A High-Tech Journey Across the Country
1. An employee at Amalgamated Computers, a longtime Union Pacific customer, logs onto myUPRR.com to order the shipment of a container full of parts to be off-loaded from a container ship in Oakland, Calif., and delivered to Amalgamated's warehouse in Boston.
The order automatically triggers UP's Transportation Control System (TCS), which schedules a flatcar for the shipment on a particular train. TCS generates a work order organizing transport of the container from Oakland, manages train crew and locomotive assignments, and arranges for transfer of the car in Chicago to a CSX train bound for Boston.
2. Once in transit, Computer Aided Dispatching automatically manages train and car movements. GPS receivers keep track of locomotive movements, and trackside Automatic Equipment Identification (AEI) readers transmit real-time car location information. Voice and data communication from train to headquarters travels over UP's telecommunications network, which includes wireless, microwave and high-bandwidth fiber-optic cables located alongside the track.
3. Transfer of the car to the CSX train and subsequent car movement events are electronically passed by CSX to UP's TCS system. This allows Amalgamated to check myUPRR.com's status inquiry system for the whereabouts of the container and its ETA in Boston.
4. When the container arrives in the yard outside Boston, it is removed from the flatcar and delivered to Amalgamated's warehouse.
5. Completion of the order triggers automated payment through UP's settlement system. Data about the trip is stored as a part of Amalgamated's relationship with UP, to be factored into future pricing decisions and logistics comparisons.
This article was originally published on 07-19-2002