G&W automates entire UK terminal network: ‘it’s been transformational’
By the end of this year, Genesee & Wyoming Inc (G&W) will have implemented terminal operating systems (TOS) at ten of its UK terminals. What is more, the systems will be integrated. In doing this, the US-based company is working with Tideworks Technology, which is currently rolling out several IT solutions across all of G&W’s rail and intermodal terminals in the UK.
Already up and running are the TOS systems in Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Doncaster, and Leeds. Still ahead are Manchester, Cannock, London Gateway, Felixstowe, and Southampton terminals, which will be complete by the end of 2022.
“It’s been transformational. I believe that G&W is leading the way in the UK because no one is trying to optimise their terminals the way we are. We are trying to build a product for the future, not for the present, and Tideworks is helping us do that,” said Nick Matthews, managing director of terminal services for G&W UK operations.
How did it start?
How did this journey start? For this, we need to go back to 2018, when G&W decided that it was time for a change concerning their UK-subsidiaries – Freightliner and Pentalver. As a respectively rail and road haulier, they had been experiencing increased container volumes and compounded congestion, posing threats to efficiency for the last few years.
G&W’s UK team decided it was time to revisit its strategy and explore a variety of terminal operating solutions that could address congestion, embrace automation, and position the companies to handle increased freight volume in the future. G&W needed a TOS solution that could integrate with the vehicle booking and gate management systems, drive automation throughout the terminal, and scale across different sites.
The choice fell on Tideworks, the group that had worked with G&W’s other partners – port community system Advent eModal and Camco Technologies, a technology provider of gate automation solutions for container terminals, rail and intermodal terminals and Ro-Ro terminals. The systems to be implemented were Tideworks’ intermodal TOS solutions: Intermodal Pro and Traffic Control.
Tideworks spent the next two years planning and executing the rollout of their intermodal solutions to 24 UK terminals, 10 of which would receive the complete integration solution—a massive undertaking. Further, implementing the new systems during the pandemic posed additional challenges as the companies charted unknown territory and various global guidance. Not only did teams need to consider health and safety guidelines, but they had to navigate implementation and communications across four companies and multiple time zones.
In late 2020, Tideworks’ Intermodal Pro and Traffic Control solutions went live at Cardiff and Birmingham terminals. The go-live included integration with Advent eModal’s vehicle booking system and Camco’s gate management system. It was essential for G&W to integrate its TOS, vehicle booking, and gate management systems so they could seamlessly access and manage all the tools.
Since implementation, G&W UK operations have significantly increased automation and efficiency across their terminals. Most notably, Tideworks’ solutions and the integration have helped ease terminal congestion—one of the supply chain’s most significant challenges but also a primary goal for G&W.
One factor that eased congestion right away was gate check-ins and turn times. For example, before deploying the new TOS, it took the Birmingham terminal two hours to clear the gate queues at the start of the week. With the automated solution in place, the task can be completed in only 20 minutes.
Where do problems occur?
Further, G&W is now able to use data generated by the integration to better manage operations. Using Tideworks’ TOS, teams can tap into key performance indicators to understand where problems occur. For example, G&W can generate a daily report showing the number of trains that arrived at a terminal, how many arrived on time, how full they were, and how quickly trucks could turn.
“In a week’s time, G&W’s Birmingham, Cardiff, Doncaster, and Liverpool terminals handled over 4,000 truck visits. The average turnaround time across the four terminals was below 26 minutes,” said Matthews.
The new systems and integrations also provide G&W UK operations with increased visibility and planning accuracy, enabling improved gate management and other planning processes. Instead of tracking down the container’s location, the new TOS allows teams to see exactly where the container is and the precise time that it will be collected. The team can use this data to ensure operations are running smoothly within the ebb and flow of traffic that day, week, or month.
The combination of these efficiency improvements has allowed Freightliner and Pentalver to gain savings elsewhere in their operating and technology budgets. “We’ve managed to make significant operational savings,” said Chris Cavanagh, program lead with G&W UK. “And we believe that the project will repay itself within five years.”
Both G&W and Tideworks will be present at TOC Europe, the annual industry event for supply chain professionals. This year, the event is taking place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands from Tuesday 14 June until Thursday 16 June. G&W and Tideworks will jointly discuss the implementation of the TOS in the UK terminals on Wednesday 15 June, from 12.00 till 12.30 in the conference hall.
Registration for this event is still open and can be done here.