What are the challenges facing the rail industry?
As the pandemic’s impact on road freight continues, rail freight traffic will increase. FourKites recorded a 49% increase in rail and intermodal freight in 2020. Experts in the supply chain expect growth to continue in 2021.
Two industry trends are driving this growth. First, the increase in demand from consumers following the shortages that began during the pandemic translated into an increased volume of intermodal transport. The second reason is that limited truckload capacity led organizations to explore other shipping options.
Rail shipping represents a larger percentage of the total volume for most organizations. Visibility is therefore becoming increasingly important. Shippers can better manage their operations and deliver on schedule. This directly impacts customer satisfaction.
How to Avoid Four Challenges in Rail Freight Transportation
Here are the top rail freight issues and how real-time tracking can alleviate these problems.
- Manual Updates, Inaccurate ETAs
Finding accurate ETAs can be a challenge. They require manual and reactive phone calls to the railroads and carriers in case of disruption. The information is updated automatically as things change, freeing up bandwidth that was previously used for contacting railroads to get updates.
- Reactive Disruption Management
Managing exceptions is similar to managing ETAs. This can be a very manual process, especially when dealing with unexpected disruptions such as weather or strikes. There are many exceptions to the rule, including delays, dwell times at rail interchanges or terminals of origin, bad orders, hold-ups, and other issues. Visibility into rail freight transportation allows companies to quickly identify delays and communicate them internally and externally.
- Tracking Empty Railcars
Tracking empty railcars is essential for planning and maximizing the capacity of private fleets. FourKites’ empty railcar tracker allows shippers to locate empty railcars at their original location. This feature allows the shipper to predict their next shipment’s availability in advance, as they only have a limited number of railcars.
- Lack of Analytics and poor Data Quality
Rail and intermodal carriers often provide tracking data in different formats, with varying levels of standardization and consistency. There are usually no analytics, which means that reporting data on cycle times, transit time, and future planning needs can either be non-existent or done manually. TMS updates that are not adequate can cause significant seasonal changes, negatively affecting transit times.
A supply chain visibility solution can be used by shippers to standardize their data and create guardrail logic across multiple sources. It prevents incorrect information about railroads and carriers from being revealed.
For nearly half a century, Swartz Engineering has been at the forefront of industry safety. They are a family-owned company specializing in power distribution for the electrical industry. They are the leading manufacturer of Watt Transducers. The SWARTZ® Current Transducer is a high-performance, solid-state unit specifically developed to meet requirements for supervisory control and data acquisition (SCA- DA) systems.