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VTG leads innovation on pocket wagons: Connected rail assets for improved rail safety practices and digital efficiency

VTG leads innovation on pocket wagons: Connected rail assets for improved rail safety practices and digital efficiency
photo: VTG/VTG
07 / 06 / 2021

Rail freight workers must carefully monitor the loading and securing of semi-trailers put on pocket wagons as they can be vulnerable to adverse conditions such as high winds, steep inclines and misaligned kingpins, all of which can compromise safety if not carefully managed. Now Nexxiot and VTG take rail safety to the next level and extend their cooperation: VTG is pilot testing Nexxiot’s Kingpin Monitor solution which is a complete maintenance-free sensor solution for keeping check on the loading of road going semi-trailers which are put on pocket wagons.

The sensor application is currently being tested on a total of 70 double pocket wagons under some of the harshest industrial conditions and for highly sensitive and demanding cargo requirements. Provided the results of the test series confirm that the technology creates significant value for these types of assets in the supply chain, a full rollout for all double pocket wagons is planned to start in November 2021 and will be completed by 2022. With this, VTG demonstrates its commitment to having the safest and most secure pocket wagons in the industry, which is testament to the innovation mindset of the company. Dr Hanno Schell, VTG’s Head of Technical Innovation states: “The Kingpin sensor adds to our digital efficiency and safety practices. We believe this will become standard in the market. As an innovation leader, VTG feels that quality and accountability are highly valued by our customers. We therefore take every advance to enable better services and more trust in rail cargo.”

The Kingpin sensor piloted between VTG and Nexxiot detects whether the kingpin is engaged and whether the hitch status is open or locked. There are two displays on the sensor set itself and one of these is each placed at either side of the railcar. All collected and transmitted data by Nexxiot will be collated in VTG’s platform. This ensures both instant confirmation feedback for in field operators and also transparency for controllers and decision makers in the management offices. This also means that automated checks can be made at any point in the journey. The data can be used to confirm and trigger essential events, and business processes can be linked to these checks to ensure sound connection and engagement of these safety enhancing components. Data can also be used to investigate should an event take place.

Stefan Kalmund, CEO of Nexxiot, states: “If more goods are to be shifted from road to rail in the future, then it must be ensured that this also happens in a safe manner. With the Kingpin sensor, we are delivering a cutting-edge digital solution for preventing accidents and supporting employees in their processes. We provide continuous feedback on the status of the hitch both during loading and throughout the journey, using real-time communication and providing alarm messages in case the locking status changes. I am convinced that this innovation together with VTG will lay the foundation for a significant change in the industry.”

The rail freight industry has taken a proactive approach when it comes to sensor technology and digital transformation. As such, the new sensor solution is an additional safety measure and at the same time an important aid for customers and loading staff. It offers more security for employees on site, especially in the dark. Crane drivers and ground staff are well versed in handling trailers. However, when visibility is poor, they often have to carry out the inspection with flashlights and rely on an acoustic signal that the pin emits when it is correctly inserted into the support frame. The sensor provides certainty here, because an LED light on the control module signals that the pin is correctly positioned. A second LED indicates that the locking latch is engaged.

This development provides further evidence that VTG sets the benchmark in the way it champions the benefits of digital assets and data driven value for its customers. VTG Connect, a cloud service supported by Nexxiot technology, along with a range of associated sensors is defining new possibilities as it continues to mature. Safety is always one of the most important considerations as errors can be so costly on multiple levels. Sensors like the Nexxiot Kingpin sensor represent major advances for the industry. As part of the innovation project “Status-oriented and predictive maintenance by VTG Rail Europe”, the European Union is promoting the use of sensors to digitize rail freight transport. The project is therefore co-financed by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA) of the European Union.