project44 introduces rail visibility API

Features Logistics News Rail & Intermodal Technology Transportation

Following a November rollout of a new truckload visibility offering designed to enable a smarter information flow across shippers’ supply chains, Chicago-based project44, a technology services provider offering standardized secure Web service API (application programming interfaces) integrations enabling 3PLs and shippers to connect with carriers in real time, is taking the same approach for freight railroad shipping.

The company announced today it has launched a new rail visibility API, which is focused on increasing end-to-end information symmetry through the elimination of shipment visibility gaps across United States and Canadian rail networks. Company officials said many shippers have focused on augmenting their “ability to gather, share, and leverage accurate rail transportation data,” which was a key driver for project44 rolling out this new offering.

Among the key benefits of project44’s rail visibility solution include visibility functions comprised of live status updates and historical data reviews that illustrate: shipments on hold; when shipments have been ramped or left the origin location; when shipments have reached an interchange or departed/switched trains; and if the equipment has reached the final destination and was de-ramped.

“Like most of our product efforts over the past two years, rail visibility was driven by customer demand,” said project44 Chief Technology Officer Mike Reed in an interview. “Shippers are coming to us to solve a larger interconnected transportation and logistics problem. They are less focused on mode-level discussions when it comes to automation or visibility, and have naturally included rail as part of their multimodal shipment concerns. As a result, we have been focused on being able to respond quickly to the broader multimodal needs of our customer base. Because visibility is consistently the #1 pain point shippers are looking to address, that’s typically where we start when automating the full shipment lifecycle from quote-to-invoice. We have been planning all year to have rail roll out at the end of 2017, after releasing the fully enhanced the truckload visibility product.”

When asked what project44 defines as the “shipment visibility gaps across United States and Canadian rail networks that this offering addresses, Reed explained that tracking rail containers ramp-to-ramp has been a persistent challenge, which holds true for both shippers and some larger carriers that incorporate rail into their linehaul logistics.

And with project44’s new rail visibility offering, he said it has provided a solution that addresses both scenarios. Any customer can now fully automate the tracking of their rail shipments across North America and respond to any exceptions that are important to their business. 

This new API, said Reed, ties into a larger suite of hyper-connected visibility and automation products designed to eliminate transportation blind spots across four modes of transportation in North America. And with rail visibility now part of its offerings, the executive said project44 now offers the industry’s most comprehensive single-source of accurate, real-time multimodal visibility data by integrating the industry’s largest network of Less-than-Truckload, Volume LTL and Partial Truckload, Full Truckload, and Rail capacity providers, coupled with delivering seamless interoperability between a shipper and 3PL’s carriers, technology systems, and customers.

Looking ahead to project44’s future plans for this offering, Reed said that rail will mirror the evolution of its product within other transportation modes.

“We will build on the core ‘tracking’ capabilities for rail to extend further into exception management through better ETA calculations and more robust custom alert notifications,” he said. “Knowing where a container at a given point in time is helpful, knowing that it will or won’t reach a particular destination in the designated time frame is even more important.”

What customers universally want with an offering like this, said Reed, is the ability to immediately detect and effectively respond to variations or exceptions in the shipment schedule. project44’s 2018 roadmap will drive the entire market forward to achieve new levels of predictability, he added. 

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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