RMI, the largest independent provider of accurate, reliable, comprehensive and secure rail information services to the transportation industry, announced the implementation of its RailConnect(r) Transportation Management System (TMS) service with United States Sugar Corporation (US Sugar), one of America’s premier privately held agribusiness companies.
Just in time for the current harvest season, US Sugar, along with its South Central Florida Express (SCFE) short line railroad unit, began to use RMI’s powerful mCrew interface for remote train crew reporting. With mCrew, the company now has the ability to closely track the movement of sugar cane from the field to the processing plant and to manage the fleet of cars used to transport the cane.
“This project is part of our Full Throttle Innovation program at our SCFE and US Sugar rail operations,” said Heather Banky of US Sugar. “The goal of the project is to provide a real time comprehensive view of the entire USSugar cane network. The RMI system provides the capability to track each car loaded or empty as well as when and where it was loaded. Railroad operations will use the information for day-to-day logistics planning, and this program will become the building block for future improvements. We were impressed with the level of RMI’s thoroughness and professionalism throughout the months of planning, training and implementation.”
With the new system, US Sugar employees report car loadings at the elevators via laptop computers using cellular data transmission directly to RMI’s RailConnect TMS. Train crews in the field use mCrew tablet computers, connected by satellite, to see the latest data and report car movements. The two mills operated by US Sugar, the Clewiston Mill and the Bryant Mill, are now using RMI’s RailConnect TMS. In addition, 18 locomotives have been outfitted with mCrew satellite units.
US Sugar previously used hand-written cards to track car movements during the cane harvest. These cards were filled out by the train crews in the field and then handed off at the mill to be completed by employees in various divisions. Now, with the mCrew remote reporting interface, 100% of all car movement events are captured in near real-time in the field, improving communication and alleviating clerical support demands.
Sugar content decreases after the cane is cut, so minimizing the span of time between when the cane is harvested and when it is unloaded at the mill is essential to produce the highest quality sugar. “The data collected with this new process will provide valuable insight and enable the railroad to work together with the harvest and milling operations to increase cane quality by decreasing its age. In addition, it promotes our just-in-time vision,” said Banky.
After Hurricane Wilma hit in the middle of the implementation, the entire operation was shut down for two months. Both RMI and US Sugar worked diligently to get the system up and running as the harvest started up again.
“The employees of both US Sugar and RMI overcame many obstacles, including a devastating hurricane, to make this project a success,” said David Booker, vice president, service design for RMI. “We look forward to continuing to work with US Sugar and the South Central Florida Express to realize the full benefits of our services. This success story proves that train crews equipped with the proper hardware and software can change the way in which railroad events have traditionally been captured.”
Banky added, “I am proud and honored to work with a great group of railroaders. The people are what made this project so successful.”