Railinc Tracks Blog

Railinc tracks are everywhere although you don't always see them. The Railinc Tracks blog reveals them one at a time and shows you how we help to keep railroads, railcars and rail shipments moving across America. The blog is staffed by the Railinc Corporate Communication team and will give you news and insights about our company, our people and our products.

Railinc's Smemoe Named Rail Industry Rising Star

Railinc Director of Application Engineering and PMO Joan Smemoe has been recognized as a 2018 Rising Star by Progressive Railroading magazine.

The award recognizes individuals under the age of 40 who have made, or are making, a positive impact on their company, organization, department or team, and are viewed by others — peers, colleagues, supervisors, clients or associates — as up-and-coming leaders in the rail industry.

As Railinc’s No. 2 technology officer and a member of the executive management team, Smemoe helps to create the vision, shape the strategy, provide leadership and drive the success of Railinc’s IT operations. She leads the company’s software development and applications engineering across all product groups, guiding more than 100 IT professionals who are responsible for dozens of essential applications that help to keep the North American freight-rail network moving.

Smemoe’s technology leadership and expertise have been integral to the success and impact of Railinc technology solutions and initiatives. These include

  • The AskRail mobile application, which helps to ensure that emergency responders have access to accurate, timely information about railcars carrying hazardous materials when they arrive at the scene of a rail emergency.

  • The Gateway Operations Services program, which is developing traffic management solutions for major rail gateways with a focus on the Chicago Terminal.

  • The Component Registry, which supports the tracking of rail equipment health.

Smemoe, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from the University of Missouri-Columbia, joined Railinc in 2006 as a senior software engineer. She has shown progressive growth, moving into leadership roles such as project manager, senior manager and director that have enabled her to shape Railinc technologies that are critical to freight rail industry operations in North America.

Smemoe and the other 2018 Progressive Railroading Rising Stars will be recognized at a dinner in Chicago on July 22. Click here to see a complete list of winners.

Railinc's Parker Named Supply Chain Pro to Know

Railinc Vice President of Operations Yates Parker has been recognized as a 2018 supply chain executive “Pro to Know” by Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine. The award honors individuals from software firms and service providers, consultancies and academia who have helped their supply chain clients or the supply chain community at large prepare to meet the significant challenges of today’s business climate.

Parker was selected for the award from over 300 entrants and was recognized in the March 2018 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine.

Click here to see all the winners.

“We commend this year’s recipients for their achievements in supply chain and for paving the way for the next generation of exceptional supply chain leaders,” said John Yuva, editor of Supply & Demand Chain Executive. ”This year’s recipients embody the commitment to transformative supply chain tools and processes, earning these individuals a rightful place in this year’s Pros to Know listing.”

Parker manages Railinc’s commercial business unit, which includes tracing, reporting, messaging, and research and development product families, as well as oversees the company’s customer experience operations. He and his teams work with Class I railroads and other freight rail industry partners to identify, develop and refine technology solutions to address some of the industry’s biggest operational challenges.

Parker joined Railinc in 2008 as vice president and chief financial officer and added customer experience to his responsibilities in 2014. He has been in his current role since early 2017.

Parker earned bachelor’s degrees in accounting and business management from North Carolina State University and a master’s degree in business administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A certified public accountant, Parker was named CFO of the Year by the Triangle Business Journal in 2010.

About Supply & Demand Chain Executive
Supply & Demand Chain Executive is the executive's user manual for successful supply and demand chain transformation, utilizing hard-hitting analysis, viewpoints and unbiased case studies to steer executives and supply management professionals through the complicated, yet critical, world of supply and demand chain enablement to gain competitive advantage. Learn more at www.sdcexec.com.

Railinc Releases 2017 Annual Report

Last year, Railinc continued working to deliver value to customers through innovative technologies that help to address some of the freight rail industry’s most pressing challenges. Leveraging our people, processes and technology, we completed critical industry projects, advanced important initiatives, upgraded systems and developed solutions that addressed rail safety, asset maintenance and utilization, and traffic management.

We’re proud of our purpose-driven work, serving the freight rail industry and creating value for people and business across North America. Our 2017 Railinc annual reportDelivering Innovation—highlights that work and our accomplishments from the past year.

Links to our 2017 annual report and past reports are available on our Annual Report page.

Railinc Named a Top Software, Tech Provider

Railinc has been named by Food Logistics as one of the FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers for 2017. The publication provides an annual list that serves as a resource guide of software and technology providers whose products and services are critical for companies in the global food and beverage supply chain.

“New developments and innovations in the software and technology sector are making sizeable impacts on the global food supply chain,” said Lara L. Sowinski, editorial director for Food Logistics and its sister publication, Supply & Demand Chain Executive. “The result is greater visibility, improved regulatory compliance, enhanced shelf life for perishables, and the emergence of a more proactive and nimble food supply chain that benefits both the food industry and its logistics partners, as well as the end consumer.”

Railinc’s RailSight suite of applications gives customers – including those in the global food supply chain – complete rail shipment visibility and equipment management data delivered to their desktop or via a TMS solution. Our data products and technology systems are deeply embedded in the North American freight rail network. We also manage widely-used industry databases, build critical software applications and provide essential business intelligence services supporting the freight rail industry.

“We are excited to be recognized by Food Logistics,” said Chuck Hieronymi, director of business solutions. “Our RailSight solutions provide unmatched, near real-time rail shipment tracking data, cloud-hosted dashboards and mapping tools, and reporting and analytics services to help our customers improve operations, customer service, safety and efficiency. And we are continuing to enhance our technology with API connectivity as we increase the breadth and depth of shipment data available to our customers.”

Railinc appears in the November/December 2017 issue of Food Logistics, as well as online at www.foodlogistics.com, as one of 2017’s FL100+ Top Software and Technology Providers.

About Food Logistics
Food Logistics
is published by AC Business Media, a business-to-business media company that provides targeted content and comprehensive, integrated advertising and promotion opportunities for some of the world’s most recognized B2B brands. Its diverse portfolio serves the construction, logistics, supply chain and other industries with print, digital and custom products, events and social media.

—Railinc Corporate Communications

Automation Tools Help Railinc Manage Big Data

At Railinc, we handle a large volume of rail data every day and use automation tools to support our work. Control-M helps us monitor complex batch processes across multiple platforms and applications and plays a vital role in what we do. Robert Redd, a release engineer administrator at Railinc, wrote the blog post below about how we are using Control-M and big data to help build a smarter rail network. It was originally posted on BMC Software’s website. BMC Software also recently published a case study on Railinc’s use of Control-M.

Established in 1999 to provide IT services for the Association of American Railroads (AAR), Railinc is the railroad industry’s most innovative and reliable resource for IT and information services. Today, as a wholly owned subsidiary of the AAR, Railinc supports business processes and provides business intelligence that help the freight rail industry increase productivity, enhance operational efficiency, and increase their return on investment in assets.

Rail industry participants recognize the opportunities big data presents. In response to the critical need for actionable data, we are working with Class I, short line, and regional railroads as well as other Railinc customers to capture huge volumes of data across diverse points in the rail network and help our customers:

  • Track shipments across the North American freight rail network
  • Achieve efficiencies around railcar repairs, car hire and other rail operations
  • Monitor the health of equipment to ensure the safe movement of freight
  • Better manage traffic to keep railcars moving

Railinc is the largest, single source of real-time, accurate, interline rail data for the North American railroad system. That data is empowering our customers to drive efficiency, manage costs, and improve the health of the North American rail network.

To continue meeting our customers’ data needs, we’ve embraced big data and replaced a previous proprietary data warehouse with an open-source environment that offers greater flexibility at a lower cost. Two years ago, we began the move to Hortonworks Hadoop as the framework for storing, processing, and managing the massive volumes of data we handle today and support even greater data volumes in the future.

Control-M is a vital part of our big-data strategy. Railinc has used Control-M for 11 years to schedule and monitor complex batch processes across multiple platforms and applications. Control-M for Hadoop allows us to develop, schedule, and monitor Hadoop batch processes using the same familiar interface we use for our other workloads.

Big Data Brings Unprecedented Visibility

The North American rail network is growing increasingly smarter as railroads implement advanced technology such as intelligent sensors positioned alongside tracks. These sensors provide data such as location and movement information that helps customers manage their fleets, track their equipment, view ETAs, efficiently coordinate the movement of millions of railcars and time the delivery of cargo down to the hour. Still, other detectors monitor the physical condition of rolling stock, enabling railroads and car owners to detect issues such as a bad brake or a wheel with a flat spot. These data enable Railinc to provide advanced warning to schedule repairs before a minor issue becomes a costly repair.

The volume is staggering. We’re capturing data from more than 40,000 locomotives and 1.6 million railcars traveling across 140,000 miles of track. The data come from equipment belonging to 1,700 different rail car owners, 560+ local and regional railroads, and seven Class I railroads. Our data warehouse already contains 50 terabytes of data from disparate sources and we expect that volume to increase nearly 100% over the next few years.

Railinc industry applications leverage these data to enable customers to operate more efficiently and economically. Our car hire applications support activities around the fees charged and paid for the usage of rail equipment, enabling higher equipment utilization and improving payment accuracy. Traffic management applications such as our Clear Path™ System support the movement of trains through the Chicago Terminal, the busiest rail gateway in North America.

Control-M Helps Keep Big Data Flowing

To support our industry applications, we must gather huge volumes of data every day from many sources, move it through various systems for analysis and translation into actionable information, and generate and distribute reports to our customers. The workflows that get the data where it needs to be when it needs to be there are highly complex with numerous dependencies.

That’s where Control-M comes in. It simplifies the creation of even the most complex workloads. Using the graphical interface, I can literally draw the dependencies among jobs, so I can ensure that prerequisite processes in a sequence are completed before the next process in the sequence is started.

Perhaps the most significant benefit is that the solution isn’t tied to a single technology. When we added Hadoop, Control-M was a natural fit, giving us the same kind of visibility into and control of Hadoop jobs that we experience on other platforms. The scheduling staff didn’t have to learn a special scheduling tool for Hadoop. We use the same interface to schedule workloads on all of our platforms and we have full visibility into the hundreds of jobs that run every night.

Control-M Batch Impact Manager lets us monitor Hadoop jobs without having people sitting in front of a console 24/7. If the solution detects potential delays or failures, it alerts us immediately. Our customers rely on us to meet those SLAs. Delayed reports on the Chicago Terminal, for example, could affect rail operations not only in the Chicago area, but throughout North America. Batch Impact Manager gives us an intelligent, proactive approach to keeping processes—and trains—running.

Another plus for Control-M is that it supports multisite environments. The critical nature of our big-data environment makes it important to have a second site for disaster recovery purposes. So we created a primary and secondary site for our Hadoop environment.

However, we aren’t limiting the second site to DR activities. We need the flexibility to do any job on either site. Control-M can easily talk to both sites, enabling us to ETL to either site, manipulate data, create views, and move processes back and forth between sites as necessary and ultimately replicate IT services and data on both sites. In the future this multisite capability will help with load balancing, enabling us to keep up with the increasing demand for big-data reports.


The transition to Hadoop has added significantly to the number of jobs we run and Hadoop workflows now account for about one third of all our batch processes. The orchestration that Control-M performs to get data where it needs to be at the time it needs to be there is critical to the success of our big-data efforts.

We simply couldn’t do the job without Control-M.

—Robert Redd

As release engineer administrator, Robert Redd manages systems that ensure Railinc applications are working for customers and that support the work the company’s developers do to create innovative solutions for the freight rail industry. Redd, who joined Railinc in 2000, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a U.S. Army veteran.