If you have ever sat at a railroad crossing waiting for a freight train to go by, then you already know those trains seem to stretch on for miles. For freight operators, it can be very difficult to keep track of what is happening at each car, especially for those freight trains only manned at the front in the locomotive.
This can be a serious issue for freight trains carrying hazardous chemicals. In the case of tank cars transporting TIH (toxic inhalation hazard) chemicals, complete visibility of the cars at all times is essential.
Lat-Lon LLC, www.lat-lon.com, is one company that has a solution which offers this type of visibility to shippers. The company is now rolling out its GPS-enabled tracking and security monitoring system to shipping companies which transport THI chemicals.
With the Lat-Lon system, shippers have access to reports indicating the realtime location of these tank cars in transit. The system included a camera installed on the tank car which captures images if the hatch has been opened or if there has been some type of impact that has exceeded a pre-set threshold.
According to Lat-Lon, having a visual image of the tank car helps to increase both safety and security such as in the event of a chlorine derailment where knowing the orientation of the tank cars would be vital information for first responders before they arrive on scene. The camera has the ability to take photos at night using infrared in addition to during the day so anyone tampering with the car can be caught on camera at any time without even knowing it.
The system is solar powered but also comes equipped with a rechargeable battery for backup so it can remain operational throughout the night. Additionally the system can automatically alert shippers when the tank car has entered a designated high threat urban area.
“Lat-Lon is returning visual oversight to the freight train—which was lost when the caboose was eliminated,” says Dave Baker, president, Lat-Lon. “It is like having a caboose trailing each railcar.”