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Compiled By Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor
Railroads today are seeking agile, automated and mobile-friendly crew management software that is user friendly, highly available and able to support all aspects of compliance with hours-of-service (HoS) rules, labor laws and union agreements. The need to increase operational efficiencies also means that railroads are seeking crew management software that can drive utilization and workforce productivity.
With growing amounts of crew-related data, advanced analytics and business intelligence dashboards are becoming increasingly critical in order to drill down into crew-related metrics such as duty hours, labor distributions and assignments. One other must-have is integrations with business systems that include payroll and a human resources management system.
CloudMoyo Crew Management (CCM) is a cloud-native software-as-a-service product designed to improve operational efficiencies of crew processes by over 90%. It ensures optimized rosters and allocations and lowers costs through improved utilization, CloudMoyo officials said. The solution features a user-friendly interface and integration capabilities.
CCM optimizes crew deployments to avoid deadheads and dwell times, tracks qualifications and compliances (including HoS), interfaces with taxi and hotel vendors for bookings through a self-service portal, and provides real-time visibility with crew analytics, CloudMoyo officials said.
Assignments are made via a simplified IVR- and SMS-based portal, while a crew can accept or reject duty call assignments or log duty hours through the mobile MyCall app. In addition, management can access pre-configured reports related to HoS compliance and crew boards that reflect the most up-to-date information.
CloudMoyo plans to continue improving CCM through updates to the MyCall mobile app and through enhancements to the modern user interface.
Since railroads need to respond to ever more complex events, having a workforce management system that can adapt to their changing needs is critical. To truly get ahead of the competition, railroads have to adopt technology that enables efficient and high-quality services in normal conditions, as well as resists, absorbs and recovers quickly from disruptions and other unforeseen changes to plans.
Dassault Systemes’ DELMIA Quintiq solution has helped some of the world’s top rail companies improve their operational efficiency, navigate complex constraints, improve punctuality and increase productivity without increasing capital expenditures, company officials said. Fully integrated with optimization and advanced analytics technology, the DELMIA Quintiq solution offers the flexibility and power for handling railroads’ strategic and tactical planning up to day-of-operations scheduling and disruption management.
DELMIA Quintiq has a successful track record of providing customers with the solutions and support they need as they continue to evolve, and strikes the right balance, providing reliability and stability while supporting constant innovation, Dassault Systemes officials said.
By adopting an intelligent approach to workforce management, railroads stand to gain much more than just compliance with rules and regulations, the officials said, adding that the benefits can transform a business and provide a competitive edge.
GIRO Inc. offers HASTUS software, an integrated and modular solution for planning, scheduling and operations management of all public transportation modes. The company — which has supported passenger-rail operators for over 40 years — has placed an even greater strategic focus in recent years on ensuring that its solutions are adapted for evolving passenger-rail needs.
Railroads are focusing on three crew management themes:
Flexibility, which is always important, has become even more urgent with the global pandemic’s effects on crew availability and passenger demand;
Staff empowerment is key, so automated work distribution that can also consider employee preferences is an important feature; and
Efficiency in planning and assigning work is a constant need.
GIRO assigns 30% of its resources to research and development to ensure that HASTUS keeps pace with clients’ requirements. HASTUS helps railroads optimize the fundamentals of rail planning and operations — timetables, rolling stock and personnel, GIRO officials said.
The company’s rail clients rely on HASTUS to plan work assignments according to the service offer; optimize crew and non-crew schedules and rostering; and manage work rules, qualifications and regulations. The software’s rail crew management features are adapted to the complexities of optimizing work assignments while respecting the rules and regulations related to employee qualifications and fatigue management, GIRO officials said.
HASTUS is deployed at passenger-rail operations across the United States, such as at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York City, Bay Area Rapid Transit in San Francisco and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
MaxAccel focuses on developing web-based software solutions to drive safety, compliance, operational efficiency and return on investment for its customers. Over 200 Class II and III railroads, passenger-rail operations and railroad contractors use MaxAccel’s suite of AssetPro™ and SafeTrack™ applications each day.
Through its SafeTrack platform, MaxAccel offers a core set of crew management functions, including employee certification status, extra board management, employee communications, HoS compliance, job/territory qualification and payroll with claims and arbitraries. The company used the platform as a foundation to develop its new SafeTrack Crew™ application, which is underway and in the coming months will offer expanded system capabilities in the areas of job scheduling and correlated crew assignments tailored to meet customer requirements and the market in general, MaxAccel officials said.
The SafeTrack Mobile™ smartphone app will also offer a range of benefits to train and engine employees and SafeTrack customers. Real-time job and extra board status will inform employees of their upcoming work assignments along with supplemental information important to their quality of life, MaxAccel officials said. The mobile app currently manages efficiency testing, Part 243 OJT, distribution of electronic rule books, bulletins and other important communications in cellular-connected and offline modes.
While other vendors attempt to scale down their larger systems built for Class I or similar environments, SafeTrack Crew is designed to meet the requirements of small to mid-sized railroads, MaxAccel officials said. Ultimately, SafeTrack Crew will serve as a more economical and streamlined crew management application, they believe.
Freight railroad crew management is a complex undertaking, which requires skilled personnel and effective tools. Railroads must carefully coordinate their workforce across multiple disciplines — including engineers, conductors and yard personnel — spread throughout a network.
Crew costs are one of the largest variable costs for a railroad, so an efficient and safe freight-rail operation relies on ensuring that staff are in attendance not only at the right times, but also at the right places, with the right knowledge (e.g., route and equipment), and in the right fatigue condition to safely operate an assigned train.
General purpose personnel scheduling and rostering systems do not meet the challenges of workforce management for a freight railroad. Railroads need rail-specific process management to optimally build safe and efficient crew rosters, which will simultaneously consider personnel, route, traction, workflow, rules, regulations, labor agreements and other constraints.
Navis Rail’s Workforce Management, a software-as-a-service system, is integrated with its suite of service design tools for train and rolling stock planning. The designed-to-be-complete application supports railroads’ workforce management end to end, from master roster development through to capture of time and attendance.
That approach allows railroad staff to develop safe, compliant and efficient master rosters; manage short-term changes to timetables and staff availability; electronically capture and record staff attendance; and extract reports for payroll and analytics, Navis Rail officials said.
Crew management scheduling solution provider PS Technology has integrated its CrewPro™ crew management software and QualPro™ qualification management system to further improve railroad efficiency.
“The interest and adoption of CrewPro in both Class I and Class II railroads has been significant. However, equal to that interest was how our qualification toolset could further accelerate operations,” PS Technology officials said.
QualPro provides dispatchers with visibility as to whether engineers and conductors have the correct ratings and abilities for any given job assignment. The system also is dynamically linked to a supervisor’s field training and testing. The outcomes of those exercises are digitally captured in the field and then automatically uploaded to an employee’s records in real time.
Additionally, the QualPro system helps supervisors automatically schedule their own work, and handle licensing requirements and certification rides.
The interconnected abilities of CrewPro and QualPro is designed to significantly reduce busy work associated with manually tracking and affirming scheduling, recordkeeping and regulations. The solutions can help ensure those tasks are simultaneously correct and complete.
The integration of the two systems further reduces the risk of errors and accidental violations, PS Technology officials said. Now, a single dispatcher can fulfill multiple crew scheduling requirements that either took significantly longer to confirm and complete, or required additional personnel.
To further improve both business functions and employees’ quality of life, CrewPro and QualPro feature mobile components that enable end-of-shift reporting without being positioned at a fixed terminal in a yard.
Railroads continue to focus on safety and compliance, with a new emphasis on agility to respond to radically and rapidly changing service demands while managing operational costs. They are seeking software that handles service schedules and adjustments while validating that crew assignments meet HoS rules, reduce fatigue and comply with collective bargaining agreements.
Railroads also are searching for remote or touchless software that can eliminate face-to-face and paper-based transactions to improve health and safety in the COVID era. They desire to control operational costs through improved timekeeping and absence management, ensure accurate pay rules are applied to work, manage Family and Medical Leave Act issues and reduce overtime through effective use of scheduled employees.
Trapeze Group provides a comprehensive workforce management suite that includes all aspects of crew management: work picking, daily work assignment management, timekeeping and remote employee self-service tools. It tracks and automatically enforces work rules such as hours of service, fatigue management and work qualifications. Crews sign on for work using a terminal (with biometrics, a driver’s license or touchless RFID badges) or a mobile device with geo-fencing, and view their details remotely.
Trapeze Group focuses on people transportation workforce management, automating operations for any and all crew and non-operator/crew support staff, and providing ongoing development and enhancements. Recent enhancements to its software include operational and vacation relief work picks in its employee self-service module, mobile sign-on/sign-off with geofencing and the integration of fatigue management with work assignment rules.
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