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  • Progress Rail was looking for a new technological solution and partner to resolve some of the issues associated with their inefficient business structures. Because they were using multiple systems, data ended up being stored in silos which hindered their ambitious growth plans.
  • Thanks to a partnership with Columbus and our implementation of Microsoft Dynamics, Progress Rail was able to properly address their challenges and have a sturdy foundation for growth.

About Progress Rail

  • Progress Rail is one of the largest integrated diversified providers of rolling stock and infrastructure solutions and technologies for the global rail industry. The company provides advanced EMD® locomotives, engines, and technologies, railcars, trackwork, fasteners, signaling, rail welding and Kershaw® Maintenance-of-Way equipment, along with dedicated locomotive and freight car repair services, aftermarket parts support and recycling operations.



Case Study: Progress Rail

Over recent years, Progress Rail has experienced strong growth. But success has not been without its growing pains, not least increasingly inefficient business structures that have struggled to communicate with one another effectively.


In addressing such mounting inefficiencies, Progress Rail sought a software system that would improve visibility across their railroad division and accelerate their ambitious growth strategy. Not least, they needed a streamlined manufacturing solution that would ease production planning and automate the purchasing process.

Challenges Addressed

Progress Rail was looking to address key challenges with the right technological solution and partner. Some of the challenges they faced were:

  • Rapid growth had created inefficient business structures
  • Multiple systems and developing processes were siloed and could not communicate with each other
  • Ambition growth strategy was hindered by a lack of automation and streamlined processes

Partnering for Success

Since Progress Rail’s responsiveness was curtailed by low efficacy in handling the production process and less than clear channels of communication with customers, they chose to implement Microsoft Dynamics with global Microsoft ERP partner, Columbus: a globally proven manufacturing solution.

In choosing Dynamics with Columbus, Progress Rail realised immediate benefits in the reduction of unnecessary communication that was clogging up the system, as Keith Churm, the managing director explains: “Since the implementation, we haven’t needed to deal with each of our profit centres separately. Now a lot of transactions have disappeared.”

Value Added

Microsoft Dynamics, implemented by Columbus, gave Progress Rail a future-proof solution that addressed challenges and gave them a foundation for growth. Benefits included:

  • 300% increase in manufacturing output
  • 20% reduction in stock
  • 22% reduction in accounting staff overhead
  • Purchase orders completed in 24 hours
  • Streamlined business processes

Gains for the Future

Big efficiency gains have been made across their 50 work centres by making use of the capacity planning functionality with the Dynamics solution, allowing Progress Rail to see where issues may arise before it becomes a problem.


“Microsoft Dynamics enables us to use the capacity planning facility not only to indicate free capacity on one site, but on a multi-site bases,” comments Mark Nash, manufacturing director, adding, “this helps project managers deal with shifts and the number of people he needs in areas where the risk of delivery failure is higher. The system gives the operator a sequence of operations that he is then charged to undertake according to the task schedule. Thanks to the implementation, the output level has increased by an enormous 300%, while the amount of people has stayed the same.”


Purchasing – thanks to a degree of intelligent automation within the system - has also transformed Progress Rail’s fortunes, resulting in an impressive 20% reduction in stock. Churm explains: “Microsoft Dynamics enables us to identify the purchase parts automatically – whether they need manufacturing or purchasing. Purchase orders are now done in just 24 hours, earlier it used to take weeks. We can just plug in the desired parameters or constraints and the system does the rest of it.”


The solution has made a remarkable improvement to customer service. Customers can get information more readily and accurately. For example, they can take a look into what materials they need to procure and what capacity they need to reserve in just a day. This increases customer confidence noticeably. Columbus’ solution allows Progress Rail access to live information and direct speeches with clients, which saves a lot of time since there are no intermediaries and allows to respond much faster.


The real-time reporting, VAT, bank reconciliations and financial compliance functionality with Microsoft Dynamics AX has also resulted in dramatic improvements, explains Keith Ravenscroft, finance director: “For example, a 22% reduction in accounting staff overhead is really something to boast about. With only 7 employees needed instead of the former 9, we have saved 2 man years of cost.”


An implementation with Columbus isn’t merely a technology project. It’s about a deep understanding of a business, its processes, its issues and its people. Working together, Columbus and Progress Rail followed Columbus’ proven project methodology to ensure a smooth transition into Microsoft Dynamics.  Ravenscroft concludes:  “They are professional and dedicated people, who are really easy to work with. They know the product really well in order to find the best possible solution. Columbus’ experts had just the experience we needed. And what’s more – they took the time to listen to us first.”


In choosing Columbus and Dynamics, Progress Rail has established a platform for future growth and developed the capacity to meet change head-on.

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