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Supply Side: RailPulse, IntelliTrans

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
The RailPulse end-to-end rail industry telematics platform enhances the shipper experience through robust GPS and railcar telematics data delivered via an easy-to-use, cloud-based dashboard and APIs.

The RailPulse end-to-end rail industry telematics platform enhances the shipper experience through robust GPS and railcar telematics data delivered via an easy-to-use, cloud-based dashboard and APIs.

RailPulse’s cloud-based telematic platform is slated to be complete in the second half of 2023. Also, IntelliTrans partners with AllTranstek, LLC to improve railcar maintenance tracking.

RailPulse has joined together to improve service and reliability by helping railroads and shippers monitor and track railcar status in real-time by developing an end-to-end rail industry telematics platform that aims to “enhance the shipper experience through robust GPS and railcar telematics data delivered via an easy-to-use, cloud-based dashboard and APIs.”

Once released, RailPulse says the platform will “help shippers identify risks sooner, investigate and mitigate delays, and find new opportunities to improve rail shipment logistics.”

According to RailPulse, data from the telematics platform, which was first outlined by the coalition of leading railcar owners in a three-phase pilot approach in October, can be used to monitor railcar health, conduct proactive maintenance to reduce traffic disruption, and improve security with door/hatch alerts, as well as provide advanced railcar visibility by shippers. The platform, RailPulse adds, is designed to “help shippers better manage their logistics, ensure timely delivery of shipments and increase customer satisfaction.” An improved understanding on cost-inducing items, such as demurrage, will also allow shippers to act or begin more informed conversations with their railroad partners, according to the coalition.  

“Today’s shippers face many common challenges in rail freight transportation that can be addressed with the real-time visibility provided by the RailPulse platform currently under development,” the coalition stated in a release. “Enhanced railcar visibility across the North American rail fleet delivers many benefits to shippers, resulting in faster, more reliable cycle times and better service.”

Additionally, RailPulse says its telematics platform “makes it easier for shippers to better understand key metrics.” “Shippers will no longer need to compare spreadsheets and conduct time-consuming manual analyses to assess key metrics, enabling them to be proactive rather than reactive,” the coalition said. “This standardized data and real-time shipment intelligence also opens the opportunity for shippers to explore adding performance metrics in contracts with their railroad partners.”

“The rail industry is on the cusp of delivering real-time railcar visibility across the North American fleet to give shippers secure, cloud-based access to real-time data they need to manage their shipments,” the coalition stated in a release. “RailPulse is making it easier for shippers to access and leverage standardized railcar GPS and telematics data with actionable analytics to better understand current conditions.

“Once released, shippers and railroads will be able to work together to optimize rail freight performance and deliver the service shippers require–and deserve,” stated RailPulse.

RailPulse was formed in 2020 by a diverse group of stakeholders, including Norfolk Southern (NS), Union Pacific (UP), GATX, Genesee & Wyominc Inc. (G&W), Watco Companies LLC, The Greenbrier Companies, RDC and Trinity Rail to “facilitate and accelerate the adoption of GPS and other telematics technology across the North American railcar network to significantly increase visibility, efficiency and safety.”

IntelliTrans’ Global Visibility Platform

IntelliTrans announced Feb. 14 that it has partnered with AllTranstek to improve railcar maintenance tracking by integrating the company’s data into its Global Visibility Platform, allowing clients to “know which cars need maintenance, when and where to get it, minimizing downtime.”

“AllTranstek digitizes the maintenance process for railcars, ensuring the rail fleets get to the right maintenance shops at the optimal time to keep up with federal regulations, while minimizing lost revenue,” said IntelliTrans President Ken Sherman. “Companies might forget when maintenance needs to be performed, which can lead to railcars being unavailable to ship products or out of compliance. Automating maintenance tracking lets customers know when cars need to be repaired or updated, keeping the cars compliant, safe, and working properly.”

According to IntelliTrans, maintaining railcars is “critical to ensuring that deliveries arrive on time, the supply chain keeps running smoothly, and costs are kept in check.” Studies, the company says, show that monitoring the condition of a rail car to decide when maintenance should be done saves 5-12% of life cycle costs. However, many shippers forgo routine maintenance because of a lack of time and budget. Without routine preventative maintenance, railcars can break down, increasing the time a car is out of service and resulting in lost revenues.

According to IntelliTrans, shippers can’t move their products if a railcar is out for repair—which can be expensive if a railcar is damaged in the field and a repair shop is not nearby. To prevent downtime, the company says, regular maintenance must be scheduled, adding that railcars must follow the standards of the American Association of Railroads (AAR), The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), and Transport Canada (TC). If a car is out of compliance, expensive penalties will be invoked. To stay in compliance and avoid penalties, railcars must be maintained appropriately by certified rail shops that can show proper service records.

“Shippers need to be aware of many factors when it comes to railcar maintenance and compliance, and we are delighted to partner with IntelliTrans, a recognized industry leader, to assist our mutual customers in navigating these varying and complex AAR, FRA, and TC regulatory compliance requirements,” said AllTranstek President Jeff Wilson.

With direct integration into IntelliTrans’ Global Visibility Platform, the company says, all maintenance records, repair and operational costs, fleet data, lease information, and more are housed within a single system, “enabling better insights to be generated at the fleet level and for individual cars, maximizing productivity.”

“People are busy, and keeping maintenance and compliance records is very detailed,” Sherman added. “IntelliTrans keeps track of where rail cars are moving. By integrating data from AllTranstek, we can tell clients that their railcars need maintenance and where that maintenance can be done promptly to minimize lost time and get the car back to making money. After working with AllTranstek for over 15 years, we are delighted about the partnership that has evolved for the mutual benefit of our customers and the industry.”

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