The complexities of wagon planning: (un)certainty and cost optimization

The complexities of wagon planningAs a rail freight company, you deal with huge uncertainty all the time. You know where and at what time your customer will load wagons. You have an estimate of where a wagon is heading. But you only get the exact destination at the last minute, shortly before departure. So your plans always require last minute changes.

These short notice changes make efficient and effective wagon planning very hard. It’s vital that, when you get variations, you can react fast, taking into account customer agreements and service levels, while keeping costs at a minimum.

The key to successful wagon planning lies in effective decision support and real-time visibility.

1. Real-time visibility determines cost optimization, and lets you see the variations and their effects on your current plan and your KPIs. Your initial plan reflects the realities of your business, so you want to keep to it as much as possible. You expect last-minute changes, and you need to react to them, fast. Real-time visibility across the business means you see the full impact of your decision.

2. Effective decision support minimizes uncertainty and lets you understand, immediately, the impact of your planning decisions across the business – and enables you to respond in minutes, not hours. You can react in real time, choosing the best from multiple solutions based on the KPIs you define. And you can take into account all constraints, such as wagon suitability and lead-time.

A system that incorporates both of these ensures that you achieve your goals, meet your KPIs and optimize your costs. With full visibility and effective support for your planning decisions, you can answer questions such as:

• How do I make my transport cost-efficient?

• How do I minimize empty mileage?

• How do I reduce wagon repositioning?

An intelligent planning system provides effective decision support and full visibility. It lets you incorporate all the relevant information for your business profile: constraints, violations, laws, all your assets, maintenance locations, and everything else that drives your business. When there are uncertainties, it offers you choices. So you can make the best planning decision for your business’s KPIs, with scenario planning and analysis to show the impact on your business.

How do you currently cope with uncertainty in wagon planning? Tell us in your comment below or drop us a tweet @Quintiq.