All sorts of businesses that make up our economy rely on the efficient shipping of freight. Reports are coming in that millions of tons of freight are moved in a single year—the contents having billions of dollars in value. In the shipping world, automatic equipment identification (AEI) tags are crucial—they make it possible to collect the data that is needed to get things where they need to go.
With so many different people sending and waiting for their freight, and countless combinations of departure and destination points, it’s not so easy to track shipments unless you are organizing and setting them up the right way. Trucking companies and railyards use AEI tags on their freight vehicles to aid in tracking across the country—and beyond. Here’s how the shipping industry uses AEI tags when looking to make their processes smoother and ultimately better for their clients.
What are AEI tags, anyway? AEI tags are placed on brackets at a consistent height above the road or rail. Then, when a semi-truck or railcar passes beneath the reader, the tags get scanned by a special radio signal. At that point, professionals whose job it is to handle logistics at the trucking company or rail yard are able to use the data obtained in real-time.
The tags of data contain vehicle information such as what type of vehicle it is, who owns it, and the road’s number. The data can be used to see more precisely where shipments are and whether they can be expected to arrive on-time at their destination. The tags can also be placed on train cars—both locomotives and containers—and really on any type of road vehicle, at all!
People use these tags to help keep track of not just shipments, themselves, but their railcar stock, as well. Plus, they can tell railyards what is coming, so preparations can be made for both arrivals and departures.
Benefits of AEI tags
There are many advantages to implementing the use of AEI tags into the processes and procedures for businesses in the freight shipping industry. Some of the biggest are as follows.
1. Real-time track
The data collected by the earlier mentioned readers is invaluable to all parties involved in operations. When a shipping company receives information about their loads, they are able to update their customers instantly. The receiving end can then get ready for the incoming shipments. This way, customers can anticipate any delays if issues crop up on the roads or rails.
In addition, these real-time updates give stakeholders any necessary details about weather and other potentially problematic road conditions. The good news is that these tags are not affected by dirt that could be kicked up from the road because they transmit information through a special signal instead of using a visual system such as barcodes.
2. Tracking assets with collected data
The shipping industry can get plenty of information about where shipments are at virtually any given time because of the real-time data we just mentioned. They can see how their ETA might be affected depending on where they are located since there are thousands of readers positioned in key locations to enable the sharing of that all-important data with those who need it. The AEI tags also help shipping companies determine what their most expensive assets are, which is especially useful if they are leasing their equipment to other companies.
3. Removing human error
Before the industry started taking advantage of AEI tag readers use, employees armed with mere paper and pencil were the ones to quite manually track railcars. That’s one reason railyards were not known for their efficiency. Dates and all the various car numbers had to be recorded in a book by hand—thus, just like any system that relied on a process like this, it was bound to have mistakes.
AEI tags don’t leave the same room for errors to sneak in. They are highly precise and are therefore able to provide much more trustworthy information, making for all-around improved processes.
4. Decreasing expenses while increasing efficiency
The solid data supplied through the use of AEI tags enables railyards to put their cars into rotations more often, thereby greatly increasing their bottom line. They can better track the times cars are being serviced and can watch for dwell time (downtime), too. Companies are also set up to work with artificial intelligence (AI) when they utilize AEI tags so they can take advantage of predictive data, thus ultimately increasing their return on investments (ROI).
Labor costs are reduced, too, when workers don’t have to be out there with their pens and papers—not to mention, funds can be saved in areas companies used to have to spend when it came to things like inspections and check-ins.
The most important things to remember are that using AEI tags saves money, time, reputation, and more so that inefficiencies and errors can be left in the past when it comes to shipping freight. The companies that make a point of utilizing the data from AEI tags tend to be better prepared both for busy seasons and for slowdowns so they can prevent issues in supply chains and their customers’ manufacturing needs.
These companies are able to keep ahead of the competition, as they are making a choice to take the leap and be part of the future, continuing to move forward rather than being stuck in the past. When companies consider using the latest technologies, they thrive!
Without the tags, the companies waiting on the items in the railcars are left with questions and no answers. The data collected by the AEI tags and the trackside readers is shared through car location message systems. These contract lifecycle management CLM systems give rail yards what they need to follow rail cars in real-time.