HERNDON, VA, and TORONTO, ONTARIO /MARKET WIRE/ -- "Out of sight, out of mind" is not an option for today's railroads. Increasingly precious cargo, combined with a strong need to increase efficiency and mitigate risk, requires that rail companies know what is happening, when, and to which of their trains, along every mile of track—all in real time.
Making such a daunting challenge possible is RFTrax. A wholly owned subsidiary of Fairfield Industries, RFTrax is a breakthrough provider of remote asset-management telemetry serving freight transportation companies. Its first product, the Asset Management Platiform (AMP) for locomotives, gives railroads the opportunity to "see" exactly what is happening to any locomotive equipped with a special RFTrax transceiver known as an asset command unit (ACU).
All information is delivered via the Internet. By logging in to a password-protected site, dispatchers and other management personnel can tell, depending on the particular sensors installed, where a locomotive is; whether it is shut down, moving, or idling; how much fuel it has onboard; what the coolant temperature is; what the ambient temperature is; and more.
Of course, delivering this valuable data from remote locations hundreds of miles from cities or towns requires a large, dependable wireless network capable of high-speed data transmission. During its product development phase, RFTrax questioned its technology partners about prominent providers in the field. Among the names to surface was KORE Telematics.
"We evaluated several possible aggregate providers, but none were as responsive as KORE," said Hal Haygood, President of RFTrax. "KORE specializes in machine-to-machine connectivity and is committed to work closely with asset-management solution companies like ours. What's more, it has amassed a broad Global System for Mobile communications/General Packet Radio Service (GSM/GPRS) network with the consistent service levels we needed."
"The RFTrax solution is a very comprehensive and pervasive application with highly visible environmental and commercial benefits for remote asset management," said Alex Brisbourne, President and COO for KORE Telematics. "Widespread adoption of complex, network-intensive solutions is a growing trend as the industry moves away from basic machine communications to umbrella telematics solutions."
Through its working relationships with wireless industry leaders such as Cingular Wireless in the U.S., KORE is able to provide GSM, GPRS, and next-generation EDGE wireless communications. The company offers the largest GSM footprint in the U.S., a key point of difference for RFTrax.
"RFTrax had been considering using a CDMA network, but our GSM service is significantly better. It enables RFTrax to offer coverage to its rail customers that includes 97% to 98% of their routes," added Brisbourne.
Since the debut of its locomotive service last year, RFTrax has already signed several leading railroads. "Our customers report they are getting the exact remote data they require on time, every time," Haygood says.
The Arkansas and Missouri Railroad, an independent, Class III railroad serving a 139-mile corridor from Fort Smith, AR, to Monett, MO, is using the new RFTrax AMP solution to monitor 15 of its locomotives, including three remote-control locomotives. After only a few months, the railroad is already achieving measurable benefits by lowering fuel costs, reducing car-billing charges, and adding an important layer of safety for its crews.
"I've been really impressed with the RFTrax system," said Casey Shepherd, Chief Mechanical Officer, Arkansas and Missouri Railroad. "We expect to recoup the cost of the RFTrax system through cost savings and greater efficiency." One major ROI factor is reduced fuel consumption. "By remotely tracking the temperature of the locomotives, we can avoid extensive idling to stay warm—and that saves up to 5 gallons of diesel per hour per unit. The system alerts us to start the engine if the temperature drops."
RFTrax anticipates expanding its service lineup to include AMP services for railcars and tankcars soon, with other products for the maritime and trucking industries in the future.
About KORE Telematics
KORE Telematics, headquartered in Herndon, VA, is the "largest" independent provider of business class all-digital wireless services for the machine-to-machine (M2M) market. With operations in Canada and the U.S., KORE provides service to more than 300 applications providers in a broad cross-section of segments. Providing "the most comprehensive" set of platform services and support available in the M2M market, including unbundled, aggregated services, and backed by flexible usage-based call management and billing output services, KORE launches tested and approved M2M services quickly, inexpensively, and reliably. For more information, please visit the company's Web site.
RFTrax is a leader in total asset-tracking solutions for locomotives and railcars. The company's Asset Management Platform combines state-of-the-art technologies that incorporate GPS; a full range of wireless, real-time communications; specialized business intelligence; and supply chain management software that enable customers to make better business decisions, manage risk, increase profitability, and predict and prevent problems before they occur. RFTrax is headquartered in Sugar Land, TX, near Houston, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fairfield Industries Inc., a privately held multinational instrumentation and data collection, processing, and licensing company. For more information, visit the company's Web site.