After installing Tracksmart, DM’s GPS Real-time monitoring system, a rail client’s reporting system has improved and data gathered from monitoring is more accurate and reliable. After this feat, DM is expecting to replicate this success for other clients in Southern Africa.
In the management of rail fleet carrying valuable assets for delivery to clients, time is of the essence and accuracy of data is the currency. Hence, the reporting system has to be efficient at all times. Otherwise, faulty reporting systems can lead to delays which could translate in loss of revenue and the trust of clients.
Adopting reporting systems that have a proven track record of being reliable and predictable in harsh conditions ensures efficient management of rail fleet. This is what the Engineering Team at Tracksmart demonstrated recently when they upgraded a reporting system for a client.
The decision to upgrade or switch from a traditional reporting system to DM’s proprietary GPS Real-Time Tracking solution has proved to be a wise business move, as incredible improvements in reporting have been registered.
Jeremy Williams, the company’s Managing Director, recounts that the client had a unique challenge in reporting and the team had to devise a suitable solution. The objective was to deliver a solution that would fill the persistent gaps in the reporting system, resulting in improved fleet management.
The challenges the client encountered
The client owns their own fleet of tankers but relied on – the national rail carrier for locomotives and management of their fleets outside loading and unloading areas. They used the service providers reporting system for updates but this was often inaccurate or delayed. To address this challenge, they used manual “spotters” at key junctions / stops but this was also not always reliable nor accurate.
DM’s alternative solution
After a thorough review of the client’s reporting system, DM recommended the use of their GPS solution with the following elements and capabilities prominent:
- GPS units need to be battery / solar powered and Zone I classified (Intrinsically Safe) for use on petroleum / gas product tankers;
- Ultra-rugged and able to withstand chemical and corrosive product splashes, in addition to weather proof and durable;
- Certified for use within the rail network infrastructure (cannot interfere with signalling and must conform to wagon design requirements);
- Web based monitoring platform with visible display of wagons showing location, speed, run time and distance travelled;
- Ability to report on full trains / consists (not just single tankers). Tankers added to /removed from consists must generate alerts; and
- Turnaround time reports (loading time, travel time, stop time at key points, unloading time, return time).
Meticulousness to deliver a suitable solution
It is one thing to recommend a solution and entirely another to ensure that it performs as expected. Thus, team had to take a number of steps to deliver a solution suitable to the client’s requirements, which included:
- Modified an existing unit to comply with EX certification requirements. A local certification agency was engaged to ensure this was achieved;
- Developed a customised middleware layer (called RAIL) to consolidate all wagon data into a view that displayed and reported the Consist information as required;
- Designed a tool that enabled integration between client’s backend systems and TStelematics / RAIL; and
- Dedicated technical and operations support team to ensure systems are fully supported and the client’s requirements are met.
The switch translates into massive gains
The client has gained massively from the decision to switch from a ‘conventional’ reporting system to DM GPS solution, as mainly evident in the following areas:
- Complete real time visibility of their entire fleet;
- Daily status reports (available tankers, tankers in maintenance, current location and standing time of all tankers);
- System alerts – entering / leaving key locations, tankers exceeding standing times, speeding alerts, tankers removed / added to Consists;
- Improved service from Transnet due to more accurate loading / tanker information;
- Developed Train Trip time and ETA reports for improved load planning; and
- Integrates into the backend systems.
A contented client endorses DM’s GPS system
Visibly contented by the GPS System’s performance, the client could not resist recommending DM’s solution to other owners of rail fleet in South Africa and beyond. “Please accept a word of appreciation from us for your efforts in deploying a very successful project to have the best rail GPS tracking solution with awesome telematics superiority and reporting functionality plugging directly into our value chain planning systems. It is the opinion of many that the rail GPS system changed TFR’s behavior and led to new performance levels never seen before….. improving our company’s reputation in the market as being a reliable business partner able to deliver consistent volumes on time,” said the business owner.
DM is hoping to replicate this success with other clients in South Africa and beyond. “We have the skills and are well-resourced to handle a project of any magnitude in which real-time GPS tracking is required.”
The scope of DM’s Rail Equipment specific GPS Solutions
Cognisant of the rapid changes in client requirements in the rail industry, DM Telematics strives to keep abreast and supply relevant solutions at all times. Basically, its scope of solutions includes:
- Following the success of the solution deployed for the client above DM has made significant investment in both hardware and application improvements designing and building a solution customised specifically for Rail tracking environments
- A new ultra-rugged GPS tracking device. Unrivalled battery life. Covers all rail wagon types and product types (including EX-classified products). IP68 / IK08 rated. This unit has been specifically designed from a blank sheet for Rail Wagons / Tankers.
- Roaming agreements with international service providers to ensure seamless cross border monitoring
- Custom designed RAIL monitoring platform modified easily and cost effectively for each customer’s unique requirements.
- Dedicated software engineers supporting and enhancing RAIL and TStelematics management platforms
In general, DM has built an end-to-end Rail solution developed specifically to service the African continent. The company has partnered with leading Telecoms companies to ensure that it has the following: the best regional and cross border GSM coverage; have dedicated teams in most countries able to assist with installation and commissioning of new rollouts; have a long-term R&D strategy to continuously improve hardware components and software applications; and are able to work with both end users and Rail Network Service providers to ensure complete visibility of their rail fleets.