Meta-Planning Engine: A great addition to Rail Movement Planner™
In a rail network operation, costs can be extremely high. Given that there are always numerous trains circulating daily and, crossings and meet-and-pass situations are sure to occur. In order to address such cases, it’s necessary to decide which train holds priority over the other, meaning the other should slow to a halt so the higher priority passes. However, stopping a train is hard, and takes considerable time and effort on the assets. Excessive stoppage strains the tracks and wears wheels and mechanisms alike – also, taking off with a train consumes a considerable amount of fuel and takes even more time. The result? Every such situation wastes time, money and further wears the railway’s expensive assets.
Such waste could be avoided with a good circulation plan – one that Rail Movement Planner™ is readily able to provide. With such, Rail Movement Planner™ proposes an alternative that maximizes the use of the operation’s assets. Not only does Rail Movement Planner™ provides a plan adherent to the railway’s needs, it also fulfills the role of aligning different objectives in one such as productivity, rolling stock maintenance and the business’ goals.
Meta Planning Engine: the evolution of Rail Movement Planner™
In order to make the tool even more objective and precise, Rail Movement Planner™ has got a new complement: Meta Planning Engine (MPE), an initiative by Rail Movement Planner™ to assure the system is also efficient to produce a plan adjustable to each new situation of the rail network and rolling stock. MPE’s algorithms run their calculations ceaselessly, stopping and restarting only whenever changes are made to the operation.
For instance, in case a train accident or an issue with part of a track is detected. Due to these cases, it’s necessary to prevent trains of accessing the affected area – and this interruption causes circulation to be stopped.
In this example, the situation is out of the usual routine, and while Rail Movement Planner™ is already able to solve 95% of the train circulation problems, the remaining 5% persist due to conditions completely outside of the original plans. MPE’s role, then, is to act much like an expert that thinks outside the box, addressing the incident at hand unrestrained by routine procedures or reusable heuristics. Other than solving problems in real time, MPE helps Rail Movement Planner™ generate a better outcome without impacting execution time, which remains unchanged from the end user’s perspective.
Partnership with FAPESP
Meta Planning Engine, the new complement to Rail Movement Planner™, originated from a successful partnership with the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), which promotes technological development research in the state of São Paulo. The organization counts on reputable state university professors, who sanction submitted projects. However, to gain such validation is hard work, and we from Rail Movement Planner™ are proudly among the select few commended by FAPESP. Such approval was processed in 2015, while Brazil was amidst economic turmoil. To be endorsed during such trying times, while FAPESP was under pressure to make budget cuts, represents an even greater achievement for the Meta Planning Engine project, as well as for Rail Movement Planner™.