The digital revolution is bringing greater transparency and higher quality of service to supply chains, including rail cargo. DB Cargo has just rolled out myRailportal, which makes ordering transport services from Europe’s largest rail cargo company as easy as shopping online. The key component of the B2B portal is the AX4 logistics platform from AXIT, a Siemens Company.
DB Cargo’s customers, who represent a broad diversity of industries, now have an end-to-end digital environment for managing their freight consignments – everything from ordering empty railcars and booking transports to tracking individual railcars and issuing invoices. “We used AX4 to develop a solution that offers our rail freight customers a full suite of IT services and complete visibility of all rail movements,” explains Dr. Eric Pfaffmann, Head of Customer Service Logistics & Head of IT Projects Sales at DB Cargo AG.
myRailportal provides an interface where customers can check availability and request empty railcars by simply entering the type and number of cars needed along with the departure and destination stations. Once the order has been confirmed, customers can check its status at any time – and that of the actual transport as well. AX4 collects tracking data from various rail systems and consolidates it down to the individual train and railcar. myRailportal uses this data to generate information on departure and transit times and show the current position relative to the planning targets, including any deviations. Graphical reports and dashboards can be generated for analysis as needed with a few simple clicks.
DB Cargo also offers an app built on AX4 mobile for reporting damaged railcars. Customers logged into their myRailportal account can simply take a photo and report the damage to customer service immediately – replacing manual report forms with a fully digital documentation process that is faster, simpler, and ultimately more cost-effective.
DB Cargo is planning to partner with DB Systel, an affiliated IT service provider in the DB Group, to run the AX4 logistics platform as a separate instance. The objective is to enable easy, end-to-end integration of DB systems and more flexibility in customer integration. “Running our own instance of AX4 in the DB Cloud puts us on track to integrate additional services on myRailportal,” says Dr. Pfaffmann, explaining this innovative step. The idea is to use APIs and web services to transmit sensor data from the DB Cargo fleet through AX4 to myRailportal for analysis.