In matter of seconds: how SBB Cargo transforms its operations

2021/11/11 at 11:40 AM

After implementing several solutions for planning and dispatching trains, SBB Cargo, the Swiss national rail freight carrier, is moving further to digitise its operations and services. The next stage is to develop the SBB Cargo Digital platform. It will allow the company to simplify many operational processes as well as provide services to its customers much faster.

“Easier, more transparent, easier to understand,” that is the key goal for SBB Cargo in transforming its services for the several past and upcoming years. In 2017 the Swiss rail freight operator approved its 2020 Digital Strategy that defines the company’s strong focus on digitalisation. Within the programme, the railway undertaking has implemented various solutions. For instance, it applied cloud computing for planning its everyday operations. The cloud solution was delivered to SBB Cargo by IVU Traffic Technologies, the German IT company. Meanwhile, the Swiss carrier, which moves around 180,000 tonnes of freight daily, also developed and implemented its own digital platform for better customer service. What advantages does it have?

Dedicated applications

The SBB Cargo Digital platform became operational in 2018. The operator equipped almost the entire wagon fleet with GPS trackers and various sensors, which are the main basis for the mentioned digital platform. Currently, the customers could benefit from four dedicated applications within the SBB Cargo Digital with their own specific functions. “The applications support you in handling your transports and in your supply chain, offer proactive information tailored to your needs and make your day-to-day work easier,” the railway undertaking states.

SBB Cargo equipped over two-thirds of its wagons with telematics, source: SBB Cargo

With the Cargo View web application, the customers are allowed to see the location and the current status of their shipment at any time. The solution provides detailed information about the shipment for all the parties concerned (the sender, recipient or otherwise involved in a shipment). The Cargo Check-in mobile app allows the customers to dispatch wagons with their freight directly to the ramp by using an Android smartphone.

Another solution is the Cargo Push app that automatically informs the customers about some changes in moving and delivering their freight. The users can define what notifications they want to receive and in what languages. As for the fourth application, the Cargo API, it integrates the interface between SBB Cargo and customers’ systems, through which they can access individual services and data.

Further steps

In the upcoming years, SBB Cargo will implement four more applications within its digital platform. By the end of the current year, the Cargo Storage application will be put into operation. It will increase the transparency of wagon usage at the individual customer locations. With a smart cockpit, customers have an overview of which wagons have been in their siding and for how long. This will allow them to improve their own logistics processes.

SBB Cargo will introduce four more digital apps, source: SBB Cargo

Later, by the end of 2022, the Cargo eBooking app will be introduced by SBB Cargo. “The customer orders can be seen in the system in a matter of seconds. The check of capacities and the feedback to the customers are automated. The SBB Cargo employees on the other side of the system also benefit from these advantages, as they can ensure meticulous and precise planning of the transports,” the railway undertaking explains the key features of the app.

Two other digital solutions for rail freight, Cargo Return and Cargo Fast Track, are in the pilot phase. The first app will inform the company’s customers about empty wagons as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the Cargo Fast Track app will allow booking and checking-in in one step. As of today, SBB Cargo has no specific dates for implementing these solutions.

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