Identifying a repair before it’s needed, timing the delivery of cargo down to the hour and coordinating the movement of millions of railcars between more than 570 railroads across a 140,000-mile network: to some it may seem like an impossible task.

Yet in the age of big data, railroads harness the power of information to build the safest, most efficient and cost-effective rail network in the world.

Railinc is at the center of railroad’s information revolution. Founded nearly 40 years ago, Railinc has built a groundbreaking computerized inventory system that logs the size, dimensions and carrying capacity of the industry’s shared fleet of railcars. Armed with this information, railroads can decide whether a railcar can be loaded with certain commodities. They can also map out the best routes certain car types should take to safely transport those commodities.

Today, Railinc collects more railroad data than ever before. As trains travel America’s 140,000-mile, approximately 570-railroad network, they pass intelligent sensors that track the movement and health of rail cars along the way. Railinc analyzes this information to provide railroads and their customers with essential analysis to improve safety and efficiencies.

Through programs like the rail industry’s Asset Health Strategic Initiative and Railinc data systems, railroads can identify a repair before it is needed, time the delivery of cargo down to the hour, and safely and efficiently coordinate the movement of millions of railcars.

America’s rail network will only become smarter in the years to come as Railinc helps railroads implement advanced technology — such as installing sensors beside track and directly onto locomotives and railcars — to identify improvements in freight loading. Big Data will continue to help railroads make intelligent decisions about the rail network and maintain a system of cargo delivery second to none.