Boss Locomotive Planner Deployed at Kansas City Southern (KCS)

Biarri Rail Colour LogoBiarri Rail has announced that The Kansas City Southern Railway Company (KCS) has completed the implementation of its Boss Locomotive Planner, and begun the production use of the system for its US and Mexican operations.

At the start of the project, KCS asked Biarri to deliver a cloud-based system that would improve the utilization of, and lower costs for, their more than 1,000 locomotives. Additionally, KCS wanted to establish a measurable basis for new locomotive purchases and to determine optimal fleet distribution. The Boss Loco Planner is now in place to support these goals.

Brian Hancock, EVP and Chief Innovation Officer, expressed his support of the Boss Locomotive Optimizer in stating “We are pleased to have significantly enhanced our locomotive planning capability and now be able to set consist allocations and changes at a detailed segment-by-segment level, to ensure results can be operationally validated.”

The system is also being used by KCS to provide transparency to terminal inventories and to support powering strategies on the USA-Mexico border. In using the new Boss Loco tool, KCS has the added benefit of being able to model and analyse PTC deployment at the border. With this sort of analysis, the PTC-enabled locos can be accurately phased in for the appropriate network segments and cross-border trains.

Tom Forbes, the CEO of Biarri Rail, said “Our working relationship with KCS has been excellent as we have had Biarri Development and Product Managers on the ground for each phase of the project. In fact, KCS contracted with us to extend the tool set with further automation of train data imports and custom upgrades to the user interface.”  The Boss Loco upgrades for KCS are to be deployed in the first quarter of 2019.

Following up on the successful roll-out of the Boss Loco Planning and after hearing from multiple Class 1 railroads, Biarri is also developing Boss Loco Ops. The Loco Ops module will provide dynamic support for the allocation and dispatch of locomotives at the unit level. This Boss tactical tool will also give locomotive dispatchers situational awareness of their locomotive fleet and provide decision support so that they can make informed and efficient locomotive assignment decisions. More information on Boss Loco Ops will be available in the first quarter of 2019.

RailTrends 2018 Conference in New York City

New York City, United States – January, 2019 – Biarri Rail was thrilled to be a first-time sponsor for the annual RailTrends Conference at the Marriott Marquis on November 29-30 in New York City. RailTrends is considered by many to be the premier industry event, where most of the Class Is are represented by one or more members of their senior management team. Speakers this year included Lance Fritz, CEO of the Union Pacific, James Foote, CEO of CSX, and Brian Hancock, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer for Kansas City Southern. The conference also honored Ed Hamburger, the retiring President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

Biarri opted to be a sponsor for RailTrends 2018, as we recognize that the North American freight rail industry is at the cusp of a new period of intense technological development. We believe that the industry is currently inclined to reduce capital costs, but simultaneously having to deal with the approaching challenges of precision scheduled railroading (PSR) and the introduction of autonomous vehicles on roadways and rails. There is really only one way to bridge this funding gap, and that is through smart technology investment and efficient industry adoption. The presentations, and buzz among the conference attendees, supported this belief.

Presentations were given by all of the Class Is (except BNSF) as well as by shorts lines, Amtrak, Oliver Wyman, and Ann D. Begeman, Chairman, Surface Transportation Board. Tony Hatch, one of the co-founders of RailTrends and CEO of ABH consulting, also gave a presentation on Rail versus truck and wrote an excellent re-cap and analysis of the conference on December 19th in Progressive Railroading. In his piece he summarized the stated challenges of precision scheduled railroading (PSR) implementation, technology adoption by the railroads, and the evolving regulatory climate’s impact on rail planning and operations.

One of the five takeaways Tony highlighted in the article was the presentation by Brian Hancock of KCS and the leadership being taken by them on the technology front. “Kansas City Southern may have jumped to the top of the leader board in terms of technology and innovation, and officials promised that their railway will be fully automated in six to 10 years!”

As a technology partner for KCS, and as a part of the development of their technology roadmap, Biarri Rail could not agree more.

 

Dynamic Scheduling with Local vs Holistic Planning

Many businesses operate in uncertain environments, at the mercy of breakdowns, human error, traffic or the weather. The traditional approach is to build slack into a schedule, to survive some expected level of uncertainty, and then to hope this schedule can be executed in spite of whatever unforeseen events actually occur. In instances where the schedule cannot be implemented as expected, operational decisions are made to try to meet the business goals as much as possible. Under complexity and time pressure, decision makers must often resort to making short term, locally focused decisions without the time or tools to consider implications downstream.

In this blog post, optimisation consultant Dave Scerri describes how recent algorithmic advances and smart tools have enabled the best of both worlds: an operational scheduling approach that responds to changing circumstances while focusing on system wide efficiency.

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