Albert Douma

Dr. ir. A.M. Douma


Universiteit Twente
Postbus 217
7500 AE Enschede

Kamer: RA3202 (Ravelijn)
Tel: (053-489)5480
Fax: (053-489)2159

Albert Douma was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Twente (Enschede). The research project he has been working on is called: Aligning the Operations of Barges and Terminals through Distributed Planning..


Our main research interest is the application of agents in transportation planning. We consider a problem taken from the barge container sector, the so-called barge handling problem. This problem concerns the alignment of barge and terminal operations in a port. The problem is complicated since we deal with independent and competing players that can benefit from a kind of cooperation (or alignment of their activities) but do not want to undermine their competitive position. Central coordination is not acceptable for the players. We developed an alternative based on distributed planning by means of a Multi-Agent system. Simulation results indicate that the current situation can be improved significantly. Barge and terminal operators have shown great interest in the solution, since it meets two important demands: staying in control of one’s own operations and sharing only limited information. The barge handling problem is considered as urgent in the Port of Rotterdam. For more information see also and a brochure (in Dutch): Planning Apart Together, de potentie van gedistribueerde planning.

This project was partly performed within TRANSUMO, a Dutch research program to sustainable mobility. The project is co-work with different parties in business and universities. For more information, see TRANSUMO (project DIPLOMA). Currently, a prototype of the system is built in the project BATMAN (2011-2013).

Besides the barge handling problem, we also look at the application of Multi-Agent systems in Supply Chains in which multiple independent players are involved. We focus especially the modeling of a Multi-Agent system suitable to solve planning problems in real-time in highly dynamic and low-structured environments and problems in which multiple actors with different interests are involved.

< At the bottom of this page you can find a few links to digital copies of the publications>

PhD Thesis

Douma, A.M. Aligning the Operations of Barges and Terminals through Distributed Planning, Dec. 2008. Universiteit Twente (242 pag.) BETA, Research School for Operations Management and Logistics. Supervisors: Prof dr J.H.A de Smit & Dr. P.C. Schuur.


Winner of the Beta PhD award 2009 for the best PhD dissertation of the Beta Research School for Operations Management and Logistics defended in 2008!

Winner of the NOBEM dissertation award 2008, for the best dissertation in the field of business economics and management defended in the Netherlands in 2008!

The research has won a Dutch contest for projects to improve traffic and transport management in hinterland container transportation. The project has been awarded a price (300K euro) to build a system to demonstrate the functioning of the Planning Apart Together solution in practice, and is called BATMAN (BArge Terminal Multi-Agent Network).


M.R.K. Mes and A.M. Douma (2016). Agent-Based Support for Container Terminals to make Appointments with Barges. In Paias, A., Ruthmair, M., and Voβ, S. (Eds.), Computational Logistics – ICCL 2016, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, pp. 80-95. Springer.

Douma, A.M., Van Hillegersberg, J., Schuur, P.C. (2012), Design and evaluation of a simulation game to introduce a Multi-Agent system for barge handling in a seaport, Decision Support Systems, doi:10.1016/j.dss.2012.02.013.

Douma, A.M., Schuur, P.C., Schutten, J.M.J. (2011), Aligning barge and terminal operations using service-time profiles, Flexible Services and Manufacturing, Volume 23, Number 4: 385-421.

De Langen, P., Douma, A.M. (2010), Challenges for using ICT to improve coordination in hinterland chains ; an overview, International Journal of Transport Economics, Vol. 37, No. 3: 261-279.

Douma, A.M., Schuur, P.C., Jagerman, R.G.M. (2010), Degrees of terminal cooperativeness and the efficiency of the barge handling process, Expert Systems with Applications, Vol. 38, No. 4: 3580-3589.

Douma, A.M., Schutten, J.M.J., and Schuur, P.C. (2009). Waiting profiles: an efficient protocol for enabling distributed planning of barge rotations along terminals in the port of Rotterdam. Transportation Research Part C (17): 133-157.

Douma, A.M., Hillegersberg, J. van & Schuur, P.C. (2008). Using a Management Game to Exemplify a Multi-Agent Approach for the Barge Rotation and Quay Scheduling Problem in the Port of Rotterdam. In Proceedings of the HICL 2008 (pp. 227-244). Erich Schmidt Verlag.

Moonen, H.M., Douma, A.M., Krauth, E.I. & Hillegersberg, J. van (2008). Obstacles to Multi-Agent Systems Implementation Expert Opinions Confronted with Literature. In Proceedings of the HICL 2008 (pp. 269-289). Erich Schmidt Verlag.

Douma, A.M., Schuur, P.C. & Jagerman, R.G.M. (2008). Degree of cooperativeness of terminals and the effect on the barge handling process. In Conference proceedings on the 11th International workshop on HMS.

Douma, A.M., Moonen, H., Rakt, B. van de, Hillegersberg, J. van & Schutten, J.M.J. (2006). Designing an Agent-Based Inter-Organizational Coordination System for Planning and Control of Container Barges in the Port of Rotterdam. In P. Vervest, E. van Heck & K. Preiss (Eds.), Smart Business Networks, a new Business Paradigm, Sbni 2006 Discovery: The Collected Papers (pp. 382-407). Rotterdam: RSM, Erasmus University.

Working papers

Douma, A.M., Schuur, P.C. & Schutten, J.M.J. (2008). Using service-time profiles for distributed planning of container barge rotations along terminals. (Beta working paper WP-247).

Douma, A.M., Schuur, P.C. & Schutten, J.M.J. (2007). Barge rotation planning and quay scheduling in the port of Rotterdam. (Beta working paper WP-217).

Douma, A.M.; Moonen, H.M.; Van Hillegersberg, J.; Van de Rakt, B.J.A.; Schutten, J.M.J., 2006. Designing Agent Based Inter-Organizational Systems: Business and IOS alignment in the Port of Rotterdam. (Beta working paper WP-179).

Douma, A.M.; Schuur, P.C.; Van der Heijden, M.M.C., 2006. Applying revenue management to agent-based transportation planning. (Beta working paper WP-169).

Extended abstracts

Applying revenue management to agent-based transportation planning

Presented at the Odysseus Workshop 2006 in Altea, Spain.

Barge rotation planning and quay scheduling in the port of Rotterdam

Presented at TRISTAN VI, 2007 in Phuket, Thailand.


Douma, A.M., Planning Apart Together, de potentie van gedistribueerde planning. In Dutch. Gives a brief description of the PhD thesis Aligning the Operations of Barges and Terminals through Distributed Planning. A copy of this brochure can be found at the bottom of this page.



Most Intelligent Port

Interview in Main Port Magazine, April 2010

Mierenhoop als het grote voorbeeld

Interview in Nieuwsblad Transport, 7 Jan. 2009

Gemier over Containers

Interview op, 16 Dec. 2008

Mier geeft voorbeeld

Interview in Spits, 19 Dec. 2008

Intelligente Agenten in Supply Chains

Expertartikel voor, Juli 2008

Mieren in de haven

Interview in de Twentse Courant Tubantia, 11 Nov. 2007

Routeplanner voor rivierschepen, Onderzoek multi-agent systemen Rotterdamse haven

Interview in Supply Chain Magazine, No. 3, Maart 2007.

Beter plannen met multi-agents

Interview in Computable No. 8, 24 February 2006. You can find the article below.

Virtual berth negotiations

Interview for CTIT progress report 2005, January 2006.