Unlocking the Potential of Moving Freight by Rail: Increasing Visibility for Shippers
By Anthony B. Pacetti, Senior Product Manager, Wabtec
In today’s automated economy, there is a growing expectation among shippers for digital tools to support business needs. One of the challenges shippers have is knowing when railcars will arrive. Shippers ask:
- Do I have enough railcars to meet production demand? If not, how can I be proactive?
- Where are my railcars right now?
- When will my railcars arrive?
- Can we accommodate this change to our production forecast?
- How can I take advantage of the scalability and cost effectiveness of rail, without compromising delivery performance?
Railroads that can help shippers track and organize railcar shipments unlock growth potential by making rail easier to use.
Solving Pain Points
RailConnect™ Visibility and Planning is a cloud-based software solution that brings transparency to the railcar supply chain and streamlines railcar planning, scheduling, and communication – all from one convenient application. Designed for shippers of railroads using RailConnect Transportation Management, the solution gives transportation departments the visibility, control, and efficiency they need to keep production moving and scale their business through rail.
As the first module in the next generation of RailConnect Transportation Management, RailConnect Visibility and Planning combines best of breed cloud technology with state-of-the-art visualization, and modular services architecture.There are two tiers of functionality:
RVP: Standard Visbility & Interaction
- View railcars enroute to your location
- View cars placed within your facility/yard
- Review cars on constructive placement and, as needed, order those cars to be switched into your facility
- Provide specific instructions to the railroad for handling your rail shipments. Instructions include ordering cars to spot, releasing cars, and requesting special services such as weighs, turns, or holds
- Run rail operations from a single unified information portal. Get timely information and communicate seamlessly with the serving short line railroad through a shared view to maximize service and efficiencies
RVP+: Full Visibility, Interaction, & Planning
- All the capabilities of RVP, plus
- 30 day rolling railcar forecast driven by product orders – ability to integrate with ERP and enter forecasts manually – share updates in real time to serving railroad
- Increased visibility into the railcar pipeline enabling users to forecast further out - know in advance if you will have access to the cars that you need
- Dynamic ETAs direct from short line and class 1 railcar movements that incorporate machine-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence for higher accuracy
- Insight into when the inbound railcar pipe line is insufficient to meet outbound rail-car orders
What’s Next & The Future
The capabilities in RailConnect Visibility and Planning continue to grow. A powerful new ETA engine is currently being integrated that will bring an advanced level of accuracy to predictions. Through the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), we are using technology to solve age-old issues that will enable us to bring unprecedented results to our short line partners and their shippers.
Longer term, the vision for RailConnect Visibility and Planning is to become a true one stop shop information and communication portal for rail shippers and equipment owners. We are expanding what visibility means in the railroad world. Beyond ETA, car locations, and status, RailConnect Visibility and Planning is being built to allow more types of visibility, for example railcar health, charges, and price lookup. The goal is transparency between railroads and their shippers – making rail easy to use and unlocking its growth potential.
About the Author
Anthony Pacetti is the Senior Product Manager for RVP. In this role, Anthony is responsible for developing digital solutions that unlock value and propel the rail industry to new heights of operational and financial performance. Anthony has more than 11 years of rail industry leadership experience spanning Automation, Customer Service, and Technology. He has a deep understanding of the short line and regional railroad industry, having worked with over 130 short lines.