It's a metaphor I learned years ago, in the context of ensuring that students are learning, rather than fretting about getting through all the material.

Apparently there are people at CSX Transportation who get it.
Toyota Canada on Nov. 17 withdrew generally positive comments it made to federal regulators in October, saying they no longer reflect the service the automaker is receiving from CSX.

And under pressure from lawmakers, CSX last week reversed plans to curtail service to General Mills facilities, including a mill in Buffalo, N.Y., that makes Cheerios, The Buffalo News reported. CSX had planned to switch the Cheerios plant once a day, down from the current twice-daily service.

“As we progress the adaptation of Precision Scheduled Railroading across our network, CSX continues to respond to individual customer issues when they emerge,” spokesman Rob Doolittle says. “A good case in point is General Mills, where CSX has agreed to continue providing twice-daily service to General Mills' Buffalo facility as the company prepares for proposed changes to the rail-service schedule at its Buffalo plant. CSX remains committed to working with General Mills and all of our customers to meet their service requirements as we makes changes across our network to improve efficiency, safety, and customer service.”

CSX officials have said [new chief operating officer James] Foote is an important addition to the management team, particularly since he brings a deep background with Precision Scheduled Railroading.

He replaces both Chief Operating Officer Cindy Sanborn and Chief Marketing Officer Fredrik Eliasson, who left CSX on Nov. 15 along with Ellen Fitzsimmons, who was the railroad’s chief legal officer.
All that talk about "efficiency, safety, and customer service" is as of nothing when General Mills goes to drones to get those Cheerios right to your door.


Dave Tufte said...

Don't they also say something in operations research and/or queuing theory to balance flow not output?

Stephen Karlson said...

That's hard on a railroad. The Chesapeake and Ohio part of CSX moved a lot of coal from the Appalachians to tidewater, and empties back. Inevitably there's more power at tidewater than there is tonnage. The Seaboard and Atlantic Coast Line parts of CSX moved citrus products north, but balancing moves south pretty much ended when the Maine potato growers went to trucks, and the seasons don't match. The Louisville and Nashville part handled agricultural products north and manufactured goods south (not so much now that those factories have left the Rust Belt.) Different sorts of cars.

Hunter Harrison's Precision Scheduled Railroading makes some use of those flow balancing concepts, and he tries some other things like billing consignees for standing cars still at weekends rather than unloading them, generating a different form of ill will with customers.

But that balancing is difficult in practice, and you inevitably get, as I see whenever I'm near Union Pacific for any length of time, baretable moves from one container yard to another, or light engine moves.