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    Rail Yard Efficiency Success Story

    Safeguarding continued operations at a midstream gas processing facility

How increasing efficiency in rail yard operations optimizes plant production

The challenge

The operating partner in a midstream joint venture was concerned about rail logistics at a plant commissioned in 2013. Management recognized that the organization was not sufficiently experienced in dealing with rail operations and, with rail accounting for 80% of their product takeaway capacity, they needed specialized support. Aware of our rail logistics expertise, senior executives turned to Maine Pointe for help across several areas of logistics including optimization of the rail yard. Here, the company aspired to increase railcar takeaway capacity threefold within 9 months. Management recognized that their ability to achieve this goal was dependent on more effective collaboration with the 3rd party switching company and Class 1 rail carrier to move railcars in and out of the rail yard more efficiently.

This story is for executives who:

  1. Are concerned that inefficient yard operations may impact their ability to keep the plant operating at full capacity.
  2. Want to optimize the use of rail yard resources and increase rail transportation capacity.
  3. Need help aligning their needs with the internal operating requirements of their rail carrier(s).

Building a win-win partnership with rail carriers

Our analysis established that poor staging and load sequencing resulted in each car being handled more than 6 times before being loaded and released. Moreover, in the absence of a Service Level Agreement with either the 3rd party switcher or the Class 1 rail carrier there was no clear agreement on performance expectations. Leveraging our combined 300+ years of experience helping shippers and their rail carriers to build successful win-win partnerships, Maine Pointe went to the right people at the right level to:

  • Formalize relationships with the rail carrier and switching company
  • Negotiate 3 additional yard pulls per week with the rail carrier at no additional cost
  • Optimize the staging process to reduce the number of times each car is handled
  • Migrate from a 1 to a 2 shift operation to allow for more ratable loading
  • Assist the rail carrier’s switching operations by implementing an east/west blocking scheme
  • Introduce operating tools and procedures to rapidly identify operational issues

The results

 The systems and processes we introduced resulted in:

  • 50% reduction in number of times cars are handled in the yard
  • 43% increase in potential takeaway capacity
  • 24/7 switching coverage from the 3rd party switching carrier
  • Reduction in the risk of lost production costs in excess of $1M a day

Sustainable changes at an accelerated pace

Maine Pointe delivered the improvement initiatives with a high degree of emphasis on buy-in from all stakeholders." CEO


The most significant aspects of the engagement were the speed at which initiatives were implemented and the extensive knowledge of the railroad industry and experience working with the Class 1 railroads at executive level.” CEO

Lessons learned for other executives

  • Working collaboratively with your 3rd party contractors and Class 1 carrier enables optimal use of existing resources with little or no incremental capital expenditure
  • Engaging a professional and experienced implementation firm can help rapidly align shipper requirements with the operating and commercial objectives of your rail carrier
  • Safety must be of a paramount concern when handling hazardous materials

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