TTX to Deploy Telematics Hardware on Railcars

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
(Screen grab courtesy of TTX YouTube video)

(Screen grab courtesy of TTX YouTube video)

TTX announced that it will begin deploying telematics hardware on its railcars in support of its railroad owners’ “drive for efficiency and customer growth.”

According to TTX Director of Fleet Telematics, Marketing John Woodcock, the company will begin equipping Nexxiot GPS devices on its new build TBOX high-capacity boxcar fleet this year. TTX, which is owned by the Class I railroads, will also be retrofitting existing TBOX boxcars as they cycle through the shop. The company expects as many as 1,700 boxcars to be equipped in 2023 and will also be equipping several hundred multi-level auto rack railcars.

“Today, railroads and their customers rely on event messages and AEI-based location reports to monitor shipments,” TTX said in a YouTube video. “AEI uses car mounted RFID tags to transmit a railcar’s location when passing a wayside scanner. Well reliable scanners reside at fixed locations, which limits AEI’s tracking effectiveness.”

(Screen grab courtesy of TTX YouTube video)

According to TTX, telematics can augment current reporting methods. Car-mounted GPS devices transmit location via the cellular network on a frequent set schedule resulting in greater visibility.

In 2018, TTX established a research and development program evaluating telematics and its potential to improve activity and car health monitoring, said TTX Director of Research & Product Development Erik Gotlund. “We are leveraging this experience to equip rail cars on a production basis.”

According to TTX, installation of the GPS devices is straightforward and involves welding a bracket to the car and pairing the device to the car ID. All TTX applications, the company says, will comply with Association of American Railroads (AAR) remote monitoring equipment installation standards.

TTX is deploying GPS devices that generate a location report every five minutes while moving. In addition to movement start and stop events, TTX says all onboard location and event reporting will be relayed to the company’s owner railroads for application within their operating and shipment management tools.

Of the cars TTX will be equipping with GPS devices, 1,000 will also feature a suite of sensors to “monitor impact events, door position, empty load status, and handbrake position.”

TTX says it will proactively work with its owner railroads under the governance of AAR to “develop event and alert messaging protocols that maximize the value of reported sensor data.”

According to TTX, additional sensor functionalities continue to be explored with the company’s technology partners. “TTX is committed to innovative telematics development and deployment solutions in pursuit of our mission, partnering with North America’s railroads in support of their business,” the company said.

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