Telematics in rail freight transport: Optimizing operational processes and efficiently connecting wagon fleets even without power supply

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4 minutes Reading time
4 minutes Reading time

Rail Cargo Austria AG – the freight transport division of Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) – uses hardware, software, connectivity and IoT from digitization experts A1 Digital to digitally map its freight transport operations, optimize its operational processes and meet growing customer demands for greater transparency and speed. The decisive key: an end-to-end solution.

The challenge: Customers want demand-synchronized and transparent deliveries of goods, lack of power supply on the road

The whole world produces just-in-time. For producers, this means: fast throughout times and immense cost savings due to shorter storage times and less capacity requirements. For carriers and freight transport alike, this means the demand for reliable and demand-synchronized delivery of goods, at best with permanent goods localization for the customer. Currently, dispatchers often lack such a simple and comprehensible overview of important key figures. This requires connectivity. A major difficulty in the networking of freight wagons: There is no power supply. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that very little energy is consumed. How to reduce energy consumption and extend battery life? By transferring smaller amounts of data and adjusting the data streams.

Rail Cargo Austria AG – the freight transport division of ÖBB – is facing these challenges. Every year, it transports almost 100 million tons of goods through 18 different countries. RCA is part of the Rail Cargo Group and is one of the leading rail logistics companies in Europe. In order to meet the above-mentioned customer requirements as well as their own requirements for efficient operations, transport service providers such as RCA must work with new, innovative solutions. For the highly competitive logistics industry, telematics is one such solution. Rail Cargo Austria has brought A1 Digital on board to implement its digitization strategy and launched its SmartCargo project.

The solution: Energy-saving networking through telematics with hardware, connectivity and IoT platform from A1 Digital

The RCG wagons are being equipped with an intelligent telematics solution from A1 Digital. The robust SmartCargo devices operate self-sufficiently in terms of energy and feature motion as well as 3D acceleration sensors. The exact GPS coordinates are monitored at predefined intervals throughout the transport of goods. A freely definable geofencing is also used for monitoring.

The SmartCargo devices are fitted with A1 Digital’s M2M SIM cards, which enable worldwide roaming. Via mobile communications, the SIM cards transmit all relevant KPIs at regular intervals to an IoT platform that was specially developed for the Rail Cargo Group by A1 Digital. Here, the incoming data is processed and visually prepared. SIM cards are managed via the SIM management platform also provided by A1 Digital. If there is no network available, the hardware helps with a so-called SMS fallback for permanent availability and data transmission.

The result: The dispatcher sees the exact location of his freight wagon via GPS map - and there's more

The A1 Digital solution provides Rail Cargo Austria and its customers with comprehensive information throughout the entire freight transport process. With the help of the tracker, live data is collected during all active freight traffic. The motion sensor technology enables position detection, the 3D acceleration sensor enables impact detection. With the help of GPS coordinates and geofencing, it is possible to record precisely when a wagon leaves a station or crosses a national border. Parameters such as the speed of movement, the approach speed or temperatures are also transmitted live. The worldwide roaming of the SIM cards ensures the permanent transmission of information even in the case of transnational transports. In the form of various reports, the IoT platform also offers extensive configuration and evaluation options. For example, limit values can be defined, managed and monitored, which trigger an alarm when exceeded or undershot. Equipping freight transport with the smart telematics solution from A1 Digital provides Rail Cargo Group customers with tangible added value by making comprehensive transport information available. Wagons can be optimally scheduled, downtimes avoided and transport efficiency increased as a result. With the help of the newly acquired data, RCA can maintain its freight wagons in a use-dependent and predictive manner (keyword: predictive maintenance), deploy material more efficiently, and thus save money and the environment. A1 Digital draws on its entire portfolio in this use case: Connectivity, hardware, IoT platform and software.

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