ZTR and BlackBerry partner to offer remote monitoring for railcars

A photograph of intermodal containers at a rail yard.

Rail technology firm ZTR and communications and security software provider BlackBerry (NYSE: BB) are partnering to devise a system to help railcar owners, operators and suppliers monitor their railcars remotely, both companies said today.

The new offering would enable owners, operators and suppliers to gain more insight in managing their fleets, while extending the battery life of their monitoring devices, according to both. 

“Like many industries, freight rail customers are interested in a higher level of service relating to their deliveries. This higher expectation is driven by consumer experiences in industries that allow them to know where a taxi pick up, or pizza delivery is at any given moment,”  ZTR Director of Sales Brian Nelson told FreightWaves.  

Minneapolis-based ZTR’s offerings include an Internet of Things (IoT) division that provides remote equipment monitoring as well as a technology division to modernize locomotives. ZTR’s IoT division would be involved in this partnership. Meanwhile, Waterloo, Ontario-based Blackberry is a communications and software provider and also deals with battery management and cybersecurity.

The new offering consists of an online dashboard that owners, original equipment manufacturers, lessors, shippers and managers will use to track railcars and other railway assets through location-based services. The dashboard will allow users to see their assets’ utilization, motion, mileage, humidity, door open/close status and cargo capacity. BlackBerry Radar will use sensors to track the railcars and rail assets.

ZTR and BlackBerry hope the offering will provide visibility into operations, including how to optimize asset utilization. 

“ZTR is the perfect partner to help us expand the reach of our asset-monitoring solution in an otherwise underserved market and one in which visibility and fleet insights can make a major difference in railway profitability,” said Christopher Plaat, Senior Vice President and General Manager of BlackBerry Radar®. “Together with ZTR, we share a vision to bring digital transformation to the railroads so that they can make better, data-driven decisions that lead to greater fleet efficiency.”

“We’re always looking ahead to anticipate customer needs and improve availability, reliability and efficiency through innovation, so it made sense to join together to deliver greater customer value,” said  Sam Hassan, CEO and President of ZTR.