What is DSS? An Introduction to Decision Support Systems

When it comes to making critical business decisions, having the right information at the right time can mean the difference between success and failure. This is where decision support systems (DSS) come in. In this blog post, we’ll explore what DSS are, why they are useful, how they are used, and how InterDynamics can help to build one.

What is a DSS?

A DSS is a computer-based information system that helps users make informed decisions by providing relevant data and analytical tools. It is designed to assist decision-makers at various levels within an organization, from operational to strategic. A DSS typically consists of three components: a database, a model base, and a user interface.

The database is where data is stored, retrieved, and manipulated. The model base contains mathematical, simulation and analytical models that are used to analyze the data. The user interface allows users to interact with the system, input data, and receive output.

Why are DSS useful?

DSS are useful because they provide decision-makers with timely, accurate, and relevant information. They help to improve decision-making by reducing the time and effort required to gather and analyze data. Decision Support Systems also enable decision-makers to consider multiple scenarios and evaluate the potential impact of their decisions before they are made.

How are Decision Support Systems used?

DSS can be used in a variety of ways, depending on the specific needs of an organization. Some common applications of DSS include:DSS

  • Financial analysis and forecasting
  • Inventory management
  • Marketing and sales analysis
  • Supply chain management
  • Risk management

Regardless of the application, these systems are designed to support decision-making by providing users with the information they need to make informed decisions.

How can InterDynamics help to build a Decision Support System?

InterDynamics specializes in developing custom decision support systems that are tailored to the specific needs of our clients. Our team of experts can work with you to identify your organization’s unique requirements and design a DSS that meets your needs.

We use a proven methodology that includes:

  • Requirements gathering
  • System design and architecture
  • Development and implementation
  • Testing and quality assurance
  • Maintenance and support

Our approach ensures that your system is delivered on time, on budget, and meets your organization’s specific requirements.


In conclusion, DSS are a powerful tool that can help organizations make informed decisions. They provide decision-makers with timely, accurate, and relevant information, and enable them to evaluate the potential impact of their decisions before they are made. InterDynamics can help to design and develop a custom model that meets your organization’s unique needs. Contact us today to learn more!

What is required to build a Rail Simulation Model?

A rail simulation model is a crucial tool for understanding and improving rail systems’ performance. These models simulate the train movements and operations on a rail network, allowing planners and operators to analyze the system’s behavior and make informed decisions to improve its efficiency and safety.

rail simulation model

A model typically consists of several components, each representing a different aspect of the rail system. The following are the critical components of a rail simulation model:

Track Infrastructure Model

Track infrastructure is a critical component of a rail simulation model, as it affects train speed, rail capacity, and safety. The track infrastructure data required for a rail model includes:

  • Track geometry, including locations of depots, yards, passing loops, signals and travel times
  • Track structure e.g. single/double/triple track, movement rules

Rolling Stock

Rolling stock is another important component of a rail simulation, as it affects train performance and network capacity. The rolling stock data required for a rail simulation model includes:

  • Train length, number of wagons, wagon capacity
  • Maximum speed
  • Train type e.g. diesel/electric
  • Fuel capacity

Train Scheduling

Train scheduling is an essential component of a rail model, as it helps to optimize train movements and avoid delays. The train scheduling data required for a rail simulation model includes:

  • Train timetable, including train departure and arrival times, and train frequency
  • Train speed restrictions, including those imposed by track geometry or signaling system
  • Train priority rules, including those for freight or passenger trains

Simulating Maintenance

Maintenance is a crucial component of a rail model, as it ensures that the rail system remains in a state of good repair and operates reliably. The maintenance data required for a rail simulation model includes:

  • Maintenance schedule, including the frequency and duration of maintenance activities
  • Maintenance types, including preventive maintenance, corrective maintenance, and predictive maintenance.
  • Maintenance resources, including labor, equipment, and materials needed to perform maintenance activities

Maintenance activities can include track maintenance, rolling stock maintenance, signal system maintenance, and other types of maintenance needed to keep the rail system operating reliably. By modeling maintenance activities in a rail model, planners and operators can ensure that the rail system operates reliably and avoids unplanned disruptions that can affect safety and efficiency. Track maintenance can fully close one or more tracks, or apply speed restrictions to certain parts of the network.

Rail Simulation and Dispatching

Dispatching is an essential component of a rail simulation model, as it involves making real-time decisions to manage train movements and maintain system capacity. The dispatching data required for a  model includes:

  • Train dispatching rules: this may be based on a timetable, a minimum headway between departures or run when ready
  • Demand consideration: if a rail network is servicing numerous locations such as a coal network, the dispatch logic will ensure trains are dispatched to the mines evenly according to their demand
  • Other network considerations: trains can be dispatched to ensure they do not not exceed the capacity at their destination and will not have lengthy delays on track by encountering planned maintenance.


Rail simulation modeling is a powerful tool that can help rail planners and operators understand and improve the performance of rail systems. To create an accurate simulation model, planners and operators need to gather and use the relevant data for each component of the rail system. By understanding the critical components and data requirements of a rail simulation, planners and operators can use the model to optimize the rail system’s efficiency and safety.

InterDynamics has built numerous rail models for clients in the freight industry around the world. Contact us to discuss your requirements and our team will let you know how Planimate can help.

Welcome to Focus on Fatigue,

We’re in the cold depths of winter here in Australia. The sun is setting earlier and, in the morning, it seems no more eager to get up than the rest of us. It can be easier to get our much-needed sleep when there are extra hours of darkness to spend curled up in bed – unless you’re working the night shift.

Most shift workers spend at least some time thinking about the quantity and quality of their sleep, but how much time should reasonably be taken up with such considerations? In this month’s Focus on Fatigue, we’ll look at the point at which striving for better sleep becomes counterproductive.

The FRMS Team


InterDynamics Pty Ltd
320 Adelaide Street Brisbane Qld 4000
Tel +61 7 3229 8300

Views expressed in articles and links provided are those of the individual authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of InterDynamics (except where directly attributed).


Sleepless Over Sleep

All shift workers know the vital role adequate sleep plays in both their work performance and personal life. Reports on research about the short and long-term effects of sleep deprivation, and circadian rhythm disruption, have become a regular part of the news cycle. Health problems, changes to genes, impaired decision-making, mental health issues, bags under the eyes, the excessive consumption of fried foods: they can all be linked back to lack of sleep. That doesn’t even begin to cover the increased risk of accident at work or while driving.

In more recent years, influential people outside the realm of academia have also used their popularity to draw attention to the importance of sleep. From Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution, to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Clean Sleeping Routine, tips and techniques for the perfect slumber seem to come at us from all sides.

Advances in technology have added to this preoccupation with sleep. A variety of wearable devices now offer to track sleep by measuring factors such as movement and heart rate. The accuracy of such devices is still under debate, with little reliable data available. However, some researchers have concluded they could be useful in gaining information about general sleep patterns, especially when combined with a sleep diary.

This is all good news. More information helps improve our knowledge. Getting the message out encourages us to develop good sleep habits. Having additional ways of measuring sleep patterns can assist in identifying areas of improvements. However, too much of a good thing is enough to… well, keep you up at night. At what point does our quest for better sleep do more harm than good?

This obsession with achieving the perfect night’s sleep on an ongoing basis is now common enough that it has a name: Orthosomnia. Coined by a group of researchers in Chicago, the term is used to describe individuals who are preoccupied with improving their wearable sleep data through correct (“ortho”) sleep (“somnia”).

For the love of data

Sleep is complicated—really complicated. Specialists in sleep clinics measure sleep through a study known as polysomnography. They’ll measure brain waves, breathing, heart rate, muscle activity, blood oxygen levels, eye movement, the list goes on. All of this just to answer one question: How well did I sleep last night?

But sleep trackers have something polysomnography doesn’t have… easily accessible data that’s available EVERY DAY. Our devices will tell us how long it took us to get to sleep, how many minutes we slept, and even how often we were restless. Every morning we can wake up to fresh numbers we can point to and call ‘facts.’ If we get a great ‘sleep score’ we feel like successful sleepers, but if we fall short, anxiety can set in. We can feel like we’ve somehow ‘failed’ at sleep.

This is where it’s important to remember what sleep trackers can and can’t do. Trackers can give us an idea of our sleep patterns and how well we’re sleeping in general. However, they aren’t necessarily great at telling us how well we slept last night in particular, and they definitely can not help us self-diagnose a sleep disorder.

In other words, if you’re reaching for your device to find out how well you slept last night, rather than evaluating how you feel when you wake up, you’re probably relying too heavily on the wrong source of information.

I’m going to be sleepy today, my device told me so

The brain is a tricky thing and it likes nothing better than to turn our thoughts into reality. One group of researchers wanted to investigate how perceptions about sleep affected performance. They found that telling people they had slept poorly the night before led to poor performance on an auditory math test. Meanwhile, those who believed they had slept well performed within normal limits for the test.

If you believe you slept poorly, you’re more likely to act as if you’re sleep deprived, even if you’re not.

I’m going to work really hard to get more sleep

We can work harder to eat right. We can work harder to get more exercise. Unfortunately, sleep is the one part of the health triad where working harder is likely to get us into trouble. Going to bed at 8pm is not necessarily going to result in more sleep if your body is used to going to sleep at 10pm. You could, however, find yourself staring at the ceiling for a couple of hours stressing about why you’re still awake.

What can we do?

It’s all about perspective. Sleep is important, but so is peace of mind. There are plenty of things we can do to improve our chances of achieving adequate levels of quality sleep, such as developing good sleep hygiene habits and taking care of ourselves in the other areas of our lives. If we’re concerned about the quality or quantity of our sleep, it’s important to contact a health professional to discuss such concerns.

In the end, however, it’s important to realise there is no such thing as ‘perfect’ sleep. But if we’re snoozing well enough to wake refreshed and ready to face the world most days, that’s probably close enough.


  • Baron, K. G., Abbott, S., Jao, N., Manalo, N. and Mullen, R. (2017) Orthosomnia: Are some patients taking the quantified self too far? Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 13 (2), 351-354.
  • Baron, K. G., Duffecy, J., Berendsen, M. A., Mason, I. C., Lattie, E. G. and Manalo, N. C. (2017) Feeling validated yet? A scoping review of the use of consumer-targeted wearable and mobile technology to measure and improve sleep. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 40, 151-159.
  • Erdal, K. (2014) Just thinking you slept poorly can hurt your performance. Harvard Business Review (Septamber Issue). (Accessed 20 June 2018)


In the News

Provided below are a selection of articles from around the web on the issues associated with fatigue. We hope you find them useful and interesting.

Article: How do sleep trackers work and are they reliable?
Ethan Green, No Sleepless Nights (22 April 2018)

Until recently, the only way to accurately assess your sleep would be to visit a specialist sleep clinic. But now there’s another option for self-assessment: the personal sleep tracker. How do they work though, and how do they compare to the equipment available in a sleep lab? And can you actually rely on the information they provide?

Article: Can’t sleep? Tell yourself it’s no big deal
Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian (21 April 2018)

Take it from an intermittent bad sleeper: there’s nothing more likely to keep an insomniac up at night, or turn a good sleeper into an insomniac, than being told it’s completely essential they drift off. Actually, the ironies of insomnia are even worse than that, because there’s growing evidence that thinking of yourself as an insomniac – having an “insomnia identity”, is a major part of the problem.

South African Gold Mine Operations Scheduling

Real time job allocation in underground wet mine.

Bluescope Steel Loco Analysis

Examining plant machinery end of life replacement alternatives for optimum economic viability

Hanson Block Production Planner

Enhancing multi site production operations using historical information and future growth projections

Assigned Services Planning Tool – Workforce Scheduling

Assisting railway engineers/train drivers to have a better work life balance.

Iron Ore Supply Chain

Optimizing complex supply chains to meet short and long term planning goals.