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Using technology to improve the customer experience and support smart growth

June 2021


At NS, a focus on smart growth

Norfolk Southern is committed to propelling smart business growth across its many service markets. One critical way the company is accomplishing this is by expanding “truck-like” offerings to capture a portion of the $800 billion trucking and logistics market.

To meet the needs of this broader customer base, NS is working closely with TransWorks – an NS IT departmental subsidiary specializing in door-to-door transportation solutions. The collaborative effort is aimed at improving the company’s existing transportation management system to increase shipment visibility and better align with customer expectations.

“We’re modifying our existing intermodal TMS software so that we’re able to track shipments at a parcel level within a piece of equipment, down to a single pallet,” said Leggett Kitchin, group vice president Domestic Intermodal Marketing and Sales. “The software improvements will also, for example, enable us to track a specific car from a manufacturing plant to a dealership.”

While tracking shipments is nothing new at NS, it is now getting much more precise.

“Historically, we've been tracking at the container or railcar level, but to compete in the trucking space, we need to be able to provide customers with a comparable service,” said Will Honbarrier, director marketing, Industrial Products, agriculture and consumer goods. “These TMS improvements will give us a mechanism to do that.”

Laying the groundwork for long-term growth

Ranging from pricing to precision-tracking capabilities, the enhancements all share a common end-goal: a user-friendly, self-service platform where customers can get answers about their freight quickly and accurately.

In the long-run, the enhanced technology will be used in multiple departments across NS to effectively expand truck-like offerings and grow its business, Kitchin said. With multiple initiatives underway, each will rely on the new-and-improved TMS capabilities to ensure customers get all the traditional benefits of shipping by rail paired with the convenience and visibility that, until recently, has been associated with trucking.

“All of these projects are enabled by this improved door-to-door TMS solution, which can track things at a much more granular level than we ever could before,” Kitchin said. “Whether it’s less-than-truckload product, automotive parts, or finished autos, this technology is at the center of that growth.”