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BNSF earns INFORMS award for analytics, operational research efforts


INFORMS recently honored BNSF Railway Co. with an award for pioneering and integrating operations research and analytics programs into its organization.

An international association for operations research and analytics professionals and students, INFORMS presents the award annually to recognize effective integration of operations research into organizational decision-making.

In 25 years, the operations research and advanced analytics program at BNSF grew rapidly to transform how the railroad approaches problem solving, INFORMS officials said in a press release. A centralized team of operations research professionals provides invaluable guidance to BNSF’s leadership for capital decisions by using advanced modeling, statistical analysis, machine learning, image analytics, algorithm design and optimization techniques, they said.

The team — which has helped BNSF save more than $110 million annually — also prompts better decision-making regarding train routing, crew scheduling, train building, fleet sizing, train dispatching, locomotive fueling and inspections, track maintenance and equipment distribution, INFORMS officials said.

“In addition to providing essential guidance on capital intensive strategic decisions [we make], our operations research and advanced analytics team provides advisory tools and insights to almost every department, including mechanical, engineering, marketing, transportation and service design,” said BNSF Executive Vice President of Operations Dave Freeman.

Past recipients of INFORMS award include the Walt Disney Co., U.S. Air Force, General Motors, Intel, UPS, IBM, Ford Motor Co. and GE Research.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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