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Rail Roundup: VIP Rail, Procor and Navis streamlining services

New offerings highlight unrelated efforts to provide multiple services to customers

VIP Rail and Procor Limited collaborate on railcar repair and cleaning services

VIP Rail and railcar inspection and maintenance provider Procor Limited have formed a partnership in which Procor will provide railcar repair and cleaning services at VIP’s Sarnia and Corunna locations in Ontario, Canada.

VIP is part of Denver-based freight rail infrastructure investment firm Alpenglow Rail, and Procor is related to Marmon/Berkshire Hathaway.

VIP’s two Ontario locations are in what VIP describes as the “epicenter of Sarnia’s chemical valley” because of the abundance of refineries and petrochemical producers in the area. VIP has a 50-acre, 1,000-car rail yard in Sarnia and a 112-acre, 400-car rail yard in Corunna. Existing and new customers will have access to Procor’s offerings at both sites.

“We are excited to work with VIP to continue to create value-added inspection and maintenance services for our customers through a streamlined one-stop service offering. Our new partnership with VIP will allow us to continue to provide high-quality and cost-effective solutions that meet our customers’ needs,” said Jay McGill, vice president and general manager for Procor’s North American field services.

Alpenglow Rail CEO Rich Montgomery said the partnership will give VIP customers access to maintenance and repair services, on top of the switching, storage, transloading and railcar cleaning services VIP already provides. 

“This partnership with Procor will further our service offering, allowing VIP to provide customers a one-stop shop for all rail needs. Procor’s commitment to safety and customer service has positioned Procor as a great culture fit and partner for VIP,” Montgomery said.

Navis develops workforce management system for rail

Supply chain technology provider Navis has developed a module that seeks to optimize and manage crew scheduling, master rosters and working rosters.

The workforce management module, a software-as-a-service system, also includes tools that manage short-term changes to timetables and staff availability, capture and record staff attendance electronically, and extract reports for payroll and analytics. The system is part of the cloud-based Navis Rail Planning Suite, which also has service design tools for train and rolling stock planning.

The complete application supports railways’ workforce management end to end, from master roster development through to capture of time and attendance, according to Navis’ Thursday release. Its mobile portal allows workers to view their rosters, see roster changes, respond to call-in shift offers and record their attendances electronically, Navis said.

“Rail undertakings need rail-specific process management to build safe and efficient crew rosters that simultaneously consider personnel, route, traction, workflow, rules, regulations, labor agreements and other constraints,” said Tom Forbes, head of Navis Rail. 

Freight railway crew management is one of the largest variable costs for a railway and general-purpose personnel scheduling and rostering systems do not meet the challenges of workforce management for a freight railway, Forbes said. 

Navis is part of the Cargotec Corp., a technology company aimed at improving supply chain and cargo flows.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.