ERS Railways Taps Leading IT Platform for Competitive Edge
- Enhance European cross-border intermodal rail transport service
- Compete more effectively with ground and ocean transport
- CSC’s Rail Cargo Management System (RCMS): an end-to-end planning, operating and order-management system
- Supported growth in volume and round trips
- Consolidated rail cargo management on a single IT platform
- Created seamless digital workflow using tablet devices
Highly competitive market
The railway freight transportation market in Europe is highly competitive and companies are constantly turning to the latest technology to maintain an edge. Wanting to stay ahead of the competition, ERS Railways installed a CSC-developed advanced cargo management system that is providing its customers more options, such as online cargo tracking and Web order booking.
Based in Rotterdam, ERS Railways operates throughout Europe, primarily in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. A leader in intermodal transportation, ERS operates more than 400 large containers that can be easily transferred from trains to other modes of transportation, such as trucks, ships and barges.
“When you look at the whole intermodal railway scene in Europe, what you need to be is agile, proactive and supportive when customers come to you and ask for seamless transport solutions,” says Frank Schuhholz, managing director, ERS Railways. For ERS, this meant pulling together disparate IT components and implementing an integrated rail management system onto a single ERP platform.
RCMS for planning, operating and order management
CSC is regarded as a global leader in implementing the most advanced railway transportation systems. In this case, CSC’s Rail Cargo Management System (RCMS), a planning, operating and order-management system proved to be exactly what ERS Railways needed.
RCMS is specifically designed for freight train operating companies (FTOC), intermodal liner service operators and private factory rail operators that need to meet the challenges of increasing operational complexity. RCMS helps automate manual processes and can be easily integrated into existing IT landscapes. Now, tasks such as equipment management and staff planning are all integrated into the same system.
“In today’s world, efficient information flow is key to success,” Schuhholz says. “We have one integrated system for a seamless workflow, where the information comes from the customer in the beginning and basically goes through the end when we have executed the order.”
RCMS also allows the information flow to stay ahead of the cargo shipments so ERS can alert its customers what to expect in the terminals regarding lead time. Schuhholz says, “These kinds of things are absolutely vital for us. Also, when it comes to closing orders and closing the process, and afterward [handling] the invoicing, [these are areas] where we have to count on a reliable system.”
ERS was also trying to improve the sustainability of its operations by moving to a paperless workflow environment. With the RCMS system in place, the company’s locomotive drivers now use tablet devices instead of paper to exchange operational information.
Launching improved online capabilities
CSC has also spearheaded application development projects that are helping ERS stay ahead of the competition. Albertine Joosse, CIO of ERS Railways, says, “Customers are looking at our competition, and what they are doing. So the challenge for us is to also develop capabilities like our competition to make sure that we remain attractive to our customers.” To aid in meeting these challenges, CSC helped develop improved online capabilities.
First was a track-and-trace solution, where customers can go online 24x7 to track cargo shipments. CSC assisted with developing a Web booking tool so customers can place their orders online. Joosse says, “CSC contributes value by continually asking us where we can improve and thinking out-of-the-box for customer-driven solutions.”
Schuhholz says CSC’s global expertise has also proved helpful. “With CSC, we know that there’s vast knowledge of the railway industry, not only from an intermodal perspective, but also from a conventional rail perspective. [These elements] make it unique to work with CSC and bring benefits to our company, and also to our customers,” he says.
Supporting ongoing innovation
CSC’s ability to innovate has also helped ERS stay competitive. “We are continuously striving for innovation, for new applications and for new possibilities to run our business more efficiently,” Schuhholz says. “We always surprise customers positively by doing something that the railway industry is not necessarily known for.”
In today’s competitive railway world, to be ready for growth, you have to keep innovating by working closely with a partner to develop new solutions. “It’s a mutual partnership where we challenge each other and bring topics on the table, which are definitely the questions of the future for our customers,” Schuhholz says. “So, we try to be always a step ahead, and CSC, with its vast knowledge in the transportation business, can help us.”