Designing and Operating International Truck Inspection Stations

NEG MiconTransAnalysis specializes in computer simulations for engineering, planning and management. Using SIMUL8 they have developed animated simulations of staffed transportation inspection operations, and transportation facilities.

The Challenge

In order to successfully choose a site, then plan, design, and operate these inspection stations, the concerned agencies needed to:

  • Estimate the current and future size and capacity of each inspection component, such as parking lots and inspection bays, and develop a prototype layout;
  • Test the proposed prototype layout under different traffic scenarios, and develop and test recommendations to prevent traffic snarls and ensure efficient operations;
  • When applicable, estimate the traffic impacts of different proposed station sites, and use those as one of the criteria to select the best site,
  • Develop recommendations to use in the facilities' detailed schematics and construction plans,
  • Estimate the current and future staffing requirements for each station, and
  • When applicable, develop recommendations for scheduled implementation of the inspection components.


The Solution

Full Size Image | Animation

Simulation Screenshot

A border inspection facility has characteristics of two distinct programming problems. It consists of a traffic analysis problem, since it has roadways and controlled intersections; but it also has assembly line characteristics, such as service times, staffing requirements, and inspection points.

Using SIMUL8's capabilities that allow powerful modification of its pre-programmed features through visual logic and visual basic, TransAnalysis' senior simulation programmer was able to accurately simulate traffic merging, weaving, yielding, and traffic lights, together with staffing schedules and inspection time distributions.

TransAnalysis developed 22 simulations covering different site alternatives for the future inspection stations. These simulations required extensive input data that included traffic volumes, hourly distributions, turning movements at nearby intersections, service times and staffing requirements at each component, regulation compliance, signal cycles, and others.

The Result

The simulations were instrumental in developing and planning border inspection facilities at eight international Ports of Entry on the U.S.-Mexico border. The simulation results helped the concerned agencies design the facility size and its traffic flows; develop current and future staffing schedules; and select sites based on traffic impacts.

The simulations' animations and results were used in several public presentations to stakeholders at private, local, state and federal levels. They helped demonstrate that these inspection stations can be successfully operated within a reasonable staffing budget, without impeding international commerce or blocking local traffic, while providing adequate accommodations for trucking companies to correct most out-of-service conditions on-site.

"It is thanks to TransAnalysis' work that we can be confident that this facility will not cause additional traffic congestion."
Luis A. Ramirez, PE Laredo District Director, Texas Department of Transportation.


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