carMARQS (car Maintenance And Repair Query System)
With this application the user can get access to maintenance costs and detail repair data in a variety of categories via an easy to use query page.
This program provides the client access to static information for specific cars and groups. Car groups can be established based on various criteria such as lease assignment, age, manufacturer, etc.
Clients may review or download static reports from the current account month or from previous account months.
repairSMART (repair Shop Management And Reporting Technology)
This application is jointly accessible by RAS, the client, and contract shop personnel. The system provides the means to post estimates for cars that have been directed to shops for repairs. Supporting documentation such as photographs and joint inspection certificates may be attached to the estimates as well. RAS can approve, reject and/or comment on estimates through the system. Shop personnel will have access credentials to respond to comments and adjust estimates. Once an estimate is approved, the shop may submit a final invoice and supporting data through the same method. During the entire shopping, critical dates will be recorded as the car moves through the logical sequence of events leading up to the release of the repaired car. This will permit shops’ performance to be measured in terms of turnaround time. Exception reporting will also be available to identify cars lagging in a specific status for an excessive period of time. Currently, there are over four hundred shops in North America that utilize the repairSMART application.
All cars in interchange service in North America must appear in Umler. This is an electronically accessible file containing each car’s physical data, economic data, and certain periodic test data. Maintaining accurate and timely data allows for the smooth and efficient interchange of equipment throughout the North American railway system. Information contained in Umler is also used as a tool to validate car repair billing data during the audit process. Data that is required for new or newly acquired equipment will be collected and submitted by RAS electronically through Railinc. Maintenance of data for all existing equipment will be performed in the same manner.
Mileage Collection and Accounting
Mileage records as reported by railroads for the movement of each car managed by RAS will be obtained through the Railinc Car Hire Data Exchange (CHDX) System. Capturing the mileage records will allow RAS to perform a reconciliation of reported mileage and car hire earnings credits versus amounts actually paid by the railroads. RAS will maintain a detailed historical database of mileage records for the life of each railcar.
Reporting by car, equipment type, and state will be provided to support regulatory initiatives as well as internal/external analyses. Data resident in the system will be utilized in the verification of mileage reported by each railroad to the various entities that require Ad Valorem tax returns. The data may also be utilized to evaluate life cycles of individual components which will help to determine the timing and need of preventive maintenance programs.
Additionally, mileage records can be used to calculate contractual excess mileage penalties which usually occur over a stated mileage limit.
Equalization penalties could apply if empty movement of certain railcars exceeds loaded miles by 106%. Upon receipt of such a penalty, RAS can verify the loaded versus empty miles for the fleet.
The common thread of all RAS reporting is the principle of “Management by Exception.” By minimizing the volume of paper and efficiently summarizing information, these clear and concise reports allow the user to quickly identify abnormalities in the process. In many cases, standard reports are used as the basis for further ad hoc reporting to identify the specifics of problem areas. Reports of any kind can be custom designed to meet each car owner’s particular needs, and may be generated for a variety of time frames. Examples of these reports are:
- Budgeting and Forecasting
- Reconciliation of Charges By Assignment
- Mileage Allocation By Road
- Mileage History By Car
- Component Defect Analysis
- Wheel Replacement Analysis
- Railroad Trend Analysis
The car owner may also request ad-hoc reports. Such requests normally can be processed within one business day.
Management of Bad Ordered and Railroad Damaged Equipment
RAS will be the first point of contact for railroads to request disposition for bad ordered equipment. RAS is fully compliant with current AAR mandates such as the Damaged and Defective Car Tracking System (DDCTS). Every attempt will be made to correct the defect(s) utilizing regional mobile repair contractors in an effort to minimize out of service time. Should more extensive repairs be required, RAS will provide disposition to an appropriate contract repair facility. Immediate notifications will be made via email to all applicable parties.
Utilizing our online repairSMART system, contract shops will have the ability to submit estimates and documents electronically regardless of the billing system that they employ. This increases the efficiency of the approval process and allows car owners to monitor shop activities managed by RAS to the extent that they choose.
Once the car arrives at the repair shop, RAS will evaluate the estimate of repairs and, if it is determined to be acceptable, repairs will be approved. In the case of railroad damage, RAS will receive a Joint Inspection Certificate as required and will process it for endorsement with the damaging railroad. RAS will prepare a Settlement Value Statement where applicable and present it to the damaging railroad along with the joint inspection certificate obtained from the shop. RAS will enlist all reasonable means to ensure that the damaging railroad promptly processes and returns the joint inspection certificate so that the repairs can be expedited and the car returned to service as quickly as possible. Estimates for cars requiring extensive repairs will be evaluated against the AAR depreciated value, the car owner’s current asset value, and/or other market information deemed appropriate by the car owner. Once repairs are approved, the progress of the car through the repair shop will be monitored on a frequent basis to ensure that the car is returned to service as quickly as possible. RAS will also assist the repair shop in obtaining components that are not normally kept in inventory. Once repairs are completed, RAS will obtain the return disposition from the appropriate party and release the car from the repair facility.
Invoices for repairs will be provided directly to RAS through the repairSMART system. Upon receipt, the invoices will be audited for adherence to the approved estimate. Once an invoice is determined to be acceptable it will be paid directly by RAS and rebilled on the monthly statement to the car owner. Repairs that are covered by previously processed Joint Inspection Certificates will be rebilled to the damaging railroad. As the AAR requires that this type of rebilling be done using AAR standard pricing, any discount that was negotiated by RAS during the estimate approval process will be credited in full to the car owner.
Lease Information Management and Rebilling
Assets will be assigned a unique Equipment Identification Code, which will maintain the integrity of transactions for each asset, regardless of the number of different reporting marks it has been assigned throughout its life. Associated tables will contain specifics such as lessee information, contract identification number, terms of agreement, lessee maintenance responsibilities, and applicable start/end dates for each. This information will be used as the input stream for all lease management tasks and will be internet enabled. Updates will be managed through the coordinated efforts of the car owner and RAS. This system will provide the ability to manage each lease agreement and lessee profile and will:
- Identify contractual lessee maintenance charges
- Identify contractual lessee excess mileage charges
- Calculate stipulated loss values for destroyed cars
- Analyze expenses per lease to determine profitability
- Segregate regular maintenance charges from program repair and capital charges
- Assist in determining rental abatement
Utilizing a dynamic web-based system which compares contract language to individual repair charges, RAS can provide this information to the car owner for rebilling, or render invoices directly to the lessees.
RAS will make inspection visits to contract shops to verify that standards and procedures are being followed and to audit the facility for quality, safety, and accuracy of estimating, pricing, and invoicing.
RAS will be available to attend on-site meetings at plants, railroads, and other locations to assist with global process improvements and/or specific issues relating to railcar maintenance.
RAS has an in-house IT department that is available to assist in the integration of clients’ systems with our services. RAS is also available to aid in the creation of unique development projects as needed.
Other consulting services include:
- Acquisition and specifications for new railcars.
- Inspection services for new railcars.
- Represent car owner or lessee in negotiations regarding return of equipment.
- Technical Support:
- AAR Interchange Rules
- AAR Car Repair Billing Data Exchange
- Railcar Construction & Maintenance
Ad Valorem Tax Filing
For those jurisdictions having taxing authority, an annual Ad Valorem tax return will be filed. RAS will assist in the development of the fleet valuation. The mileage reported to the various jurisdictions by the railroads will be verified for accuracy using data collected with our Mileage Collection and Accounting service. Data for idle railcars can be used for potential assessment reductions. Maintenance dollars incurred in certain states can also be used as tax credits.
After the return has been filed, taxation notices will be reviewed. If there is a dispute in the amount of taxation, RAS will, at the car owner’s request and expense, protest the tax assessment. Tax assessments which are verified as accurate and complete will be forwarded to the car owner for payment, or may be paid directly by RAS.
Railinc OT-57 Submission
RAS will file applications on behalf of the car owner to place railcars in service on North American freight railroads as required.
AAR Car Repair Receivables Billing & Auditing
RAS will have access to a selected CRB system. Prior to producing monthly car repair bills and submitting the corresponding data to Railinc, RAS will “pre-audit” the billing records to verify that all data is in accordance with applicable AAR car repair billing rules, has been priced correctly using the proper version of the AAR Price Master, and that repairs have been performed in accordance with AAR Rules of Interchange. Errors will be researched and corrected, then subsequently documented in a periodic report provided for further handling with the appropriate repair facility and for training purposes. Repair bills containing errors that cannot be resolved in time for the monthly Railinc cut-off will be held in suspense to be reconciled in the following account month. RAS will maintain a goal to keep the items in suspense to a minimum.
RAS will upload the 500 byte file which corresponds to the final audited and reconciled car repair records. Submission errors will be reconciled and resubmitted prior to the Railinc cut-off date.
RAS will produce invoice cover sheets and forward to respective car owners via electronic means. Monthly invoice activity will be reported using key fields such as billed road, invoice number, and labor and material charges by SPLC. Remittances for invoices may be paid by car owners directly to RAS on a monthly basis, or may be paid directly to the client.
Invoice cover sheets and FindUs.Rail contact records will indicate that RAS is the contact for exceptions to billing. Exceptions received by RAS will be logged in and researched to a logical conclusion. RAS will issue Counter Billing Authorities as necessary up to an amount pre-determined by the client. CBAs that exceed that amount will require individual permission from the client to be issued. Exception activity will be documented in a periodic report provided for further handling with the appropriate repair facility and for training purposes.
- AAR Rule 85: RAS will reconcile outbound billing to the car owner with inbound invoices containing detail source code MA (Job Code 5999) for material to produce a net $0.00 transaction.
- AAR Rule 92: RAS will complete billing for Load Adjustments billed to a third party based on Load Adjustment Authority.
- AAR Rule 99: RAS will bill authorized industry damage to proper contact and provide corresponding no bill to the car owner.