Grain Operations division schedules locomotives with greater accuracy.
Performance of 72-hour trains improves 46%.

Strategic Intent

Grow revenue and improve ROI by increasing capacity to meet growing market demand through better power planning in the Grain Operations division


  • One of North America’s largest Class I railroads
  • Operates approximately 32,000 route miles
  • Competition increasing as customer demand for rail transportation grows, versus long-haul trucking
  • Corporate growth creates need for increased capacity to meet growing demand
  • CEO seeks to improve daily forecasting for train power in Grain Operations, to assist in driving improvements in locomotive and car schedule attainment & utilization

Issues and Barriers

  • More powerful locomotives not scheduled with enough frequency, by power group, for Grain Operations’ longer and heavier trains
  • Current planning and reporting processes include manual components and should be more automated
  • Poor communications and cooperation between power group and Grain Operations
  • Top management’s sense of urgency not fully shared by middle and lower management
  • Lack of internal resources to dedicate to this initiative

Key Implementations

  • Establishment of metrics to measure power plan attainment as well as performance measures for 72-hour notice
  • Further automating initiatives for planning and reporting processes
  • Daily power meeting agenda structured to identify key problems and opportunities, keeping group focused
  • Continuous improvement process to assure sustainability of new systems


Performance of 72-hour Trains Improves 46%


More effective and longer-range power forecasting helps client to improve ability to schedule power for the trains, thus improving asset utilization and capacity. These improvements contribute significantly to the division’s 28% revenue increase over the previous year. Other results include:

  • Improved measured performance for 72-hour trains by 46% over base period
  • Schedule attainment increased by 17%
  • Project ROI exceeded seven to one

Client Perspective

The power element of the latest effort is giving us new capabilities and insights into an area that I believe will translate into velocity. It’s cliché, but fitting: You cannot manage what you do not measure, so these new measures will help us manage more effectively.
—Director of Grain Operations

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