Railcar Repair: Save $600 Or More Annually By Reading This Article
Starting January 1, 2012, Railinc will begin charging $600 annually for the PDF print out of [rail]car repair billing charges (CRBX Data Exchange) to billed parties. The charge is actually per each profile ID, so if your company has multiple IDs, you will see multiple $600 charges. Plus, third party companies wishing to receive the PDF report on behalf of customers must contact Railinc for a quote. Finally, if a company asks a billing party for a printed detail repair invoice, the billing party may charge a $150.00 per invoice fee per AAR (Association of American Railroads) Office Manual Rule 113.1.d.
There is a text file that lists all of the repairs and charges that is provided for no additional charge, but this “500 byte file” is pretty difficult to read not only by humans, but also by computers. Different types of records are blended in the same file making it extremely hard to work with. Recently, I came across a free tool that imports the 500 byte file and prints it out in a user friendly fashion. How do I get that you ask? Keep reading…
NOTE: PLEASE CLICK THIS LINK FOR A MORE RECENT REVIEW OF THE LATEST VERSION OF THE SOFTWARE TOOL MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE.
The tool and my thoughts about it
The tool is Invoice21 by RailTech Software Systems. Installing the tool is a multi-step process and is a bit more involved than your typical software install, but if you follow the instructions exactly, you shouldn’t have a problem and will be using the tool within 30 minutes or less. If you do run into a problem, RailTech will offer help for no charge – how to get in touch with them is very clear on their website. After installing the tool, I imported a fairly large monthly file (1,024 records) in only 20 seconds. Invoice21 will save one month’s worth of data. It will erase the prior month before importing a new month. If you want to maintain more history, you will need to look at the Rail21 system, which requires a license fee that is listed on the RailTech website. There are four reports provided by Invoice21 plus an error report. There was one error in my file and I was impressed with the tool’s ability to pinpoint the location of the error. The other reports show 1) invoices only 2) each repair (billing repair card) by railcar and its cost 3) repairs by shop and 4) repairs that were done in groups. Invoice21 does not provide the ability to export your reports directly to PDF. For that you will need to have a utility that enables you to print-to-PDF. There are several of these available for free such as PrimoPDF.
How to get and install the tool
Go to http://railsoft.comand click on the Invoice21 link as shown below:
You will be taken to a page where you can read about the Invoice21 product. Click on the Updates link in the third paragraph or on the left side of the page. This will take you to the Updates and Upgrades page; click on the 32 Bit Runtime Engine Build 2181 link as shown below.
Click Run when prompted. If it looks like nothing is happening, minimize the browser window and you will see the install program running – just follow the instructions given. This will install the database engine that powers the application. Once the engine is installed, open your computer’s Control Panel and open the BDE Administrator.
Using Windows XP, I was able to find the icon for the BDE Administrator easily in the Control Panel list of icons, but with Windows 7 I couldn’t find it. To run it, I clicked on my computer’s Start button and then typed “bde” in the Search text box. The icon appeared on the menu and I simply clicked it to launch the program as shown below.
Once you have the BDE Administrator open, click on the Configuration tab next to the Databases tab. Click on Drivers then Native then DBASE. On the right you will see a line for Level. Change the setting from 7 to 5, then click on the next line to set it. Now exit the screen. The system will ask if you want to save it, state Yes. You are now ready to install Invoice21.
Create a new folder on your desktop called Invoice21.
Go back to your web browser and you should be looking at the Updates and Upgrades page; on the left click the Invoice21 link – it will take you to the Invoice21 Updates and Upgrades page.
In the middle of this page, you will see a link for the invoice21.zip file – click on this link and save the invoice21.zip file in the Invoice21 folder that you just created.
Open the folder and right click on the invoice21.zip file and select Extract All. A new folder within the folder you created will be created that holds the program files.
How to use the tool
To start the program, open the Invoice21 folder and double-click on the Inv21.exe file and click Run if prompted with a security warning. It will prompt you for a key. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a key. The folks at RailTech Software Systems say that there are no strings attached to the software, it is totally FREE and they won’t spam you.
Once you have started the program and entered the key, you will want to import a 500 byte file. To do this, click on the Utilities > Import 500 Byte Data Exchange menu.
After the file is imported, run your reports by clicking on the Reports menu.
To print the report to PDF, you will first need to install a print-to-PDF utility (PrimoPDF) and set it as the Default printer in Windows. You MUST do this because Invoice21 doesn’t give you the ability to choose a printer; when you click on the Print Report button, it automatically routes the report to the Windows default printer.
That’s it. Something that won’t take you more than a Friday afternoon to master, will save your company $600 or more each year! These days, that is not too shabby. If this benefitted you, subscribe to this blog to get notifications of when new articles are posted and forward a link to a friend. Please leave a comment and let me know how Invoice21 worked for you.
All the best,
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