Blog | January 19, 2016

20,000 Miles of Rail and 180,000 Assets

by Mike Waite in Digital Asset Management

You don’t manage a huge network of eastern U.S. rail for nearly two centuries without collecting your fair share of images.

For Norfolk Southern, that fair share is a collection that rivals major museums. Everything from glass plate negatives to archival photos to digital images and assets – with thousands of new pieces added each year.

As Norfolk Southern’s marketing organization grew and modernized, so did its demands for marketing files and visual assets. The system originally created to store visual assets began to break down and eventually came to a screeching halt.

A shared disk file system was built to give more people access to digital assets. This solution helped at first, but quickly created more and bigger problems of its own.

A lack of metadata and structured taxonomy tipped off a chaotic domino effect. Files were hard to find. People didn’t know where to store work. Duplicate files filled duplicate folders.

Pretty soon storage was at capacity, and additional hardware was required. IT had to get involved which caused even more expense and delays. Users eventually chose to save files on local machines and shared servers, defeating the original purpose of the system.
With 150–200 projects open at any given time, the cost of these delays was huge and affected dozens of people. Newsletters, social media posts, advertising, promotional calendars and more were being impacted.


So the Visual Communications team at Norfolk Southern stepped in to look for a new solution. They still wanted a central repository for all of Norfolk Southern’s digital assets. More than anything else, they wanted a self-service system that was easy to use so people could get their work done quickly without help or training.

The system would be a hub for creative services, the media center, corporate communication and NSTV. It would also be used by the supporting cast in marketing, outside agencies, operations, HR and legal.

Today Norfolk Southern’s creative development cycles are dramatically accelerated. Creative workflows are integrated and streamlined, and week-long image turnarounds have been reduced to just seconds.

“Webdam is helping us make better use of the incredible assets we’ve collected over the years. It’s allowing us to make them more easily available to our partners, and it’s making us a more effective Visual Communications team.”

How’d they do it? Read the rest of their story to learn more.