Shippers and trucking companies alike could learn a few things from the ways rail companies, especially Union Pacific (UP), are implementing real-time, big data technology to overcome supply chain obstacles.
Union Pacific had several problems to address, and technology was the only solution.
Freight rail companies like UP face unique problems. There are 140,000 miles of railroad tracks across the U.S. that move 5 million tons of goods a day. Maintaining visibility into train and track conditions across this vast, high-traffic network is extremely difficult.
Adding to the challenge is the fact that most freight rail cars don’t have electric power. This means that RFID technology, which has been used by passenger trains since the early 90s, is not a viable means of visibility into train location.
The lack of electric power also means a lack of knowledge into train and track conditions. Heavy duty trucks have the capability to utilize technology which can notify a carrier of truck malfunctions so that a crash or delay can be avoided as best as possible. Freight train cars do not have this capability.