Making leaps and bounds: a specialized TOS for railroad intermodal operations

The millennial generation is rapidly integrating into the workforce, resulting in an influx of system users accustomed to the highly intuitive user interfaces of smart phones and graphical browsers. The bar has therefore been raised for users’ expectations of systems interface design, and if this bar is not met, the burden of training will be increased.

The transportation industry is no exception. Logistics providers are looking for the most efficient tools available to give them accurate, real-time results – all in a package that is easy for their entire operation to use. RMI’s OASIS terminal operating system has been meeting this need with rail intermodal operations systems for over two decades. Now, RMI is taking another big step forward in technology and market presence with a product evolution initiative called, appropriately, OASIS LEAP.
 

A solid base for a cutting-edge design

Over time, RMI’s OASIS terminal operating system (TOS) has been continuously enhanced and customized to improve the efficiency and profitability of railroad intermodal business units. The comprehensive system currently manages tactical intermodal operations for more than 15 million lifts and 25 million gate moves a year, at close to 90 intermodal ramps throughout the United States and Canada. Locations in Mexico are on the horizon for 2011.

OASIS LEAP (Lightweight Enterprise Application Platform) is an architecture evolution of the OASIS TOS product. It is explicitly designed to provide a lightweight enterprise view into a railroad customer’s intermodal operations. The software represents a quantum jump ahead in technology, functionality, and operational efficiency.

The software is built on the established and continually advancing Java Platform Enterprise Edition (Java EE), which offers a browser-centric, feature-rich, real-time user interface. The benefits of this are manifold: decreased cost of ownership, enterprise integration flexibility, technical scalability, load balancing, and SaaS delivery. A modern user will feel right at home with the highly intuitive interface, which will also make training easier and faster.

The design of OASIS supports multiple concurrent users and real-time asynchronous screen updates, and offers an extremely high user uptime. This comes from the fault tolerant, multiprocess, self-monitoring design – important attributes of a mission critical control system. The software uses state-of-theart algorithms, rule-based decision trees, and real-time business intelligence and analytics for solving the logistical problems that arise in intermodal yards. Since no decision support system can ever fully replace human experience and intuition, OASIS also contains flexible exception-handling features that allow knowledgeable users to redirect the system when required. OASIS covers all the usual functionality necessary in an intermodal TOS:

• In- and out-gate processing,
• Driver management,
• Inventory tracking and assignment,
• In-yard move work order management,
• Facility configuration,
• Inbound train processing,
• Outbound load planning,
• Capacity management,
• Equipment repair and maintenance, and
• Versatile reporting.

Moreover, OASIS provides users with unique capabilities. For example, OASIS directs activities at the only production implementation of a rail wide-span crane facility in North America, including real-time business intelligence capabilities with dashboards, alerts, and historical analytics. Furthermore, OASIS offers integration with common technology automation systems through a straightforward interface for Global Positioning System/Position Detection Systems (GPS/PDS), Automated Gate Systems (AGS), and Mobile Inventory Vehicles (MIV) to promote accurate, real-time reporting.
 

Proven track record of efficiency

Terminals operated by OASIS have experienced monetary savings and improved efficiency, currently reducing operating expenses by a total of over US$45,000,000 annually. Recent studies at OASIS-managed facilities found dwell-times reduced by an average of 10 minutes per visit. Other areas have shown benefits that include:

• Reduced clerical and supervisory costs
• Reduced lift costs
• Enhanced yard and gate efficiency
• Reduced operating costs
• Increased yard and equipment utilization
• Greater throughput to handle increased capacity
• Fewer errors and improved customer service
 

Optimization and user experience

Using unique meta-heuristic optimization processes, OASIS provides simulated animation previews and analytic comparisons to current business processes. The use of rule-based, multi-criteria objectives, with dynamic solution re-factoring, allows OASIS to deliver configurable and capable optimization solutions to critical problems during daily operations.

LEAP offers a distinctive real-time, graphical experience within a browser, making drop-down cascading menus and tree structures a thing of the past. The result is a fully portable and comfortable user interface transferred from the workstation monitor to the large LCD touch screen, and out into the terminal to mobile radio frequency or cellular devices.

RMI, Atlanta, GA, USA
Edition: Edition 47

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