On September 25, 2018 Nik Bronder and Nick Chodorow along with Aaron Selle and Laura Sceerey from SWC Technologies Partners (BRC’s software development partner) gave a presentation about Belt Apps to a group of short line railroads at the ASLRRA Southern Region Meeting. There were representatives in attendance from the industries’ largest holding company, Genesee and Wyoming, to small local short lines like Tacoma Rail.
Currently there are only a couple of commercially available train/rail car management applications in use by the short line railroad community with the largest in market share (95% plus), GE Transportation’s TMS, resembling the BRC’s current AS/400 and SOS system. As a result, there is significant interest amongst the railroad community in the new cloud-based train/railcar management application being built at the BRC.
This was an ideal time to showcase what we have as development is winding down on Belt Apps as we prepare for the replacement of our current AS/400 system with the rollout of Belt Apps at the beginning of February 2019. Aaron and Laura did a great job showing off Belt Apps, highlighting some of the screens we felt would be most relevant to the varied attendee railroads.
There was also a lot of discussion about the approach the BRC and SWC have taken with the development of Belt Apps along with the BRC’s use of Microsoft’s Azure cloud environment to host the system. Using Microsoft Azure’s cloud environment to host the environment enables the BRC to scale its own use of the system up and down easily based upon resource demands something that was/is quite difficult to do when the system resides on physical devices located in BRC contracted data centers. It also supports the creation of new Belt Apps’ environments for other non-BRC users with relative ease. The feedback received from the attendees was very positive with many positive comments about the web-based interface, ability to easily get real time and useful data in the hands of the end user, and the process of including end users from all relevant areas in the design and testing of the system.
Based on these interactions and others BRC has had with other railroads over the last year we will begin exploring the options available for other railroads to use variants of Belt Apps in the future. We will look at other future rail events like the ASLRRA Annual Connections Conference to continue to showcase Belt Apps to other railroads.
Should you have any questions about Belt Apps please feel free to contact Nik Bronder or Nick Chodorow.