RailComm iTrack: No more “lost cars”

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

RailComm’s new, patented iTrack Intelligent Yard Inventory system has been successfully deployed at Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks (TASD).

“iTrack solution is a new capability of RailComm’s yard automation portfolio,” says President Joe Forgione. “It is a real-time, fully automatic railcar inventory system that allows yard personnel to identify and follow the location of every car and locomotive entering the facility. The solution integrates with the RailComm DOC system, Car Identification Portal (which includes cameras) to detect every railcar—even a car with defective AEI tags—as it enters and exits the yard, and with our Insight monitoring and analytics platform, which provides a dashboard with live video feed and system health monitoring and analytics. Wheel sensors located at each turnout provide automatic and continuous railcar tracking railcar throughout the yard. As railcars move through the yard, the system knows their exact location, which can be searched at anytime from anywhere via a graphical Web-based interface. The system and data reside on our secure and reliable Cloud infrastructure.”

iTrack overview screenshot v2iTrack is designed to provide managers, supervisors and customers with the yard-status information they need to make decisions, such as the ordered list of cars on a track, car dwell times, track length availability, and car arrival and departure times. iTrack also keeps track of missing AEI tags, or tags with incorrect car information, and allows the user to make corrections. With analytics and reporting capabilities, the system supports management with decision-making.

TASD serves customers mostly in chemicals and bulk goods, including containers, coal, metal products, lumber/building supplies, paper, chemicals, petroleum products, aggregates, cement, grains, and agricultural products, and also handles movement and storage of freight cars for CSX, Norfolk Southern, CN, Kansas City Southern, Alabama Gulf Coast, and CG Railway. TASD needed to deploy a real-time system to automatically track all railcar yard movements and know exactly when each car enters and exits the yard, with time stamped movement transactions. It also needed to see the ordered lineup of cars on each track in real-time with no delay in processing switch lists or waiting for EDI messages, and to find the current location of any car by entering all or part of a car’s ID, even those with defective AEI tags, with all cars detected and metrics collected on AEI tag defects. The system also needed to provide car location and transaction information to carriers, car owners, and freight customers.

TADS’s system is comprised of car tracking portals installed at the yard’s four entrance, an axle tracking system with 116 wheel sensors at 56 switch locations, an industrial 802.11 Wi-Fi radio communication network, the iTrack application, and RailComm’s DOC®. The Car Tracking system, which provides a graphical representation of the car inventory and tracking reports, is accessed from a yard office central workstation and can also be accessed from anywhere through a web user interface.

iTrack solution provides the us with a real-time view of our railcar inventory and traffic on the interchange, said TASD General Manager Mike Russell. “It enables us to move from hand-written lists to a fully automatic car inventory. We can locate ‘lost’ cars—misplaced, put on the wrong track, etc.—and go back in history. We are looking forward to providing access to this system to the five other carriers that switch cars on our interchange.”

Russell adds that Norfolk Southern “was a partner in making this project a reality.”






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