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Case Studies:International Freight Railroad Operator Keeps Trains Running with Digital Inspection App

The Challenge

An international freight railroad operator performs thousands of inspections a year on hundreds of locomotives. Its paper-based process was mistake-prone and slow, depriving the company of data needed to make smart maintenance decisions.

The Solution

Using Microsoft Power Platform, we built an app that inspectors use to perform inspections more accurately and managers use to monitor fleet status and availability.

The Results

With inspection data up-to-date and accurate, the company is realizing big savings by scheduling inspections more efficiently so that locomotives and payloads stay on track to earning money.

Power up on Power Platform

Our client came to us asking for a better inspection solution—and curious as to whether the Microsoft Power Platform was up to the task. We started with a Power Platform Envisioning Workshop, walking business and IT stakeholders through the product, showcasing relevant use cases, and identifying and prioritizing application candidates. At the end of this one-day session, the company was ready and excited to digitize its locomotive inspection process using the Power Platform.

Go Digital with Locomotive Inspections

In an AIS Power Platform Quick Start engagement, we used the Power Platform Common Data Service to create a backend model-driven app for managers along with a canvas app for inspectors’ use in the field.

Using a tablet, inspectors create an inspection record, click on the locomotive model or piece of equipment they’re inspecting, and instantly see all the inspection tasks they need to perform. As they perform the tasks, they tap on-screen boxes, noting any repairs needed.

On the back end, managers can see live inspection data and can analyze it using Microsoft Power BI dashboards.

Make Better Decisions with Real-Time Data

With locomotive inspection data in digital form, the company has accurate, real-time insight into how many inspections have occurred, how long they took, who performed them, and other operational and productivity insights. Most importantly, management can see where locomotives are in their inspection cycles so they can have them in the right place at the right time. The railroad has realized big savings by leaving locomotives and payloads on the tracks versus pulling them out of operation for unplanned inspections.

Eliminate Data Entry

The company has also eliminated data entry time and costs, redeploying those individuals to higher-value activities.

Create Working Solution in Four Weeks

We built the inspection application in just four weeks, which is unheard of in a traditional software development environment. Today, the international freight railroad operator’s IT staff members are extending the app themselves using Power Platform tools. They’ve also kicked off other Power Platform projects, encouraged by the quick success of this project.

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