Berkshire Hathaway has been granted a patent for a method and system for efficiently switching railcars at a railroad yard. The technology involves generating train consists based on rules, displaying them for user selection, and providing switch lists for forming the desired train consist in the railyard. GlobalData’s report on Berkshire Hathaway gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

According to GlobalData’s company profile on Berkshire Hathaway, was a key innovation area identified from patents. Berkshire Hathaway's grant share as of April 2024 was 67%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Railcar switching method and system for railroad yards

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Berkshire Hathaway Inc

A recently granted patent (Publication Number: US11970195B1) discloses a system and method for efficiently switching railcars at a railroad yard. The system comprises memory units storing train rules and current railcar inventory, along with computer processors that generate train consists complying with the rules. These generated train consists are displayed on an electronic screen, allowing users to select a desired consist. Subsequently, switch lists are generated based on the selection and current inventory, providing instructions on how to form the desired train consist in the railyard. The system aims to streamline the process of switching railcars by optimizing the movement of selected railcars within the yard.

The patent also includes details on the specific functionalities of the system, such as the display of expected switch distances for each generated train consist, association of switch lists with particular tracks in the railyard, and the sequence of cuts and moves of railcars indicated in each switch list. Additionally, the patent outlines the types of train rules involved, including train blocking rules, hazmat rules, and train makeup rules. The method described in the patent involves accessing selected railcars, generating train consists, determining switch distances, displaying generated train consists, receiving user selections, and generating switch lists accordingly. By providing a systematic approach to switching railcars, the patented system aims to enhance operational efficiency and reduce complexities in managing railcar movements within a railyard setting.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.