Canadian Pacific launches VIN-tracking program for auto shipments

TORONTO (April 3, 2003) — Canadian Pacific Railway said it is nearing completion of a $4.5-million, multi-year program to harmonize railway shipments of motor vehicles with manufacturers’ and dealers’ computerized inventory systems through the use of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) that appears beneath the windshield of every new car and light truck.

The VIN-tracking program will be fully operational by mid-year, the railway said. It will make it possible for customers to follow the progress of not only railway freight cars but also the individual automobiles and light trucks inside.

“Automotive producers are aggressively looking for ways to decrease plant-to-dealer delivery times,” said Lawre Allen, vice-president of the railway’s intermodal and automotive business. “CPR is providing them with automated, real-time data on what is happening not only to the rail cars carrying their shipments but also each individual vehicle whenever and wherever it is in our care.”

Linked by wireless radio frequency (RF) technology to CPR databases and the computerized inventory-control systems at each of the compounds, hand-held scanners allow instantaneous recognition of individual vehicles as they enter or leave high-security, multi-level freight cars before or after the rail haul between major cities. Specialized trucks complete the journey to the showroom.

The CPR motor vehicle distribution compound in Toronto is the railway’s major southern Ontario distribution point for new vehicles and the first to use the new system. There, RF data transmission has replaced paperwork as employees of contract-operator L. Hansen’s Forwarding receive and dispatch the purpose-built, fully enclosed motor vehicle carriers used in trains that criss-cross the continent every day.

“The major justification for our investment in this system is that our customers will experience enhanced service at our terminals with faster and more detailed information availability,” said Mr. Allen. “VIN-based tracing and query capabilities of the new system will, by this summer, put our level of customer service at the front of the line.”

CPR provides service to all major motor vehicle manufacturers in North America, and last year moved 1.8 million new cars and light trucks to market.

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