Rail Industry Executives to Prioritize Automation and Systems Integration to Bolster Efficiency, According to Navis Industry Poll

Better operational control and consistency, improved data quality and business intelligence, and increased yard throughput and car velocity rank among top benefits of deploying rail planning and optimization tools

OAKLAND, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Navis, provider of operational technologies and services that unlock greater performance and efficiency for leading organizations throughout the global shipping industry, released the results of a survey that showed automation and integration of systems are top priorities within the rail industry, which is seeking new productivity gains.

According to the poll of rail industry executives from both mid-size and large railroad companies from around the world, 60% of respondents plan to invest in automation, 58% in enterprise-wide planning and operational systems and 43% in artificial intelligence and machine learning over the next three years. Sixty-two percent of respondents believe that railways need to automate trains and yards within the next six years to stay competitive with alternative modes of transportation. In addition, 90% believe that AI and machine learning will be an important component to improving rail operations in the same time frame.

As those companies look to stay ahead of the curve, respondents were asked which areas are among the most important to automate first. Car and wagon planning and management led the way with 69%, followed by network and path planning (59%), and crew planning and management (54%).

“As the rail freight industry evolves, automation is a clear path to increasing productivity and effectiveness,” said Tom Forbes, Head of Navis Rail. “This survey shows us just how motivated companies are to find technological solutions that optimize and streamline their operations.”

With rail executives looking for a competitive edge, many see the benefit in evaluating the systems they have in place and exploring opportunities for improvement to achieve greater efficiency – yet many have a long way to go. This is highlighted by the following survey results:

  • The majority of respondents (88%) said optimization software is very or extremely important for network and asset analysis.
  • 62% believe that integrated planning systems could increase productivity at major yards by 6-25%, while one quarter expect improvements greater than 50%.
  • Only 4% report having a fully integrated planning system in place while 41% rely on various non-integrated systems to plan the network, traffic, locos, cars/wagons, crew, etc.
  • Among the most important benefits for deploying rail planning and optimization tools, better operational control and consistency won out, with improved data quality and business intelligence and increased yard throughput car velocity not far behind.

A key indication of the important role integration will play moving forward, 54% of respondents are in the process of planning for new enterprise level planning and operational systems and 31% have a full plan in place for updating systems and acquiring new software.

For more information visit www.navis.com or view the survey results here.

About Navis, LP

Navis is a provider of operational technologies and services that unlock greater performance and efficiency for the world’s leading organizations across the cargo supply chain. Navis combines industry best practices with innovative technology and world-class services, to enable our customers, regardless of cargo type, to maximize performance and reduce risk. Through its holistic approach to operational optimization, Navis customers benefit from improved visibility, velocity and measurable business results. Whether tracking cargo through a terminal, improving vessel safety and cargo capacity, optimizing rail network planning and asset utilization, automating equipment operations, or managing multiple terminals through an integrated, centralized solution, Navis helps all customers streamline operations. www.navis.com.

About Accel-KKR

Accel-KKR is a technology-focused investment firm with over $10 billion in capital commitments. The firm focuses on software and tech-enabled businesses, well-positioned for topline and bottom-line growth. At the core of Accel-KKR’s investment strategy is a commitment to developing strong partnerships with the management teams of its portfolio companies and a focus on building value alongside management by leveraging the significant resources available through the Accel-KKR network. Accel-KKR focuses on middle-market companies and provides a broad range of capital solutions including buyout capital, minority-growth investments, and credit alternatives. Accel-KKR also invests across a wide range of transaction types including private company recapitalizations, divisional carve-outs and going-private transactions. In 2019 and 2020, Inc. named Accel-KKR to “PE 50 – The Best Private Equity Firms for Entrepreneurs”, its annual list of founder-friendly private equity firms. Accel-KKR is headquartered in Menlo Park with offices in Atlanta and London. Visit accel-kkr.com to learn more.


Jennifer Grinold

Navis, LLC

T+1 510 267 5002


Katie Vroom

Gregory FCA

T+1 212 398 9680