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Transportation

Industrial Internet of Things technology to make crude-by-rail safer

TransRail Innovation Group's (TRIG) XLOAD sensor has been certified by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) to begin pilot trials on rail tank cars shipping hazardous commodities like crude oil and refined fuels.

Calgary-based TRIG states their XLOAD is the first digital sensor to be certified by the AAR to measure and track hazardous commodities inside of moving tank cars. Furthermore, TRIG operates the only digital manufacturing facility of its kind in North America to be certified to the M-1002 and M-1003 standards by the AAR to build this type of sensor technology for use with hazardous commodities inside of moving tank cars.

"The M1002 and M1003 is a quality assurance program that has been developed by the AAR to aid in compliance to the rail industry safety and reliability standards that are set out by the Federal Railroad Association in the U.S. and Transport Canada," said Kent Duncan, TRIG Quality Assurance Manager.

The sensor's patented measurement and monitoring technology and wireless data communications helps produce a ‘Safer and Smarter Tank Car.' As an example, it is used by shippers to automatically detect, measure, and report on the specific level and volume of crude oil that is loaded into and unloaded out of a closed and sealed tank car. This replaces the industry standard, inaccurate, inefficient, and risky measurement method that requires an operator to open a tank car and manually inspect the levels and volumes of the toxic commodity inside of the tank car.

This poor visibility of the commodity levels inside of tank cars causes the industry to chronically under fill cars by an average of 5 percent. This is done to avoid the danger of overfilling the tank cars. Shippers can now safely increase those fill levels by leveraging the accuracy of the sensor's measurements inside of a closed tank car. And, properly filling tank cars eliminates the danger of under filled and unbalanced rail tank cars. Unbalanced rail tank cars have a greater risk of derailment.

TRIG has begun pilot trials with four refineries and shippers located in Canada and the US. "Two of our primary pilot trial objectives are to determine, consistently and with accuracy, the additional volume of oil that can be loaded into our customers' tank cars, and to prove that our smart tank cars are the safest in the industry," said Rob Tasker, TRIG CEO. "The increased volume that we can safely load into our customer's cars will reduce their transportation cost of every barrel of oil they transport to their North American customers."

Also, the sensor's modern GPS technology pin points the real time location of where the tank car and its hazardous commodity ‘is.' This is a significant safety advantage over the current industries' older and slower method that only reports on where a rail car ‘was' in the previous 24 hours. Shippers benefit by being automatically alerted to the location of their hazardous commodities when close to sensitive areas like cities. And, the sensor automatically alerts them to hazardous commodity leaks and thefts, and other issues.

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