Background and Setting 

A major freight carrier was developing a system for scheduling and controlling the loading of trailer trucks onto flatbed rail cars at inter-modal rail yards. The challenge was to minimize the gaps (visible air space) between trailers on the rail cars, given incomplete information regarding the number and size of the trailers to be loaded. The information was incomplete because train loading had to begin before all of the trailers had arrived in the yard, in order to meet train scheduled train departure times. System development was over budget and behind schedule. The contractual performance specifications and user validation procedures were incomplete.

Client Business Objectives

  • Confirm feasibility of project
  • Diagnose problems with the project
  • Establish a realistic time table for the project
  • Recommend changes in the project management
  • Educate general management regarding technical and management issues

How Did UIA Help? 

We studied the system specifications, interviewed developers and checked on progress with design and coding. We reached a number of conclusions including the critical one that the project was feasible. We made several recommendations which included.

  • More development coordination in development of this system and a feeder system.
  • Further breakdowns in project tasks
  • More realistic task duration’s
  • More careful assessment of how the system will impact work procedures
  • More validation on the loading decisions made by the system
  • Off-site facility for user training
  • A manual back-up for computer based decision making
  • Phased implementation by user department

How the Client Benefited

  • The project plan was adjusted to reflect realistic scheduling.
  • The system has been successfully installed, but over a much longer time frame, as predicted.

Our diagnoses were confirmed as the project progressed