Supply chain technology provider Blume Global has introduced what it describes as “an end-to-end, interline rail freight scheduler that gives users visibility around cargo moving from one railroad to another.”
Blume Global’s free-of-charge freight scheduler is “cloud-native digital platform” that allows intermodal users to better coordinate cross-country rail freight deliveries. The platform provides current real-time schedules that allow shippers and IMCs (intermodal marketing companies) to synchronize shipments across different railroads. The company’s first railroad users are Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern and CSX; Blume says the system will eventually be available to all railroads and expanded to most types of interline freight, such as carload and motor vehicles.
“With the initial participation of Union Pacific, NS and CSX, Blume has mapped the EMP and UMAX container pools used by IMCs,” the company notes. “We look to add more railroad schedules that will fuel Blume Maps, our digital twin of the supply chain world.”
Blume Maps allows customers to plan, track and adjust freight shipments, “no matter the mode,” Blume explains. “Customers use Blume Maps to first plot routes using variable lead times, cost implications and intelligent historical data. Next, they monitor shipments with end-to-end visibility and continuously updated ETAs to ensure orders are traveling on time, receiving notifications when orders may be late or early. When shipments are late, customers can use Blume Maps to view recommended alternate modes, carriers, service levels and routes to bring shipments back on track.”
A key component of the freight scheduling platform involves Blume’s Jan. 4 acquisition of LiveSource, described as “a leading multi-enterprise supply chain business network for complex manufacturers.” LiveSource, with offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia, provides sourcing and procurement orchestration technology, among other solutions, to the automotive and industrial manufacturing sectors.
In concert with the schedule solution, Blume’s subscription-based asset management feature, available at a nominal cost of less than $10 per shipment, according to Blume Global CEO Pervinder Johar, “tracks details around the movement of intermodal rail shipments and how they interchange. Additionally, our system provides schedule adherence information, with the ability to catch missing interchange points, recalculate ETAs and improve accuracy with future deliveries.”
“Blume Global boasts exclusive access to decades of market insights in international and domestic multi-modal logistics, and our rich history with North American railroads puts us in the unique position to offer an innovative solution to a decades-old issue,” adds Johar. “This free solution enables better cooperation among railroads and their IMC customers, making sure freight is flowing on the rails as efficiently and effectively as possible. While individual freight cars have been able to be tracked for quite some time, shipment ETAs have been a critical missing piece. Our system addresses this, across all modes—maritime, truck and rail.”
“Coordination among railroads is essential,” says . Utilizing a neutral platform that encourages further collaboration among the rails, IMCs and other users will influence the future of all cargo deliveries,” says Union Pacific Assistant Vice President Premium Marketing Seana Fairchild. “At Union Pacific, we are eager to deploy this intelligence as a means to meet increasingly higher demands from our customers.”
“Consistency and accuracy of service are critical to our customers, and this platform helps by improving the visibility of their cross-country rail freight shipments,” says Norfolk Southern Vice President Intermodal and Automotive Jeffrey Heller. “Norfolk Southern and Blume are both committed to leveraging technology to improve customer service.”
“Blume’s ability to monitor container availability and interline rail schedules enables our customers to run more efficient operations,” says CSX Vice President Intermodal and Automotive Maryclare Kenney. “This solution is a helpful planning tool for IMCs looking to send shipments from one coast to the other.”