How AEI Tags Are Changing the Way Freight Moves!

AEI Tags

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AEI tags article and permission to publish here provided by Adrian Brito on behalf of Industrial Networks.

In the shipping industry, automatic equipment identification (AEI) tags are the lifeblood of data collecting.

Railyards and trucking companies place the AEI tags on their freight cars and tractors to help track shipping all over North America. 

What do AEI Tags Do?

AEI tags measure 30” square and are placed on brackets at a consistent height measuring about four feet above the rail or the road. When a railcar or a semi-truck passes a reader, the tag is scanned by a 90OMHz radio signal. Then, a logistician at a rail yard or trucking company can use the data in real-time. 

The data tags include information about the vehicle, including who owns it, what type of vehicle it is, and the road number. The logistician at the railyard can use that data to see where shipments are and if they are on time to their destination. These tags can be placed on any types of train cars, from containers to locomotives, and on any type of road vehicle. 

The tags help employees keep track of not only shipments but their stock of railcars, too. They also let inbound railyards know what is approaching so they can prepare for arrivals and departures. Many yard employees often get information about incoming shipments through emails generated by the AEI tags passing preset tag readers. 

How AEI Tags Help Shipping Companies

AEI tags use a simple and reliable technology that benefits more than just rail yards and trucking companies.

Real-Time Tracking

The data that the readers collect can be used for real-time operations. When shipping companies receive data about their trucks and rail cars, they can instantly update their customers who can then prepare for incoming loads. Customers can also anticipate the delays if there are problems on the rails or roads. 

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The real-time updates also give stakeholders information about weather and road conditions. Fortunately, the tags are not affected by road conditions, dirt, or other issues because they transmit information via RFID signal instead of through a visual system like barcodes. 

Collecting Data and Tracking Assets 

Over 1.2 million railcars and over 22,000 locomotives have AEI tags on them. This provides the shipping industry with plenty of information about where shipments are and how their real-time locations affect their ETA. About 1,200 readers are positioned in key locations to share that real-time location information with those who need it. 

Along with the railyard data, the tags are placed in locations where freighters and semi trucks can be scanned, too. These tags help shipping companies know where their expensive assets are, especially if they are being leased by other companies. 

Taking Human Error Out of the Equation

Prior to the use of AEI tags, railcars were tracked by employees using pencils and paper. It is one reason why railyards were not known for being efficient. Employees had to record the dates and car numbers in a book, manually. Like any other system that relied on paper and pencil, it was rife with errors. 

AEI tags remove the opportunity for errors in the shipping industry. They provide automated updates and take away the need for pencil-and-paper records. 

Increasing Efficiency While Decreasing Expenses

When railyards use the data provided through AEI tags, they can put their cars into the rotation more often, thus increasing their bottom line. They can keep track of the time that cars are being serviced, and they can watch for excessive dwell time. The useful data lets them also work with AI, so they can begin to use predictive data and increase their return on investments. 

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By removing the need for pencil-and-paper maintenance, railyards and shipping companies can reduce their labor costs. Instead, they can invest in useful platforms that let them keep close tabs on their assets and the items inside of them. They can offer real-time tracking to their customers and reduce errors in ETA, so docks can be prepared to accept shipments rather than forcing trains and trucks to wait for someone to arrive. 

The AEI tag readers and reduce costs that come with inspections, check-ins, and other shipping processes. They also reduce the financial and reputational costs that came with fixing human errors. 

Using AEI tags is a money-saving and time-saving investment that helps reduce overhead expenses. Companies can use AEI tags and their data to staff their docks and railyards, appropriately. They can prepare for busy seasons and slowdowns, too. They can also reduce unnecessary delays that can wreak havoc on customers’ supply chains and manufacturing needs. 

Shipyards that do not use data from AEI tags and railside readers are already behind the times. The technology has already changed the way that shipping companies keep track of their freight, manage their assets, and control their employee expenses. 

Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on July 22, 2020.

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