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Article
From Washout to Whiteout

The Next Generation of Transportation Applications.


Full Article Below -
Untitled Document

With this article, we begin our Transportation series. We want to take a fresh look at the transportation solution market, see the progress and changes made by the providers, and be more inclusive of modes and services in today’s applications.

Washout

Recently, the US witnessed another one of those ‘small weather events’ that got out of hand in Colorado. Rain is a fairly predictable ‘event’ at an aggregate level. But more localized consequences seem to be harder to predict—and have huge consequences for the local residents as well as transportation.

The challenge is in fine tuning our predictions of the effects of the weather and other events to better understand their local impact. Without going into how geospatial event processes actually do this (we will save that for a subsequent article), this post is merely to suggest that the software used by many tranporation management packages needs a serious upgrade.

I recently rode the Amtrak a short way from Orlando to West Palm Beach—a pretty boring ride unless you are a logistics person looking at the variety of ever-changing rail cars, freight cars, switching stations, and truck carrier equipment in the surrounding areas along the way. The sheer mass of assets that seemed to be in stall mode was staggering—in the equipment, and the valuable (miles of automobiles in container cars), perishable (product from farms), and hazardous (liquid bulk) freight. It seemed that there was a small event on one of the cross streets and we were backed up for miles—north and south along the railroad, and east and west along the highway with a long line of backed-up trucks and other vehicles.

Whiteout

Right on the heals of the Colorado floods, early snows started. This was probably great news for the ski industry, but bad for transportation.

Part of the issue with weather is precision: What’s happening now? These surprises are the challenge, and they aren’t just about time and cost, but loss of life:

“CULLMAN, ALA. (AP) — A TRAFFIC JAM THAT EXTENDED AT LEAST EIGHT MILES ON INTERSTATE 65 IN ALABAMA, FORCING HUNDREDS OF MOTORISTS TO CAMP OUT IN VEHICLES OVERNIGHT AFTER A RARE SOUTHERN SNOWFALL, FINALLY CLEARED FRIDAY AS RISING TEMPERATURES MELTED REMNANTS OF THE FREEZE.
SOME QUESTIONED WHETHER ROAD OFFICIALS WERE CAUGHT FLAT-FOOTED BY A WINTER STORM THAT HAD BEEN PREDICTED FOR DAYS, BUT THE STATE HIGHWAY DEPARTMENT DENIED BEING UNPREPARED.
HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE SPENT A COLD NIGHT TRAPPED ON I-65 NORTH ABOUT 50 MILES NORTH OF BIRMINGHAM AFTER A WINTER STORM DUMPED SNOW AROUND THE SOUTHEAST AND CAUSED AT LEAST ONE DEATH IN MISSISSIPPI.”

We can do better. I noted this recent weather advisory from the National Weather Service:

"…USE CAUTION IF TRAVELING ACROSS SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH CENTRAL NORTH
DAKOTA TODAY. WET...HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS ARE CAUSING
DOWNED TREE LIMBS AND POWER LINES…" 1 (See more at footnote at end.)

Which roads? Where is that downed power line? Is my specific route at risk? Or safe? What route could I take now to get out of the situation?

We are entrusting a huge network of people, companies, and their often outdated equipment with our precious freight. Bad things happen to good cargo! Do our TMS systems tell us about our carriers, their credentials, and where our cargo is at any time?

Passive static models in our solutions will not take us to the next level. Fuel economy, fresher food, fewer accidents, reduced transit times are all within our reach. But we need to rethink/update our approach to our transporation systems.

to be continued…………..

We will explore these and other critical issues in our series. Whether you are the shipper or carrier—things can be better.

-------------------------------
1 "URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BISMARCK ND
654 AM CDT SAT OCT 5 2013"

"...WET SNOW AND STRONG WINDS CONTINUE THIS MORNING ACROSS
PORTIONS OF SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH CENTRAL NORTH DAKOTA..."

"STRONG NORTH WINDS TO 45 MPH WILL CREATE AREAS OF BLOWING SNOW
AND GREATLY REDUCED VISIBILITIES IN PLACES LIKE HETTINGER...
ELGIN...AND SELFRIDGE THROUGH THE MORNING. A BLIZZARD
WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR THESE AREAS."

"MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOW CONTINUES IN THE FLASHER...ELGIN...
CARSON...AND ALMONT AREAS...WHILE STRONG WINDS CONTINUE ACROSS
THE BOWMAN AND MOTT AREAS. SNOW IS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGH
THIS MORNING...AND A WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT.
STORM TOTAL AMOUNTS OF 6 TO 12 INCHES ARE EXPECTED...WITH THE
HIGHEST AMOUNTS NEAR THE SOUTH DAKOTA BORDER BETWEEN HETTINGER AND
SELFRIDGE."

"FOR LOCATIONS SUCH AS CENTER...BISMARCK AND LINTON...A WINTER
WEATHER ADVISORY REMAINS IS EFFECT THIS MORNING. A MIX OF RAIN
AND SNOW WILL CONTINUE...IN ADDITION TO STRONG WINDS GUSTING TO
NEAR 45 MPH. STORM TOTAL AMOUNTS OF ONE TO FOUR INCHES OF SNOW ARE
EXPECTED."

"USE CAUTION IF TRAVELING ACROSS SOUTHWEST AND SOUTH CENTRAL NORTH
DAKOTA TODAY. WET...HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS ARE CAUSING
DOWNED TREE LIMBS AND POWER LINES."

"...MORTON-HETTINGER-BOWMAN-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...MANDAN...MOTT...BOWMAN
654 AM CDT SAT OCT 5 2013 /554 AM MDT SAT OCT 5 2013/"

"...WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1 PM CDT /NOON
MDT/ THIS AFTERNOON..." -- Return to article text above

 


To view other articles from this issue of the brief, click here.




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