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  3. PhD Position Smart and Circular Port Maintenance Strategies – Quantifying Trade-offs between Sediment Dynamics, Port Processes and Dredging

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PhD Position Smart and Circular Port Maintenance Strategies – Quantifying Trade-offs between Sediment Dynamics, Port Processes and Dredging

Navigation in ports, canals and waterways must be safeguarded by maintenance dredging to remove sediments deposited by tide, river flows and currents. …

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
32 - 38 uur
€ 2395 - € 3061 per maand


Navigation in ports, canals and waterways must be safeguarded by maintenance dredging to remove sediments deposited by tide, river flows and currents. Maintenance dredging of sediment deposits form a significant part of a ports operational expenses. As it must be done on a regular basis it pays off to look for ways to optimise port accessibility strategies.

Port accessibility involves combining data sources, policies and inputs providing practical answers to the following questions:

  • What kind of vessels are expected to call upon (a given part of) the port, what are their key features to consider for depth strategies (accommodate maximum draught, accommodate X % of the observed actual draughts, required under keel clearance, etc.)?
  • To what extent does the route into the port towards a berth contain access limiting features (UKC policies, depth limitations, current limitations, access channels, turning basins, berths, etc.)?
  • Which natural processes should be taken into account for optimizing port processes?
  • What strategies are available to guarantee a pre-determined level of accessibility (dredging, sailing through mud, implementation of sedimentation basins, etc.)?

Operating within a clear overall vision is important, to make sure that the combination of individual measures still makes sense for the port as a whole. While optimising one feature, other features may inadvertently be affected. Optimising on dredging costs, might result in greater terminal downtime. Creating over-depth to increase the interval between dredging campaigns, might result in higher sedimentation rates. Implementing ‘sailing through fluid mud’ strategies will reduce the dredging related energy footprint, but might increase the vessel manoeuvring related energy footprint, etc.

The main objective of this research is to develop a general methodology for evaluating the trade-offs of port accessibility and maintenance in order to facilitate the associated decision-making processes in ports worldwide. To promote worldwide applicability this project will link port logistic concepts (using general applicable agent based models), on the one hand, with maintenance logistic strategies that are rooted in scientific knowledge of hydro- and sediment dynamics, on the other hand. By linking these two in an integral decision framework port managers should be able to make better informed decisions on port maintenance, balancing aspects like capacity and efficiency, as well as sustainability, and safety.

Foreseen outcomes of this study are:

  • A general methodology for evaluating the trade-offs of alternative port accessibility and maintenance options demonstrated to at least two large ports;
  • New scientific knowledge to quantify a number of the key trade-offs that are part of this general method;
  • Field and lab scientific data sets that are specifically collected to underpin the two aforementioned outcomes.


The integral nature of this research requires the successful candidate to be able to link detailed scientific process knowledge (aggregated to an appropriate level) to the decision making trade-offs at the level of an entire port. A thorough background in hydro- and sediment dynamics is essential, as the candidate is foreseen to be involved in field pilots with research and industrial partners such as Van Oord, the Port of Rotterdam, Deltares and others. However, so is the ability to integrate such knowledge into a framework for integral decision making. So a background in decision making, or at least an affinity with that subject, is equally essential.

In addition, the applicants should have:

  • Master of Science (MSc) diploma in Civil Engineering, Hydraulic Engineering, Dredging Engineering, Mechanical Engineering or any other related field
  • Motivation for applied research and experimental work
  • Aptitude to function both in a team and independently
  • Experience with big data analytics
  • Ability to collaborate within an interdisciplinary team
  • Good spoken and written proficiency in English, ability to cooperate with both scientific and industrial partners

During the PhD trajectory English is very important. So if your mother language is not English and you do not hold a degree from an institution in which English is the language of instruction, you must submit proof of English proficiency from either TOEFL (minimum total score of 100) or IELTS (minimum total score of 7.0). Proof of English language proficiency certificates older than two years are not accepted.


TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Additional information

For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Alex Kirichek o.kirichek@tudelft.nl.