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Date: 11/07/18 12:47
"clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: Lackawanna484

Tucked into the promotion notice of Michael A Farrell as SVP-Transportation at NS

For more than a year, Farrell has served Norfolk Southern in a consulting role, leading "Clean Sheeting" teams across the network. As its name suggests, Clean Sheeting is a process to redesign local operations without preconceptions – starting in terminals and local serving yards where cars accumulate – to increase network velocity and generate efficiencies. Clean Sheeting is providing a foundation for Norfolk Southern's new operating plan, currently in development.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/norfolk-southern-names-farrell-senior-233200066.html



Date: 11/07/18 13:53
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: spwolfmtn

If I'm understanding what you typed here correctly, NS is just throwing out what generations of railroaders have learned as the best ways to operate in various terminals?!?!  Sounds like UP's method that lead to the disasterous UP/SP meltdown.  Started in the Houston area where the SP and their employess knew how best to run their terminals, locals, trains, etc, based on what they had, but UP came in with "their way" and changed everything; then it all blew up.



Date: 11/07/18 14:40
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: Lackawanna484

The larger print description came directly from Mr Farrell's promotion notice.

For What It's Worth - If the "teams from all over the network" don't have people who actually run the yards, operate trains, maintain the right of way, or process the nformation flows, that would seem like a lost opportunity.



Date: 11/07/18 16:31
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: wabash2800

Yes, just like computer software, if the people who work in the environment don't "buy into it", it usually fails.

Victor A. Baird
http://www.erstwhilepublications.com



Date: 11/07/18 16:40
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: tomstp

It is not unheard of getting defective or ill designed soft ware.



Date: 11/07/18 16:45
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: wabash2800

Yes, and if the folks that would use it aren't allowed to test it or put in their input, that's what they get.

Victor A. Baird
http://www.erstwhilepublications.com

tomstp Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It is not unheard of getting defective or ill
> designed soft ware.



Date: 11/07/18 17:20
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: TAW

wabash2800 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes, just like computer software, if the people
> who work in the environment don't "buy into it",
> it usually fails.

...as also what occurs when the software designer knows nothing about what is being automated.

TAW



Date: 11/07/18 17:43
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: NYC6001

Clean Sheeting is a ploy to avoid implementing PSR on the NS. I hope it works!

Such teams usually come in, make a few dumb suggestions that are loosely followed for a few days or weeks, then go away.

Why? Because nearly all local serving yards already do the most efficient job possible, to the point of operating on a shoe string.
 



Date: 11/07/18 18:05
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: Lackawanna484

The idea that the "teams come in" suggests they aren't local. Which is a huge problem in understanding the issues.

Posted from Android



Date: 11/07/18 18:11
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: wabash2800

It happens in a lot of industries. I've been out of the accounting field for about ten years now but am hoping it is better but would often shake my head in disbelief. It was obvious the programer knew nothing about accounting or the kind of info management needed. The best software I ever had, I had the software developer rewrite the software to provide profit and loss reports by product line and jobs that I could change the overhead factors (perhaps calculated annually) and have the shop floor input actual tooling usage in real time. The engineering department and cost quote makers loved it as they could see actual history including parts per hour, actual perhisable tooling, etc. . Then a new manager came in and wanted everything smeared into the overhead factor... 

Victor A. Baird
http://www.erstwhilepublications.com

TAW Wrote:
--
> ...as also what occurs when the software designer
> knows nothing about what is being automated.
>
> TAW



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/07/18 18:56 by wabash2800.



Date: 11/08/18 02:14
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: JPB

I'm loosely aware of NS clean sheeting yards in and around the Southern Tier operation (ie, Gang Mills, Elmira, and Binghamton). NS acquired the D&H South lines from CP in the fall of 2015 and Binghamton yard became NS' largest classification yard in the Tier. Given NS had a much different traffic flow than predecessor CP, the yard was immediately re-purposed focusing on Buffalo-Allentown and Enola/Allentown-Montreal/Pan Am Southern traffic. But NS traffic continued to evolve especially with the increase in frac sand transloading across the Southern Tier of NY at Corning, Horseheads, Binghamton, (ironic in a way as NYS prohibits fracking!) as well at Scranton, PA. NS also focused its interchange (frac sand and grain among other commodities) with the DL at Scranton and away from Slateford, PA. General freight tonnage has increased across the Tier, mainly due to frac sand, that often either requires extra trains  or DPU ops for the daily Bellevue to Binghamton train (which didn't exist in 2015 when the D&H South was acquired). A few of the DPU configured 310 trains have weighed in at 25,000 tons.

Net: traffic on the Tier has been dynamic requiring re-examination of how to move the freight more expeditiously through the small to medium sized flat switched yards.



Date: 11/08/18 02:44
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: SANSR

Seagull Consultant
  • Flies in
  • Makes a lot of noise
  • Eats all the food
  • Shits all over everything
  • Flies out



Date: 11/08/18 03:27
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: spwolfmtn

NYC6001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Clean Sheeting is a ploy to avoid implementing PSR
> on the NS. I hope it works!
>
> Such teams usually come in, make a few dumb
> suggestions that are loosely followed for a few
> days or weeks, then go away.
>
> Why? Because nearly all local serving yards
> already do the most efficient job possible, to the
> point of operating on a shoe string.
>  

Yup, this is what usually happens; also called "reinventing the wheel"...



Date: 11/08/18 12:52
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: JUTower

JPB's post seems to be most on-point on this topic.  When you consider which metrics local personnel are measured against (and compensated against, bonus-wise) and which they are not (read... unit train performance, local interchange service, etc), your view of efficient may be different than mine. 



Date: 11/08/18 13:27
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: Lackawanna484

JUTower Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> JPB's post seems to be most on-point on this
> topic.  When you consider which metrics local
> personnel are measured against (and compensated
> against, bonus-wise) and which they are not
> (read... unit train performance, local interchange
> service, etc), your view of efficient may be
> different than mine. 

Aligning local incentives with the over arching corporate objectives is rarely easy. And, ending games playing is always a challenge.

Posted from Android



Date: 11/08/18 17:17
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: BRAtkinson

spwolfmtn Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> NYC6001 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Clean Sheeting is a ploy to avoid implementing
> PSR
> > on the NS. I hope it works!
> >
> > Such teams usually come in, make a few dumb
> > suggestions that are loosely followed for a few
> > days or weeks, then go away.
> >
> > Why? Because nearly all local serving yards
> > already do the most efficient job possible, to
> the
> > point of operating on a shoe string.
> >  
>
> Yup, this is what usually happens; also called
> "reinventing the wheel"...

In computing, we usually referred to it as 'the silver bullet' software package that would cost the company a zillion dollars, cost a fortune to implement and transition from from the 'old way/system(s)', and end up taking longer and more staff to do what used to done 'the old way'.  Gotta keep all those zero-experience 'college boy' know-nothings employed, right?
 



Date: 11/09/18 03:17
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: justalurker66

Then again, the alternative is to give in to the "ain't never done it that way before" attitude and never improve.

I do not mind the "clean sheet" approach as long as it comes up with a better solution than the current process. But too many people hold on to the past and refuse to even look at changes.Are they afraid to admit that there may be better ways than they have been following.



Date: 11/09/18 08:34
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: abyler

NYC6001 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Clean Sheeting is a ploy to avoid implementing PSR
> on the NS. I hope it works!
>
> Such teams usually come in, make a few dumb
> suggestions that are loosely followed for a few
> days or weeks, then go away.
>
> Why? Because nearly all local serving yards
> already do the most efficient job possible, to the
> point of operating on a shoe string.

I love the arrogance of the local person, who thinks no one from outside can see how to do a better job.  This happens in every single industry and in every line of work.  Personal pride prevents people from taking sound advice or adopting new ideas, because the very acceptance of someone else's ideas means you weren't operating at perfect efficiency prior to that point, and people take this as an affront to their own prowess.

Anyone who has studied railroad carload flows and how they are managed knows things could be done better and that we as an industry are not taking full advantage of the tools at our disposal to cut handling costs, unnecessary mileage, speed car movements and win new business.  We especially are not taking advantage of the true capabilities of the hump yard to block cars.

Drive by the local yard.  You can almost hear the money rusting watching cars sit there not moving to destination.



Date: 11/09/18 08:56
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: Lackawanna484

Has anyone here actually been on a Clean Sheet team?

I'd be interested in your observations.

(I did a stint on a similar process 30 years ago. It was like pulling teeth. We've always done it that way, no possible changes. We are all above average, etc.

The firm is long gone.)

Posted from Android



Date: 11/09/18 12:24
Re: "clean sheeting" on Norfolk Southern
Author: abyler

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Has anyone here actually been on a Clean Sheet
> team?
>
> I'd be interested in your observations.
>
> (I did a stint on a similar process 30 years ago.
> It was like pulling teeth. We've always done it
> that way, no possible changes. We are all above
> average, etc.

I once Clean Sheeted the Reading-Philadelphia area of Norfolk Southern in anticipation of the ill-fated Schuylkill Valley Metro project.

My observations were no one's mental impression of the actuall traffic movement origins and destinations was correct.when compared to what was observed on the trains.  Words like "a lot" and "most" were used to characterize 25% of the traffic, as if a person throught it was the vast majority.  Mental impressions of traffic movements were often driven by the biggest customers traffic even when the aggregation of smaller customers traffic was much larger in total.  The movement of ADM or Kimberly Clark loomed much larger than the many small customers even though they were only 10-20% of the traffic in a train.  Thus I heard very often about how northbound traffic out of the Philadelphia area was a huge consideration in where trains should go when it was under 25% of the total.

Many people were wed to outdated fixed infrastructure that could not really accomodate the needs of traffic.  In this case, Allentown Yard over Enola Yard.

Many people had significantly incorrect impressions about the size and potential capacity of various yard sites that could be used to better handle traffic.  As in they didn't realize a yard site had width for enough tracks for the needs, or their impression of its length was off by thousands of feet, leading them to think it "too short".

Regional yards are never properly blocking outbound traffic.  Way too much traffic is always being sent to the nearest hump yard for blocking instead of making any attempt at pre-blocking.  This clogs hump capacity which leads to them not pre-blocking inbound carrs for the regional yards, which means the regional yards have excess blocking work to local serving yards.  My observation was this was a vicious cycle of circular finger pointing.  In my belief, the hump yards should pre-block cars for the local serving yards within each regional yard block.

Many people at regional yards were under the mistaken impression it would be an impossible burden to ask them to create more than two outbound blocks.  It was as if they could not think beyond binary for outbound movement.  For this reason, they couldn't see traffic that wanted to move between two of their local trains sitting right in front of their face.

There was a lot of "filling out trains" through sub-optimal routing of cars.

Being wed to doing it the way it was always done led to locals being completely oblivious to their missing other opportunities.  A simple example - the Fogelsville traffic 10 miels west of Allentown was moving to Alburtis, then Reading, then direct to Conway. For Conrail, which eschewed any attempt at north-south traffic, this made some sense and it gave the traffic a speedy trip for all points west.  For Norfolk Southern, it made no sense at all.  We suggested the traffic move to Allentown hump yard to permit rapid classification for short haul moves to NYC, Philly, and Harrisburg, northbound moves to Binghamton, and southbound moves to Linwood and Birmingham as well as the traditional westbound moves.  NS finally made that change, but it took years to figure out they were missing most of the marketing opportunities from uncompetitive movement mileage and time.



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