Real-time tracking data is helping chemical company Arkema to improve the performance of its wagonload shipments

FRANCE: Real-time tracking data is helping chemical company Arkema to improve the performance of its wagonload shipments, building on a project conducted in partnership with digital transport management specialist Everysens and Fret SNCF.

Arkema is one of the largest users of wagonload services in France, dispatching around 4 000 single wagon consignments per year. Following concerns about a lack of visibility over the movement of its goods, it lunched a collaboration with Everysens in October 2020 to manage its rail logistics in real time. Everysens is equipping Arkema’s entire fleet of insulated tank wagons with GPS beacons, which can be used to track the movement of individual vehicles and calculate an estimated time of arrival for each shipment.

Recognising that Fret SNCF and Everysens were collecting complementary data, Arkema wondered whether pooling the information might unlock productivity improvements. To answer the question, the partners launched a three-month study into wagonload movements between Gent in Belgium and Arkema’s Saint Avre plant in Savoie which ships oxygenated solvents for use in paint and varnish, lubrication additives, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications.

Arkema initially made its real-time GPS data available to Fret SNCF to help the operator manage the traffic better and react more rapidly in the event of any problems.

The second phase of the project focused on measuring the theoretical predictions against actual performance, comparing the real-time data collected by Everysens with the information provided by Fret SNCF. Cross-referencing the GPS locations of the wagons with ‘areas of interest’ such as stations, freight yards and depots allowed the partners to measure the actual transit times and to identify specific problem areas where wagons were being delayed.

According to Yves Antoine, Director of Global Logistics Procurement at Arkema, ‘the results are promising. This project will enable us to implement proactive operational management with our partners, to identify the locations impacting on transport performance and to have reliable and contextualised data.’

‘Everything that can be measured can be improved’, added Pierre Boutin, director of Fret SNCF’s Single Wagon Transport Recovery Programme. ‘Following this analysis, Fret SNCF has implemented an action plan for this flow with our local entities and service providers. Our objective is to find the causes of wagon immobilisation and reduce these waiting times.’

Everysens CEO Youness Lemrabet said the project ‘demonstrates the tremendous potential of expanded collaboration in rail freight, adding that ‘we are already discussing the possibility of industrialising this project for all of Arkema’s flows, thus making single wagon transport more reliable and attractive.’