Category Archives: Railroad & Transportation

Contract management software for railroads-CloudMoyo

How Contract Management Software can help Rail Transportation?

Rail transportation authorities and professionals, on a daily basis, deal with innumerable types of challenges. In our earlier blog, we discussed the various complexities of railroad contracts and how contract management affects key rail business functions.

According to the need of each department, the authorities may face lack of crew members, price hike on fuel cost, repairing and maintenance of railcars, agreement and compliance with standard regulations. All these hindrances put them under mindboggling pressure to wipe off ineffectiveness that cost the railroad operator a lot of money.

To manage compliance with regulations and industry bodies (like ASLRRA, FRA, APTA, AAR, PTC, etc.), railroads are compelled to switch to a modern digital solution that will streamline and update the Contract Lifecycle Management process (which is inefficient when done manually) for the entire enterprise.

Contract Management Software for Railroads

It empowers the overloaded authorities in the four business areas – legal, procurement, finance/commercial and sales/corporate departments – to manage all the errands related with contract development, negotiation, execution and management including post-execution rights, obligations and reviews.

Let’s see how a modern contract management solution can help key departments of a railroad –

Legal – Legal teams in railroads have to ensure compliance to various regulations, labor unions as well as mandates from industry bodies such as ASLRRA, APTA, FRA etc. For legal heads, general counsels, advisors, a CLM helps to –

  • ensure standardization by leveraging a robust clause and template library;
  • approve, edit, execute and store all contracts and agreements, both buy-side and sell-side, covering all phases of the process, in one location;
  • easily create variations in the workflow, rules, clauses and templates based on regional needs;
  • effortlessly track commitments, milestones, expiries, deviations, deliverables and other contractual obligations across every business unit.

 

Procurement – Rail projects comprise of five major disciplines – civil engineering, signaling equipment, electricity, telecommunication & tracks. As a result, railway procurement teams have to take care of multiple suppliers, car hires, locomotive rentals, raw materials as well as man-power. Sourcing managers, purchasing officers & procurement heads can use a CLM to –

  • support supplier checks and related third-party data for key reference, interline settlement, other data;
  • monitor the speed and efficiency of the supplier contract process, with a simple dashboard that provides insights on cycle times, deviations, risks and procurement metrics, including expiry, renewal, and pending;
  • manage contracts across multiple geographies with comprehensive multilingual support and easily customized variations in workflow.

 

Finance / Commercial –  Railroad executives have to deal a lot with various properties, track ownerships, real-estate leases, complex invoices. A CLM can empower CFOs, finance executives and business managers to –

  • uncover opportunities to reduce costs and increase cash flow;
  • reduce labor costs by empowering employees to process contracts with greater speed, efficiency and accuracy;
  • access detailed risk reports to make informed decisions;
  • modify the contract process to adapt to new changing business conditions without incurring the high cost and delays of custom development.

 

Sales / Corporate – Rail transportation companies have to manage complex commercial arrangements such as rate price management, revenue sharing under Interline Settlement System (ISS) and complex freight invoices. A CLM can help sales and business operations staff to –

  • keep deals moving forward without delays by using configurable proposal creation rules and templates, self-service contract wizards and adaptable approval workflows;
  • track contract performance, manage risk and obligations with smart, contextual information about each contract using customizable alerts and notifications to help avoid penalties and take advantage of potential rebates or incentives;
  • gain efficiencies by using one system to manage any contract: buy-side, sell-side, corporate, NDA, MSA, SOW, employment, MoUs, etc.

 

How CloudMoyo can help rail transportation with Contract Management?

Using the Icertis Contract management (ICM) platform, we enable rail & transportation companies to lead the digital transformation across procurement, lease management, real estate, legal and sales. Our solutions help railroads transform their commercial foundation ensuring compliance, improving governance, mitigating risk and enhancing user productivity, thereby improving the bottom line. Powered by smart analytics & AI, our Contract Management Center of Excellence allows customers to increase contract velocity and agility, proactively manage entitlements and obligations as well as surface commercial insights and intelligence.

Helping a Class I rail with contract management

In 2017, CloudMoyo helped a class 1 railroad with a contract management solution to manage its real-estate leases by creating a comprehensive store of real-estate inventory by organizing new and legacy agreements in one system. This mega-project handled over 35000 legacy contracts, 120000 documents and 250 inventory listings. The key benefits from this contract management solution were-

  • catalog and proactively manage lease contracts,
  • automate financial processes (rental payments, price escalation and indexation, variable rent and concessions, settlement of service charges)
  • gain insight into costs, yield and occupancy

To know how you can modernize contract management for your railroad, get in touch with us!

Contract Management software for railroads-CloudMoyo

Why do railroads need a contract management software?

The North American railroad system is critical for freight transportation. For a complex industry such as freight transportation, a well-functioning supply chain is a key to efficient operations. Just like any other freight transporter, railroads have multiple contracts related to various commercial activities such as third parties, vendors, suppliers, labor, procurement, regulations, compliance, commercial agreements.

Railways and Contracts

Railways have a large number of contracts ranging from industrial track maintenance, rail crossing agreements, to haulage and real estates. These contracts cover major areas such as volume commitments, rate stability, accessorial applicability, and terms of contract duration, detention, demurrage and dispute resolution.

The complexity of contract terms & clauses is quite unnerving in the railroad industry. Amending multiple contracts and updating dynamic carrier accessorial manually is nearly impossible. Consequently, railroads frequently struggle to reconcile estimated versus actual shipping costs.

The additional challenges in railroad contracts include:

  • Locating rates across numerous contracts with disparate formats and calculating a total shipment cost based on the contract terms
  • Accounting for accessorial items that are not fixed in the contract, such as fuel adjustment factors that may change daily
  • Determining all available routes under contract and comparing costs
  • Maintaining current amendments and rate changes
  • Paying the right amount, based on contract and tariff rates
  • Timed payments to meet agreed-upon terms, which can vary by carrier
  • To have visibility into invoices received where no contract rate is on file
  • To have visibility into the use of non-contracted carriers

Also Read: 6 Things to check before Contract Management Software implementation

Railroad investment projects mainly revolve around 5 disciplines – civil engineering, signaling equipment, electricity, telecommunication & tracks. As such, these five types of work items are often performed by a different crew and may require different procurement strategies. This makes the procurement challenge even more complex. In addition, procurement strategies may be affected by domestic characteristics of the railroad sectors in different geographies, e.g., extent and timing of deregulation, supply market development and competition.

Contract Management software for railroads- implications for various Rail departments

In the typical organization, the existing contract management process often limits employee efficiency, especially when it comes to insights. The traditional tools often slow down the business outcomes they are meant to drive. Below are key contract management imperatives for various departments of a railway:

  • Procurement professionals need to negotiate better prices even with a high volume of global contracts. If they had access to key metrics, like expiry dates and aggregated spend, this would be possible.
  • Finance and compliance teams need the tools to reduce their labor costs while still ensuring compliance and minimizing risk. This is possible when they have visibility into the financial impact of all contracts, agreements etc. Railroads, being highly regulated, have various regulatory mandates from APTA, FRA, ASLRRA, AAR as well as the new safety diktat around Positive Train Control (PTC) which require reporting from time to time.
  • Legal teams need to decrease their exposure to risks while making sure they are compliant. This is done by ensuring people use the latest approved language in all contract documents. In addition, a variety of labor unions and their laws add to the complexity. The clauses and agreements need to be diligently monitored to avoid penalties and service terminations.
  • Finally, sales professionals need to accelerate their sales process without sacrificing quality. This is obtained by having a seamless connection with the contract team which reduces their overhead costs and enables self-service with approved language. Managing rate price management, revenue sharing under Interline Settlement System (ISS) and complex freight invoices come under such challenges.

The need for a modern Enterprise Contract Management Platform

Though almost everything has changed about how modern organizations execute and manage contracts, one thing remains the same – contracts are still the foundation of all commercial relationships and transactions. Hence, a Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) system, which could evaluate all the needs of railroads and provide the capabilities to tackle all the challenges and issues play a vital role.

In our next blog, we will dive deeper into the benefits of a modern CLM on key departments.

 

Big data in rail-CloudMoyo

Why should Rail industry move towards the Cloud for Big Data Analytics?

Rail Transportation is one of the industries that persistently looks for master strategies to mitigate operating and maintenance costs. Like many others, railroads are tippy-toeing into the era of digitization, data analytics, predictive maintenance, etc. Over the past few years, railroads have been aggressively adapting emerging and innovative technologies (from software to SaaS applications to modern data solutions) to earn returns from an unconventional asset called ‘data’.

The scale of Big Data in Rail

Railroads generate mountains of data daily from sensors on rail cars, tracks, signaling equipment, communications systems, enterprise applications, accounting software, invoicing and many more. Modern trains are equipped with up to 200 sensors with data of up to 150 Mbps being transferred every day. There are hundreds of trains in various fleets with thousands of spare parts generating gigabytes of diagnostic messages and terabytes of sensor data per year.

Challenge of harnessing Big Data in Rail

The management and security of this big chunk of data is the biggest challenge for the industry. Cloud-based analytics system can help businesses in reducing unannounced downtime, improving productivity by enhancing velocity, hence driving outcomes. The technology can also help in driving efficiency in billing matters.

However, railroads face many hurdles in implementing big data and cloud analytics. Apart from financial challenges and heavy operating costs, railroads businesses face many difficulties in training their workforce how to implement latest technologies and tools. Emerging tools such as Stream Analytics can provide the ability to make use of streaming of event data records in real-time, which becomes useful for regulations such as Positive Train Control (PTC).

Rail transportation companies are still learning how to leverage the latest technological trends for a keeping a tab on their growing number of rail tracks, equipment and locomotive data. This data can be a real asset for these railroad companies as it is used not only for drawing insights but also to boost productivity, safety and operational efficiency. Railroads can drive efficiencies by predicting the failure of any major component/equipment by combining the theory of big data with advanced analytics.

How the Internet of Things (IoT) in Railroads is leading to data revolution

Railroads spend enormous amount annually in the maintenance and management of yards, assets, tracks, crew, infrastructure, etc. Inefficiencies and disorganization in the railroads trigger high operating cost to the system. Class 1 and Short Line railroads can save millions by adopting a modern cloud-based BI architecture to manage its assets, infrastructure and crew efficiently.

Putting Big Data to use in Rail Transportation

A Class I US railroad operator is just doing that and reaping the benefits of introducing modern technology to classical rail operations.

With our help, they defined a high-level digital transformation plan and an implementation roadmap for business intelligence platform in the Microsoft cloud. The Azure cloud-based data analytics system utilizing billions of rows of data & complimented by visually appealing Power BI dashboards enabled the customer to gain operational insights into Rail Crew management and train scheduling.

Read the complete story on rail analytics here

Short Line Railroads: Key Business & technology Imperatives for 2018 | CloudMoyo

Key Imperatives for Short Line Railroads: Business & Technology

Global mobility, digitalization and industry regulations are giving rise to considerable disruption across the entire freight industry thereby compelling the railroad industry to adapt or die.  These are the key imperatives for short line railroads which are further compounded owing to the small size, limited resources and inability to execute rapidly. Below, we try to list down key imperatives for short line railroads which, if addressed, can help to drive disruptive innovation and growth.

What are Short Line Railroads?

Short line is a solely owned railroad business that operates in some of the most vulnerable divisions of the railroads. Categorized as Class II or III by the Surface Transportation Board which governs the network of US rail, a Short line railroad operates in most short distance and is an independent rail network.  It is the business that competes aggressively and focuses on its hallmark- “First and last mile of the shipment” by serving the customer’s unique need and providing flexibility with the service. Nowadays, these short line railroads (around the world) are owned, financed and operated by large conglomerates viz. Genesee & Wyoming, Watco Companies etc.

Like other industries, the short line railroad industry also faces certain challenges (external and internal). Let’s discuss on, in details, what are the key imperatives of short line railroads:

      1. Deferred track maintenance: The customer-focused and cost-efficient short line railroad has always carried the liability of track maintenance cost. To avoid freight declines to many regions, short line railroads have to pour around millions into track upgrades from their own finances, as they are an independent business of rail network.
      2. Competitive disadvantage: Short line railroads face large operating expenditures. Due to operational and economical inefficiency, the short line railroad operates at a competitive disadvantage. The publicly funded infrastructure of trucking and inland marine networks run ahead of short line railroads in this aspect.
      3. Ineffective supply chain: As railroad companies rely on vast supply chains, there is a high potential for environmental and social impacts. Add to that the complexities of safety regulations, hazardous materials, railway interchanges, interline settlements, car rentals and track sharing and it becomes one hell of a supply chain problem.
      4. High crew operating cost: Crews are a critical aspect of running any railroad and the problems are compounded by Labor Unions, Maintenance of FRA regulations (including Drug and Alcohol testing), Maintenance of Way (MOW) employees and scheduling / dead-head policies.
      5. High adoption costs for PTC (Positive Train Control):Short line railroads are heavily impacted by the mandate that further stretches their shoe string budgets. It takes around $12 billion to implement PTC, unfortunately, there is no provision for government funding for the purpose of implementation of PTC system.

Also Read: How Big Data analytics is changing the face of rail freight industry?

The Technological Disruption

External forces are bringing technological disruption to many industries. With the advancement of trucking technology, some believe that the concept of electric vehicle technology will bring revolution to the freight industry. The “supertrucks” will grow exponentially with its quicker delivery times, door-door services and improved in-time performance. As an impact, this is going to immensely hinder and challenge the railroad freight industry, especially shortline railroads as they directly compete with these.

Class I railroads are adding technology enabled solutions to their lines every day, and some regionals and short lines have already caught on. From remote-controlled yard locomotives to computer controlled schedules railroads are installing technology to lower operating expenses and gain efficiency.

Read how an American railroad set a stage for ongoing innovation in collaboration with CloudMoyo.

A quantum leap must be made by the short line railroad, both from the operations and technology end, to tackle this challenge smartly. Here are the four critical points where shortline rail railroad could technologically disrupt itself to become robust and market and future oriented. Hence, disrupting in these areas could bring growth and innovations in shortline rail industries.

      a) Faster automation: The Trucking industry is growing above par everyday. Like the trucking industry, railroads should also aim towards bringing driverless trains. Thanks to systems like PTC (Positive Train Control) and Trip Optimizer, railroads also can take an attempt to automate operations to become faster and smarter. Railroads should get ready for more automation even in the absence of any regulations or contracts. Advanced analytics & machine learning can make it possible to run and monitor trains without human intervention. For instance, the locomotives must be equipped with smart track sensing technology to help bring track and rolling stock inspection on the table. The detectors on the railcars will help monitor for the problems occurring in/ about to occur in wheels, brakes and bearings.

Read how Cloud & Big Data analytics is changing Rail Scheduling

      b) Enhancing fuel efficiency: To become fuel efficient, the next generation of locomotives must adapt some of the fuel-efficient rail technology. Some of the feasible options could be building hybrid locomotives that can help conserve regenerative braking energy, locomotive electrifications and hybrid fuel cells. In order to scale up the promising technologies, all new innovations can be tested and experimented in local environment with low risks.

     c) Asset maintenance: In today’s rapid pace technology cycle, railroads should replace their assets in every 10-15 years. The redesigning of the assets can increase the lifespan of the railcars. This innovation will help them improve and bring efficiency to the industry by cutting down its operational and maintenance costs. Data enabled asset tracking & preventive maintenance can bring a much-needed improvement in short line railroads.

    d) Use of assets and resources: Businesses are being compelled to rebuild their supply chains with higher reliability, smaller shipments and more frequency in the service. What this implies for the rail business is that many trains are presently too huge. They invest a considerable measure of energy sticking around to be filled, and rail resources conceivably could be utilized all the more effectively. More continuous and short line railroads would be more receptive to the present requirements of the supply chain while likewise expanding the utilization of resources and assets. In the years to come, the present research and testing says that the predictive analytics and machine learning can serve yet more possibilities to enhance assets and utilizations of the resources.

In order to deal with the technology disruptions, short line railroads need to come out their operational comfort zone. They definitely have the potential to grow exponentially in freight management with capabilities to exploit new advancements and market goals. In other words, the railroad industry needs to embrace the technological innovation and its risk by understanding the tremendous potentials that disruption brings to the table. Companies like CloudMoyo, provides best practices of enterprise asset management & resource management for improving the productivity of all types of railroad assets such as fleets, locomotives, rail vehicles and related linear assets. This will assist railroads to achieve regulatory requirements, extend asset life, optimize parts management, reduce rail calls and increase planned maintenance.

Since short line railroads are the first/last haul provider to shipping customers, they are expected to run with the same levels of efficiency, safety, and on-time performance as their Class 1 interchange carrier. In times of increased competition and with higher demands from customers, short line railroads must rely on technology to increase their network capacity, grow revenue, and be profitable. CloudMoyo’s data analytics and modern product engineering solutions help freight railroads increase their yard’s efficiency and capacity with technology that will eliminate bottlenecks, handle crews, reduce manual processes, minimize lost cars and reduce train delays.

Do these challenges sound familiar? Book a session with us for a deep-dive into how CloudMoyo can help short line railroads with modern technology to solve operational problems.

IoT in railroads-CloudMoyo

How the Internet of Things (IoT) in railroads is leading to data revolution

The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing exponentially across the world, and it is projected to be a $20 billion industry by 2020. This vast network of internet-enabled devices will affect all aspects of modern life that will not only surprise but delight us. When it comes to the arena of transport and logistics, driverless cars are already at a key inflection point and will become the norm in the next decade. Internet of Things in railroads is quite behind in the race from past few years.

However, things are gradually changing. Cisco reported that they estimate the industry will spend over $30bn on the IoT of rail in the next 15 years. And with an expanded IoT comes a stream of new data which can be used for effective analytics, something that CloudMoyo has been actively pursuing for some time.

How does Internet of Things in railroads work?

Big Data is being used to visualize the commuter train traffic up to two hours into the future. This enables a forecast of any disruptions in the service, with the traffic control center able to prevent the ripple effects that cause most delays and forewarn passengers about delays early enough for them to be able to adapt their travel plans.

Another very successful innovation is called the Auto Engine Start Stop (AESS), which is a technology used to lower the amount of fuel and reduce emissions from locomotives. This technology is “a software/hardware package that saves fuel by performing an automatic shutdown of an idling engine when oil temperature and zero speed conditions meet. The engine is automatically restarted when conditions are exceeded or power is called for. By controlling the amount of excess idle, the locomotive is optimized for lower fuel usage, eliminating additional smoke and emissions. Such technology generates mountains of data around vehicle, speed, mileage & location which can be harnessed by using modern data architecture such as Azure Data lake coupled with HDInsights & Power BI dashboards to give important insights on how locomotives are performing.

Learn how real-time analytics helped a North American railroad to run better

Trains operate at high speeds, often in extreme weather and through long tunnels, which has made the gathering of Big Data difficult to work. However, a new generation of sensors, onboard computers and sophisticated dispatch stations have begun to make a difference. Legacy infrastructure is gradually being replaced by train management systems in which trains become interconnected communication hubs, transmitting data among themselves and to network control centers, and receiving instructions from control centers. Cloud technology is playing a major part in building such sophisticated systems and players like CloudMoyo have successfully  worked with Class 1 railroads to modernize their applications using the Microsoft Azure platform.

Read how CloudMoyo helped to run trains in the cloud!

There are three major systems where automation and the Internet of Things in rail can bring significant benefits : signalling, interlocking, and level crossing control.

CloudMoyo, a rail technology solutions partner, is tracking the development of technologies such as DDCT and ISS for various Class 1 railroads.

The Damaged and Defective Car Tracking (DDCT) system that identifies, tracks and replaces defective cars. For many years, this was done manually, but the IoT has automated the process via an easy-to-use, centralized web-based application.

The Interline Settlement System (ISS) is a “centralized process for the rail industry used to negotiate and agree upon for the sharing of revenue generated for a movement when two or more roads are involved in the shipment route.”

Naturally, the biggest motivator for widespread implementation of the internet of things (IoT) in railroads is in the arena of safety. On-board train location systems, in accordance with PTC legislation, are able to regulate train speed, make drivers aware of the position of other trains, take actions based on track conditions and even bring trains to a stop remotely in the event of an emergency. The expectation of safe and secure train travel has never been more real than it is today, thanks to the technology embedded in the new generation of trains.

Data analytics in Internet of Things

For data analytics firms, the advent of the internet of things (IoT) in rail is bringing new challenges. In years gone by, they struggled to accumulate data from passengers and from freight vehicles that were essentially just there to be pulled from location to location. Now they are faced with the challenge of handling an overwhelming amount of data.
Analytics firms must be able to design easy-to-use systems that can gather data in real-time, make sense of what the data says about the efficiency of the system, and then deliver actionable insights for the railway operators and the industry as a whole.

At CloudMoyo, we have been intimately connected to some of the most forward-thinking rail operators in the world, and our analytics drive new insights and understanding into the changing nature of the railways, especially in the field of IoT. If you would like a free assessment of your data landscape to explore what emerging solutions can be built using the Microsoft Azure platform, please sign up on our website by following the link.

Rail analytics-CloudMoyo

Unlocking value with Big Data Rail Analytics

Big Data and rail analytics is fast becoming the new normal and progress towards a smart railway system, once a daunting prospect, now seems unstoppable. It’s been a long time coming.

In previous decades, air and road transport technology sped ahead of rail in terms of modernization, but the railways have been catching up quickly, and finding innovative uses for the vast potential that data analytics can play in creating an efficient and robust rail system.

Smart Railroads

Smart railways require a natural convergence of three systems: cyber-physical systems, coupled with the internet of things (IoT) and cloud computing. Together, these systems have the ability to predict failures before they occur, make diagnoses as to where the problems lie and trigger actions that will speed up maintenance on all aspects of the system.

While the frameworks are in place to make this happen, the reality is that the operations are intensely data-heavy, in terms of access, quality of data and the multiple sources from which that data is required.

Many organizations can see the value in using data to drive decision-making in an organization but lack the capacity to invest in big data analytics. But the growth of Big Data as a Service (BDaaS) has meant that companies no longer have to develop their own Apache Spark or Hadoop resources, they can outsource to data-focussed organizations that are setup to process this kind of information.

See how CloudMoyo helps railroads harness their big data using Microsoft Azure platform .

How Big data and Rail analytics making a difference?

Scheduling

The explosion of big data and data analytics in the rail industry can make a huge impact on the timetabling of trains, as well as asset management of a fleet. With real-time data coming in and being interpreted instantly, there is great potential to reduce disruptions and improve reliability on any given day.

Data is generated via a number of sources to paint a compelling picture of a fleet:

  • Maintenance logs
  • GPS units
  • Weather data
  • Visual & Acoustic Sensors
  • Handheld devices to record speed, arrival time, location and much more…

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

The use of augmented and virtual reality has been increasing in the rail industry for some time, particularly in the field of training. Preparing drivers for the railways is a costly and time-consuming business, but the use of VR makes it a more affordable and immersive experience.

In the foreseeable future, that technology will make its way into maintenance crews too.
AR displays could potentially aid crews, working on trains with up to 200 wagons, to pinpoint exactly which wheel needs attention in order to prevent a de-railing. That kind of data is invaluable to maintenance crews.

Yard Maintenance

Keeping track of rail cars and other assets while in the yard is an often overlooked aspect of a railway company’s process. Data analytics play an invaluable role in keeping track of inventory, monitoring downtime of assets and tracking when railcars and trains enter and exit the yard.

Crew Management

One of the great challenges of operating a rail company is the effective management of crews over great distances. Cloud computing and analytics have made a big difference in a company’s ability to minimize downtime for employees, check availability, deploy the right skills at the right times, and use real-time insights to improve workforce performance and efficiency.

Check how cloud based crew management is helping the modern railroad to improve efficiency

Rail data innovation

Big data has the potential to transform the current state-of-the-art railway technology platforms into a network of collaborative communities seamlessly moving freight and passengers and delivering services in a planned way. The smart railways of the future are almost here, and will change how we manage railway systems and crew forever, thanks to the power of data analytics.

Effective Railroads Crew Management-CloudMoyo

How an effective Crew Management system can modernize railroads?

In a work environment such as a rail organization, crew management is a tricky and time-consuming endeavor. The logistics of running a crew efficiently can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have the right tools to do it.

So, what are the major pain points for a crew manager?

Well, there are several pain points but here are some of the important ones:

  • a lack of centralized data,
  • inefficient use of crew and long layover times,
  • a slow learning curve and
  • manual notifications resulting in communication breakdowns.

But thankfully, in the digital era, cloud-based systems have gone a long way towards addressing the challenges of a multi-faceted transport organization.

For example, CloudMoyo’s centralized Rail Crew Management system ensures that crew availability is tracked continuously in real-time, an automated pool order is created and an optimal crew rotation plan is delivered that complies with a variety of crew union rules and Federal Railway Administration regulations. All of these, valuable data is subsequently delivered in real-time, via an easy-to-understand dashboard to a desktop or mobile device.

See how Cloud based crew Management helps complex workforce management in railroads

Cloud-based crew management system produces sophisticated analytics that is able to address these kinds of pain points and suggest actionable insights to help manage different crews of employees and contractors.  Insights which help management to determine the right crew size for a region, assess the cost implications of different crew sizes and monitor the effectiveness of a crew in a situation. These are the result of well thought-out analytics and they make a dramatic difference in the daily operation of freight companies.

The ‘Deadhead’ problem

One critical pain point in a rail environment is the ‘deadhead’ problem. Deadhead is a train moved between cities with no passengers or freight, in order to make it available for service. These actions are a drag on all rail operators in terms of opportunity costs, food and accommodation for the crew, availability of rolling stock and travel costs. Fortunately, with advanced and real-time analytics on top of data from a crew management system, the modern railroad can now have a deeper insight into where and how these deadheads are affecting them. Thus, we see that cloud-based systems are having a radical impact on reducing the amount of deadheading taking place on railways.

What’s more?

There’s so much more that is on offer from a cloud-based crew management perspective. Flexible crew profiles, configurable work hours and service cancellation rules are a standard feature, a performance assessment engine is invaluable, as is the ability to record attendance data for crew via biometric devices, to name just a few features. What’s more is that such modern crew management solutions also integrate with third-party accommodation/ hotel/ cab service providers thereby providing a 360 degree end to end crew management.

Ultimately, a cloud-based crew management system allows rail operators to standardize and automate their crew management duties, which gives them agility and flexibility as well as improved control and execution speed on everything that they do. Efficient, hard-working and appreciated crews are the cornerstone of a great rail operation and cloud-based software, setup by experts in the field, can make all the difference in an organization.

Does this sound familiar? Schedule a demonstration of CloudMoyo’s Crew Management Software today!

Big Data analytics changing the face of rail freight industry - CloudMoyo

How Big Data analytics is changing the face of rail freight industry?

The science of Big Data analytics is transforming global business practices in ways that would have seemed unimaginable just a few years ago. With that data comes insights and strategies that can generate massive savings and improve efficiencies for companies that understand them.

The transport industry understands this dynamic deeply, and is integrating Big Data analytics into every aspect of their operations. The initial drive came from road and air logistics, but in the past few years attention has focused on another sector of the transport economy that is ripe for disruption: the railroads.

How big data impacts railroad industry?

The modernization of railroads is an opportunity to create intelligent rail systems. In recent years, the rail infrastructure managers, train operating companies and the rail maintenance companies started to collect and store data in order to monitor different assets and rolling stock.

Simply put, it’s the ability to gather and integrate large batches of information together in one place, then interpret it in such a way that it leads to a recommended course of action. Sounds simple, but it’s a seismic shift for almost all businesses. Companies have moved from trying to understand what happened in a given scenario, on to why it happened, and then used their data to predict what will happen in the future. The next stage is really empowering; the ability to say “What shall I do to shape what happens next?”

There are a number of railroad sectors where Big Data analytics are having a big impact. Rail Crew management, the scheduling of trains and workforce, real-time monitoring and tracking of moving assets, safety, and the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT) , which is set to deliver more information and more changed than ever before to global freight companies.

Siemens, one of the world’s premier providers of railroads infrastructure in over 60 countries, has come up with a concept called ‘Internet of Trains which basically involves harnessing Big Data, sensors and predictive analytics for guaranteeing close to 100% reliability and ensuring that trains are never late!

CloudMoyo, a premier cloud technology consultant, has worked on a number of large railway network solutions across the continental United States in recent years in these areas of expertise, and has witnessed first-hand how fast the industry is changing. Benefits include major saving of up to 25% in freight costs, a 5-15% improvement in asset utilization, as well as reductions in inventory and an improved capability to acquire capacity. This has all led to higher customer satisfaction as an end result.

Unexpected events happen such as unplanned delays, urgent maintenance and accidents happen all the time on a large, dispersed systems such as the railways. Monitoring and responding to change quickly is vital. Big Data analytics uses multiple real-time sources, such as sensors and GPS on the trains, along with RFID systems in terminals, to feed information into the system constantly so that companies can use to manage their assets and resolve crises when they occur.

By using a cloud native product to monitor your railroad, you achieve faster adoption and deployment, with better mobility and at a lower cost. Serviceability improves almost instantly alongside reduced costs which leads to a positive revenue impact and differentiation from the competition.

The volume of data which is generated by railroads is staggering. Lyndon Henry, a leading authority on railroads, has stated that U.S railroads “need to handle and monitor the movement of approximately 1.5 million freight cars each day” over a rail network that is 140,000 miles long across North America.  When you add to that a scale-out infrastructure, unstructured data from social media, online feedback and machine learning, you get a sense of how big and complex the picture is.  “Routing, sorting and blocking cars, scheduling, assigning locomotives, and dispatching are some of the really complex railroad activities increasingly dependent on analytics” says Henry, “but an untold number of smaller tasks, such as remote diagnostics and real-time monitoring of rail yards, are also being facilitated or expedited via analytics.”

Add to this Positive Train Control (PTC) -the regulation mandated by US authorities for rail safety. While debates may run around arguing over effectiveness of PTC in preventing accidents, the implementation of the same is ongoing. And it is delivering waves of vital data that will have profound implications in our understanding of the rail system.

So, how do we handle all this Big Data in Railroads?

CloudMoyo empowers Rail & Transportation companies to gain greater insight and unlock efficiencies in Crew Management, Fleet & Asset Management, Contract Management and in other critical areas of operations and maintenance.  CloudMoyo’s pedigree in modern cloud-based analytics combined with our experience with both Short-Line and Class I rail customers allows us to be the ideal partner for railroads who wish to leverage large amounts of data into actionable Business Intelligence.

CloudMoyo prefers the use of various services from the Microsoft Azure stack such as Data Lake & Azure Warehouse for accumulating massive chunks of data, and using Azure Analysis services as well as Machine Learning to gain intelligence from the same. What’s more is that CloudMoyo is specialized in creating beautiful dashboards using Power BI so that decision makers can take action.

CloudMoyo has developed an Azure-based data analytics system utilizing billions of rows of data & complimented by visually appealing Power BI dashboards for simple interpretation. Metrics in the categories of inventory, crew and locomotives, utilization ratios, deadheads (and whatever else is needed) are presented to executives as actionable insights. Ultimately, these analytics are projected to create annual cost savings of 8-10% per crew per wagon via simple operational efficiency.

Of course, these are still early days in the relationship between big data and the railways. The Amadeus Research Group explains that “For railroads, big data demands big ideas and the courage to implement them. Managing and analyzing data is no longer an issue for IT departments alone, instead it is driving the travel industry’s business agenda.”

Ready to get started with Big Data but not sure where to start? Book a 5-day workshop with our experts and kickstart your rail analytics journey!

HOW CLOUD & BIG DATA ANALYTICS IS CHANGING RAIL SCHEDULING - CloudMoyo

How cloud and Big Data analytics is changing rail scheduling

There is a reason that the phrase “Making sure the trains run on time” is used to indicate successful management and efficiency around the world. Getting the trains to run on time is a complex process that involves sophisticated scheduling of crews, stock and schedules and so much more. Rail Scheduling is at the heart of a successful railway system and is often the difference between a profitable growing operation and a struggling, overwhelmed rail operator. This is one of the arenas of the rail business where modern technology and big data has had the most impact.

Why is rail crew scheduling a problem?

Freight railroad crew scheduling comprises generation of crew duties for running trains on a schedule in a cost effective manner while adhering to all labor regulations and operational requirements. Typically, a freight railway operation uses thousands of trains and requires thousands of crew members to operate them. Because of the massive scale of this problem, even tiny savings in crew costs can result into large financial savings. However, freight railway operations are complex, and a crew-scheduling problem is difficult to solve

Success can be measured against two key scheduling measures in a rail environment.

  • Are we able to provide the number of trips that were agreed on with the rail authorities?
  • And in doing so, are we minimizing the number of empty runs (“dead runs”) that take place, typically at the beginning and the end of a schedule?

An inability to meet either of those challenges poses a severe threat to the operator’s viability and profitability. But with more trains and passengers on the rails than ever before, in addition to a huge mobile workforce, the logistics of managing all those moving parts becomes harder and harder to get right. Cloud-based analytics has proven itself to be a vital tool in the fight for better rail scheduling.

Cloud Technology in rail scheduling

A premier Cloud & Big Data Analytics consultant, CloudMoyo, recently took on a big data challenge with a major North American rail operator, who deal with movement of large volumes across a large geographical spread on a daily basis. Their CEO & President, Manish Kedia, explains “Proper trained personnel must be deployed for the efficient and timely movement of goods. Any delay in movement results in huge financial loss to the operator. With over 2000 crew members, the operator also needs to ensure that crew allocations are done based on their skillset, which ensures increased utilization of assets and lower downtime.”

Find out how a Class 1 Railroad automated its crew scheduling using modern technology

The solution was to develop a cloud-native rail crew management system which can ensure that all available resources are optimally utilized to maximize existing investment. The key to successful rail scheduling is to look at the whole system. Not only management of the rolling stock, but fuel management, route optimization, control center ops and crew analytics all come under the spotlight, so that holistic change spreads throughout the system.

CloudMoyo’s Scheduling module is based on advanced algorithms that are used for determining the most optimal schedule based on various parameters that are configured in the system. It is based on history as well as traffic patterns. The planning output desires to satisfy agreed upon policies on service span and desired frequencies for the schedule. Using advanced algorithms that take into account ticketing history as well as traffic patterns, a big data analyst will use flexible travel time definitions, frequency definitions, revenue and cost considerations, and resource constraints for vehicles and crew to create the optimal schedule for an operator.

These types of interventions have been shown to produce a 5 -15% improvement in asset utilization, as well as up to 10% better driver utilization and ultimately a 2-5% reduction in overall costs and a massive leap of up to 30% in customer satisfaction.

Book a demo of CloudMoyo Crew Management – a one-stop solution for the modern crew manager

Rail Scheduling and effective crew management make a dramatic difference to profitability and sustainability of rail operators.  A rail system that runs on schedule has major knock-on benefits for the whole local economy and the civic life of society itself. At the end, a happy crew is what drives efficiency!

If you would like to find out more about how Big Data Analytics can make an impact in your organization, get in touch to book a 5-day Azure Assessment with our Data experts.

railroads crew management Solution - CloudMoyo

Why railroads crew management solution is important?

Railroads typically have to answer numerous questions around on how to use their capacity most effectively, how to move trains optimally how to operate their yards, how to maximize their throughput and how to keep their locomotives busy. Using their assets most effectively is the key to their profitability. Apart from this, there is one more major issue and that is railroads crew management system.

It has become a cliché to say that a company’s biggest asset is its workforce. Yet time and time again, it’s proven that a well-managed talent pool achieves the kind of breakthroughs in efficiency and productivity that all top-level managers is looking for.

Why is railroads crew management system too complex?

For railroad industry, crews are at the heart of its workforce. The logistics of managing a large, decentralized crew are extremely challenging. What’s required is a solution that can address the challenges of operating a multifaceted railroads crew management operation. A well-managed and empowered workforce makes all the difference to a company’s bottom line and to the culture of the organization. Focus needs to be placed on workflow management, mobility, modernization and continuous improvements around customer service.

Technology for modern Crew Management

CloudMoyo’s Rail Crew Management assists in managing a crew effectively on the basis of availability, allocation order as well as train schedule compliance. In so doing, Crew Call is able to minimize costs around crew pay, benefits and travel expenditure and keep the focus of employees on customer service and efficiency.

Being able to apply a Big Data lens to a company and using the insights generated to manage a large, complex workforce is the hallmark of good railroad management in the 21st century. Across the continental U.S, there are  140 000 miles of tracks, being used by approximately 1.5 million freight carts every single day. To keep this system running requires an army of dispersed employees who are spread out over vast distances, yet must work together as part of an interconnected system.

These are the kind of issues that cloud computing is built for. CloudMoyo Crew Management delivers a system with a flexible crew profile and skill profile management, configurable work hour and service cancellation rules, as well as a performance assessment engine and availability tracking for crew members. Biometric devices record the attendance data of crew members, while an interactive voice response system is used to notify crew of upcoming duties. What’s more is that it integrates various crew accommodation service providers so that lodging providers know who’s coming and staff accordingly. It lets railroads control stays, eliminate wait times and manage costs better.

Applying data analytics to railroads crew management

Of course, many companies are aware of the usefulness of workforce data. But they are frequently unable to process that data successfully and turn it into actionable insights to drive decision-making, particularly when it comes to workforce management. Poor decision-making in this arena leads to wasted man hours, unwieldy and complicated logistics, missed targets, a steadily lowering morale that affects the whole organization and ultimately, a weak bottom line.

But on the flipside, when big data is being continually processed, analyzed and acted upon, it enables a company to ‘get ahead of the curve’ to analyze its future workforce needs, identify potential shortfalls and develop strategies that will bridge gaps. “Good analytics help firms to stop wasting money on programs that don’t help them achieve their business goals, and focuses them on those that do,” notes Laurie Bassi of McBassi & Co, a consulting firm that specializes in workforce analytics.

Read how an Effective Crew Management Solution can Modernize Railroads

Integrating new tools into a crew management system is a time-consuming process. For that reason alone, many companies find it more rewarding to outsource their data analytics and work with specialist providers who employ a suite of tools that are designed to work in harmony with each other. CloudMoyo prides itself on delivering a solution built on the robust Microsoft Azure Data Platform that incorporates an enhanced user experience via an intuitive mobile app, easy integration with systems like SAP, IBM-MQ, Payroll, IVR etc, round the clock technical support and a flexible payment solution.

While a productive and happy crew is the central driver of the Crew Management system, there are other spin offs that make it even more valuable. Valuable data insights are gathered and presented with a smart analytics engine that integrates easily with Power BI and is presented in easy-to-understand graphics and dashboards. With such advanced reporting, companies are able to continually monitor such metrics as inventory, crew and locomotives, crew utilization ratios and much, much more.

Ultimately a cloud-based workforce management system that is integrated and well executed leads directly to increased job satisfaction and productivity throughout an organization, and fosters a culture of sustainable excellence.

Book a demo of CloudMoyo Crew Management – a one-stop solution for the modern crew manager

railroads crew management-CloudMoyo

Role of Cloud & Big Data in railroads crew management system

One of the most gratifying things that any Big Data Analytics firm can be a part of is the transformation of an established company. Big Data helps in integrating new practices and insights generated by company’s data.  Here’s an example of the digital transformation in railroads crew management which happened in the collaboration between CloudMoyo and a North American railroad operator.

Logistics are the lifeblood of a transportation company. This North American  railroad company has been in operation even before the 1900s and operates in central U.S, Mexico and Canada. It has over 10000 freight cars, 1050 locomotives and their rail network comprises approximately 7000+ route miles that link commercial and industrial markets in North America.  It has approx 500 trains running per day with an average of 800+ crew members daily across 180+ interchange points with other railroads. Add to this the complexities of repairs, re-crews, duty allocations, scheduling, incidents, services, people & goods movement, vacations, communications and it turns out to be a heck of a day. Needless to say, it’s a massive transportation and logistics business with mountains of data.  In order to get its operations right, railroad turned to Big Data for a solution.

Why do you need a cloud-based rail crew management system?

Thanks to Cloud and Big Data analytics, CloudMoyo was able to come into this industry as a relative outsider and deliver a next generation, cloud native crew management system that addresses all the challenges of managing complex transit operations. In order to implement the crew management software, a 12-month schedule was created with the aim of turning the client from a company without a centralized or integrated system that relied on text messaging for duty notification into an information-centric, data-smart organization. As a result of the new system, 100% of all the train scheduling, as well as the deadheading (the movement of commercial vehicles or crews in non-revenue mode for logistical reasons) are managed through railroads crew management solution.

But while infrastructural efficiency has been greatly improved, that was only half the problem solved. As in most businesses, the improved management of the workforce is where the real value lies. Without a centralized and integrated system, all crew tracking was done manually, and there was a text-message based system of duty notification. Outdated processes and human error often came together to create train delays, spoiled goods and many wasted man hours for the nearly 2000 employees of the company.

CloudMoyo CrewCall System

CloudMoyo developed a CrewCall system, which was able to schedule crews effectively by managing crew availability, crew allocation order and train schedule compliance, as well as assigning crew to trains with a cloud-based notification and acceptance system. Attendance records, automatic crew selection, member availability and tracking were all new and vital aspects of crew management that were built into CrewCall and transformed the workforce management for the client.

Ultimately, the system uses Microsoft Azure cloud and the advances in mobile technology to balance crew and equipment needs in a cost effective way and enables quicker time to deployment for the operators, thereby leading to quicker ROI. Workforce and logistics management, which is delivered via a state-of-the-art user experience, leads to an improved work experience for all the crews involved, as well as a reduction in overtime and therefore cost savings, and a stricter adherence to labor laws.

A happier, more efficient and more productive workforce are all huge benefits derived directly from excellent Big Data analysis. That intervention allowed a company to look towards the future and expand its operations with the knowledge that they now have, all system in place which can scale easily and can carry them into the future effectively.

Click here to read more on how CloudMoyo helped a North American railroad to manage its crew efficiently.

Seeing is believing, so if you want to see this solution for yourself, then please click here and get in touch with us.

unlocking-hidden-value-big-data-imgs

Are you unlocking the hidden value of your Big Data?

More and more organizations are coming to understand that there are valuable insights hidden in the data which they generate during the course of their work that could transform their business operations. The science of data analysis is growing fast around the world, and it’s becoming more and more predictive in the way that it’s applied, with an emphasis on trying to plot new courses for businesses eager to grow and to change.

Every business operates differently and has different goals and insights to harness from its big data. But there are also many organizations which can serve as an inspiration; they have understood how big data applies to what they do and they have harnessed it to make changes.

Naturally, the first step is to organize your data gathering process. Collecting, storing and organizing the data that you need in a streamlined, sustainable manner is essential if you are ever to truly derive value from that data.  From there, one starts to ask questions like ‘’what is the value of all this data? What should I be looking for?”

Types of business analytics

The business of data analysis has undergone fundamental transformation in the last few years to become the sophisticated science that it is today. In its earliest form data analysis was simply ‘descriptive’, which translated into simple summaries of a given set of data via reporting tools. The next stage in the evolution of data was ‘diagnostic’ analysis which meant that one could gain some understanding of the conditions that produced the data set via the process of evaluation.

From that point on, we moved into ‘predictive’ analysis where analysts began looking forwards and projecting into the future, using the data which had been produced to make predictions about future results. That stage then morphed into the era of ‘prescriptive’ analysis, which is the analytic technique that is dedicated to finding the best course of action for a given situation.

This arena of forward-looking analytics is proving to be extremely valuable for businesses and is having a major impact in the workplace. The next phase of the evolution is known as semantics, which is the art of trying to understand structure and meaning from a set of data, above and beyond what can be seen. Analysts will be using semantics to try and understand intentions, themes and hidden cause and effect within the data available.

So Big Data is evolving and can often seem daunting.  If you are struggling to imagine how big data can work for you, then maybe a few examples of success stores can help you transform your thinking.

Big Data in action at top global firms

Let’s take a look at some inspirational uses of big data in the work environment at top global firms.

TESCO PLC: One of the biggest cost factors for the giant UK retailer is energy. It decided to proactively address the problem, and began by collecting over 70 million refrigerator-related data points coming off its operational units and feeding them into a dedicated data warehouse for analysis. Through the big data process, it was able to manage its energy cost more effectively, by “keeping better tabs on performance, gauging when the machines might need to be serviced and doing more proactive maintenance to cut down on energy costs.”

PREDPOL: When an analytics company developed an algorithm for the Los Angeles area that could predict earthquakes, they soon realized that they could tweak it in such a way that it would help predict criminal behavior. Using just three data points, “past type, place and time of crime and a unique algorithm based on criminal behavior patterns, PredPol’s powerful software provides each law enforcement agency with customized crime predictions for the places and times that crimes are most likely to occur.”  The results were dramatic – there was a 20% drop in predicted crimes over the course of a single year. There was even one particular day in February 2014 where not a single crime was recorded – a record in an area like Los Angeles.

These are just a few examples of how effective data interpretation can lead to massive changes for an organization. The key concept here is ‘’actionable”. The insights gathered from the data must provide ideas that you can actually put into practice. That’s one of the great benefits of working with a company like CloudMoyo, a data analytics powerhouse that has provided valuable actionable plans for many companies.

RETAIL: Retail organizations generate massive amounts of data. Strangely enough, not many retail players are putting all this big data to its use. However, Microsoft Retail Stores did that and with their big data strategy, managed to take a refreshing approach in exploiting that data and deriving value from it. CloudMoyo is the partner for the retailer’s journey on retail advanced analytics & Machine Learning. In order to fully use all of their data, the Retail Chain decided to combine a lot of this data together among multiple databases and source systems. CloudMoyo developed a solution that helped in creating ad-hoc reporting on the data available from varied sources. This tailor-made and customer-centric approach from CloudMoyo enabled the Store chain to slice and dice business data from various sources, present information in easily consumable charts and dashboards, speedy decision-making and Ability to predict revenues of potential new stores. By using advanced algorithms that include query understanding and synonym mining, the company is able to glean user intent and produce better results as a result.

RAILROADS: In one such instance, CloudMoyo partnered with a North American railroad operator to improve its logistical efficiency. It has over 13000 freight cars, 1044 locomotives and their rail network comprises approximately 6,600 route miles that link commercial and industrial markets in the United States and Mexico.  It has approx. 500 trains running per day with an average of 800+ crew members daily across 181 interchange points with other railroads. Add to this the complexities of repairs, recrews, allocations, scheduling, incidents, services, people & goods movement, vacations, communications and it turns out to be a heck of a day. Needless to say, it’s a massive transportation and logistics business with big data. To reduce downtime and inefficiency amongst the staff, CloudMoyo has worked with client’s business owners to develop a cloud-based data analytics system that utilizes the billions of rows of data generated by the railway signalling system about the movement of trains across the network. Client anticipates $2m of direct benefits from this project due to improved efficiency and preventive actions. In addition, indirect benefits of improving performance and capacity of the railway are estimated in hundreds of millions, with the economy benefiting from efficient and enhanced freight capacity.

Read more case studies about Big Data analytics here.

If you feel your company would benefit from Azure Assessment where CloudMoyo looks at your data structure and provides feedback and a roadmap for the way forward, then please click here and get in touch with us.