Has this ever happened at your grain elevator or feed mill? Rail cars have been requested from the rail company to arrive on a specific date, you've scheduled employees to be on-site to load or unload the cars, but when the date comes, the rail cars never arrive. A manager at the grain elevator or feed mill has to call the railroad to find out where the cars are. All the while wasting money, wondering if employees need to get sent home.
These scenarios happen all the time at grain facilities and feed mills tied to a rail line. Competition for rail cars is up, and the rail industry is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. Delays and car shortages will happen, causing a headache for managers whose operations rely on rail to ship grain or have or deliver ingredients.
But it doesn't have to be this way. Every train and rail car is tracked from location to location. The key is to tap into that data at the Elevator and Mill. One option may be Railinc’s TransmetriQ.
"10 years ago, folks were happy with a once-a-day trace on their fleet or shipments," explains Ward Proctor, director of Business Solutions for TransmetriQ. "They would get reports of where the shipment is and if everything was okay."
"Now everyone needs to make maximum use of their facilities, assets, personnel and resources," continues Proctor. "And to do that, you've got to have the information readily available so that you can be proactive versus reactive. Nobody wants to schedule a crew to unload or load equipment, only to find out that at the last minute, at four o'clock on Friday that rail cars aren't coming."
Data makes the difference
TransmetriQ was rebranded from Railinc's commercial business unit in May 2021 to better focus on providing products for commercial rail users.
"We like to say TransmetriQ first and foremost is powered by Railinc," says Proctor. "We are a team of transportation experts, developers, user experience designers, data scientists and subject matter experts that work together to create solutions to help our customers build and businesses that operate in rail compete."
TransmetriQ can tap into the data Railinc collects at every part of the North American Rail Industry to give shippers analytical data to shippers. They use this data to power their product portfolio; RailSight, CarLogix, Analytics & Insights and QSense Platform.
The company's goal, using the data collected on railcars to tailor and craft the ideal analytics-driven solutions to meet the transportation and business-related needs of rail shippers of all sizes.
"We're privileged data on the location of the North American rail fleet," explains Proctor. "We're able to source that data to create complex and customized visibility solutions for our customers. So our big value-add from our suite of products is simply being a single-source provider of comprehensive rail visibility data throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico."
Something for everyone
TransmetriQ currently offers four products to rail shippers:
- RailSight is a suite of visibility products that allows rail shippers to view real-time rail data around the clock on their incoming and outgoing rail shipments. This information is combined with artificial intelligence and machine learning to give rail cars the most accurate arrival times and provides solutions for immediately addressing "problem" shipments.
- CarLogix helps those that own their rail equipment minimize maintenance and operating costs. Using analytics, the product will be able to predict when a railcar needs preventive maintenance to ensure it stays operational. It also helps companies keep track of repair bills, including auditing bills and recording when repairs were made.
- Analytics & Insights gives real-time information on the health of a shipper's rail fleet as a whole. Knowing what condition equipment is in helps companies plan for the best to minimize downtime and lost man-hours. Wheelset Intelligence uses artificial intelligence to analyze and predict the optimal time to replace wheelsets based on when they fail on average.
- QSense Platform allows shippers to decide what data is essential for them in their decision-making. This custom solution can gather the preferred data, enrich it with similar data collected from other sources, and use processes and algorithms to derive actionable insights from the data in a visual format.
TransmetriQ helps its customers build their package based on what they need from their products but is willing to provide data if the customer already uses different management software. TransmetriQ wants to provide data to shippers of all sizes.
"We don't discriminate against smaller shippers vs. larger shippers," explains Proctor. "For smaller shippers, we have entry-level solutions and tracing tools. Even with a minimum amount of carloads/month, if they want to use our services, they can still have access without cost-prohibitive. Plus, they then have the advantage of drawing from a much, much deeper pool of data that typically would only be available to, say, a medium or large-size rail shipper.
If the location of rail cars is keeping you up at night or costing your facility money, it's time to look into how rail analytics and data intelligence can help your operation.