Benchmarking of Marshalling Yards: Increased Efficiency in Wagonload Freight

Wagonload Freight accounts for around one third of all rail freight in Europe, but in almost all European rail freight companies it represents a business segment with extremely weak margins and negative growth rates. Nevertheless, in our view there are a number of approaches to boost wagonload freight – from optimisation of transport flows and higher flexibility of charges to increased efficiency in shunting and customer service.

Innovation: Recognised benchmarking methodology for marshalling yards

The advisory task related to process efficiency and included the development and realisation of a benchmarking of leading marshalling yards in Europe. The resulting findings were used for a process analysis and an optimisation of relevant processes. Due to BSL’s existing contacts, five leading rail freight companies with seven different marshalling yards could be encouraged to participate in the comparative study.

The benchmarking of shunting junctions and process efficiency had to achieve the following individual objectives:

  • Develop a comparable key figure structure that takes into account different organisational and infrastructural conditions
  • Analyse and assess the impact of different technologies on the staff efficiency and cost structures of shunting
  • Ensure comparability of the performance and key figures by adjustment and harmonisation of the parameters
  • Carve out the relevant cost drivers and efficiency levers on individual process level
  • Identify best-practice approaches
  • Develop measures for process optimisation on two marshalling yards with different technological requirements

Benchmarking as meaningful basis for process optimisation

A very detailed structuring of the core processes and a correspondingly fine breakdown of the key figures ensured comparability on an individual process level which, in turn, formed the basis for the derived results which were accepted and recognised by all participants. Based on this, an efficiency potential of up to 50 % could be generated during the process optimisation at the two shunting junctions. This figure was incorporated as target value into a concrete implementation plan by the local managers.

In agreement with the client, the advisory service primarily concerned improvements in the process flow without having to invest in new technologies. Selected investments in infrastructure or operational or technical IT systems were considered separately and subjected to a cost-benefit analysis.

19. February 2016