Monitoring and adjustment of the control tower concept

In order to facilitate modal shift from road to rail, as set out in the European Commission’s White Paper on Transport, the rail freight sector faces the challenge of providing the capacity for affordable and attractive services. The complexity of the European rail sector hampers the development of such services. Smart-Rail intends to define, implement and monitor new shipper-oriented rail freight concepts improving the competitive position of the rail sector through a Living Lab approach.

This Work Package aims to improve the quality of rail services by reducing round-trip times, better rail capacity use, improving reliability and reducing transport costs. To this end, the Logistic Service Provider’s (LSP) existing logistic Control Tower IT-tool, which until this project did not cover rail transport, has been extended with a rail freight service add-on: the Control Tower Rail.

Implementation and testing is carried out by Continuous Improvement Track (CIT). The purpose of the CIT iterative process is to point out what is necessary for the deployment of the solution, what the pitfalls are and what changes should be made in order to improve the concept. At first, the Control Tower is implemented on the corridor Bettembourg-Le Boulou and partly on Rotterdam-Venlo, and later to potential other corridors.

Data exchange is established at four levels: from (contracted) LSP to Control Tower, from Railway Undertaking (RU) to Control Tower, from Terminal Operator to Control Tower, and from Infrastructure Manager (IM) to Control Tower. Therefore, the Control Tower can be seen as a virtual platform of combining information from the management systems of four different levels, in which each level exchanges data managed by the stakeholders. Data exchange can be based on direct interfacing (e.g. XML), RailData, TSI TAF and on GPS devices on the assets (locomotive, truck, wagon or trailer).

Implementation, consequently, requires rules of data sharing and ownership, a governance model, (understanding of) the right data systems and interfaces, and operational business rules for data verifications and for notifications to stakeholders. Also, launching and testing is part of the process, including a concise framework for KPI measurement.

In order to assess the impact of the operational Control Tower, five main KPIs are used:
KPI 1:     Increased predictability through swift notification of delays.
KPI 2:     Increased awareness of shipment status through regular andprecise status updates.
KPI 3:     More stable lead times through increased predictability.
KPI 4:     Reduced TCO through increased predictability.
KPI 5:      Availability of real-time status updates on the corridor.

The result of this Work Package is an operational Control Tower Rail as of August 2017. For door-to-door operational corridor management, LSP Seacon has developed a monitoring dashboard and an integrated module for its transport management system (TMS). For event management a work flow applies for the corridor, so required corrective actions can be taken and monitored. Monitoring of the KPIs under operational circumstances shows the clear benefits of the concept.

For more information please read the report on ‘Monitoring and adjustment of the control tower concept’.