The Railcar Management System (RMS) Report Framework™

St. Louis, Missouri  –  The RMS Report Framework empowers companies to provide answers to their company-specific business questions in a cost-effective and timely manner. The goal of the RMS Report Framework is to more fully utilize the existing skills of both the technical and the business person while freeing them both from having to learn too much about each other’s domain.

Many companies who ship via rail find themselves confronted with the constant demand for new reports related to the management of their rail shipments and railcar fleet. Plus end- users of the systems used to manage rail shipments and the railcar fleet are often not technically skilledenough or do not have enough time to create these particular reports. As a result, system builders are asked to add predefined reports that provide answers to specific business questions. This can be costly, untimely,and the report may be rigid (i.e. not allow different ways of looking at the data or answering related questions). System builders may even refuse to add a report because it is too specific to that company and would not benefit any other customers. To solve these problems, companies often purchase a third party report writer that can pull data from a system’s database and present the data on an ad hoc or as needed basis. Third party report writers can be very powerful, but due to their non-integrated nature and vast features are hard to learn and use. Plus they can require costly licensing fees. For these reasons, many users are unable or unwilling to use it.

The RMS Report Framework provides a solution that provides the best of predefinedand ad hoc reportworlds. It allows companies to create their own datasets that provide the data that will answer a new business question that is specific to their company. This dataset easily sockets into the RMS application with no modifications to the application (i.e. no recompile). When the dataset is created and added according to the Report Framework instructions, the dataset appears in the RMS Report Creator and Editor, which is auser-friendly, report writer. Users may then easily select the dataset and create new layouts and ways to display the data using a combination of fields, field name aliases, field sizing, summarizing, grouping, sorting, filtering, output file formatting, and automatic email delivery options. The RMS Report Creator and Editor is completely integrated with the RMS application; it is designed to be easy to use and to offer the most popular report writing features without overwhelming the user.

Thirteen datasets are currently provided with RMS, which combine elements from the database that solve many popular business questions related to the management of rail shipments and railcar fleets. Datasets are added periodically to new version releases. However, often a customer has a reporting need that is unusual and very specific to their business. It doesn’t make sense to incorporate this report into the application that is released to all customers. In this case, the customer would create their own dataset, which may be based on views or user defined functions (UDF) in Microsoft SQL Server (i.e. queries). The creation of a view or UDF requiresan individual with database programming expertise and many companies have at least oneindividual like this on staff. If a company does not have a database programmer, RTC can create the dataset for the customer for a nominal fee. Once the view or UDF is added to the RMS database (the name of the view or UDF and its attributes must be entered into two database tables, which requires only a few minutes of data entry), it is then visible to the users as a Custom Report Creator and Editor Dataset. They can then create reports and deliver those reports automatically to their customers just as they would with any other dataset already provided by RMS.

Another use of this function is to couple it with RMS’ report data exporting feature, which allows the integration of RMS data with other business system data in a data warehouse / business intelligence (BI) solution.

Railcar Tracking Co. LLC (RTC), founded in 1997, provides a full-featured, cost-effective and customizable rail shipment tracking and fleet management solution – Railcar Management System (RMS) ™. The firm has customers from industries such as industrial gases, chemicals, minerals, agriculture, energy, forest products, short line railroads, transportation services, and fleet management companies.

Jim Dalrymple

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