“Any operator, especially railway freight transport operator, is facing many challenges mostly regarding rolling stock management. The position of each wagon on the railway infrastructure is very important for an operator. Consequently, Grup Feroviar Roman uses an information system called Shunting Expert that is not only a solution for recording and rendering of the position of wagons on the lines, but it is also consisting of an information instrument that facilitates and mediates the decisions made by the shunting operations coordinator. Due to this system, GFR knows the exact location and position of its wagons and locomotives”, declared Amedeo Neculcea, Development Counsellor, Grup Feroviar Roman, during the Railway Days Summit, organised by Club Feroviar and the Romanian Railway Industry Association – AIF, on 16-17 October in Bucharest.
The application is a premiere for Romania and the countries of South-Eastern Europe. Digitisation is deeply integrated at the operational level, which will cause significant changes in perception, approach and reporting regarding the activities and traditional working methods.
Amedeo Neculcea presented an analysis of the solutions provided on the market and the necessity of having such a system that ensures an information flow on rolling stock fleet management. For example, the GPS monitoring system has significant costs: an investment of EUR 1.2 million is necessary to equip a fleet of 15,000 vehicles of GFR. But “the problem is not solved because the wagons of other operators are also managed in Capu Midia where there are 60 lines with lengths of 100 m – 800 m, 2-4 GFR locomotives and several locomotives of other operators that shunt the wagons. There is also an average number of 700 wagons that move all the time”, explained Neculcea.
Apart from the GPS monitoring solution, there is also the monitoring solution that uses car number readers and axle readers places in several “strategic” points, such as near switches, and a proper data processing soft. Such an integrated system costs around USD 3 million.
The third solution is the traditional one, the “wagon writer”, which is responsible for the “station register”. Unfortunately, the workforce is deficient and there are human errors.
However, the costs of the Shunting Expert solution are approx. 100 times smaller than the costs of the technical solutions presented above. Being a tool that is used directly by the shunting coordinator, Shunting Expert creates the premises for an important change of the paradigm at the level of the essence of the activity carried out by this important actor of the local railway operation operations. An important effect of this change is to create the possibility of accessing the shunting coordinator function by people with a different professional background than the one we are used to.
The system permits the elaboration of reports regarding the different inventories of wagons and their history, the activity of the locomotives, the rendering-receive list, but also other reports. “The application provides significant advantages such as total control of the situation of wagons and railways, the substantial reduction of human effort in data processing, the correctness of reports, the issue of necessary formulations in the operations process, the traceability of wagons, locomotives and staff, but also permits interconnections with other applications”, explained Amedeo Neculcea.