The 150 year old railroad is impressively tech savvy as CEO Jack Koraleski tells Fortune
“Technology controls the movement of the trains and to some extent the safety of the trains. There are 4,000 pieces of detection equipment throughout the network. As trains go over, they're measuring the temperature of the bearings, the impact of the car as it rides on the rail and whether there's a bump to it, the sound of the wheels on the rail for anomalies and patterns. It's part of our predictive maintenance. When you start to see patterns and something's not right, you need to pull that car out and have it inspected.
We've also taken technology and tried to move ourselves up into our customer supply chain. We have a technology called Shipment Vision -- once Chrysler assigns a car a VIN on a manufacturing line, we will track and control the distribution of that vehicle all the way to the destination showroom. We give them full visibility and help them manage their inventory. We have several subsidiary companies that take the technology we use for ourselves to control trains and give that to our customers to help them control their supply chain more effectively.”
He also has interesting insights on our energy policy in the interview. A train can haul a ton of freight (coal, oil among them) 500 miles on a gallon of diesel fuel, of which he buys over a billion gallons a year.
Photo Credit of Ultrasonic Cracked Wheel Detector in use at UP