Rail freight transport is in stiff competition with other modes of freight transport, especially road transport. To ensure that rail continues to be an attractive transport alternative and is able to fully utilize its strengths, VTG is making huge investments in innovations and digital technologies. By 2017, the company had already begun to equip its entire European fleet with a telematics module. The data collected by the module provides the opportunity to make rail freight transport faster and easier – both in relation to shipments and to the maintenance of the wagons.
‘Telematics systems create the technical conditions required to connect to the wagons and the cargoes transported in them. The positioning this enables and the accompanying option to record information on the vehicles used and to convey this information to customers offers tremendous potential for optimizing rail freight transport. The collaboration between VTG and IMT is going well: a loading sensor that we developed together is now allowing loading status to be checked remotely too.
However, digital data isn’t just of added benefit in terms of the cargoes, but also in terms of maintenance and repairs, as it is able to provide valuable information on wear and tear, thereby laying the foundation for mileage-based or, ideally, condition-based maintenance. Compared with today’s time-based logic, the downtime of wagons can be reduced considerably, because they are only taken out of service for maintenance and repair work when necessary – and not after a particular period of time. What’s more: the more widely available the information is, the more useful it is. The inspection of an individual wagon only helps in relation to certain points, whereas the evaluation of patterns within a network or, ideally, the entire fleet, can deliver valuable insights.