‘With transparency on route the end client can sleep well’

Rail freight transport on the New Silk Road may be fast, but the road is also long and contains several interactions. Thus, the risk of disturbances is higher than on other routes. This is the key message of Felix Schwarz, Expert Telematic Solutions at Savvy Telematics. He is one of the speakers at the Silk Road Gateway Poland Summit, held in Wroclaw on 20-21 March 2017.

Due to these risks, transparancy is paramount. Providing transparency is the core business of Savvy Telematics. It does so by developing track and trace technologies fitted for the railway industry. In Wroclaw, Schwarz plans to explain an international audience why transparency is so important, and how this can be achieved.

Track and trace methods

“Savvy Telematics sells information about the goods and the transporting vehicles to the stakeholders”, Schwarz summarises when asked what the company has to offer for the rail freight market. For example, when it comes to reefer transports, Savvy Telematics offers temperature monitoring technology or even reefer remote controls, that can manage temperature control at the reefer wherever it is situated.

“With the transport of box containers we monitor the container itself, in terms of location and shocks. When it comes to tank containers we also monitor the condition of the goods condition inside the container, like the temperature, pressure, and volume. We offer additional monitoring when it comes to rail wagons, as we check the conditions of the wagon like the effect of vibrations. This enables the customer to carry out predictive maintenance.”

Challenges

A main challenge in providing track and trace technology for he rail freight sector is when the environmental conditions are harsh. These can be fast temperature changes, humidity, or shockwaves created by a bumpy road, Schwarz explains. But also vibrations, dirt, graffiti and theft can be added to the list of factors that influence an affective monitoring operation. “Under the harshest conditions it is challenging to provide an extremely reliable solution (telematics devices).”

The Silk Road being anything but a smooth and monotomous journey, it provides an extra challenge to equip trains along this route with the right technology. But is is not impossible, as Savvy Telematics has proven before. In 2017 it won the right to fit 6,000 freight wagons with digital tracking equipment designed to withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees centigrade. The five-year deal with ScandFibre Logistics (SFL) and leasing company Transwaggon (TWA) followed a crucial 50-vehicle trial which confirmed the reliability of the system batteries.

Success story

The technology was tested with particular focus on the potential for battery drain in cold Scandinavian countries, the risk of battery discharge, and the configuration flexibility of what Savvy calls the ‘Cargo Trac-R’ telematics units. It provides ‘real-time’ precise position data along the entire route, encompassing the entire process from freight wagon loading to unloading, and offers an accuracy of up to two metres, including shock detection with configurable thresholds.

Savvy’s unique selling point was that it also records updates and configuration changes ‘over the airwaves’, while having the functionality to accommodate the installation, if required, of extra sensors to indicate conditions such as temperature or overloading.

Reporting

While the technology itself is central to the whole process, not all customers and clients may be fully engaged with the IT infrastructure. For this reason, Savvy Telematics aims to reach out to the client by providing accessible solutions.

“We have web-based collaboration platform SAVVY® Synergy Enterprise, where clients can interact and retrieve information. For this, the only thing they really need is a PC, smartphone and internet. Moreover, we have a product called API. Here, we can push data directly into the customers ERP system. In this case, the customer can use the data individually”, Schwarz explained.

Importance

“For an end client a stable supply chain is very important. For example, imagine there is a plant waiting for the supply. If there is a disturbance in the supply chain, the plant has to react and look for an alternative source, or, in the worst case, shut down the plant. That is why transparency is so important. With a good level of transparency the end client can sleep well!”

Beginning this year, Savvy was also awarded the contract to provide SBB hardware and software with a minimum life cycle of seven years necessary for the Swiss railway company’s ‘GPS rail vehicles – HW and portal solution’ project. The contract involves track maintenance trains, switch engines and other freight vehicles.

Silk Road Gateway Poland Summit

The Silk Road Gateway Poland Summit is organised by RailFreight and Nieuwsblad Transport. High level expert speakers will share their knowledge and experience on the silk road; the route and connections, what it means for supply chains and logistics in general, the risks, the interest of China, what it means for Poland and much more.
Registration is still open! View the programme and book your place now.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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