Track & Trace is a web enabled application that allows you to consolidate your entire container tracing in a single location and interface. The tracing is completed by an automated process on a regular schedule. This application keeps all container information current and allows for viewing of all container information in a single screen regardless of the Ramp or Terminal being traced.
Track & Trace is a semi-automated process to trace shipping containers on the Rail and Port web sites. T&T has its own database and can be accessed via an ODBC connection called Rail Trace Data. T&T accepts shipping container numbers with or without check digits and these containers are assigned a Rail or Terminal site. Using these two pieces of information the Tracer application will then trace the equipment on the corresponding Rail or Terminal Web site and return information about the status and whereabouts of the container. The actual information returned is dependent on the individual site and what information they provide.
This method installs the Tracer and Database on a single server or desktop system where the Tracing and Trace results will be processed. The Stand Alone install requires all containers to be manually added to the tracing queue, typically using cut/paste, and containers will typically be removed manually when the trace cycle is complete
This mode provides the ability for third party products to add / remove containers and to collect the tracing results directly from the tracing database using the Rail Trace Data ODBC connection. The full integration method is outlined in separate documents, and the workflow of the integration is controlled by the third party.
Profit Tools Integration
This method provides direct integration with the Profit Tools for Trucking software it is fully based on the ODBC integration available to third party applications, but has been designed to take full advantage of the integration options available.
Tracer vs Client
The Tracer computer will reside on a Client or Server PC that will provide automatic tracking of equipment on the Rail sites and/or Terminal sites. You will also perform most of the application setup and password maintenance on the Tracer computer. The command to invoke a Tracer is “railtrace.exe -tracer”. Shortcuts will typically be present in the “Profit Tools” program group, and on the system Desktop. Additional clients can be set up to remotely add containers and view tracing results, but only one Tracer is allowed per installed database instance.
On the Client (viewer) computers, you will be able to monitor the tracking of equipment. You will also be able to perform limited functions such as adding equipment to the pending trace, removing containers and maintaining web site credentials. The command to invoke a Tracer is railtrace.exe.
The number of client/viewer connections that can simultaneously be connected to the database is limited by the number of licensed connections.
Track & Trace Main Window
The Track and Trace Tracer application, and one or more Tracer Windows must be running at all times for any tracing activity to take place. This window is the main tracing and administration application.
- Run - The Run command can be used to open the Rail Trace and Terminal Trace windows. These windows represent the actual trace instances within Track and Trace. If these windows are not open, tracing will not occur. The Rail and terminal trace windows are separate processes and will operate independently of each other.
- Exit - You may exit the Track and Trace application by choosing File / Exit, or by using the Windows X to close the main Track and Trace window. Note that if the Tracer instance is closed, no tracing will occur.
- Users - User logins can be enabled for the Track and Trace application. By default, no user logins are required, and when the application is launched, it is equivalent to the Track and Trace Admin user. Once User Logins are enabled credentials must be provided to log into the application. The default Admin user login is TTADMIN with a password of TRACE. Other users may be assigned an Admin role where they can perform all Track and Trace functions, or a User role where the user can only perform limited actions.
All Rail Sites
This tab is used to set up any Rail Site tracing that will be performed within Track and Trace. Only listed sites can be configured, and all Rail Sites require a User and Password credentials for tracing. Sites that are Active for tracing will have a check box in the Active bar, and will appear in grey text in the tab list. Sites that are not set as Active will appear in red, and sites that are system deactivated will appear highlighted in yellow.
The Event Mapping setup is used to map the site provided Event codes into indicators in Track and Trace for assigning Arrived, Grounded and Released times. If you would like Track and Trace to calculate these times, the Event mapping must be completed for each Rail site, though the Help Me button can be used to suggest default values for individual sites.
A Master Rail site is a Rail site that provides summary information across other Rail sites. Examples of valid Master Rail sites are SteelRoads and CSX. When you first enter a piece of equipment into Track and Trace you will normally set the Rail site to the correct site where the equipment will be traced.
If you do not know the Rail site, you can use the Master Rail option to search the assigned Master site for information about the container. Once the tracer has determined what rail line has possession of the container, Track and Trace will perform a subsequent trace on the Rail site in possession of the container to provide detailed trace information. If you do not choose a Rail site during Add Pending, and a Master Rail is set, the Tracer will automatically default to the Master Rail Site.
All Terminal Sites
This tab is used to set up any Terminal site tracing that will be performed within Track and Trace. Only listed sites can be configured, and many Terminal sites require a User and Password credentials for tracing. In general, sites are listed in each geographical region where the site operates. Some sites that operate in many geographic regions, such as eModal, may be found in their home region. Sites that are Active for tracing will have a check box in the Active bar, and will appear in black text in the tree list. Sites that are not set as Active will appear in red.
The Email settings tab is used to configure an SMTP account and one or more notification recipients for system generated Alerts. The alerts can provide warnings and notifications of certain unexpected events within Track and Trace. This includes: unexpected trace data, site time-outs, and site deactivations. If an SSL email is to be used, the SSL Add In is required to be installed on the Tracer system. It is suggested that a primary, and a backup user be configured to receive the Email Alerts from the Tracer. The tracer can send Trace level alerts and system monitoring alerts, it is suggested that both the Client and ASA (server) emails be properly configured
These fields are used to set up an outgoing SMTP account for sending the Alerts. The actual information needed will vary based on the email server configuration. Some servers will need to be configured to allow SMTP relay prior to allowing Track and Trace to successfully send emails.
Use this button to Add users to the Email List. In the Email Notification Recipients screen, add the email address to receive the emails, and use the slider bar to determine the types and levels of emails to receive. In most cases, Error and Warning emails should be allowed. Selecting Informational emails may cause a large number of emails to be received by the users.
Highlight a user in the Email Address list and click Delete to remove the user from the Email List.
Test Email (Client)
Once the SMTP email Setup is completed this option can be used to test the Client generated emails. These emails are generally related to Site or Container issues.
Test Email (ASA)
Once the SMTP email Setup is completed this option can be used to test the Server generated emails. The server monitors the overall tracing schedule and will send these emails if the Tracer system has hung up, or crashed. Note that a normal shutdown of the Tracer system or a failure to restart the system after a system shutdown will not trigger these alerts.
The General tab holds all of the general settings, setup and time outs for the individual container trace schedules. These timers and schedules control the individual container trace schedules, the effect of which are most visible in the Last Trace and Next Trace columns of the Rail Trace and Terminal Trace windows.
Rail Trace Schedule
Settings to determine the individual rail container trace intervals based on the current status and settings. All times will vary by +- 10% to introduce some separation into the tracing schedules.
Used to set the ETA based Tracing schedule.
Allows the user to specify SCAC codes that may appear in the Carrier field, indicating the container has been picked up by the Trucker and may be removed from the Trace queue.
Terminal Trace Schedule
Sets the Average time between Traces for individual containers. The actual time will vary by +- 10% to introduce some separation into the tracing schedule.
The Schedule Tab sets the overall tracing schedule for the Rail Trace and Terminal trace windows. This controls the timing of how often the Rail Trace and Terminal trace windows check the Recently Added and Active Pending container lists for containers to trace. The general recommendation is to trace from 1/2hr before through 1/2hr after normal dispatch operations. 24x7 tracing is not recommended due to overnight site maintenance windows.
Rail Auto Trace
Rail tracing Schedule.
Terminal Auto Trace
Terminal tracing schedule.
The Advanced tab is used to adjust optional settings to control container workflow and to set system paths necessary for the operation of the software.
This setting determine if the Tracer auto Upgrade is allowed to run
Stop Tracing once a container is available
For some supported sites, the tracing system will suppress further tracing of containers, once the Released status is Yes.
Stop tracing once railbill is submitted
For some supported sites, the tracing system will suppress further tracing of containers, once the Rail Bill status is Yes.
Delete Outgated Equipment (Terminal)
This setting will allow the system to delete outgated equipment automatically for some supported Terminal sites
Reset Available Date when Hold is added
Track and Trace will typically latch on to any date that is provided, this setting will aloe the system to set Available Date to NULL if a hold is added to a currently released container.
Days to flag a container as Old
If the container has been in the system more than this number of days, the container will be considered old, and traced on a reduced schedule of once per day. It is recommended that this value be set higher than the anticipated pre-note interval/
Minimum time to activate a site
Full path to Help
Path to the Track and Trace help files
DB Backup Location
Valid path, from the DB server perspective, where the Track and Trace data will be backed up. If this path is not valid the backup will not occur.
Data Archive Location
Valid path, from the DB server perspective, where the Track and Trace archive exports will be placed. If this path is not valid the archive will not occur, and the database may grow very large.
Full Path to Root App
Path to the active TTApps folder from the Client’ perspective. This is necessary for certain client reporting and is set similar to the Start In path on a Windows shortcut.
Manage Scheduled Tasks
The DB Backup tab is used to set the Database backup Schedule. This setup requires the DB Backup Path to be set in the Advanced Tab of the Tools / Settings menu. Since the database contains all of the Site passwords and Track and Trace registration information, as well as the container tracing results, it is highly recommended that the backups are properly configured. The suggested backup schedule is once per 24 hours, preferable during a time when the tracing is not active, and before your external server backup is performed. This insures that the Track and Trace DB snapshot is backed up by your main backup routine.
The Auto Archive schedule should be enabled to prevent excessive growth of the database. Since the Track and Trace system records a history of every trace completed, the amount of data in the history can grow quickly. The default settings for the Archive will perform an upgrade the last day of each month, and keep a rolling 90 days in the active history. All History older than 90 days will be archived to files, which could later be re-imported if needed.
Track and Trace will automatically disable sites where the trace has failed 3 or more consecutive times. When this occurs, the site will be automatically disabled to prevent it from interfering with sites that are tracing successfully. In most cases this is due to a site error or expired password, and requires manual intervention. At some sites, where internet connectivity is problematic, the sites may disable frequently due to time outs, or other more transient issues. In these cases it is recommended that the Automatic site reactivation be used to automatically reactivate the sites throughout the day. Note that this process cannot determine how or why the sites were deactivated, so the use of this setting could inadvertently mask an expired password or more serious trace issue.
Track and Trace can provide for a direct FTP interface with Terminal sites that request FTP file transfers, instead of HTTP Web access. This requires some degree of custom integration and setup with both Track and Trace and the Terminal partner, and was first implemented by the Georgia Port Authority.
Check for Upgrade
Track and Trace will automatically check for allowed upgrades just prior to the first trace of the day. Users can check for an update manually at any time by selecting the Check for Upgrade menu item. If an upgrade is found the Upgrade Agent will be launched and the upgrade process will begin. Once the evaluation for UI upgrades is completed, the system will then check for Tracer Engine updates and apply those as necessary. Upgrades may be released for UI enhancements, site specific fixes, as a response to Rail or terminal site changes, adding new tracing sites, or for general enhancements.
When utilizing both the Rail and Terminal trace windows, choose this option to tile them over/under in a landscape orientation.
When utilizing both the Rail and Terminal trace windows, choose this option to tile them side by side in a portrait orientation.
Utilize this option to bring the Rail or Terminal window to the maximum size, with default frame proportions.
Use this option to bring focus to the Rail Trace Window
Use this option to bring focus to the Terminal Trace Window
Launches the Track and Trace internal manual and help system
Displays the Profit Tools contact information for Track and trace support
The registration screen displays the current License Status, Expiration Date, User Count, Container Trace Limit, and Container Count. This information is retrieved from the Track and Trace licensing server via a Web connection each morning just prior to the first trace of the day.
The information for the Registration is re-retrieved from the Track and Trace licensing. This can be used to manually update registration settings, or to verify the connection to the Web based Registration server.
This button can be used to purchase a T&T trial via the Web interface. Note this is seldom used, as most orders are via sales order and invoiced monthly.
This screen provides version and licensing information for the application and the version of the Python Trace engine.