RailPulse teams up with Railinc (Update, Blaze)

Written by

Marybeth Luczak, Editor-in-Chief

Railinc will develop, maintain and operate RailPulse’s technology platform to monitor the location, condition and health of railcars under a 10-year agreement, RailPulse reported May 31.

Created at the end of 2020, RailPulse works not only to give “shippers visibility into the status, location and condition of railroad equipment and freight being transported”, but also to use “key data to provide shippers with on-time performance information real estate, including safety data, on wagons, wagon owners and railways. Ultimately, it will “advance rail safety, increase adoption of telematics [and] drive growth in the use of rail freight,” according to RailPulse, a coalition including Norfolk Southern (NS); GATX Corporation; Genesee & Wyoming Inc.; Watco; Greenbrier companies; and TrinityRailwhich acquired on May 26 Quasar Platform Inc. of Cando Rail & Terminals Ltd.

Mike McClellan, Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning at NS

Rail Inc.‘s expertise in managing vast volumes of data in the North American freight rail industry, coupled with its experience in providing superior around-the-clock customer support, will be a key value for RailPulse and its users,” RailPulse said. “Railinc will also help implement data management protocols, including data security, as well as integrate data from railcar telematics devices into RailPulse’s backend systems. Finally, future data sharing agreements with Railinc for RailPulse access to Car Locator Message (CLM), consignment note and Umler data will enable RailPulse to enhance its telematics data, including the ability to map telematics data to all parties on a given consignment note route. “The first step for Railinc: the development of a “‘pilot’ iteration of the RailPulse platform for demonstration to targeted industry stakeholders towards the end of 2022”.

“Railinc and RailPulse have joined forces to provide telematics and sensor technology to the North American freight rail industry,” said Mike McClellan, Nova Scotia’s executive vice president of strategic planning. “Railinc has over 20 years of experience managing software and data applications for industry, with best-in-class security and tools that enable robust data sharing and access policies.”

“Railinc is delighted to partner with RailPulse, leveraging our capabilities to rapidly scale its platform,” said Railinc President and CEO Allen West.

Meanwhile, Trinity said on May 31 that its acquisition of Quasar, “an end-to-end rail logistics software platform providing a universe of real-time data to rail freight shippers and operators,” will enhance its portfolio of digital products, including Trisight™, adding “features like fleet management, activity-based pricing, and new data visualization tools.” Launched in early 2021, Trisight provides shippers with real-time information on the location, condition and status of railcars and cargo.

Trinity retains all Quasar employees. PricewaterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance Inc. was Quasar’s financial advisor.

“Shippers are looking for solutions that increase the efficiency and visibility of their supply chain, and the Quasar team places a high priority on resolving customer issues and being responsive to the needs of rail shippers,” said Gregg Mitchell, Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Trinity. “This acquisition is a significant enhancement to the Trisight platform, as Trinity is committed to expanding its service offering with new innovations to create deeper relationships with rail shippers and a better experience for them.”

“We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished with Quasar,” which was formed in 2017, said Brian Cornick, president and CEO of Cando Rail & Terminals. “With its experience and knowledge of digital products for rail, Trinity is a fantastic home for Quasar and we are very excited for its future.”

In related developments, earlier this month, David Shannon was chosen as the first managing director of RailPulse. Additionally, Railinc’s TransmetriQ announced on April 19 that it offers shippers a “one-stop shop to manage and analyze their rail operations.”

Commentary by Jim Blaze

Jim Blaze

The RailPulse-Railinc and Trinity-Quasar deals reported above contain subtle but important differences, as competitors continue to fight over the management of geolocation of rail mobile assets (like freight cars) and the accuracy of scheduled delivery. cargo inside them. cars.

Let’s take a closer look. RailPulse said it has entered into a 10-year agreement with Railinc, a for-profit wholly owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads, whereby Railinc will help develop, maintain and operate RailPulse’s technology platform to monitor the location, status and health features in North America. This partnership will allow the RailPulse coalition to deploy its remote monitoring platform. The program is for the end of 2022.

Strategically, this partnership is important for RailPulse ‘members’, as for years many rail freight customers have continued to rely on Railinc CLM systems and other useful consignment notes and Umler (file data information stored on freight wagons).

It is a natural integration feature for almost all car tracking services to encompass this Railinc data. However, buried in the announcement is the message that the first goal appears to be a pilot demonstration “to industry interested parties targeted towards the end of 2022”.

The corporate marriage between TrinityRail, a “founder” of RailPulse, and Quasar, an advanced logistics-like telematics provider that is not a RailPulse participant, was also announced.

Interestingly, TrinityRail and its group Trisight and Quasar have passed pilot tests of their remote monitoring “computer platforms” well. (Read my first telematics report: “A journey into the telematics universe”.) Both companies opened their doors to help their respective customers test, instrument and operate their two telematics platforms in real time, lightly different. Now, no longer being competitors, the merged entity can offer rail customers both warehouse-like supply chain platform functions as well as automotive health services (the RailPulse part) which are in being deployed for one or more years.

Why is Quasar different? Quasar was created with platform software and functionality that captures and utilizes real-time, end-to-end rail logistics freight movement data that goes beyond the health of the moving rail asset. Trinity’s modernized computing platform followed a more classic “car-centric” approach. Their M&A union “enhances Trinity’s portfolio of digital products, including Trisight™, by adding additional features such as fleet management, activity-based pricing and new data visualization tools.”

They both seem to be the first breakout organization, the next platform. This is how this independent railway economist and The age of the railway The editor sees the contrasting ads.

One thing to keep in mind: whichever provider you are considering (shipper or railroad), the provider will need to help you integrate your internal data with the selected Railinc data files and with two other functions. You will need both a sound communication messenger and detection equipment that can be used in several geographical areas.

These two announcements should be good news for all players in the North American rail freight industry. Why? Because when combined with continuous feeds of Positive Train Control head-end locomotive GPS location, these car-specific GPS features should bring everyone closer to the schedule that Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) was supposed to provide. .

This old railroader has a question: who’s next to step up the pace of deployment?

Jim Blaze, independent railway economist and editor of Railway Age, has worked in the railway industry for over 40 years. Trained in logistics, he worked seven years with the Illinois DOT as a long-haul freight planner in Chicago and nearly two years with USRA technical staff in Washington, D.C. Jim then spent 21 years at Conrail in strategic cross-functional roles from sideline economics to mergers, IT, logistics and corporate change. He followed that with 20 years of international consulting with railway engineering firm Zeta-Tech Associated. Jim graduated Magna Cum Laude from St Anselm’s College with an MA from the University of Chicago. Married with six children, he lives outside of Philadelphia. “This column reflects my continued passion for the future of the railroad as a competitive industry,” says Jim. “Only by occasionally challenging our institutions can we seek better quality and better performance. My opinions are my own, independent of Railway Age. As always, opposing trade opinions are welcome.

To learn more about RailPulse and telematics, read:

• “A journey into the world of telematics”, by The age of the railway Contributing Editor Jim Blaze.

• “Getting closer to the truth about railway maintenance”, by Nexxiot AG co-founder, Daniel MacGregor.

Key words: Latest News, Cando Rail & Terminals, GATX, Genesee & Wyoming, Norfolk Southern, NS, Quasar Platform, Railinc, RailPulse, The Greenbrier Companies, Inc, Trinity, TrinityRail, Watco