Boss Rail Ops

Boss Rail Ops has been designed to give the Operations team of the railroad the tools that they need to execute the plan, with real-time feedback from internal and external systems, and optimized output to guide the services for your customers. These tools include Loco Ops, for dynamic locomotive management, Meet-Pass Planning to develop, analyze and quickly change train routes, Crew Management for schedules and rosters, and Dynamic Interchange Analysis to manage train and other rolling assets in real-time at key locations on the network.

Read below for more details on Boss Rail Ops:

Boss Loco Ops – Dynamic Locomotive Management

Boss Loco Ops is an extension of the successful Loco Planning tool, which provides the ability to develop an optimized and balanced master locomotive plan to power a particular set of trains throughout the master planning period. Loco Ops is designed to provide dynamic support for the allocation of locomotives at the unit level. Loco Ops works at a tactical level to assign and dispatch specific locomotives based on the short-term train plan and on the actual movements of trains.

Boss Loco Ops will give locomotive dispatchers situational awareness of their locomotive fleet and provides powerful decision support so dispatchers can make informed and efficient locomotive assignment decisions.  Loco Ops consolidates information from your transportation management system, onboard loco systems and other systems to provide information such as location, fuel level, maintenance requirements and train status. Dispatchers can make manual allocations of units to trains and Boss will provide feedback on the legality of assignments, such as meeting horsepower per ton requirements, and imbalances of the locomotive fleet. Boss also includes powerful optimization that will produce a detailed set of locomotive assignments that defines each locomotive’s assigned activities over the coming days.
Specifically, it delineates:

  • Which locomotives will power each train service
  • Which locomotives, if any, will be hauled dead on each train or block
  • Which locomotives will fulfill each non-train demand for locomotives (yards, helpers, etc.)
  • What light engine moves will occur

The plan must take into account each locomotive’s current position and health status, upcoming scheduled maintenance, and any locomotive movements already committed for execution.

Boss Loco Ops also optimizes other asset allocation measures that include:

  • On-time delivery of locomotives to scheduled maintenance
  • Minimization of light engine moves
  • Delivery of standby locomotives at relevant locations
  • Avoidance of excessive locomotive switching
  • Use of locomotives with cheaper running costs over more expensive ones (e.g. primary fleet over secondary fleet)

Boss Loco Ops is a module of the Boss Service Planning and Boss Ops integrated planning system. This means that the other relevant data, such as network, traffic and train data is shared with the Boss Loco Ops module. Additionally, Biarri Rail works with our clients to build the data interfaces for railroad data imports (such as real-time locomotive and train positions) and exports to the carrier’s train management system.

Biarri Rail is currently in the design phase of Boss Loco Ops and we are interested in hearing from railroads regarding their requirements for locomotive operations tools, to help guide us as we complete the design. Contact Tom Forbes at tom.forbes@biarri.com

 

Boss Yard Ops – Dynamic Yard Management

Boss Yard Ops is a tool that is designed to securely assign sections of track to locomotives and cars in a yard, allowing for greater visibility and control over yard movements, while complying with strict safety and audit measures. The first version of Yard Ops was developed for Pacific National (PN) for their locomotives operating in Bluescope’s Port Kembla steelworks in New South Wales, Australia. The system was designed for easy implementation by PN Road Controllers, while minimizing the IT footprint and incorporating strict safety guidelines.

Boss Yard Ops allows Yard Masters and Dispatchers to easily manipulate sections of yard track to set speed limits, tag current and future track maintenance, shut down certain tracks, and to ensure that there are no collisions. The system greatly improves communications between the locomotive engineers and the control tower.

 For Pacific National’s management team, Yard Ops provided for greater confidence and visibility across live and historical information. The tool was been built from the ground up with safety mechanisms and sign off procedures in mind, and every step of the way the system is logging important information and storing this data for up to 7 years. With powerful search functionality, users can easily sort and categorize this data allowing them to manage risk and uncertainty across their yard operations.

Meet-Pass Planning

The Meet-Pass Planning module’s purpose is to support detailed train timetabling including each train’s scheduled arrival and departure times at passing siding locations. It will support the user to convert a high-level service design into a detailed timetable, free of conflicts between trains.

Cascading Train Times
In the Meet-Pass Planner, user’s change to a train’s departure time at a particular location will be applied automatically to all subsequent points in the train’s path. At the user’s option, the system will detect and highlight conflicts between trains. Conflicts will be detected at passing locations and on corridors.

A conflict will be raised at a passing location whenever the number of trains occupying the location exceeds its configured number of tracks. A conflict will also be raised wherever a train departs a location while an opposing train is occupying the location and that opposing train is longer than the location’s maximum train length (i.e. the opposing train cannot fit in the siding).

Conflict Highlighting
A conflict will be raised on a corridor whenever multiple trains are occupying the corridor in opposite directions, or whenever two trains in the same direction start or end their traversal of the corridor with less headway than the following train’s minimum threshold. The minimum headway threshold is an attribute of a train type.

 

Train Conflicts as Determined and highlighted by Boss
Conflict Resolution Engine
The module includes an engine to resolve conflicts automatically. When the engine is triggered by the user, it will attempt to alter the timings of existing trains (across all locations) to eliminate conflicts. It will adhere to business rules that relate to train timings such as the need to have sufficient time between traffic delivery cut-off and its train departure.

 

Deconflicted Train Routes as Calculated by the Conflict Resolution Engine

Crew Management


Shift Planning Module
The Crew Management module’s purpose is to support users to develop a safe and efficient set of anonymous crew shifts to execute a train plan. It assists rail planners to ensure shifts adhere to applicable validity rules. This module is designed to be used for assigned crews to optimize crew assignments where crews have set, and usually repeated, train assignments for a period of time. Crew Management for pooled crews (as used by most North American railroads) is a future Boss feature

The Boss Crew Management design is based on aggregating crew tasks into shifts that belong to crews. The system will automatically derive crew tasks from the train plan. It will infer light engine moves and deadhead crew moves based on the train schedule and sequence of tasks in a shift.

Crew Changeovers
Boss supports the management of train re-crewing. A re-crew will occur at a specified location and will involve either one or two specified trains. A crew task represents a non-separable piece of work to be performed by a single sufficiently-qualified crew person. A crew task has a defined start time and location and a defined end time and location. The system will automatically derive crew tasks from the train plan and the tasks include train operating tasks and non-operational task related to the plan.

Crew Types
The system represents each crew type (such as Engineer or Conductor) at each crew location as a “crew pool.” The system assumes that all the individual crew, or members, within a crew pool are homogeneous. Each crew pool will have a defined set of capabilities, or qualifications, governing what sorts of crew tasks its members are allowed to perform.

The Planner screen presents real time approaching train information and allows the planner to assign trains to northbound and southbound windows.
Shift Planning Showing Trains, their Stringlines, and Crew Duties over Time
Creating Shifts
A shift is a period of duty consisting of a sign-on, a sequence of crew tasks and a sign-off.

Each shift will be assigned to a specific crew pool. The shift will start (sign on) and finish (sign off) at its crew pool’s location. For example, a shift assigned to a “Laredo Engineer” crew pool will sign on and sign off at Laredo.

The system will raise a warning on a shift if the shift’s duration from sign-on to sign-off exceeds a maximum limit. Users will be able to configure the maximum shift duration limit in the scenario settings. The shift auto-generation engine will seek to generate shifts that comply with this shift duration limit.

An Optimized Set of Crew Shifts
Based on the trains, pool locations, work rules, regulations, CBA terms, work available, and other hard and soft rules, the system will generate an optimized set of shifts. These shifts can be assigned to crew or used for a “crew pick.” All rules and shifts can be manually edited or updated by the user. 

The Rostering module, which is a future Boss module, will deliver the capability to construct one repeating series of roster lines (or links) per crew pool.

Crew Rostering Module
The previous module, Shift Planning, delivers the ability to define the set of crew shifts to be included in each roster. This Rostering module will provide the ability to sequence these shifts within each roster.

Crew Rostering provides users with the capability to develop a complete, valid and high-quality master roster for each crew pool. A master roster for a given crew pool is complete if it includes all the work assigned to the crew pool and a master roster is valid if it obeys the rostering rules. Factors determining the quality of a master roster include the number of crew needed to work it, the roster’s FAID fatigue profile and other factors.

A master roster is made up of a sequence of “lines” (or “links”) which each represent a week of work for an individual crew member. The number of lines in a roster equates to the number of crew needed to work the roster. At any given time, one crew member will be assigned to work each line of the roster. At the end of a week, each crew member moves down one line and the crew member that worked the last line moves to the first line.

The Crew Rostering module is designed to work in tandem with the Crew Shifts module to produce actual crew rosters that are legal, safe and efficient, while covering all of the railroad’s work (train and non-train tasks).

Dynamic Interchange Analysis

The Boss Dynamic Interchange Analysis module is designed to assist railroads in managing train and other rolling assets in real-time at key locations on the network. The best examples of this is the very high activity bridge crossing at the US Mexico border. Additional examples are interchange points with other railroads, choke points in your network and entrances and exits to large yards.

The Dynamic Interchange tool has been implemented by KCS on the US-Mexico International Bridge in Laredo Texas. The solution increases visibility and maximizes operational efficiency while managing the complex communication process across KCS, Union Pacific, US Customs & Border Protection (USCBP), Mexico Customs, Brokers, Shippers and Car Inspection.

 
The Planner screen presents real time approaching train information and allows the planner to assign trains to northbound and southbound windows.
The Observer screen allows all users to see the currently planned lineup of trains and
detailed information about the train’s status, including car load details and customs issues
As with all modules, the Boss Dynamic Interchange system is cloud-based and delivers the intuitive user experience that is needed in this intricate crossing environment. For KCS, the module has improved rail operations by:

  • Sequencing the planned flow of trains during each defined period of the day
  • Identifying the location and/or ETAs for all trains in the current period
  • Visualization of what trains have been delivered during the current period
  • Visualization of what cars have been cleared for Customs
  • Allowing the recording of Customs and crew metrics that are not usually captured
  • Providing a central repository for bridge-crossing data and reports
The Planner screen presents real time approaching train information and allows the planner to assign trains to northbound and southbound windows.
The Planner screen presents real time approaching train information and allows the planner to assign trains to northbound and southbound queues.

Boss’s combination of sophisticated optimization engines, and an elegant user interface, are designed to make the very complex discipline of precision scheduled railroading, manageable by your current team.

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