138,565 miles of freight railway cover the United States, according to the Association of American Railroads, moving 42 percent of our nation’s freight and making a significant impact on the U.S. economy. With so much riding on this system, safe and secure operations aren’t optional – they’re imperative.
Companies like Roadway Worker Training (RWT) help professionals in the railroad industry maintain their high operational standards. RWT provides the railroad industry with a complete support team comprised of experienced railroad professionals bringing a wide range of practical railroad knowledge; offering high-quality safety, compliance and technical training, consulting, support services and more.
As part of their duties, RWT’s workforce of nearly 100 veteran railroad professionals must frequently collect data from around the country and submit reports back to the home office. Until recently, this data was collected by hand on notepads and manual invoices before it was faxed to the main office to be sorted and sent to railway clients. With such a labor-intensive pen-and-paper based system, paperwork was not always legible or submitted promptly.
The written system had many issues. “The employee in the field would complete the form and they could potentially skip a field,” said Jennifer Wiethman from RWT. “The quality was not very good, at times, when the fax came in. And, they may not send it that very day; they may not have access to the office equipment to do that.”
ProntoForms, a mobile workflow application that allows users to create and send forms to and from the workforce in the field, helps address these challenges. With ProntoForms, RWT employees can now complete customized forms that have required fields, like signatures. Additionally, they can capture text, pictures, barcodes and GPS and time information, and submit their work directly to the back office system or to other data destinations like the cloud.
To utilize ProntoForms effectively, RWT needed a mobile device with a high-resolution camera, access to the cloud, a daylight-viewable screen and long battery life. The company chose the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-A1, a rugged 10-inch Android-based tablet that offers these features and more. 4G LTE connectivity from AT&T enables seamless access to the cloud-based ProntoForms application, allowing workers to access saved data and transmit electronically at the touch of a button.
RWT and rail workers are very happy with the ProntoForms and Toughpad FZ-A1 deployment, Wiethman said. She added that management appreciates that paperwork can’t be submitted without required signatures and noted that faster turnaround times are helping the company to save both time and money.
Roadway Worker in Charge Sean Quigley said the cloud-based solution, enabled by high-speed wireless broadband, helps him complete his job faster and easier.
“The biggest benefit by far, is just instant access to collecting information,” said Quigley. “As soon as the day is over I hit the send button, and my paperwork is finished.”
Senior Signal Director Steve Peery now uses the Toughpad daily. He said he appreciates that he doesn’t have to bring his laptop to the field, where it could get broken or damaged, and has loaded all the railroad manuals to his tablet.
“It’s a great piece of equipment to utilize in a railroad setting,” said Peery.
Watch the video below to hear more from RWT about their use of the ProntoForms solution on the Toughpad, powered by AT&T.