Using technology to do what used to be impossible
Customer requests for product service enhancements are incredibly different than they were even 5 years ago. If you’d asked me about some of these requests 5 years ago, I’d have said, “You’re dreaming.”
But the extraordinary is now becoming ordinary, and so are the abilities to fulfill the new customer requests.
Despite tech moving at break-neck speed, rail is still a highly transactional business. Whether it’s message processing, crew scheduling, or timekeeping, certain things must be done and done with complex rule sets. PST has been a premier provider of railroad business solutions that require transactional frameworks for years. That hasn’t changed and the importance of understanding how railroads work is still a fundamental necessity we pride ourselves on.
What is changing for our customers are the new layers we’re surrounding our core offerings with. Rail is full of statistics. But being able to derive intelligence from massive amounts of real-time and archived data is the primary “ask” from our customers – process intelligence. Helping our customers run smarter and in increasingly optimized ways is now a primary focus. You can only do that with automated analytical analysis. In addition to that intelligence ask is the increasing desire to have cloud-based offerings that are platform agnostic, meaning that they can be run anywhere on anything.
An excellent example of this evolving approach is our Precision Train Builder tool, which we simply call PTB. The PS Technology simulation team had built an incredible physics engine to recreate train behaviors in the digital training world. We then started adding layers, because we found we could also “reverse-engineer” rail accidents and determine if in-train forces were the real culprit. That has expanded into predictive and prescriptive train building to make long trains safer and more efficient. And yes, it runs on the cloud.
Furthermore, customer-driven requests have led to converting many of our abilities to mobile platforms, removing long-standing bottlenecks to smooth business operations and recordkeeping.
You can order a plane ticket on a mobile device and travel the world. Why not build a way for crews to tie-up or improve yard operations the same way? That’s our new mandate.
Senior Vice President – Product Development