Devices enhance safety, productivity, and efficiency of North American freight rail operations

Enhanced visibility into the location and status of railcar cushioning devices is being implemented by Railinc for safer and more efficient North American freight rail operations.

This capability is an addition to the industry’s Component Tracking program which gives rail carriers, equipment owners, shops, and other industry participants unprecedented visibility into the health status and history of equipment and components. This allows them to identify wear and failure trends and improve the recall process. The North American railcar fleet includes some 1.6 million revenue-earning units, all of which must be tracked and monitored for safety and reliability.

“Since its inception in 2013, the industry has implemented component tracking for hundreds of millions of critical railcar components including wheelsets, side frames, bolsters, and couplers,” said Clayton Miller, product manager, Railinc. “The addition of cushioning devices—which help prevent hard coupling during railcar switching—will prevent damage to equipment and shipments by enabling car owners to schedule maintenance and repairs before equipment failures occur in the field.”

More than 93,000 cushioning devices have been registered and associated in the Component Tracking system with their railcars since 2021, when that process became mandatory for new cars and cars undergoing major maintenance or repairs. As this process continues, all railcars with cushioning devices will be integrated into this system.

The addition of cushioning devices to the Component Tracking program was initiated by a rail industry committee which directed Railinc to develop and implement the process. Technical and data needs were identified by the Railinc team, followed by test implementations. Upon successful conclusion of those tests, the inclusion of cushioning devices in Component Tracking was made mandatory by the Association of American Railroads.

“It’s rewarding for our teams at Railinc to work on projects that keep North America’s economy strong while protecting the safety of railroad employees and communities,” Miller said.

Read more about Component Tracking here. For questions or comments, please contact the Railinc Corporate Communications department.