Unit Train Automation

  • Chemical
  • Terminal Management Solutions
  • RTU
  • Project Management
  • Instrumentation Engineering
  • HMI
  • Electrical Design
  • DCS
  • Control System Migration
  • Terminal Management Solutions
  • RTU
  • Project Management
  • Instrumentation Engineering
  • HMI
  • Electrical Design
  • DCS
  • Control System Migration

The Challenge

The client was undergoing a major expansion of one of their rail loading terminals, in order to service the growing number of energy producers in the region requiring terminal services to bring their product, including oil, diluted bitumen, and diluents, among others, to market.

The facility, which had a broad array of transloading options including pipeline to rail loading and unloading, was in a key location in close proximity to multiple main rail lines, pipelines, and storage caverns.

The expansion involved adding new facilities for transloading 150,000 bbl/d of Diluted Bitumen product (Dilbit) from 120,000 bbl heated storage tank to Unit Trains, groups of 100 railcars.

Extremely tight timelines and a design / build methodology were in place for completion of the work.

Autopro's Role

As the client’s Main Automation Contractor (MAC), Autopro was contracted to provide detailed engineering and construction management of the control system and communication networks which control and manage the Unit Train loading process through tanks, pumps, loading arms, and MultiLoad loading rack controls.

Autopro created construction work packages for the following areas of scope:

  •  DCS infrastructure – installation of controller cabinets, I/O panels, computer interface cabinet and server cabinets, as well as connection to network servers
  • Terminal systems – installation of remote control units (RCUs) and integration to the Terminal Management System (TMS) network
  • Temporary control building, networks, infrastructure and power – installation of fibre optic cable, fibre patch panels and network switches in numerous locations, as well as DCS consoles, Accu-load meters and an access control system
  • Radio Frequency Identification - installation of an RFID system to track movement of the railcars entering, exiting, and within the facility

Construction took place in the following areas:

  • E-house building
  • Unit train rail loading area central shelter
  • Pipeline metering area
  • Temporary control building
  • Chloralkali area
  • DBCO1 area
  • Existing control building
  • Interconnecting field areas

Autopro’s overall areas of responsibility on the project included:

  • Project management & administration
  • Procurement (developing RFQs, bid spreads and vendor recommendations)
  • Document control (developing new drawings and modifications to existing drawings)
  • Electrical and instrumentation engineering
  • Inspection, integration tests, and FAT
  • Construction management and construction engineering support
  • Commissioning and start-up
  • Operator training
  • As-built drawings


This project resulted in numerous benefits and significant savings for the customer, including:

  • More efficient management of the entire rail terminal inventory, reducing the number of “lost” cars and empty cars leaving the terminal
  • Improved real-time information flow from operations to corporate management systems
  • Deployment of fibre network infrastructure at gigabit speeds which allows easier and more cost effective future capacity upgrades
  • Installation of an alternate UPS system which more closely fit the client’s requirements, resulting in savings of more than $250,000 CDN

Project Metrics

Project Completion Date