Tag: rail

Mining Logistics: Asset Utilization for Rail Transport

Mining companies face a wealth of challenges when it comes to logistics management and transport of extracted payloads. Efficient asset utilization for rail transport is thus pivotal for a profitable mining operations.

Mining Logistics Rail Transport

It’s vital for mining companies to have some degree of control of rail transports assets (such as rail cars,) however investing in rail cars is not always a cost-efficient solution given that a typical rail car can cost over $50,000. An alternative option is to lease rail cars or utilize rail cars that are owned by the railroad. In either case, effective control in managing rail transport equipment is challenging and time consuming for mining companies.

When mining companies use assets owned by the railroads, it’s important to note that “free running” does not imply zero cost. Rates can cover a number of costs, including the cost to “rent” rail cars that need to be used to transport payloads. Although this might seem like an effective solution for logistics management, there is no guarantee that a consistent supply of empty rail cars will be available.

Leasing rail cars for logistics management can addresses this capacity issue, however this often leads to a higher level of pressure for the railroads to ensure each car is encounter for. As a result, they will tend to demand a higher value cost from the leasing agreement. In essence, this require mining companies to pay close attention to asset utilization for rail transport and logistics management – a common challenge among mining companies that lack the capital to invest in such systems.

The Role of Logistics Management Companies

railroadThird-party logistics management companies can help mining businesses overcome these challenges. Many third-party logistics providers have a focus in industrial applications for not only warehousing and fulfillment services, but also rail transportation. Thus, many logistics management companies have the necessary equipment and solutions, from the rail car scale system to weigh payloads to volume rail fleets for transport.

Some of the most common services and solutions provided by industrial-focused third-party logistics management companies include:

Strategic Analysis of Rail Transport Solutions

Strategic analysis of the decisions and investments to utilize railroad-owned assets. A third-party logistics company can work with the mining company, railroads, and rail car lessors to conduct a strategic analysis of rail transport equipment, its availability, and the overall cost.

Improvement Asset Utilization

Mining companies must avoid idle rail cars – moving, loaded rail cars is essential to a company’s revenue stream. On a regular basis, a third-party logistics provide can monitor and assess the rail car fleet to pinpoint bottlenecks and inefficiencies, such as long unloading times, transit delays, and other inhibiting variables that can slow asset utilization. The logistics management company can then work with the railroads, shipping companies, and other involved parties to troubleshoot and solve these problems.

Tracking Movement of Payloads

Tracking in the rail transport context is no doubt very challenging, but experienced third-party logistics companies have the systems in place to see regular updates. Additionally, the third-pary logistics provided can often times transmit automated data feeds on ETAs (estimated time of arrival) of inbound and outbound rail cars. As a result, this enables mining companies to properly plan for loading and unloading of rail cars, which can help to minimize labor costs while keeping assets moving.

Rail Weigh Scales: Advancements, Features & Functionality

Rail scales are a unique, high-volume weigh scale system that are used in many different industries and commercial applications. Some of the many applications in which rail weigh scales are used include: food processing, mining, agri-food productions, shipping and logistics, forestry, and other forms of resource extraction among other areas.

Rail Scales

Almost any business model involved in weighing high-volume loads that are transported by train can benefit from rail weigh scale. With advancements in today’s rail scale technology, there are many options available on the market and each rail weigh scale has a set of features and capabilities.

From simple weight-only scales to advanced scales that feature tracking, remote driver displays and warning system, the choice will depend on your application and needs. However, there are some features that must be present in every scale to allow basic weighing.

Types of Rail Scale Systems

Before looking at the features and what rail scales perform, it is important to know the two broad categories of rail weigh scales.

  • Static rail scales – As the name suggests, these scales are used to weigh rail cars that are static. The rail car stands still at the weighing site and readings are taken before the next car is weighed. Static rails are mostly used in places where the loading duty is not too intense and continuous or where exact precision is emphasized.
  • In-motion rail scales – These are the advanced new rail scales that can be used to measure rail cars that are in motion. The scale features advanced weighing capabilities that measures the rail car, axle and content as it goes through a weighing site. In motion rail scales are more efficient and convenient since the process of weighing is continuous and does not halt. In motion rail scales are not as popular among manufacturers, but one leading provider is Walz. View the video below to see how the in motion rail scale system works.

Weighing rail cars is very important, especially those involved in mining and mass production. Since most of them travel over long distances and at high speeds, any slight interference with the required weight may lead to derailment and even accidents.

Features and functionality of Rail Scales

A typical rail scale has a few features that allow quick weighing of rail cars and the load. The process of weighing usually takes place at a weighing site. This is the site where the rail will go through for adjustments.

in motion rail scales

On this site, all weight readings are taken and compared to required values. If the value is above required limits, the content is reduced and vice versa. There are two main set of features available in every rail scale namely rail-side and track-side components.

  • Rail-side components – These features include portable rail scale sections, pre-drilled joint bars, connection bars, cables and sensors. These sets of features are installed on the weighing site or rail. Their main function is to capture accurate measurements of the rail car which is why they must be installed at precise locations.
  • Track-side components – These features include computing and tracking systems such remote displays, devices, power source and software. The features facilitate reading as they represent where measured information is rendered.

Since there are many types of rail scales, the specific features vary from equipment to another although they fall under the two above-mentioned sets. The rail-mounted features are used to register or measure weights of rail cars passing through them while track side features indicate the measurement and help in decision making.

Some systems feature advanced computing software for safety and warnings. They can distinguish the weights of different elements of the rail to allow effective analysis of the load carried.