Providing a reliable rugged VMC solution for America’s freight railroad network

Challenge

The logistics business world is currently in the midst of a massive migration from legacy mobile transportation and logistics solutions designed to run on Windows Mobile/CE operating systems to more modern platforms such as Android, iOS, and potentially Windows 10. As US cellular carriers upgrade their network from 3G to 4G with many carriers dropping 3G altogether, a US based railway company needed a rugged mobile network solution with the latest wireless technology to work 24/7. 

Solution

Working with supply chain logistics IT & Software solution experts, Winmate provides a custom-built Winmate FM10 VMC (Vehicle Mounted Computer) with the latest mobile technology, mounted on the railway company’s freight trucks, built to withstand the vibration and hustle of 24 hours operation, providing nonstop 4G/LTE connectivity, withstanding wide operating temperature of extreme heat and ice. 

Result

More then 1,500 Winmate FM10 VMCs have been deployed and working smoothly over past 18 month, providing improved worker productivity resulting in reduced operational costs and improved customer service, improving overall efficiency for the railway end customer.  

Providing power and support to the blood of the US economy.

The logistics and transportation industry is vital to the US economy, facilitating the flow of goods throughout the world’s largest consumer market. According to the US government, spending in the U.S. logistics and transportation industry totaled $1.4 trillion in 2016 (7.5 percent of U.S. GDP that year). America's highly integrated logistics industries link through air, maritime, rail and truck transport, with the rail network and local truck connections moving over 75% of total goods. No surprise that it is often referred to as the blood of the US economy. 

The logistics business world is currently in the midst of a massive migration from legacy mobile transportation and logistics solutions designed to run on new up-to date platforms as Android and iOS

A VMC that can withstand 24/7 operation in various rugged terrains.

Once the locomotives have carried freight across states to local ports, freight trucks are relied on for the last leg of the journey. On board Vehicle Mounted Computers (VMC) help to provide freight truck drivers with real-time routing GPS navigation, dispatch management and scheduling, parcel delivery and tracking, proof of delivery and other services. This helps to ensure a vital part of the efficiency and smooth operation of the entire network. To ensure smooth operation, the VMC has to withstand the constant vibration of 24/7 transport in different terrains with wide varying temperature, while providing a steady 4G/LTE connectivity without interruption.

After understanding the specific needs and the requirement of the customer, Winmate’s team led by sales manager Khalid Kidari put together a demo unit that was first extensively tested in the lab to ensure it met the rigorous specifications set by railway end customer. After which a pilot test of 50 units were deployed and tested over several months to ensure its real-world operation, and to fine-tune and debug. Due to the railway company’s coverage of a large geographical area with different terrain and weather, the units needed to be functional in varying temperatures by different workers. Khalid shares “We needed to make sure that the product not only worked on paper or in the lab, but that it is running smoothly all the different locations it will be used in”.

Flexible product matched with on-site attentive support to deliver customized product and service

One of the biggest challenges that had to be overcome during the pilot stage was the power source for the unit. As the power source draws power from gasoline powered vehicles, the voltage is neither consistent or steady, so a good powertrain system was needed to ensure that the VMC were not subjected to electrical surges. In the end, a variable DC power with an input of 10-60V was used to accommodate various truck configurations. “Whenever an issue would arise, we were immediately on the plane to address the issue on-site, which also helped us to understand the needs on the ground” Khalid says, stating that the customer was very thrilled with the unbelievable service the Winmate team provided.

After the pilot testing stage, the end customer officially deployed the customized Winmate FM10 Vehicle Mounted Computers to their freight trucks. To date over 1,500 trucks have been fitted with the FM10 and are operating smoothly 24/7 around the country. The client has commented that even though Winmate’s products met the rigid standard that was set in the beginning, the level of service and support provided by the Winmate team was essential to the overall success of the project. The strength of Winmate is rooted in the innovative, tactile and ruggedness of our solution, matched by our enthusiastic and flexible service to help get the job done for our customers.  

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