As a Class I railroad operator began to create an app to streamline the freight pickup process for the drivers of its partner trucking companies, an automated kiosk station solution was needed. The kiosk needed to be weatherproof, house a rugged panel that could operate 24/7 in direct sunlight or cold wintery storm, a panel bright enough for outdoor use, and modular design for quick turnaround service.
Working with supply chain logistics IT & Software solution experts, Winmate provided a custom-built M-Series HMI featuring a 1,000 nits multi-touch 15” display with glass front, housed in a stainless-steel enclosure with printer and barcode scanner.
More then 200 units have been deployed in 15 sites between the Eastern United States and Canada so far, the Winmate kiosks were very well received, resulting in a safer and more efficient work environment for drivers, which meant greater productivity for the rail transport operator.
A mobile solution for greater efficiency and safety.
Once a freight train arrive at one of its many yards across the country, freight trucks are relied upon to carry the load for the final leg of the journey to the final destination. To achieve this, the railway operator works with many trucking companies, and how the system used to run, is that the trucking company will email a driver with the documents for a pick-up, the driver would need to find a printer to print out the documents, so it can be presented at the railyard for pickup, at which point the representative at the gate will verify the paperwork and identity the location for the pickup. The whole process was time consuming and not very efficient.
The railway operator needed a rugged HMI kiosk in its train yard for a safer and more efficient working environment for its partnering trucking companies.
Reliable rugged kiosk solution needed for automation.
They decided to streamline the whole process by launching an Android app for drivers, to notify them when a load has arrived and is ready for pickup. Once the driver responds to the pickup, the app automatically sends out an estimated arrival time. Once the driver arrives at the yard, he or she can sign-in at a man-less kiosk by scanning the QR code generated by the app, after which the kiosk will print out a ticket with the location of the freight for pickup. Through this design the whole process has been automated and improves the safety of the drivers as they no longer have to leave the vehicle the whole time.
Customizable rugged panel that is modularized for quick easy turnaround repair time.
The railway operator asked Winmate to create the automated kiosks for the system, with the condition that the machine have to work in direct sunlight, rainproof, protected from sand and dust and reliably running 24/7 without any glitches. The Winmate team first arrived on site to determine the size and position of the kiosks, coming up with a configuration that would work with 85% of the incoming trucks. Next was to integration of other parts like barcode scanner, printer and weatherproof housing.
For the actual panel itself, the main challenge was a sunlight readable display that could work effectively outside. To achieve this, Winmate’s “optical bonding” process was used to avoid double reflection, the panel also featured a high-bright level to ensure best readability in the sun. The rugged panel was also built for serviceability, whereby all the parts, including computer components and the screen are all separated, modularized in a sense so that when a part breaks down, the broken part can be easily and quickly fixed, which meant longer lifecycle and faster service times between 48 hours and 1 week.
It took 6 months from evaluation to launching the customized M-Series HMI, which was faster then what the railway operator had originally anticipated. Winmate’s lead on the project Khalid Kidari says “The customer was pleasantly surprised” seeing the workflow of the yards where Winmate’s new kiosks have already been installed and deployed. To sum up the project, Khalid remarks “We took an off-the-shelf Winmate product, customized it toe the customer’s needs, which is a strength of Winmate, we created a fast and expandable system with enclosure, scanner and printer, we made it brighter and easier to service.” All reasons to why Winmate’s kiosks have been requested by other rail and freight operators.