Lithuanian Railways (Lietuvos Geležinkeliai) is the largest freight transportation and logistics company in Lithuania, handling about half of all the country’s freight. Collaboration between Blue Bridge Code and Lithuanian Railways to improve performance in freight transportation began more than a decade ago with the creation of the Freight Information System. Since then, the system has been continually enhanced with more handy tools, and in 2014 a major project to extend the Freight IS was completed with the launch of an e-service portal for customers.
The first steps to computerise the freight transport process were taken two decades ago. At that time separate programs were developed to facilitate the handling, accounting and analysis of shipping documents.
“Those tools from the past can’t of course be compared with current technologies and today’s Freight IS. While we had several programs, shipping documents were processed by hand and their data was only later entered into local systems. Document handling was slow, there was a delay before information reached the central database and there was no way to analyse it right away. The program used by station employees didn’t have customer payment data or other information needed to work rapidly. As technological capabilities evolved, it was obvious that what was needed was an integrated system covering the entire process,” notes Darius Pranka, the Head of the Freight Transportation Directorate’s IT Division.
The development of Freight IS began in 2004. Today it’s the central system of the Lithuanian Railways Freight Transportation Directorate and includes more than 15 interconnected modules which automate various processes, from the placement of an order for freight transportation to the tracking of customer payments and freight location.
For carriers, transportation of freight via Lithuanian Railways is often just a small part of the logistics chain. To ensure a consistent, fully computerised and uninterrupted process, integrated links with all the parties that form part of the chain were developed: the Klaipėda Port information system on the one hand, foreign railway systems on the other, and also customs information systems, banks and internal systems at Lithuanian Railways.
Another major step was taken in 2014 with the launch of an e-service portal. “The portal was developed in light of our customers’ needs, and focuses on faster and easier handling of freight transportation orders. The customer portal made the one-window principle a reality, a space where you can access and manage all the necessary information,” Darius Pranka says.
The new e-service portal gave Lithuanian Railways customers the ability to coordinate their transport plans, order freight cars, fill out waybills and submit them to a railway station, prepare customs declarations, coordinate documents with the railway station, track the location of freight cars within the Republic of Lithuania and follow relevant Lithuanian Railways announcements of information related to freight transportation.
The current system is used daily by more than 1,500 internal users at Lithuanian Railways, while more than 2,500 partners and customers use the functions of the e-service portal. The use of Freight IS has reduced costs for employee time, sped up the processing of shipping documents, and made it faster and easier to find needed information. Integration with neighbouring countries’ information systems and self-service functions for customers have accelerated customs clearance and border crossings, which means freight gets to its ultimate destination faster.
Development of the e-service portal has more than paid off. It was created and has been continually enhanced to satisfy the needs of Lithuanian Railways customers, so it’s no wonder that customers value the system as a reliable and convenient tool for managing processes. More than 90% of all shipping documents are now submitted through the portal.
“Freight IS is one of those systems whose disruption would mean direct costs. We realised that from the start, which is why in creating it, and further developing it today, we’ve used the newest and most reliable technologies along with solutions that we developed, to guarantee that the system work without interruption. And to fully reassure clients, we maintain the system 24/7,” says Valdas Laučys, the Head of the Maintenance and Development at Blue Bridge Code.
Lithuanian Railways Freight Transportation Directorate IT Division Head
Our goal and challenge is to stay a step ahead of our customers and proactively offer solutions that satisfy their needs. We’re happy that in pursuing our mission we had the chance to work with Blue Bridge Code. The company has the highest level of expertise, a keen grasp of the work that we and our customers do, and experience implementing complex IT projects. These qualities enabled them to simply the work of organising freight transportation not only for us, but also for our customers.