Aerodynamic innovative technology from Union Pacific
Unique aerodynamic fuel-saving technology for double-stacked intermodal freight trains has been unveiled by the US’s largest railroad network.
Union Pacific has unveiled its Arrowedge, an employee-designed aerodynamic technology for fuel and locomotive emissions reductions on double-stack intermodal freight trains.
Years in development, the Arrowedge is the latest innovation to result from the company’s efforts to design, build and implement fuel-saving technologies.
Mike Iden, Union Pacific’s General Director for Car and Locomotive Engineering, said: “The Arrowedge represents Union Pacific's focus on pioneering technology for operational and environmentally sustainable gains that ultimately result in enhanced customer service and community stewardship.
"We are excited to see the results of this innovation in action and how it can springboard further research and development."
A double-stack intermodal train accommodates freight containers placed two-high, one on top of the other, for better ride quality and rail car utilization.
Positioned on top of the first freight container, the 48-foot Arrowedge has a tapered body that allows air to more easily flow around the train's top frontmost containers. This reduces aerodynamic drag for more efficient transport of customers' goods. In addition, drag reductions decrease the amount of locomotive power required to propel the train.
Union Pacific holds two United States patents for the Arrowedge, with additional US and Canadian patents pending. The company expects to introduce the technology into double-stack train service between Joliet, Illinois and Long Beach, California, this month.
The company estimates that trains are the most fuel-efficient way to transport bulk cargo on land. It says that a single Union Pacific train can replace 300 trucks, decreasing emissions and reducing stress on America’s deteriorating road and bridge infrastructure. It says it can move one ton of freight 480 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel, the equivalent of a standard mid-size car getting roughly 200 miles per gallon.
From 2007-2012, Union Pacific invested $18 billion in its network and operations to support America's transportation infrastructure, including a record $3.7 billion in 2012.
Pandora and IBM digitise jewellery supply chain
Pandora has overhauled its global supply chain in partnership with IBM amid an ecommerce sales boom for its hand-finished jewellery.
The company found international success offering customisable charm bracelets and other personalised jewellery though its chain of bricks and mortar retail destinations. But in 2020, as the COVID-19 outbreak forced physical stores to close, Pandora strengthened its omnichannel operations and doubled online sales.
A focus on customer experience included deploying IBM’s Sterling Order Management, increasing supply chain resiliency and safeguarding against disruption across the global value chain.
Pandora leverages IBM Sterling Order Management as the backbone it its omnichannel fulfilment, with Salesforce Commerce Cloud powering its ecommerce. Greater automation across its channels has boosted the jeweller’s sustainability credentials, IBM said, streamlining processes for more efficient delivery. It has also given in-store staff and virtual customer service representatives superior end-to-end visibility to better meet consumer needs.
Jim Cruickshank, VP of Digital Development & Retail Technology, Pandora, said the digital transformation journey has brought “digital and store technology closer together and closer to the customer”, highlighting how important the customer journey remains, even during unprecedented disruption.
"Our mission is about creating a personal experience and we've instituted massive platform changes with IBM Sterling and Salesforce to enable new digital-first capabilities that are much more individualised, localised and connected across channels and markets,” he added.
Pandora’s pivot to digital
The pandemic forced the doors closed at most of Pandora’s 2,700 retail locations. To remain competitive, it pivoted to online retail. Virtual queuing for stores and virtual product trials via augmented reality (AR) technology went someway to emulating the in-store experience and retail theatre that is the brand’s hallmark. Meanwhile digital investments in supply chain efficiency was central to delivering on consumer demand.
“Consumer behaviour has significantly shifted and will continue to evolve with businesses needing to quickly adapt to new preferences and needs,” said Kareem Yusuf, General Manager, AI Applications and Blockchain, IBM. “To address this shift, leading retailers like Pandora rely on innovation to increase their business agility by enabling and scaling sustainable supply chain operations using AI and cloud.”
Yusuf said Pandora’s success was indicative of how to remain competitive by “finding new ways to create differentiated customer experiences that protect their enterprises from disruptions to help mitigate risk and accelerate growth”.