Shipping commerce is not only increasing, but is also increasing in complexity; moving freight with a minimal amount of waste space, delay, and incorrect shipments is essential. Great leaps forward in digitization have changed the way rail is controlled and expedited, and these changes are expected to only continue as more digitized management is implemented and synchronized across platforms.
Rail Asset Management
Managing a rail system is very maintenance intensive and distributed over enormous distances. Digital systems that monitor the state of various components, from track to engines to shipping containers, are saving time and man-hours of payment by isolating which places in the rail assets of a particular company need repair and getting a nearby repair team to the problem quickly. These systems consolidate and coordinate efforts that would require an entire team of communicators if done in an analog environment.
Digital train location systems are allowing train drivers to know exactly where other trains are through Automatic Train Management Systems, or ATMS. These digital programs monitor and guide conductors in a way that removes the risk of slowdowns and waits while still increasing overall train volume. Digitization of rail signaling is likely to occur, according to Business Wire, to optimize rail transport further.
Automation of train systems seems like the next big change; for now, systems like ATMS have some abilities to remotely control a train to prevent a crash based on speed and location data. Reducing the amount of human conductors may eventually save money on rail freight, while creating further digitized systems to make sure that automated trains are still responsive to external factors like obstructions of the track.
Another trend will be toward "connected" cars, which allow individual cars to update their contents and provide those updates to end users and to the companies providing the products. All of these innovations will work toward the end goal of increased throughput for the existing physical resources and assets of rail industry companies.
Digitizing rail shipments can seem expensive when simply looking at the cost of the implementation of a new system, but it actually is a path toward profit in a constantly changing industry. Simpliship has made managed services and API integration their business, going so far as to offer their own shipping marketplace that works internationally. Digitizing rail transit is not only possible but is creating a whole new way to manage rail freight.