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Axsun revolutionizes intermodal shipping with BlackBerry advanced asset tracking

Axsun revolutionizes intermodal shipping with BlackBerry advanced asset tracking

Case StudiesEast CoastSoftwareTop StoriesTransport

Axsun, an international intermodal transportation company, is utilising BlackBerry Radar, a complete asset tracking solution, to track its assets and ensure unauthorized use is no longer a concern.

Axsun is responsible for keeping some of North America’s largest brands stocked and supplied. Leveraging an extensive network of partners and contractors, it ships to locations all over the world, including Canada, Mexico and the United States. Axsun prides itself on the breadth of its services, going to great lengths to ensure that it can meet the unique logistical needs of each individual client.

“From the moment it was founded, Axsun has always been intermodal, using multiple types of transport to ensure the most efficient delivery of freight,” said Steve Ramescu, President at Axsun.

“We touch a lot of things on the transportation side, including truck brokering, logistics work, warehousing and ocean freight. However, our biggest focus – and where we originated – is on the railroad.”

When asset tracking goes off the rails
“As an intermodal service provider, when you sign contracts with railroads, you get to use their assets,” said Ramescu. “Because of this, we didn’t maintain many assets of our own in our early years, aside from a few trucks we used for final-mile deliveries. As time went on, we began acquiring our own assets to better serve our clientele.”

With this growth came the need for better visibility and control. Axsun wanted to be able to track where its containers were throughout their journey. In addition to enhancing both asset utilization and efficiency, this would also enable increased accountability in the management of their assets.

“Because the railroad only goes to certain cities, we rely on a large network of subcontractors,” said Ramescu. “We needed to know what those subcontractors were doing with our containers after their deliveries were made. We needed the certainty that they weren’t using our containers without our consent or in such a way that might create liability risks, such as with the unauthorized transportation of hazardous materials.”

There was also the matter of visibility into each container’s journey along the railroad. Traditionally, when a container is transported via rail line, the container is not tracked continuously. Instead, each flatcar on a train is assigned an RFID code, which is only read when the train passes through certain segments of the railway.

Unfortunately, because these RFID codes are configured manually, they are prone to error. There is no way of knowing that a container is actually where it’s supposed to be.

“About 10 years ago, we’d assigned a container to move from Montreal to Los Angeles,” said Ramescu. “That container wound up in Atlanta, but we didn’t know until it arrived there. The flatcar it was supposed to be on kept registering that it was in the right place, but the container itself was misdirected because it was not being directly tracked.”

Tapping into a long-standing partnership
As a long-time supporter of BlackBerry, Ramescu was already aware of BlackBerry Radar, a complete asset tracking solution that is scalable, flexible and easy to implement. Its rugged sensors are low-maintenance and long-lasting, enabling expanded visibility into everything from a container’s location to its contents.

“Axsun has worked with BlackBerry for quite some time now via BlackBerry UEM,” said Ramescu. “When they launched BlackBerry Radar, it seemed like the most logical choice for us. We reached out to them in February of last year, did a brief proof of concept and then deployed within a few months.”

Axsun started with an initial pilot of approximately 50 BlackBerry Radar units. Installation was quick and easy, and BlackBerry provided extensive support throughout. With the success of its pilot, Axsun decided to utilize the solution with every new asset it deploys. Currently, it is monitoring approximately 175 units.

Delivering better customer service
BlackBerry Radar has provided Axsun with precisely the visibility and control it was looking for across its assets, allowing it to ensure that unauthorized use is no longer a concern. It has also leveraged BlackBerry Radar to optimize the maintenance of its chassis units so equipment is properly rotated for a better return on investment across its fleet.

BlackBerry Radar has also benefited the company in several ways it did not initially anticipate. Since BlackBerry Radar’s asset tracking is automatic, it means less time spent on manually recording data. It has also helped Axsun maximize profits both by attracting new clients and by providing better service to existing clients.

“With BlackBerry Radar, we can give customers real-time updates, so they know where their cargo is at any given time,” said Ramescu. “We’ve had multiple customers confirm that they’re increasing their business with us, with one of them representing close to three-quarters of a million dollars a year in net new business. When considering the upsides we have enjoyed in utilizing BlackBerry Radar, adopting it should really be a no-brainer for anyone in our industry – the return on investment has been huge.

“BlackBerry Radar also makes our deliveries more efficient,” he continues. “We no longer have to wait for railroad notifications. We know right away when a container has arrived, potentially reducing delivery windows by a day or more.”

The future of Intermodal Transportation
With its deployment of BlackBerry Radar, Axsun has assumed the role as an innovative leader in the intermodal transport space, and Ramescu predicts the use of this advanced sensor technology will soon become an industry standard.

“Especially with high-value products, a transport company with a solution like BlackBerry Radar will be the logical choice,” said Ramescu. “For our part, if we hadn’t adopted BlackBerry Radar, our assets would have become increasingly difficult to manage as we expanded. We’d have no clue where our equipment was and what it was doing – and that’s simply not acceptable.

“Visibility has always been one of the biggest hurdles for customers when shipping intermodally. BlackBerry Radar allows us to provide that. In our industry, that’s currently something nobody else has – a tool that allows us to go above and beyond and save us a lot of headaches in the process.”

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