What is BulkSmart & how can it accelerate the digital railway?

Here at 3Squared, we have been working hard behind the scenes to develop new technologies and processes that will help the rail industry to make the concept of the digital railway a reality. As we head into the latter part of the year, we have taken the time to pause, reflect and provide you with an insight into the innovations and tools that are helping us to support the wider industry to accelerate the railway of the future, into the present.

In this piece, we will explore the new modules that are set to become part of the RailSmart platform. Our flagship product RailSmart is a driver for operational efficiency and simplifying information management. It provides the UK rail industry with a suite of software applications to help improve operational efficiency, reduce incidents, mitigate business risk and overcome complex rail challenges.

A key focus for us this year has been to develop a series of new modules to enhance our RailSmart product even further. These modules have been created with HS2 in mind; a milestone project that we are excited to be part of which you can read more about here. For that project, we will be working closely with one of HS2’s direct contractors, Skanska Costain STRABAG JV (SCS JV), who are delivering the tunneling programme for the route between London Euston up to the M25.

With HS2 in mind, we are pleased to announce that we are set to introduce BulkSmart, a brand new client and customer facing platform that uses our RailSmart system to seamlessly integrate into the operational railway.

BulkSmart will enable our clients to fully manage their supply chains, including freight operators. Combining the existing RailSmart software modules with the new BulkSmart module, we have created a client facing order to cash system for the client side, that now gives full visibility of the complex freight supply chain. In addition to this, it provides live performance, cost management information and operational control data in real-time, enabling our clients to manage their operations across the UK.

Collaboration is key here at 3Squared and it will always play a vital role in the development of these new and improved features, which were specified and designed in partnership with Legge Infrastructure Services, a construction and transportation strategic consultancy and the appointed rail freight logistics lead sub-contractors working on behalf of SCSJV.

We are very excited to launch these new features and modules and to celebrate, we are pleased to give you an insight into each of the modules which you can read more information about below:

Ordering Module

The ordering module will allow SCS to place orders with its supply chain and contains all the key workflows that will guide all orders through from initial input on the system, right the way through to being accepted by the freight companies, fully resourced and fulfilled.

The ordering module will support SCS to work closely with its own supply chain, in turn providing forward visibility of demand, equipping freight operating companies with the ability to plan their resource requirements more effectively and efficiently.

Yard Manager

The new yard manager module aims to provide complete visibility of the yard for the first time ever, creating a map of the yard, planned departures, live performance reports for inbound trains and stockpile information, collated together in one clean, crisp single tactical view:

Not only does the yard manager provide new insights into yards, it will also enable users to control to move and manage rakes within the yard. The module will also make it  possible to move, split, join, reverse and perform many more actions on the rakes.

Above and beyond this, the yard management solution integrates seamlessly with the RailSmart mobile consisting application (MCA), which has a direct integration with TOPS. This aims to provide one seamless digital workflow from yard management, train preparation right through to train departures:

Yard Mobile

Aiming to positively support ground staff, the yard mobile application will provide real-time visibility of the yard, incoming trains and planned departures. The solution also provides ground staff with a list of tasks that have been generated by the yard manager mobile application:

The yard manager and yard mobile modules will seamlessly combine to provide a fully comprehensive, integrated platform for the efficient running of yards; in turn mitigating risk and improving overall efficiencies.

Load Tracking

This simple, cost effective app aims to track the progress of wagon loading providing yard managers with real-time visibility into the loading process, loading performance and any subsequent impacts on timely departures. We view the loading application as the first step towards a fully automated, digital wagon load detection solution:

Sensors and IoT (Internet of Things) platform

In an industry-first, through the use of sensors and equipment connected via the internet or other means of communication, we have developed IoT and RCM solutions that will enable digitally connected weight bridges, conveyors and shovels to show in real-time the weights for inbound and outbound empties and loaded wagons, giving the data to show the laden tare of the wagons.

Departure Board

This is in essence a more client specific version of our RailSmart departure board, which provides the client with an easily visible performance summary for all train departures. The Bulksmart Departure Board is designed in a way that summarises the train plan, enhancing the visual output with effective colour coding, and provides management information reports that can be tailored by the client.

Rail Maps

The Rail Maps module will equip clients with the capability to seamlessly track their consignment, utilising the information contained in the Departure Board module. In addition to this, all train movements with their performance status will be fully visible on an interactive map of the UK. From here, the client can access train running data, train consist information, and any other information that is available during times of disruption.

We hope you have enjoyed this insight into the new developments happening across 3Sqaured and are as excited as we are to implement them across the rail network. Watch this space for further updates and insights on the projects and technologies we are developing and should you wish to find out more information about our work in action, please get in touch with a member of our team today.