CZ/SK verze

Digital Transformation in Rail Freight: How PJM's Technology Empowers Mercitalia Intermodal

Digital Transformation in Rail Freight: How PJM's Technology Empowers Mercitalia Intermodal
photo: PJM / Public domain/Mercitalia‘s Smart Train
24 / 02 / 2024

Combining transport efficiency with safety is a crucial requirement in daily intermodal transport for Mercitalia Intermodal, a company of the FS Italiane Group’s Logistics Business Unit. The Italian intermodal operator has therefore been focusing on digital monitoring functionalities and automated processes for several years.

The transformation of the existing fleet into smart train freight wagons has been systematically implemented. This year, at least another 180 wagons will be modernized. In the past two years, around 200 wagons - mainly of the T3000 type - were upgraded and equipped.

Mercitalia Intermodal began upgrading its freight wagon fleet back in 2017 and today more than one-third of its freight wagon fleet is “smart”. Mercitalia Intermodal is relying on the WaggonTracker system from PJM. Following a comprehensive evaluation process, the company opted for the complete digital system from the Austrian specialist for digitalized and automated rail freight transport. Reasons for the system decision included the autonomous and powerful power supply, scalability of the system, extensive monitoring functions and automated applications such as brake testing, effective in-train communication for real-time communication between wagons and train drivers as well as compatibility with a future DAC system. In monitoring, the numerous functionalities of the train components pay off, above all the real-time brake analysis and brake system monitoring while traveling and at a standstill, real-time king-pin monitoring, and, subsequently, indicative derailment diagnostics.

FS Logistics Business Unit aims to develop faster delivery times thanks to automated processes in the track environment, enabling predictive maintenance logics and on-condition maintenance models and reducing maintenance costs while increasing the resilience, efficiency, and safety of the rail freight transport. For example, it is possible to detect air leakages of the brake systems (weighting valve) and to correlate wheelset damage to brake failure; the trestle monitoring system detects incorrect use of the seating device that led to damage to the component. 

Maria Antonietta Zocco, Technical Director of Mercitalia Intermodal, said, “The smart train is one of the projects that will allow Mercitalia Logistics to become a European logistics player. By leveraging on freight wagons, we can offer safer, faster, and more efficient services to our customers. Our smart wagon is an enabler for the automatization of railways processes and predictive and on-condition maintenance. Continuous monitoring of running dynamics, critical components‘ state, wear and tear, and other factors can lead to significant savings in wagon productivity, maintenance, and safety which is a crucial requirement for us.”

For Günter Petschnig, CEO of PJ Monitoring GmbH, one thing is clear, “Highly innovative companies such as Mercitalia Intermodal are driving further development and making an enormously important contribution to rail transport and society. Modern, digital rail freight is the key to achieving important climate targets. Lean, automated processes such as the brake test make transport competitive, faster, and safer and bring more goods onto the environmentally friendly railway.”

The Smart Train functionalities at a glance

  • Real-time brake analysis and brake system monitoring of overloaded brake systems and wear forecast (correct brake functionality with regards to the status of the main brake pipe, release times, loading and cylinder pressure at standstill and while traveling, brake energy analysis for early detection of defective and overloaded brake systems)
  • Multi-diagnostic system for dynamic running condition monitoring to identify critical running situations and possible malfunctions (determination of running comfort, running stability, and running safety)
  • Monitoring of longitudinal, lateral, and vertical impacts and their coordinates if limit values are exceeded
  • Indicative derailment diagnosis with a real-time warning to the train driver
  • Real-time king-pin monitoring for reliable and safe detection of the correct setting and locking for trailer transport in the intermodal sector
  • In-train communication for real-time data transfer between wagon and locomotive during the train ride to transmit safety and vehicle-related information
  • Load weight monitoring to ensure that the vehicle has been loaded correctly and properly


Source: PJM Press Releases