How to turn data into insight and transform your rail operation

Martin Gleadow, Head of Customer Success at 3Squared, talks about RailSmart Insights

Your IT systems may be bursting at the seams with data, but does that data give you a deep enough understanding of your operation and enable you to make informed decisions about its future?

Data is only of value when you can unlock the facts and gain insight from them – the insight you need to maintain a skilled and capable workforce who can deliver your customers’ goods on time or get passengers to their destinations safely.

The drawback with data analytics is the time, energy and expertise it takes to get to the heart of what you need.

That’s when you find yourself spending too many Sunday afternoons accessing company systems to download operational data. Or delegating the job to talented colleagues whose time would be better spent identifying new business opportunities for your operation.

A consolidated view

When you can unlock operational insight instantly, without all the legwork, you are much better placed to drive improvements for the future – and that’s where RailSmart Insights can help.

We’ve spoken to our customers over the years about the type of information they really need to make strategic decisions about their workforce. With this feedback we have created an analytics tool which visualises your data in clear, user-friendly dashboards.

RailSmart Insights is powered by Microsoft Azure Data Factory and Power BI so it supports the way you and your colleagues want to analyse data, and helps you answer the questions you need to ask and which are specific to your organisation.

Operational planning

Questions about safe working practices are likely to be at the top of the list for any rail operator. Your teams need to know whether enough drivers are competent to drive a specific locomotive, which members of staff are fit for duty at a given time, or if and when certifications might be expiring soon.

While this information may be accessible, it might involve searching different databases, interrogating your system or cross-referencing HR systems with train condition monitoring tools. Whereas RailSmart Insights finds instant answers to these questions from your data.

With real-time access to all your operational data from your employee development system (EDS), to your incident management system and rostering solution, you can make correlations between driver competence and the capacity to run a service.

Likewise, safety managers may need information about where their teams are in their competency cycles, and which interventions are necessary to ensure staff can carry out their duties safely. Rather than sifting through individual competency profiles, you can call up a simple dashboard to find what you need to drive meaningful interventions.

Strategic decisions

On another level, senior leaders within a passenger or freight operator are looking for a big-picture overview to make those decisions which shape the future. Where RailSmart Insights really comes into its own is by distilling data into the intelligence to help you achieve your organisational goals.  

For instance, an organisation aiming to improve its risk profile needs to understand where those risks lie. By aggregating your data across regions, depots, departments and teams, you can spot trends in staff competency and locomotive performance which can help you to identify areas of risk.

If operational data uncovers more overdue assessments in some departments than others, or a higher number of incident reports, managers can take proactive steps to put support in place for employees – all of which reduces the risk of operational incidents or service cancellations.

The topline information from RailSmart Insights also allows you to pinpoint opportunities to make your workforce the best it can be. Say your dashboard highlights improved performance in a region which is using a particular e-learning format or interactive coaching, you might consider rolling out this approach across the organisation.

Three tiers of insights

As RailSmart Insights evolves, our aim is to provide a solution which works in a more tailored way for your organisation.  RailSmart Insights currently offers pre-built dashboards for EDS data which cover metrics in assessments, performance support plans and key status indicators to name but a few.

We’re constantly adding more data sources to our analytics tool, and the second tier in our solution is Insights Plus which also provides dashboards, but these we build to your specific requirements by including additional reporting areas, filters and chart formats, with customer branding options available.

Looking ahead to the future, we’ll be introducing a third tier, Insights Pro, which will support customers who already have their own data analytics solution. We are developing the capability to connect RailSmart data to customers’ own data analytics platform so they will be able to gain insight from multiple systems and create their own dashboards in the reporting and analytics tool of their choice.

We’re excited to be helping rail operators get more from their systems and data so they can build a stronger workforce and transform their operational performance.

If you would like to find out what RailSmart Insights can do for your organisation, please click here.

To see RailSmart Insights in action, book a demo and get a hands-on product demonstration from our team.