminals to increase the productivity and extend the life span of ageing ports infrastructure such as ship loaders, stackers and jetty structures.

MTI has monitored and assessed the structural health and capacity of ports assets and delivered recommendations to the terminal operators to modify and repair structures, increase the capacity of ageing equipment and asset replacement strategies.

Professor Mohan Krishnamoorthy
PVC Industry Partnerships
Professor of Operations Research

Ms Clare Meeker
COO Monash Infrastructure