Boss Rail Planning – Design and Scheduling Tools for Freight Railroads
Boss Rail Planning
Boss is Biarri Rail’s platform for rapid application of powerful planning and operational tools across your key freight rail assets. In the era of precision scheduled railroading, rail carriers need tools for the production of optimized scheduled train, railcar, locomotive and crew plans based on a real customer demand. The primary goal of Boss Rail Planning is to determine the most efficient and legal set of trains to deliver a set of customer freight and the optimal allocation of locomotives, cars and crews.
To manage assets and build the most efficient train schedules, rail planners need to be able to:
- Process forecast traffic (demand) data
- Develop blocking rules
- Allocate traffic to the blocks
- Assign blocks to trains
- And manage resources such as locomotives.
To accomplish these interconnected goals, an integrated planning system is needed. Boss Rail Planning delivers all of this, as well as a superior user experience and optimization, which are at the core of the value proposition for Boss.
Service Design – Blocking Optimization and Block to Train Assignment
Boss Rail service design tools manage traffic and blocking for the creation of the operating plan. In the first step, Boss imports customer demand as traffic information, which is either based on historical or forecasted data. The data fields for each railroad’s traffic inputs will vary and Biarri works with our clients to analyze and standardize the flow of information needed for planning.
An optimized blocking plan can improve network fluidity, decrease terminal dwell, and improve train speed by minimizing handling, reducing train stops, and improving yard utilization. Quickly analyzing and determining efficient changes to blocking plans is a critical PSR capability.
The Boss Blocking Optimizer uses attributes such as the traffic type and origin/destination, network, switching capacity, and physical layout of yard tracks to design the blocks and flow the traffic over the blocks. The objective function of the optimizer is to minimize the overall cost of classification, reduce unnecessary car handling and ease yard congestion.
Based on the optimized blocks and train schedule, Boss will optimize the assignment of the blocks to the trains, taking into account capacities (length and weight), and the service commitments for the traffic. The system will produce trip plans that yield the best transit times with minimal handlings.
Block Optimization and Block to Train Assignment
Boss Train Design Screen
In Boss, a train is defined as a sequence of scheduled train legs, each departing from a specified yard at a specified departure time and arriving at another specified yard at a specified arrival time. Once the blocks are assigned to trains, the user refines how the trains will pick up or set out the blocks by analyzing and refining each block’s “route” from its origin to its destination. A block’s route is made up of a one or more train routes.
Boss produces trains based on the block routes, expressed as:
- Day(s) of week
- Block origin and destination
- Number of TEUs or car loads
- Earliest feasible departure time at origin
- Required freight availability time at destination
- Yard capacities
- Interchange and block swapping requirements
Scenarios provide the master input data on the track network, including:
- Key yards, capacities and curfews
- Rail sectors between key yards
- Sector run times (between key yards) by type of cargo in each direction
Based on the traffic and network data, the optimization output includes the scheduled time and routes for all trains, the trailing tonnage between yards, yard activity reports, and an estimation of the operating cost of the plan.
Loco Planner – Locomotive Optimization
With the Locomotive Planning capability, the system allows users to develop a Locomotive Plan corresponding to an operating plan. Locomotive planning is the process of determining how a fleet of locomotives will be deployed to power trains in a train schedule and meet other locomotive demands, such as light engine moves and yard switching.
Example of Comparison of Yard Inventory and Activity Between Kansas City & Shreveport
Boss supports both automated and manual development of a Locomotive Plan. In either case, Boss allows you to understand your critical rolling stock assets; drive utilization, predict maintenance needs, and minimize fuel costs.
- Plan and optimize power distribution plans and light engine moves
- Determine most cost effective locomotive class mix in your fleet when making acquisitions
- Optimize hauling / dead in tow plans
- Reduce locomotive and fuel requirements.
- Make strategic decisions on the deployment and positioning of your locomotive fleet.
- Balance fleet at each yard across the week.
Detailed Train Summary Information Panel
Key considerations in locomotive planning include:
- Ensuring trains are sufficiently powered given their trailing tonnage, their dynamic requirements and the track topology;
- Ensuring the locomotive plan does not require more locomotives than are available; and
- Ensuring that the footprint of locomotive classes at the end of the week is the same as the start of the week so that the plan is repeatable
Boss Integrated Database and Reference Information
Boss is an “integrated” planning platform, which means that traffic, blocks, trains, locomotive, railcars, crews and detailed routing are part of one plan. This allows the user to quickly understand interdependencies between assets, for example to quickly identify that there are insufficient locomotives to run a set of trains or that a train plan cannot be crewed based on its dwell locations. Additionally, a Planner can quickly run “what if” analyses on changes in traffic volume and composition, or changes to asset availability or network constraints.
Data flow diagram showing relationships between Boss modules and railroad data (input and output)
The scenario sets of data, and the resultant individual plans are managed by the user. This means that scenarios and plans can be imported and exported and plans can be copied. The integrated database also manages the system security and the external data inputs and outputs, usually from the railroad’s databases. For example, train schedule data can be imported into Boss, the locomotive deployment optimized, and the results exported to the railroad’s Train Management System (TMS) for operations.
Boss Platform – Background Data, Plans & Scenarios Managed by the User
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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