Swiss-Polish collaboration takes hazardous cargo seriously

Digital technology is being applied to continental rail freight operations, to give everyone a new level of safety and security, no matter what the cargo may be. Going a step beyond the ubiquitous warning panels, Swiss software specialists Nexxiot have teamed up with Polish veterans Transchem to take the volatility out of cross-European chemical cargo tanker transport.

Zurich head-quartered Nexxiot have signed a deal to apply real-time monitoring to the fleet of over 1,000 rail tanker cars operated by Transchem from the town of Włocławek, north west of Warsaw in the Polish forests. The Swiss technology specialists will allow Transchem to keep track of its fleet down to one-metre resolution, and have constant data on rolling stock and cargo condition. The contract was announced on 13 October with immediate effect.

Keeping an eye on the customers

Transchem has decided to take the initiative in the field monitoring of their fleet. With operations covering the whole of Europe, sustainability has risen to the top of their corporate agenda. “We noticed some of our partners were not as focused on the sustainability and emissions topic as we are,” says Rafał Cisek, director for international cooperation at Transchem. “We want to ensure we can say with confidence that we have done all we can to reduce unnecessary emissions and maximise the quality of the goods we transport. Our customers depend on us to do this for them.”

Discrete but covers all the essential data. The Globehopper box (Nexxiot)

Applying digital monitoring technology to the fleet minimises the likelihood of any maintenance issues impacting on customers. Given the nature of liquid bulk goods, the stock-in-trade for Transchem, Cisek says that with temperature sensitive volatile chemicals in transit, monitoring the load and the hardware is critical in hazardous industrial environments. He thinks some customers are not quite as diligent with their handling as they could be – overheating tar products for example to overcome cold weather conditions, leading to unnecessary emissions and excess costs. Cisek doesn’t suggest policing partner operations, but he does want to make sure Transchem rolling stock stays in tip-top condition. “The Nexxiot solution is able to meet all these requirements to bring transparency to Transchem’s processes,” he says.

Sticking together for commercial and environmental reasons

After considering in-house solution, Transchem went with Nexxiot’s Globehopper package. The Swiss company recently supplied the system to Slovakian leasing company Cargo Wagon. With the technology fitted, Transchem can track, find and protect cargo across the globe. “Our clients want to assess the environmental behaviour of partners and supply chain participants to get a single view of their actual energy utilisation and performance”, says Monika Ferenz, managing director Poland at Nexxiot. “This is in line with our motivations to address improved sustainability and supply chain transparency.”

Both Transchem and Nexxiot say customers are increasingly aware low their own environmental performance. Cisek says Transchem chose Nexxiot to help them remain ahead of market expectations. It also allows them to keep their operations commercially solvent too – even when transporting solvents. “we get better visibility on partner services to ensure we reach our own sustainability goals”, he says. That’ll be why he wants to stick with his new partners.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

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