Navis, provider of operational technologies and services that unlock greater performance and efficiency for leading organizations throughout the global shipping industry, released the results of a survey that showed automation and integration of systems are top priorities within the rail industry, which is seeking new productivity gains.
According to the poll of rail industry executives from both mid-size and large railroad companies from around the world, 60% of respondents plan to invest in automation, 58% in enterprise-wide planning and operational systems and 43% in artificial intelligence and machine learning over the next three years. Sixty-two percent of respondents believe that railways need to automate trains and yards within the next six years to stay competitive with alternative modes of transportation. In addition, 90% believe that AI and machine learning will be an important component to improving rail operations in the same time frame.
As those companies look to stay ahead of the curve, respondents were asked which areas are among the most important to automate first. Car and wagon planning and management led the way with 69%, followed by network and path planning (59%), and crew planning and management (54%).
“As the rail freight industry evolves, automation is a clear path to increasing productivity and effectiveness,” said Tom Forbes, Head of Navis Rail. “This survey shows us just how motivated companies are to find technological solutions that optimize and streamline their operations.”
With rail executives looking for a competitive edge, many see the benefit in evaluating the systems they have in place and exploring opportunities for improvement to achieve greater efficiency – yet many have a long way to go. This is highlighted by the following survey results:
- The majority of respondents (88%) said optimization software is very or extremely important for network and asset analysis.
- 62% believe that integrated planning systems could increase productivity at major yards by 6-25%, while one quarter expect improvements greater than 50%.
- Only 4% report having a fully integrated planning system in place while 41% rely on various non-integrated systems to plan the network, traffic, locos, cars/wagons, crew, etc.
- Among the most important benefits for deploying rail planning and optimization tools, better operational control and consistency won out, with improved data quality and business intelligence and increased yard throughput car velocity not far behind.
A key indication of the important role integration will play moving forward, 54% of respondents are in the process of planning for new enterprise level planning and operational systems and 31% have a full plan in place for updating systems and acquiring new software.