Manufacturing plants rely heavily on rail transport infrastructure for the transportation
of goods for both inbound and outbound operations. Generally, this network encompasses
the entire plant premises, connecting all major shops and stockyards, distributor
and whole-seller premises or stock keeping units (SKU). Smooth functioning of this
network has a substantial impact on the overall productivity of the Organization
involved. Material tracking and fleet management of locomotives always poses a stiff
challenge to the traffic department which operates the rail transport infrastructure
on a continuous basis. Managing this infrastructure can be eased and can be made
more efficient through the installation of a GPS-based Locomotive Tracking System
Based on the typical organizational structure of an integrated steel plant, a customized
LTS system has been designed to solve this perennial problem. The installation of
a few small stand-alone LTS systems, each concentrating on a different area of activity,
appears to be the most economical option. This also allows the use of VHF radio
links for the data exchange. While the proposed system typically costs twice that
of a conventional voice only VHF network, its benefits can be easily quantified.
Its cost-benefit ratio is particularly persuasive when the much higher installation
cost of radio tracking systems is taken into account.
Reltronics Technologies provides manufacturing organizations a complete integrated
Locomotive Tracking System that helps to manage both inbound and outbound transportation
operation of the organization. Reltronics Technologies is involved in developing
novel solutions for the manufacturing organizations using its core expertise in
GPS and RFID arena. However, the customized solution of Locomotive Tracking System
may involve sensors of various kinds apart from the GPS and RFID, based on the organization’s
requirements to track and manage each stage of procurement and delivery. Reltronics
Technologies utilizes complete advantage provided by ReALTrack Frame work for application
development and support of Locomotive Tracking System, which in-turn help the organizations
to utilize their current eco system without much change, in-order to provide a better
Return On Investment (ROI) in shorter period of time.
ReALTrack framework based LTS is a GPS-based locomotive tracking system consists
of one control centre and a number of mobile units. The mobile units, which are
installed on the locomotives, are equipped by Reltronics Technologies’ versatile
SmartInstrumentTM-AU to determine their position using a GPS receiver.
They communicate with the control center wirelessly. The control center communicates
with the as SmartInstrumentTM-AU installed in different mobile units
and offers location services.
ReALTrack LTS provides required accuracy for the locomotives’ position is
about 16 feet using differential GPS technology, which can’t be achieved with
just any GPS receiver available off the shelf. Special care is taken by Reltronics
Technologies to provide such accuracy throughout the transportation channel to ensure
no pilferage, unwanted stops or to check the idle conditions of vehicles involved
in transportation. The central station also needs reference position data of the
rail track network over the entire organization as well as point of interest data
along the rail tracks such as the position of each entity involved in the operation.
Reltronics Technologies also utilizes hand-held GPS receiver with the facility to
record waypoints to collect the data along transportation channel if required. This
data can then be overlaid on a map with the help of GIS/mapping software such as
ArcGISTM, MapPointTM, Google Maps etc. based on the customer requirements.
In general terms, the control centre’s function is data management and dissemination
of location services. Location data, geo-coded data or map data needs to be managed
and manipulated at the control centre in order to provide various services to the
users. The technical requirement for geo-encoding services can vary from uncomplicated
to demanding. ReALTrack LTS requirement in this locomotive tracking application
is simple: one should be able to know where the locomotives are located and in which
direction they are moving.
The most important of the ReALTrack LTS system is the communication link. Various
means of wireless communication could be used: VHF/UHF radio links, cellular telephony,
satellite based data communication systems such as ORBCOMMTM / AT&T etc. The
means of wireless communication can be used in two ways: a continuous or a polled
In a polled setup, the central station requests position reports from the mobile
units. When the position of a mobile unit is required, the central station sends
out a request to that particular mobile unit, which replies to the central station
with a position report. The central station is able to retrieve the position of
all mobile units by means of two-way communication between the central station and
the mobile units.
In a continuous setup, the mobile units send a position report to the central station
on a regular basis. As a result, a recent position report of each mobile unit is
available at the central station at any time. Only one-way communication, i.e. from
the mobile units to the central station, is required. However, Reltronics Technologies
took special care to prevent simultaneous transmissions by synchronizing in time
of the mobile units by making additional use of their GPS receiver for accurate
The benefits to locomotive tracking are clear. Class I Railroads are unable to locate
between 1% to 2% of their otherwise available locomotive fleet on any given day.
The cost of this is accrued in inflated lease costs, wasted operational & maintenance
resources and additional locomotive purchases.
Adding to the locomotive utilization benefit stated above, will be the overall increased
utilization of locomotives that have shorter dwell times, less than 24 hours (not
quantified in the 1% to 2% figure). The aggregate increase to locomotive utilization
is thought to be better than 6% based on the assertions above and the results of
a Locomotive Tracking pilot conducted Reltronics Technologies.
Another significant contributor to the benefits of locomotive tracking is the ability
to detect an “idle locomotive” and notify the power manager of this
condition. Even with a heavily populated AEI infrastructure the “idle locomotive”
condition would be remedied. The ability to transmit an idle condition, at any time,
back to power management and force that locomotive into productive service directly
effects “miles traveled over the road” for that specific locomotive.
Reltronics Technologies conducted the pilot test where fleet experienced better
than a 10% increase in “miles traveled over the road”. This number directly
drives increased revenue for the Railroads.
Fuel represents the third largest expense item in the Union Pacific operating budget.
Instances of unnecessary refueling, locomotive “out-of-fuel” events,
and excessive rolling inventory are all factors that affect millions in organization’s
fuel budget. The locomotive tracking service includes the regular reporting of fuel
levels to help organizations to better manage their fuel utilization.
Locomotives are re-fueled on average with their tank 60% full. With fuel level reporting,
organizations can lower the average fueling level substantially by scheduling a
re-fuel at a later fuel station. Out of fuel events can be dramatically reduced
because the distance to empty calculations used by organizations can be dramatically
improved with live field data, as well as the Locomotive Tracking service providing
a real-time low fuel alarm.