Simulation Challenge 2024

The Simulation Challenge at the Winter Simulation Conference (WSC), evolving from its initial launch in 2022 as the “Case Study Competition”, continues to underscore the critical role of simulation in bridging the gap between academia and industry. This initiative thrives on promoting interdisciplinary collaboration, sparking innovation, and addressing real-world challenges with advanced simulation solutions.

This year, aligning with the WSC 2024 theme “Simulation for the Imagination Age” the Challenge invites creators to unleash the potential of simulation technology in transforming maritime systems. As we navigate a world increasingly reliant on complex maritime logistics for global trade, we are shifting our focus toward empowering participants to reimagine the future of port operations, warehouse management, and cargo logistics. The Challenge encourages participants to harness their creativity to design, optimize, and evaluate dynamic systems using simulation, crafting solutions that meet the ever-evolving demands of the maritime industry with ingenuity and foresight.

In light of the critical need for technological advancements in maritime logistics, we are delighted to announce Sealor Tech as the co-organizer and sponsor of this year’s challenge. Sealor Tech specializes in cutting-edge digital twin technologies for the maritime industry, aiming to revolutionize port operations, warehouse management, and cargo logistics through innovative solutions. Their commitment to driving operational excellence in the maritime ecosystem aligns perfectly with the goals of the Simulation Challenge 2024.

The competition is a joint effort among prestigious institutions, including the ISEM Department of National University of Singapore, Engineering Department at the University of Exeter, and Logistics Engineering College of Shanghai Maritime University. This collaboration underscores the global relevance and interdisciplinary nature of the challenge.

Participants will have a unique opportunity to engage with leading experts, gain recognition for their imaginative contributions, and compete for prizes, further encouraging the pursuit of inventive excellence in the simulation realm.

For further information and updates, please stay tuned to our website. Should you have any inquiries, please feel free to reach out to our Simulation Challenge Chair, Dr. Li Haobin, and Co-Chair, Dr. Martino Luis. We are eagerly anticipating the creative and forward-thinking solutions you will bring to advance simulation in the maritime sector.

Problem Description

This year’s Simulation Challenge pivots towards maritime logistics, focusing on a cargo port operation issue involving complex interactions and operations within a cargo port, from ship berthing to container handling and automated guided vehicle (AGV) management. Participants are invited to optimize cargo port operations for improving efficiency and fostering creative solutions. The organizers will provide a basic simulation system model with discrete-event modeling methods and implement it in an open-source DES framework (O2DES.NET or o2despy). A comprehensive document to describe the model structure according to the rigorously defined modeling formalism will also be provided to ensure clarity and accessibility for all participants.

The organizers will specify the data and source code according to the following three aspects of information:

  • Variable scenario parameters, based on dynamic port operation, such as real-time demand and resource availability, etc.
  • The key decisions and default rules involved in the operation of the system, such as vessel berthing sequences, facilities (e.g. QC, AGV) assignment, etc.
  • Performance indicators to measure the efficiency and quality of the system operations, such as total transshipment duration, utilization rates of resources, throughput, adaptability to demand shifts, etc.

Competition Objective

The competition requires participants to refine decision modules within a simulation model to enhance cargo port efficiency. The goal is to optimize performance indicators based on various scenarios provided by the input data source, streamline operations, alleviate bottlenecks, and improve resilience against external challenges like unpredictable shipping schedules or resource shortages.

Key Areas for Decision Module Enhancement are to:

  • schedule and to allocate berths for vessels efficiently, considering arrivals and departures.
  • assign resources such as Quay Cranes (QC), Yard Cranes (YC), and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and to schedule their operations for tasks such as loading containers from the yard to newly arrived vessels.
  • determine optimal working positions for resources and to design efficient travel routes for AGVs.
  • develop and to implement diverse strategies for container picking and stacking to heighten operational efficiency.

In focusing on these specific decision variables and applying advanced simulation techniques, participants are expected to provide insights that will help optimize maritime logistics operations, potentially influencing global trade efficiency substantially.

Participants are required to:

  1. rewrite and replace (B) in order to maximize the performance. Indicators in (C) given various scenarios in (A).
  2. generate logic rules in (B) through various ways, including but not limited to:
    – write rule-based scripts or heuristic algorithms embedded in decision events.
    – embed simulation model into external optimization search algorithm.
    – use the machine learning model to identify and conclude the best rule parameters and embed them in decision events.
  3. provide only (B) of the program code in a dedicated folder. All other source code other than (B) will not be evaluated.


Once all participants have submitted their program code and data in (B), the organizers will embed them in the discrete-event simulation model prepared in advance, overwrite the corresponding original code, and compile and generate an executable simulation program.

The pre-specified undisclosed scenarios as in (A) and random seeds will serve as the input. After which, the organizers will run the simulation program of each participant and generate the output of performance index values as in (C).


  • This competition is split into 4 rounds. As we progress through the competition, the weightage assigned to each round increases in proportion to the scenario’s difficulty.
  • The first three rounds are split over the course of three months (August-October). For each of these rounds, a new scenario is released at the beginning of every month (see schedule). Participants can submit their work for each round at any point of time before the 23rd of each month. Resubmissions are allowed only before the deadline of each round. Throughout this period, there will be a leaderboard which ranks the performance of the submissions we receive. This ranking will be regularly updated as the submissions come in, after which the final ranking for the round will be released at the end of the month.
  • For each round, teams will get some points. The top 10 teams will get 100, 95, 90, …, 55 points, respectively. Others with submissions will get 50 points.
  • Weights are different for each round. To be more specific, the weights are 0.05, 0.15, 0.3, 0.5, respectively. The final rankings are counted by the total points.
  • For example, if your rankings are 5th, 5th, 2nd, 1st. Your points are 80*0.05+80*0.15+95*0.3+100*0.5=94.5.
  • Unlike previous rounds, the scenario for the final round will not be released. Should they choose to, participants can submit either an updated version of their work for this round, or they can simply re-submit their previous works. Participants have up till November 23 to submit their final work for the fourth round. The leaderboard will not be public for this round.
  • The participants’ performance in every round will contribute towards their overall results. Results will be announced on November 30, of which, the Top 5 finalists will be informed to prepare a report presentation for WSC2023.

Rules & Registration


To be eligible to enter the competition, all participants must:

  • Register for the competition with a valid and active email address which the organizer can use to communicate with the participants.
  • Either be a single entrant or part of a team of up to a maximum of five (5) members only. Each participant can only join up to one team.
  • Be solely responsible for creating the competition submission. Supervision or advice from the participants’ professors or post-doctoral researchers is permissible.

The competition is open to all except for members of the committee, including all staff members. However, the committee reserves the right to approve or disapprove participation according to its own considerations.

Please download the Registration Document, fill in the relevant content and rename the document to “Registration +Team Name”, and send it to to complete the registration.


Please submit your code in .rar or .zip file. The file name is Round Number + Team Name, eg Round1_TeamN. Make sure you have tested the code in your local computer.

Email address for submission:


For any enquiries, please feel free to drop our Case Competition Chair, Dr. Li Haobin, an email at and Co-Chair, Dr. Martino Luis,

Terms & Conditions

  1. The competition committee reserves the right to disqualify any entrant from the competition if, in the competition committee’s sole discretion, it reasonably believes that the entrant has attempted to undermine the legitimate operation of the competition through cheating, deception, or other unfair playing practices.
  2. Submissions are void if they are in whole or part illegible, incomplete, damaged, altered, counterfeit, obtained through fraudulent means, or late. The competition committee reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to disqualify any entrant who makes a submission that does not adhere to all requirements.
  3. Officers, directors, employees, and advisory board members (and their immediate families and members of the same household) of the competition organizer and their respective affiliates are not eligible to participate in the competition.
  4. You agree to use reasonable and suitable measures to prevent persons who have not formally agreed to these rules from gaining access to the software and data provided by the competition organizer. You agree not to transmit, duplicate, publish, redistribute, or otherwise provide or make such software and data available to any party not participating in the competition. You agree to notify the competition organizer immediately upon learning of any possible unauthorized transmission or unauthorized access of such software and data and agree to work with the competition organizer to rectify any unauthorized transmission. You agree that participation in the competition shall not be construed as having or being granted a license (expressly, by implication, or otherwise) under, or any right of ownership in, any of the software and data.
  5. By downloading the software and data provided by the competition organizer you agree to the following terms:
  6. You will not distribute the software and data.
  7. You accept full responsibility for your use of the software and data and shall defend and indemnify the competition organizer, against any claims arising from your use of the software and data.
  8. By joining the competition, you affirm and acknowledge that you agree to comply with applicable laws and regulations, and you may not infringe upon any copyrights, intellectual property, or patent of another party for the software you develop in the course of the competition, and will not breach of any applicable laws and regulations related to export control and data privacy and protection.
  9. The competition committee reserves the right to verify eligibility and to adjudicate on any dispute at any time. If you provide any false information relating to the competition concerning your identity, residency, mailing address, telephone number, e-mail address, right of ownership, or information required for entering the competition, you may be immediately disqualified from the competition.
  10. The winner’s codes and documentation (collectively referred to as “program”) will be kept on the competition website after the competition. Unless otherwise indicated, all copyrights of the program belong to the winner. The program is licensed under MIT license. THIS PROGRAM IS PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS, WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO NON-INFRINGEMENT, MERCHANTABILITY OR FIT FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE.
  11. Prizes are subject to the competition committee’s review and verification of the entrant’s eligibility and compliance with these rules as well as the compliance of the winning submissions with the submission requirements.
  12. Competition prizes do not include tax payment. Any potential winner is solely responsible for all applicable taxes related to accepting the prize.
  13. The competition committee reserves the right at its sole discretion to terminate, modify, or suspend the competition, or disqualify the participants from the competition.
  14. For more information about personal data protection, please refer to the Privacy Policy.