2019 Annual RACE Users Conference Wrap Up


The 2019 RACE Annual Users Conference was held in Brisbane on 24 October. Attracting a number of key rail industry speakers and representatives, RACE users shared their experiences and challenges in different industry environments. Across the board, users agreed RACE has changed the way they operate, turning lengthy manual processes into optimised planning solutions produced in minutes. RACE also allows planning teams to rapidly run a range of test scenarios enabling them to extract maximum value against business objectives.

Dr Ben Hollis, Director of Polymathian demonstrated where and how RACE is capable of delivering maximum value in a fully integrated, sophisticated continuous planning system. He outlined how RACE, with the right data, can help solve problems such as:

  • how to negotiate the best contract with haulage providers;
  • how to most efficiently rail product from pit to port in a dynamic supply chain;
  • how to model specific commercial priorities;
  • how to identify maintenance impacts;
  • how to explore various fleet deployment options; and
  • how to measure system capacity as a function of demand

The Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC) is a highly complex rail-based supply chain that operates out of the Newcastle area and was the first RACE client. Development of the RACE product was completed in collaboration with key HVCCC staff including Chad Moffiet who shared the difficulties they face in providing objective planning and scheduling for such a diverse range of stakeholders.

Julia Polatos, also of HVCCC commented on the continuing improvements to RACE, saying, “At the beginning of the year we were looking at solve times of about an hour, with solve times now at 20 minutes or less. We realise the majority of operators are getting solves in seconds but there is a correlation with the complexity of our systems and the amount and types of data we are working with, as well as the size of the network. Our 20 minute solves are dealing with hundreds of assets across 2+ weeks with 40+ load points, etc – a highly complex problem.”

Guest speakers from Pacific National and Aurizon each demonstrated the benefits of using RACE within their shared coal network in central Queensland. Aurelio Signoriello of Pacific National said, “from the first time we used RACE we saw immediate value, being able to remove an entire train over the very next planning cycle.”

Ryan James from Aurizon spoke of the impact RACE has had for planning staff in reducing onerous and repetitive tasks, thereby allowing them to better utilise their skills and experience to deliver value in other areas of the supply chain. For Aurizon, RACE also provides access to greater detail than previous planning methods. “Our RACE implementation was completed in just 4 weeks, and we are now able to provide customers and network stakeholders up to date information that allows us to explain network disruptions, maximise fleet utilisation, protect our asset maintenance needs, and identify throughput improvement opportunities,” said Ryan.

Conference attendees also heard from Rio Tinto and Gattorna Alignment who provided insights on innovation, optimisation and automation within the rail industry. Shaun Robertson of Rio Tinto demonstrated how they are embracing new technologies with the 2018 maiden voyage of their first autonomous train in the Pilbara region of WA. He discussed key benefits such as greater flexibility in operations, more predictable cycle times, and having the infrastructure in place to enable the next level of optimisation for their network. While Deborah Ellis of Gattorna commented on the positivity of the content presented over the course of the day, “with a focus previously on challenges, today has been about how the industry is embracing new technologies and moving forward.”

Ben Hollis summed up the event, saying, “Interest in RACE continues to grow, with this year’s turnout (over 50 attendees) and speakers greatly exceeding expectations. It was very encouraging to hear key industry representatives speak so positively about RACE, making it clear it is becoming recognised as the industry standard tool for rail planning.”

If you’d like more information on RACE or are interesting in speaking at or attending next year's conference, contact events@polymathian.com

Thanks once again to our speakers from this year’s conference:

Aurelio Signoriello - QLD Coal Service Provider, Pacific National

Leon Mackay - Anglo Planning Superintendent, Pacific National

Julia Polatos - Project Lead - RACE Implementation, Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC)

Chad Moffiet - Innovation and Transformation Lead, Hunter Valley Coal Chain Coordinator (HVCCC)

Ryan James - Business Performance Leader CQCN Coal, Aurizon

Shaun Robertson - Principal Advisor - Rail and Port, Rio Tinto

Deborah Ellis - Partner, Gattorna Alignment


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