Running a well-managed rail facility can be difficult. Facilities range in size and complexity. Some with only a tiny stub track, while others are large industrial complexes with thousands of railcars. Costs, margins, delivery times, and maintenance are something that all facilities have to manage. After speaking with many working in rail facilities across North America, we’ve learned invaluable information about the operations that keep our world moving. Each facility and customer we meet is incredibly unique, as well as their challenges, but keeping your facility’s focus on the following principles can improve rail operations regardless of facility size.
People: A knowledgeable, adequately trained staff is a rail facility’s greatest asset. Operational success depends on an effectively-educated team.
Performance can be improved with job briefings before and after specific tasks to enhance awareness of possible mistakes and demonstrate a personal interest in your crew and their success. Excellent and effective operation is based on communication with your team.
Safety: Ensuring safety is paramount and is demonstrated with proper and thorough training of employees, improving track protection, safety briefings, and access to protective equipment. A safety-minded facility calls for work schedules and limitations that prevent workers from working while fatigued and encourages your crew to report any unsafe conditions.
Procedures: Creating and adhering to an operating plan and guidelines will make your yard run more efficiently, but what should the operating plan include? Most successful rail facilities have operating plans that include: staffing plans, workflows, railyard management software, and inspection schedules. Due to many employees working beyond the observation of supervisors, their duties, and responsibilities are conscientiously prescribed in the operating plan, with a procedural outline.
Power: Pivoting towards enhancing efficiency will never be a disappointing decision. Having the right equipment to move railcars makes your operation safer and more reliable. Audit and take inventory of the equipment currently being used and compare it to new technologies to ensure you maximize your facility’s capabilities. Don’t waste time and energy using the wrong equipment.
As demonstrated, people, safety, procedural, and power principles can help improve your rail facility, turning it into a safer, more efficient operation.