CargoRail manual operations planning – I part
Updated: Jun 8
We have been recently preparing, testing, and deploying planning functionality for our clients. First, I want to share the story of our journey, hoping you will share your own experience, ideas, and feedback with us.
CargoRail is special software with flexible configuration capabilities. So, in architecting our planning module, we knew it had to support planning for:
railways operators (undertakings),
and yard and infrastructure managers.
Moreover, we wanted the planning module to help monitor the execution of the plan and help solve our clients' day-to-day problems.
Today I'm going to share what we have done with route planning. Then, we'll discuss planning for personnel, locomotives, and wagons and plan execution in other blog posts.
After lengthy discussions with our clients, we identified three main objects of business process planning:
Sales orders are general information about who wants service delivered, on what grounds (e.g., a contract), and according to what schedule.
Work orders – describe the specific work to be performed.
Routes – planned shunting or mainline route to fulfilling one or more work orders.
Thus, clients can tell where all contractual commitments have been met by looking at the sales order. And how the promises are being fulfilled by looking at the work order. And the status of the implementation of work orders by looking at the route.
A sales order is a long-term plan for services at specific prices:
For railway operators: it's an agreement to transfer goods from point A to point B, detailing any additional services and the timing.
For a shunting company: it's a shunting plan to perform a shunt operation for a client on a particular route.
For an infrastructure manager: it's a request for an open route for a railway operator at specified times.
Because planning tends to change constantly, we have an additional step before route planning to ensure that all the involved parties are ready to proceed. In submitting a work order, representatives of a client confirm the client's schedule and other details:
For railway operators: the work order is a final agreement to transfer goods from point A to point B at a specific time, detailing any additional services and wagon requirements.
For a shunting company: it's a detailed shunting plan specifying the number of wagons and the timeline.
For an infrastructure manager: it's a path request detailing the railway's operator's route and proposed times.
After an agreement with the client, the work order is approved and sent to the planning division.
The infrastructure manager and the railway operator negotiate the route. Then operator plans people, locomotives, and wagons. After completing all details:
The railway operator sends a "path request" message to the infrastructure manager and gets "path details" or other notices, depending on the case. We can integrate with the country infrastructure manager format, such as SKRJ or standard TAF/TAP -TSI format.
The shunting company: Depending on the local infrastructure manager, we can send specific emails or integration messages after approval of the shunting route.
The infrastructure manager gets a TAF-TSI "path request" message or a specific country format and sends a "path details" message back to the railway operator.
In CargoRail, the route communicates intentions between different planning activities. For example, personnel planners know what route is needed, and CargoRail shows when it is available. Or we know that to fulfill a route, we need to transfer empty locomotives between stations. In CargoRail, it is a different type of route.
We are working hard to make planning easier. That is the reason for our regular usability tests and minor changes. Examples are automatic field filling, routes' visual editing, and feedback about available locomotives, wagons, personnel, and route types.
For shunting operations, the window is similar, but we see the station's track groups and tracks on the left side. Again, all required equipment is available to the client for efficient planning of shunting operations. They can:
Shunting company: Plan all needed activities with locomotive personnel. Enter the number of wagons for attaching and detaching. Distinguish empty and ordered wagon movements. Communicate with the infrastructure manager by email or integration.
Infrastructure manager: review track availability in time and efficiently plan movement. CargoRail, which knows all available paths, will ensure that the planning of routes is correct. Communicate with shunters by email or integration.
Many details, big and small, remain, but we hope you like our direction. And we are always eager to get feedback from you!