Bulk Distributor Mar/Apr 16 - Page 7

March/April 2016 Asset Management BULKDISTRIBUTOR 7 The transformation of bulk transportation As pressures mount for bulk logistics firms to improve efficiency and reduce ongoing costs, leveraging IoT asset monitoring systems can help, writes John Felty, of IONX / Amsted Rail G PS tracking and monitoring systems have been commonplace in the trucking industry since the 1990s when progressive logistics departments were for the first time able to secure economical powered tracking devices that could provide seamless real time visibility over their operations. And they did so in droves. Today, it would be hard to find a successful trucking company that did not rely on GPS as a backbone for its fleet logistics department. Today, technological innovations have made it possible for shippers using tank containers, bulktainers and railcars to get the same level of asset visibility previously enjoyed only by truckers, and this is helping to even the playing field for those companies taking an aggressive approach to employing Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) technology on their fleet assets. The timing for these developments coincides with a global push to create smarter supply chains through using telematics data and cloud-based computing systems. These systems are transforming the way we do business and fast becoming the staple of industry. Next generation The benefits from the technology cover many areas, but can be summarised in two broad categories; 1) supply chain visibility with concurrent security benefits; and, 2) condition-based monitoring. The fleet optimisation aspect of supply chain visibility is a common reason many shippers deploy tracking technology because they can receive dynamic ETA’s that are based on current asset location information rather than historical data. Units can be configured to provide reports at any location along a route, enhancing a shipper’s ability to understand why and where delays may occur. Having access to historical trip information across a fleet can allow for indepth analysis of routing issues, bottlenecks, and seasonal variations so that fleets can be sized to better match requirements. Knowing the status of many individual assets allows an operator to determine if fleet assets are being used or idle at any given point in time and makes it easier to manage yard operations. As shippers use IoT systems for fleet optimisation, they find additional ways to use the information to enhance their operations. A monitoring system can be used while a train is operational, to monitor various operational parameters of the railcars and to communicate alert conditions to an on-board operator or off-train. ‘Seeing’ an entire train as a single unit helps Self-powered tracking device on a covered hopper car (Photo: Wascosa) Analytics for monitoring tank container fleet utilisation and asset availability IONX, an IoT division of Amsted Rail, is pioneering the next generation of technology extending the useful reach of IoT solutions in new and exciting ways. These breakthroughs are enabling co