July 11, 2023

Addressing Rail Crewing Challenges: Innovative Solutions and Adaptability

The evolving and newer disruptors have influenced the enhancement of our Rail Planner Portfolio significantly. To address such challenges, we have developed newer capabilities for rail crewing.
Avatar Cameron Collie
rail crewi at work
By Cameron Collie, DELMIA Worldwide Industry Expert – Rail, Dassault Systèmes

Dassault Systèmes seeks to harmonize products, nature, and life. This vision includes services and service-based industries, recognizing their role in the harmonization process. Our aim is to develop products and services while minimizing adverse impacts on the environment and improving daily lives and rail crewing is no different. This harmonization requires a balanced exchange among the three elements – products, nature, and life.

Rather than a simplistic cause-and-effect approach, the focus is on developing products and services that consider the reciprocal impact on nature and life. Harmonizing and considering that balance suggests that nature and life influences the products and services delivered.

Key global disruptors: What happens when nature and life rebel

We live in an increasingly volatile world and several key global disruptors are starting to seriously impact rail crewing today.

Natural disruptors

The number of natural disruptors is increasing and evolving.

  • Pandemics
  • Bushfires
  • Earthquakes
  • Floods
  • Cyclones

Life disruptors

Geopolitics and modern workplace issues are creating newer life disruptors.

  • Work-life balance
  • The Great Resignation
  • PEB 250
  • Increased industrial action
  • Geo-political conflicts and their effect on global fuel costs
  • European Commission mandates to shift from road and aviation to rail

COVID-19, in particular, has significantly disrupted rail service delivery and has longer-term consequences on travel patterns.

In the United States, work-life balance issues and payroll conditions led to the establishment of Presidential Emergency Board No. 250, which is likely to trigger an increased level of industrial action across the globe as rail workers in other countries demand similar improvements in wages and working conditions.

Rail crewing: New capabilities for new problems

rail crewing executives on the meeting

The evolving and newer disruptors discussed earlier have influenced the enhancement of our Rail Planner Portfolio significantly. To address such challenges, we have developed newer capabilities for rail crewing.

Expanded solution scope

The scope of theDassault Systèmes rail crewing solution has been significantly expanded to face newer problems.

  • Increased support for on-demand operational modes: Dassault Systèmes’ DELMIA now provides enhanced support for on-demand operational modes in bulk commodities freight and the agricultural sector, optimizing train movements based on load readiness.
  • Time and attendance management: DELMIA has added time and attendance capture, validation, and reporting capabilities, extending beyond operational phases for improved tracking and analysis of crew-related data.
  • Strategic demand forecasting: DELMIA is embarking on a project with a client that will extend its capabilities into the long-term strategic time horizon, where it will implement strategic demand forecasting of rail crewing requirements.

Increased modularity

Our product is increasingly modularized to make it more adaptable to newer crewing problems.

  • Transition to a modularized product model:   Previously, DELMIA relied on a single product model that covered various time horizons, from tactical to pre-operative and operational. Now, it is extending these time horizons to include strategic and post-operative stages. Additionally, DELMIA is in the process of increasing the modularity of the solution to enable more flexible deployment options.
  • Decoupled fleet and crew: DELMIA recently modularized fleet and crew. Both still reside on the Quintiq platform and are fully integrated. Modularization enhances the performance of each module and provides you more flexible implementations.

How will this modularity benefit clients? The modular structure of the solution benefits clients in three ways.

  • Flexible, incremental acquisition and deployment: You have the flexibility to implement specific components based on unique needs. For instance, one client chose to implement a day of operations crewing solution to supplement their existing planning and scheduling system.
  • Hosting and deployment flexibility: DELMIA can now cater to different operational requirements. When day of operations demand a high availability environment it can be hosted separately, ensuring 24/7 uptime. However, you can deploy tactical planning and scheduling environments in non-continuous availability settings, such as business hours only.
  • Reduced TCO: By deploying specific components in different availability environments, rail operators can reduce total cost of ownership. You no longer need to maintain an entire single product model at the highest availability level. Instead, you can allocate resources based on specific operational needs.

Improved ability to upgrade the solution

DELMIA Quintiq has three layers which improve your ability to upgrade the product: the client configuration layer, the rail planner product, and the DELMIA Quintiq standard software.

DELMIA quintiq railway software

This three-layer structure is beneficial to customers because it distinguishes and separates customer-specific configurations and standard applications. Through this, it is easier to upgrade your solution.

This is possible because of three factors.

  • There is now full separation of all layers
  • The product layer has become ring-fenced and need not be changed or customized
  • Client-specific configurations are confined only to the client layer

Thus, since we regularly issue updates for our products, it’s now easier for you to absorb upgrades asthere is minimal impact on configurations contained in the client layer.

Increased flexibility

We have implemented better flexibility through a new labor rules framework. This is enabled through new features.

  • New rule and rule-type generation through a front-end rules editor
  • Automatic generation of constraint conditions for each new rule

“The new front-end rules editor leads to reduced project implementation time for client-specific rules and rule configuration, and all this can be done through the front end”

Enhanced optimization

DELMIA has also enhanced its optimizers to improve performance.

  • Established component libraries for optimizers, which helps to reduce effort during implementation
  • Introduced the Crew Activity Assignment Optimizer (detailed tasks that train crews perform during their shift)
  • Improved the optimizer’s speed, which helps you to solve problems faster

The optimization improvements result in faster performance, better scalability, and improved quality. These enable you to solve larger problems or puzzles more effectively and efficiently.

Revamped quality assurance

Quality assurance is an important aspect of our product development. We aim to deliver new releases with zero tolerance for quality issues. Therefore, it is critical to have stringent QA processes in place to govern quality.

Here are some examples of QA processes and tools that we have introduced:

New automated test frameworks to provide automatic quality assessments whenever there is a change to the code base.

The new QA features come with clear advantages:

  • Improved quality of new product releases
  • Increased support for iterative automated testing during deployment

With a comprehensive set of features, DELMIA’s rail crewing solution helps efficiently handle disruptions and reduce costs. Advanced AI capabilities make overcoming crewing planning and optimization problems and puzzles easier, faster, and more cost-effective.

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