Rail cargo supply chain in the IoT era

By Avi Hartmann, CEO Starcom Systems

Rail cargo delivery has its benefits. Among them we can list cargo safety, cost efficiency, and time efficiency. These benefits com on top of the rail contribution to the environment – every package delivered by train is one less package traveling through trucks and roads, thereby reducing emissions and road accident risk. COVID-19 had a dramatic effect on truck shipments to and from rail cargo logistics centers. Some countries have taken advantage of this reduced traffic period to improve their infrastructure and add railroads in preparation for future expansion of the rail cargo traffic.

Alongside the significant advantages of the rail cargo supply chain, it still has some challenges: lack of flexibility, the the complex array of needed railroad infrastructure, and more. This complex grid of railroads often makes it very difficult to locate a single wagon/cart. Day to day operations of the carts are complex and often not fully utilized due to lack of real time data of the carts location.

Railroad accidents are brought to the public attention only in case of human injuries or casualties, head-on collision of two trains, or collision with other vehicles on the railroad. In some cases, the accident is caused due to the cargo itself – especially when transporting dangerous chemicals or flammable materials.

In addition to the major accidents mentioned above, the railroad network may experience technical glitches or human errors that may damage to cargo or cause severe delays in the delivery. Damages of these kinds are estimated in millions of dollars per year.

Analysts predict a significant increase in rail traffic and that cargo transportation over the rail networks will increase in the near future. Managing and improving this supply chain has driven the increased demand for IoT and real time tracking of each cart and wagon.

Starcom Systems, in partnership with the Israeli Railways, has delivered a unique product that is designed to provide a solution for this need – the Kylos Connect.

The system provides real time data of the wagon/cart location, both during parking and transit, and alerts in case of cart disconnection from the train in transit or parking. The system also has the capability to communicate with wireless sensors that can be placed inside the wagon and monitor the state of the goods in real time. The system monitors a wide variety of telemetries and alerts in case of any deviation from the predefined settings, such as temperature deviation or drastic humidity changes.

The system has been successfully tested in dozens of countries over hundred thousands of miles, through various railroads and extreme weather conditions, all while traveling across multiple countries.