A major integrated iron ore business operates its rail system on a “run when ready” basis. Previously it used a “paper train graph” (PTG) as the main tool to schedule its movements of trains and crew over the following 6-12 hours. This process took a lot of time and reduced the train planners ability to make quick, justified, and agile decisions across their whole network. The railway was seeking to increase its iron ore throughput by 25% and had identified that their train planners would require additional support to schedule efficiently.
The unique problem facing this railway was their need for the live run scheduling of their “run when ready” railway plan which interlinked train and crew movements.
- We worked very closely with management and the end users of the tool to ensure all of their specific needs and unique constraints were considered.
- The tool was developed in multiple stages, allowing requirements to be reconsidered after each stage so that development was always producing what was most relevant at the time.
- It was quickly discovered that certain MIP programming would not work for their scheduling problems across crew and trains so it required a unique approach to their planning approach.
- The tool can now generate train-and-crew schedules over the next ~10 hours given current train positions and mine/port destinations, current and upcoming track possessions, current crew positions, upcoming crew sign-on/sign-off times and depots, and route competencies of crew.