May 12, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

In the past, freight rail shippers had been frustrated trying to find out where their shipment was on the national rail network and just when that carload would be delivered to the recipient's docks.

Part of the problem was coordination with the many freight railroads and arcane systems on how a freight car moved from point to point. Was the shipment on the move, was it in a railyard, was it sent in the wrong direction? These were all valid questions shippers used to ask railroads. Waybills, or shipping documents, were caught up in a logistical nightmare of paperwork in the past. 

Today, the rail industry is catching up to the trucking industry that has had real-time shipment information for years.

Railroads and shippers now have software and hardware that allows access to real-time or near real-time information on railcar status. Now sensors can transit data to show if a car is loaded or empty, where it is located, what is the current speed and weather at the moment, and if a door is open or closed, and a host of other issues. 

Technology has now put important and time-sensitive information into the hands of the customer.

Freight rail shipping technology panel:

The panel was moderated by Texas Rail Advocates Director Karl Ziebarth. Participants included (in order of their presentation):

  • Kenneth Mannka - Executive Vice President at Nexxiot
  • Jim Pang - Vice President, New Services Development and Customer Solutions Innovation - Trinity Industries
  • Steve Ditmeyer - Senior Railway Technology Consultant at The World Bank and former FRA Director of Research and Development
  • Harris Ligon - Co-founder and CEO of Telegraph