Watco’s largest customer in Australia, CBH Group, is also Australia’s largest co-operative and a leader in the Australian grain industry. They have operations extending along the value chain from grain storage, handling, transport, marketing, and processing. Its storage and handling system currently receives and exports around 90 percent of the Western Australian grain harvest and is regarded as one of the best in the world.

In February 2019, a small group, comprised of U.S. and Australia team members, formed a task force to identify potential solutions and satisfy the primary objective of increasing grain to port transits. CBH provided the team with several objectives that included the following areas of interest:
• Need to identify terminals that are potentially significant bottlenecks. Provide operational oversight and continued focus in perpetuity.
• Need to modify shunting plans to include levels of detail that cultivate performance and continuous improvement measurements.
• Increase analysis on fleet volumes, cycle times, and overall train scheduling activity.
• Enable management to flex crew resources based on demand and activity.

After months of research, the team was able to create a new rail operations plan, along with exposing key business intelligence metrics that enable field crews to manage day-to-day operations more effectively and efficiently. Some of the challenges CBH faced were direct results of simply not knowing the following key metrics of their daily activity including rail network volume and how to maximize, train cycle times and how they can be reduced/improved, and crew planning and how to avoid unwanted wait-time.

Solving these shortfalls by exposing trustworthy, decision-making information was accomplished by consolidating multi-system data. These consolidation efforts facilitated the creation of multiple online, interactive dashboards and reports, which can be directly accessed by the Customer and Watco Team Members. Two key dashboards that satisfied the Customer’s immediate needs included:

Cycle Times
• Interactive dashboard that allows users to visualize key cycle (round-trip) metrics
• Visuals include empty cycle and loaded transport times along with actual loading and discharging times by many different views and filters
Train Tracker
• Interactive dashboard that allows users to visualize status of current and planned trains
• Provides mapping of train’s current location, speed, load status, run status and run variance (delayed, on-time, ETA)

Having these tools available enables Watco and CBH team members to manage crew preparation and travel times by monitoring near-time train statuses and locations. It enables Watco team members to proactively inform CBH of train cycle variances, based on trustworthy information, and adjust operation plans and schedules to increase grain-to-port. It also provided a secure, dedicated online reporting portal to CBH.

The real-world benefits, realized by our Customer, was a direct result of several team members exemplifying our core foundation principles and accomplishing a common goal. They saw a customer loyalty opportunity, pulled together and executed a solution that will not only strengthen our relationship, but provides a standard in which we can drive towards with future opportunities.

There are truly too many team members to thank individually. The effort was an exemplary exercise that proved how a cross-section of many teams pulled together to provide real-world solutions. With that being said, a big thank you goes out to key members, within the following teams, that went above and beyond to deliver value to our Customer. Those assisting include IT – Applications Team, IT – Enterprise Information Management Team, Commercial Team, Accounting Team, and the Western Australia Team.

Contributed by Jon Singleton – Senior Manager, Enterpise Analytics & Reporting