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Quintiq sets new standard for resource planning in railway business
Railion Nederland N.V. is an independent operating company of Railion Deutschland, the largest rail cargo transporting company in Western Europe. Railion Deutschland is a merger of the cargo divisions of Deutsche Bahn AG, Danish State Railways and the NS Group with a joint turnover of 3.4 billion in 2001.
Railion Nederland transported almost 25.5 million tons in 2000, more than 70% of which was of an international nature. It deploys more than 400 trains daily to transport in excess of 75,000 tons of goods. Railion Nederland has a work force of around 1300, including its own drivers.
The Business Process
The train planning process consists of two interlinked types of resource planning:
1) infrastructure timetable planning in the national Dutch Railways system, and
2) activities planning for locomotives and drivers, for which a new system has been implemented by Ab Ovo, using the Quintiq software.
Train planning in rail cargo transport is a lengthy and iterative process, because infrastructure planning requires a very detailed capacity planning in a very early stage (up to one year before actual production), while customer demand is only known in the last days before actual production. As a result the locomotive and driver planning process starts at least a few months in advance with the building of a provisional standard basic planning, that serves as a basis for the many large and small changes to come. The new system allows several basic plans to be prepared, in order to cope with periodical timetable updates. This basic planning is rolled out into a calendar planning, a few weeks ahead of time.
This calendar planning is actualized with short-term orders and modifications. In this phase the physical locomotives and drivers are assigned to the existing shifts. There are many important qualification checks for locomotives and drivers to be made, e.g. route qualification and locomotive type qualification.
The planning data has to be made available to both central and local production controllers and through printed jobcards for the drivers. During realization production controllers have to make many changes in the original planning because of disturbances (like expected delays of trains at the customers or border) and have to communicate these changes to all parties involved.
Railion needed a new planning system because the old system had a number of drawbacks:
The old system was intended for passenger transport, whereas cargo transport has different requirements because of the many changes in the final planning phase.
Since Railion departed the Dutch Railways company, a difference has grown in employment conditions and labor agreements, which the old system could not cope with.
The adaptability of the previous system to the needs of Railion was poor, because of its old technology.
The old system had very high maintenance costs.
Railion invested in the Quintiq software and the consultancy implementation services of Ab Ovo because it was the best solution available. According to project manager Nico Louter: Quintiq and Ab Ovo had the best available solution providing best-of-class planning and scheduling software along with high-caliber implementation services and business knowledge. They succeeded in making a good solution for the very complex railway planning task, with its large quantity of data and its vast number of regulations and other constraints.
Although the IT landscape contained a variety of systems, it was proven that Quintiq could easily be integrated, even with multiple interfaces to both modern and legacy systems, says Nico Louter.
Railion is now able to have an integrated planning of all locomotives and locomotive drivers, that allows planning either with anonymous shift numbers or actual locomotives and drivers. Whether a planning solution is possible is a very complicated process, because there are many constraints: e.g. not all driver/train
combinations are possible, as drivers have different qualifications and route authorization. Quintiq tackles this challenge through its easy constraint management. Automatic checks are performed real-time on almost all regulations, such as whether a locomotive is allowed on a particular route or train type. In addition, labor regulations are taken into account when planning the drivers. Furthermore, violations are available on-line to all users in the graphic planning views.
A relatively new aspect of planning for railways is the fact that changes in realization are immediately incorporated in the planning and the locomotive shifts and physical locomotives are integrated in one data set. The 140 planners now have a consistent and real-time overview of all the planning activity.
Railion is very happy with the Quintiq solution. Nico Louter: The combination of Quintiq and Ab Ovo proved to be the only available solution able to easily integrate all elements necessary for the proof of concept, as we had asked all suppliers to show us the most complex part of our planning in their software. The Quintiq option was the only one who came up with a good answer within the desired timeframe.
Railion has been able to achieve the following results using the Quintiq and Ab Ovo solution:
The planning system has facilitated more transparency and better communication between central and local process controllers and between different locations.
Quality and consistency between planning and realization has improved.
Resource utilization of engines and drivers has been optimized.
Punctuality of the cargo trains within the Netherlands increased from 80% to more than 90%, part of which is attributed to the new planning system.
Operational costs of the planning process itself are reduced.
Total Cost of Ownership is greatly reduced.
Better management information is available.
The system was live in 6 months.
Payback period realized in less than 1 year.
Quintiq and Ab Ovo delivered tangible benefits throughout Railions business and provided much needed flexibility during the implementation. The software optimized the planning process and thereby reduced the costs associated with operations and planning.