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Compiled by Michael Popke
Solutions from Progress Rail — such as Nitro Suite, Talos™, PowerView™and PR Uptime™ — enable railroads to take a “building-block approach to autonomy by adding one solution, one process and one technology at a rate that makes sense for their operations,” company officials said in an email.
The Nitro Suite of decision-support system software is designed to help increase asset utilization. The suite is constantly learning; tools such as Nitro Yard and Nitro MP use a combination of artificial intelligence (AI), data science and modern software engineering, Progress Rail officials said.
Nitro Yard is designed to plan and optimize yard movements — including train arrivals, scout locomotives, loading and unloading and train formation — and it can be integrated with other railroad systems. Nitro Yard uses AI by perceiving what happens on a mainline and on tracks and surroundings; the system communicates with customers and crews to align goals. It also creates plans to receive and build trains in real time, and then executes the plans.
Benefits include a 10% reduction in dwell time, better accuracy and integration with a mainline, as well as energy efficiency, Progress Rail officials said. When Nitro Yard is coupled with the Nitro Movement Planner, railroads can achieve up to a 14% average velocity increase and up to a 30% reduction in meeting and pass time, they said.
TekTracking’s Commander Terminal Automation system is designed to address customers’ pain points, company officials said. The system offers reliable, scalable yard control technology by using a 100% IP-based infrastructure.
Features include integration of diagnostic tools directly into the platform, allowing for easy and accurate issue identification, as well as standard yard automation features such as NX routing, direct switch control, software block and blue flag control, which recently was added. The Commander System’s “plug-and-play” capability enables seamless integration of additional equipment such as mobile devices, PC-based touchscreen displays and existing ethernet-based PCs, TekTracking officials said.
Commander accommodates both local and remote troubleshooting and problem-solving, enabling railroad personnel to resolve issues efficiently, they said.
Trainyard Tech — which serves Class Is and short lines — recently rolled out a new switch control panel that is integrated with the company’s Routemaster™ system. The system interfaces with existing switches and track circuits of any kind to convert facilities to the latest technology for improved efficiency and reliability, company officials said.
The new panel is designed for customers that may not be in a position to complete a full-scale switch upgrade but want to use the latest process control system capabilities, they added.
For example, Trainyard Tech’s upgrades to U.S. Sugar’s facility in Clewiston , Florida, and an ongoing project with the Belt Railway Co. of Chicago have proven the switch control panel’s versatility, company officials claim. The panel can be inserted into Trainyard Tech’s weatherproof box or modified to fit in existing switch control boxes.
The PLC solution offers enhanced diagnostics and web-based configuration in a remote-control environment that can utilize any standard communication protocols. It provides the ability to control any switch on the market and interface with any track circuit; it also offers intuitive reporting capabilities that allow information to be available in the customer’s chosen format, such as graphs or logs, Trainyard Tech officials said. n
Michael Popke is a Madison, Wisconsin-based freelance writer. Email comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.