This is a really geeky exercise in overanalyzing. Hey, I can only to me.
So, one of the fun things of being an analyst is using my day job to overanalyze my hobbies.
I am really into model trains and run them at a club, I track some data on what trains and locomotives I run. Mainly this is to prove my gut feelings I run certain locos and train more often than others. Collecting this data is easy: I have an Excel workbook with the dates and times I ran trains and locomotives. I looks kinda like this:
|12/7/2019 | UP |SD70ACE |UPFRT1 | Manifest |
Date, roadname, loco type, freight name, and an overall classification of the train. Classification isn’t completely important.
All of this gets sucked into Tableau, because I like the tool and use it for work.
Now, the main question at hand.
As in the previous example, the train named UPFRT1 is made up of about 24 cars. I swap cars in and out a lot, and I can tell you what was in UPFRT1 isn’t the same as is now. I have a tab in Excel that lists all of the rolling stock and the train it’s assigned to at that point. This is more so I try and avoid buying a car I already have.
So, what I am trying to figure out how to track how often a specific car ran. I don’t know how scalable my method of tracking locomotives will scale. A 4-line entry in Excel listing the dates I ran a locomotive isn’t bad. However, tracking 60 cars running is harder.
I’ve given serious thought to bar codes, but that’s too much.
On one hand, it’s not hard to create a different worksheet, and copy and paste the train rosters and assign them a date. There are some cars that may be part of two different trains (a shorter train I may run). I can create a second field for “secondary train name” and filter off that.
I want some way of saying “I ran train x,” and have it grab and record a date it ran. Maybe SQL is the best tool?
That is assuming there is a lot of variation in train consists this year. I’ve gone kinda nuts buying train stuff and may be cutting back on it.