RailComm completes a sweet deal

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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RailComm has completed installation of a yard automation system and a CAD (computer-aided dispatch) system at U.S. Sugar in Clewiston, Fla.

U.S. Sugar is the largest sugar cane producer in the U.S., and its private agricultural railroad is the largest of its kind in the U.S., operating 24 hours a day for JIT (just-in-time) processing. Its 120 miles of main line connect with short line South Central Florida Express, which connects with Florida East Coast and CSX.

Following recent improvement initiatives in sugar agricultural and manufacturing operations utilizing technology and automation, U.S. Sugar turned its attention to its railroad. The company identified opportunities for performance improvement, particularly around safety, and brought in RailComm to help develop potential solutions. After a site assessment in 2014, RailComm recommended several improvements to U.S. Sugar’s manufacturing rail yard and its main line dispatching system, where it felt automation and technology could improve worker safety significantly while improving efficiency and productivity.

In October 2015, in time for the sugar cane harvesting season, RailComm completed a yard system for automating 32 switches and a CAD system to dispatch U.S. Sugar’s entire main line.

The yard control system provides entrance/exit routing and remote control of powered switch machines for Clewiston yard. It is controlled from a central location within the control tower. Communications with the field are powered by RailComm’s RADiANT™ communications platform, which uses wireless radios over a 2.4 GHz spread-spectrum data network. Authorized personnel can safely route trains through the yard and onto the main line from a remote location, without the need to manually throw switches, a task that that can cause injuries. DOC® software offers the yard controllers a user friendly graphical interface that provides flexibility, speed and efficiency to their operation.

The main line dispatch system uses DTC (direct traffic control) block dispatching. U.S. Sugar takes advantage of DOC’s standard components, such as Daily Operating Bulletins, Track Bulletins, Delivery Bulletins, GCOR Protection forms, Railroad Manager, and reporting services. Train dispatchers use an electronic form that replaces paper train sheets and with enhances their ability to move trains with increased safety and productivity. From a single user interface, a dispatcher can add and access train consist information, as well as keep track of train resources during its operation.

“Part of what initially impressed us with RailComm was the commitment to thoroughly understand our business objectives and assess our operation before jumping into the proposal process,” said U.S. Sugar General Manager of Harvesting and Railroad Operations Bob Lawson. “Once we awarded the project to RailComm, they aggressively resourced the project and developed a comprehensive project plan. RailComm met our expectations on implementation and, as a result, we started our harvest season with several new solutions to enhance productivity, efficiency and safety.”

Categories: C&S, Short Lines & Regionals, Switching & Terminal Tags: , , ,