The two-day Heavy Haul Rail conference held in Newcastle, saw a host of rail operators and suppliers, resource sector representatives and infrastructure providers converge to examine the huge project pipeline and subsequent opportunities in the rail space, this week. Ajilon’s Senior Consultant, James Horton, was invited to present at the pre-conference workshop to discuss the increasingly sophisticated systems which are supporting operators’ growth demands and the concepts which are leveraging opportunities in rail automation, to identify opportunities within the logistics scheduling and execution processes.
Why automation for heavy haul rail? Complex automation projects such as driverless trains provide opportunities that go beyond simple process efficiencies and drive significant business change to increase the effectiveness of operations. The successful integration of these activities within logistics scheduling enables opportunities to both optimise current business processes and as well as moving to entirely new processes.
The aim of automation is to introduce efficiencies into a process. In the case of driverless trains, this is achieved through the removal of crewing constraints and the introduction of consistent driving behaviour. It’s important to realise that when considering automation, an evaluation of the reasoning behind the decision should be undertaken; it shouldn’t just be considered as a substitution of a manual task, process or function.
“Automation gives us the opportunity to provide new visibility of information to the scheduling and execution processes, for example previously available only on paper in the case of replacing paper train graphs,” James Horton explains.
“Automation isn’t designed to fix an ineffective process. To be effective it needs to produce the expected outcomes, otherwise you’ll just achieve the wrong outcomes more efficiently!”
The Heavy Haul Rail presentation based on the White Paper, Integrating Rail Automation with Logistics Scheduling, also goes on to explain the systems thinking and logistics scheduling considerations when integrating driverless trains.
James suggests that automation is the first step to support a new way of operating, and not as a means to make old ways more efficient. Practitioners should give full consideration as to how automation can be integrated with logistics scheduling and execution and take into account that:
- Automation can support different operating strategies and behaviours outside of the function or process being automated
- Automation should support the core business
- Capital expenditure can be directed to support continuous improvement, with increased throughput an outcome of business change, and it’s not purely technology driven.
“It’s also important to understand that there is a process to move from automation to optimisation and that automation in itself is not the sole path to achieve tangible growth. When considering the resolution of a problem, like most things, it is best to see the bigger picture, taking a holistic approach and not viewing it in isolation. The same goes for automation”
To find out more about the Rail Automation and Logistics Scheduling click here to download a PDF of the Ajilon White Paper. For further information, contact James Horton on +61 (0)8 9324 8400 or email James.Horton@ajilon.com.au