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Case Study: Rail Shippers


In this post, we'll examine some of the common pain points that rail shippers see on a daily and long-term basis and discuss some of the ways they can automate, streamline, and improve their existing processes.


Business Problem:

  • Inefficient operations and practices in rail activities (loading, offloading, inspections, inventory, etc.)

  • High monthly demurrage payments

  • Lapses in the consolidation and communication of load data

  • Safety concerns loading incorrect railcars

Objectives:

  • Reduce annual freight spending

  • Create a leaner, more efficient fleet

  • Increase the visibility of fleet and products shipped

  • Maximize products loaded into each railcar

  • Reduce redundancies in the rail shipping process

  • Standardize process across multiple sites (corporate customers)

Process:

  • Automate load process by providing automatic VCF (Volume Correction Formula) calculations at each loading rack, considering the car size and type as well as the product to prevent underloading or overloading any railcar

  • Automate inspections and yard checks via mobile application

  • Simplify planning orders

  • Automatic alerts to inform operators of cars not suitable to be loaded, or load rejection

  • Reporting directly to your existing system or database and/or to YardMaster®, so that your data is uploaded in real-time

  • Scan and validate security seals associated with the loading of products

Results:

  • Reduce fleet size by ~2.5% in the first year after go-live

  • Reduce demurrage payments by 5% in the first year after go-live

  • Reduce overall rail or transportation spend by .5% in the first 18 months (about 1 and a half years) after go-live

  • Reduction in the total number of “rail events” recorded

  • Enable $2M in annual savings

  • Realize cost reduction benefits resulting in ~$2M overall annual savings


Abstract:

In this case study, we look at a rail shipper with 10 sites shipping products such as diesel and ethanol, as well specialty lubricant products. They noticed that within the “life of a railcar” at one of their facilities, railcars are often underloaded and as a result, they are using more car storage overall than they need to. Additionally, this rail shipper is paying thousands of dollars per month in demurrage fees for cars that have been idle in their yard for extended periods of time. This shipper is looking for a way to automate, streamline, and improve its existing processes.

With the help of Industrial Network’s Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) readers and software, and the Bourque Logisitics’ YardMaster database, this shipper can consolidate its processes, while creating new efficiencies and saving money over time. By placing IN1500 stationary readers at the entrance and exit of their facilities, each inbound car’s information is automatically and passively recorded when it enters the plant. At the load rack, operators can scan the car’s AEI Tag to ensure the car is safe to load, verify security seal information, and complete a volume correction calculation to ensure that they safely load the maximum amount of product possible. If an alert pops up, the operator can quickly and simply complete a railcar inspection digitally on their INT300 mobile AEI tablet. Once the railcar is inspected and loaded, the data is sent to the YardMaster database automatically, and its exit is recorded by the outbound stationary AEI reader. In turn, this shipper can have a holistic view of exactly what is at their facility and cut down on idle cars causing large demurrage bills.


By implementing this process in multiple shipping sites across North America, our solution has shown significant savings in transportation costs, reduced fleet sizes, greater visibility, and improved efficiency overall of a given fleet. To learn more about how Industrial Networks automates the load process as well as other rail and operational activities, send us a note at sales@inetlp.com or give us a call at (833) AEI-TAGS.


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Spring, TX 77386

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