Railroads and rail shippers face ongoing challenges in lowering inventory and maintenance costs, while also increasing efficiencies to decrease unplanned downtime, which ultimately leads to higher revenue.
To address the challenges that rail shippers face, a division of US conglomerate General Elec-tric (GE), GE Transportation, unveiled its Rail Connect 360 monitoring and diagnostics and Shipper Connect software at the second yearly Minds + Machines Conference, in Chicago, US, in October.
Rail Connect 360 and Shipper Connect are solutions for railroads, which lower customer maintenance and inventory costs, as well as increase revenue.
GE Transportation says this software will allow rail shippers to increase shipment visibility, automate operations and manage inventory.
“Our focus remains on developing solutions to address the rail industry’s most pressing challenges,” says GE Transportation CEO Russell Stokes.
“The debut of our Rail Connect 360 monitoring and diagnostics solution and Shipper Connect software further illustrate GE Transportation’s commitment to leveraging intelligent machines to deliver breakthrough levels of efficiency and productivity for our customers,” he adds.
By collecting and analysing performance data during locomotive operations, the Rail Connect 360 monitoring and diagnostics software solution automates diagnostics and root cause analysis to enable optimal and proactive maintenance.
The result is improved reliability and availability, ultimately delivering critical time and cost savings. Besides providing locomotive status and performance information, monitoring and diagnostics solutions enable advanced planning of resources and materials, informed decision-making for building trains and running and routing locomotives.
GE Transportation’s Rail Connect 360 software has increased the quality of repairs and improved track availability as well as shop throughput for Brazilian minerals and mining company Vale.
“We also want to expand our condition monitoring program and focus on predictive ana- lytics, taking the benefits of a stochastic approach to surpass the barriers of real time and have failures predicted weeks in advance,” says Vale mining and logistics global procurement GM Rodolfo Frederico.
“From our standpoint, GE Transportation is the right partner to [help us] reach that goal, since GE Transportation combines all the available resources along with vision to create a solution,” he adds.
GE Transportation also unveiled the cloud-based Shipper Connect software suite at the Minds + Machines Conference, which allows rail shippers and terminal operators to automate operations, manage inventory and control transportation costs.
The system includes business intelligence reporting tools that help customers make better decisions and respond faster to dynamic market conditions.
Launch customer and producer of industrial sand Fairmount Minerals is implementing Shipper Connect software at 49 locations to improve inventory management, increase railcar use and meet customer commitments to deliver a continuous supply of sand to the shale basins for crude oil drilling operations.
Meanwhile, at last year’s Minds + Machines Conference, GE Transportation announced its Rail Network Optimisation solution, which includes a movement planner system. It is a real-time network planning and optimisation system, and is helping Class 1 railroad Norfolk Southern Railway, in the US, create network efficiencies and reduce operating costs.
Based on a joint study conducted earlier this year on key Georgia division corridors in the US, GE Transportation has seen improvements that include a 10% increase in network velocity, a 50% reduction in expired crews and significant improvements in on-time performance.
The solutions GE Transportation proffered at the Minds + Machines Conference are part of a broader company announcement of 14 new industrial Internet predictive data and analytics solutions and technologies that enable railroads, airlines, hospitals, utilities and oil and gas operators to achieve outcomes such as no unplanned downtime, increased productivity, preventive maintenance and lower fuel costs.