Roambee Corp. helped a British multinational chemical company streamline and improve visibility of a substantial railcar fleet, resulting in dramatic savings. A finalist in the Supply Chain Innovator of the Year Award competition sponsored by SupplyChainBrain and CSCMP.
Vidya Subramanian, vice president of products with Roambee Corp., describes a case study involving a British multinational chemical company that needed to acquire better understanding of its rail fleet.
First, the company need to be able to tell accurately when its railcars would be delivered to customers. Second, it needed to understand precisely when customers were using the product, so that it knew when to bring the cars back. And third, it needed to ensure that the right product was always being loaded into the right silo, to avoid the time and cost wasted by improper matching.
In short, says Subramanian, the company “needed to ensure the constant flow of railcars, to make sure it knew when a car was empty, available and clean.”
The solution lay in adoption of a sensor device, attached to the railcar by a magnet, that could accurately transmit the location of the equipment at any time. In addition, the technology involved the use of a lock that can only be opened through the cloud, pursuant to confirmation that the contents of the railcar match the sales order given to the customer.
Before implementing the technology, Roambee spent a year and a half examining a fleet of 600 railcars to understand exactly how they moved. Because freight often takes a back seat to passenger rail, lengthy and unpredictable delays in moving product are frequent. “We had to take all that data and make it predictable,” says Subramanian.
Before, there would often be a period of two to seven days within which a railcar might arrive at the customer’s destination. “We got down it to under 12 hours,” Subramanian says, adding that the new system saved between 20 and 25 days of equipment idle time.
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