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Rail Cargo Group seeks digital innovation ideas

One of Europe’s major rail cargo transporters, the Rail Cargo Group, is encouraging entrepreneurs to offer creative ideas for improving freight services in the digital age. Through its Open Innovation Challenge, the RFG – the freight arm of Austria’s national operator ÖBB – is seeking to harness the best digitally-based ideas that will ultimately improve the operator-customer relationship.

The transport and logistics sector has changed massively over the last few decades, says the RFG, and markets are increasingly interconnected, largely due to new technologies and fast-expanding digitalisation. This is not an entirely new phenomenon, it adds, and the European rail freight sector is not immune to it.

New impetus

It acknowledges that the company is in a ‘perpetual state of flux’, and requires new impetus to continue to meet the needs of industry and business. That is why it has chosen the digital economy for the launch of its Innovation Challenge. It is also encouraging the introduction of ideas from other sectors if they can be successfully utilised in optimising rail freight services.

All aspects of work and daily life have changed because of the digital revolution, it adds. Yet digitalisation means more than just developing, building, and operating electronic value-creation processes and integrating these into business models. The focus will increasingly be on combining digital and international. ‘Linear processes’ are needed which offer the customer problem-free benefits as quickly as possible. The task is to see the big picture, since it is digital skills which will make services fit for the future.

Digital skills

The Open Innovation Challenge seeks answers to these questions:

1. Provision of information – how can logistics customers better obtain the information they need?;

2. Quote preparation & order fulfilment: how can the process of preparing a personalised quote and concluding a contract be simplified?

3. Existing solutions in the digital world – what solutions (from any field) can be used to optimise rail freight?

Customer-focused innovations

The challenge follows the establishment by OBB in May this year of a forum linking up outside expertise with in-house skills in the shape of the Digital Innovation Platform. To ensure customer-focused innovations can get off the ground as quickly as possible, interested parties work together on current issues and projects in both the Customer Forum and in other Open Innovation Challenges.

The deadline for submitting ideas to the Open Innovation Platform is 31 January 2017. Proposals can be emailed to openinnovatoin@oebb.at or you can find more information on the Open Innovation Challenge website.

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for RailFreight.com - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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