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An innovative Italian company has developed a "smart wagon" technology for the management of the sorting of single railway wagons, for the automatic loading of containers and to implement the intermodal freight transport using wheeled vehicles

Country of Origin: Italy
Reference Number: TOIT20200507002
Publication Date: 8 May 2020

Summary

An Italian software company has patented and tested an innovative model for managing the handling of single railway wagons. It is a "smart wagon" whose movement is managed by a multi-level IT platform that allows you to reduce logistics costs. The company is looking for international partners to develop market-ready technology under commercial agreements with technical assistance, joint venture and license agreements.

Description

This  Italian company, established in 1987, develops customized software thanks to a team with thirty years of experience. Over the years the company has developed its technological know-how, designing customized solutions in different sectors and has become a leader in the logistics sector. Since 2015, the company has been carrying out R&D activities for the development of innovative solutions focused on the rail freight transport system. The manager of the Italian national railway infrastructure has granted the company on loan for use a wagon and a section of track to test the technology.

The company has integrated expert design and electronics staff into its team in order to develop a smart wagon prototype whose movement is managed via a computer platform. The company also developed the single wagon handling management software. The software is installed on the wagon and remotely. The remote operators, using the software, make the movement requests and interface with the railway network manager who validates the movements.

At the current development stage of the technology, it is possible to manage the movement, in compliance with the current regulation, on any railway yard previously mapped with GPS coordinates, by moving the wagon simply by selecting the wagon and the destination point on a monitor, with an accuracy less than one meter. Through the use of sensors it is possible to carry out fine positioning. These allow, for example, to move one wagon to another for hooking up, approaching a warehouse or a loading device (e.g. to load containers), with an accuracy of a few centimeters.

The goal of the Italian company is to develop ready to market solutions focused on the single wagon management technology. The solutions must be such as not to require changes to the railway regulations. The Italian company has identified three types of applications. The first concerns the automatic handling for the sorting of "traditional" railway wagons. The solution provides that in the maneuvers the "traditional" wagons are coupled to a "trolley to carry out the maneuvers" (a smart wagon service in the rail yard managed by the IT platform) with only the help of a service operator near the smart wagon for manual coupling/uncoupling operations of the traction and the air intakes of the main duct.

The second concerns a new way of carrying out the loading/unloading operations of the containers. Also, in this case, a "maneuver trolley" will be used to send a "traditional" wagon next to a quay crane to be loaded with containers and then go to add to a train in formation for a specific destination or to go to a temporary storage area, automated for container handling. The presence of a railway track along the quay where the cranes operate is required.

The third application is a new method for loading/unloading any wheeled vehicle on a railway wagon. The operations are carried out using a "forklift" (smart wagon service at any railway station managed automatically in all necessary operations), which raises the wheeled vehicles to allow movement on a pocket wagon equipped as a smart wagon with a mobile loading bed. No major infrastructures are needed at the railway stations where operations are carried out.

The company is looking for technological partners who deal with the mechanical and structural development of the wagon (first and second areas of development) and its homologation as a means of work. In relation to the third development area, the international partner will take care of the construction of the forklift truck. In this case, the collaboration will take place under joint venture agreements.

The company is available to offer the technology to international partners who want to implement it in their processes, under license agreements. If support services are needed for the implementation of the technology, the cooperation will be carried out under commercial agreements with technical assistance.

Advantages and Innovations

INNOVATIONS
In the patented system the single railway wagon of a convoy is transformed from a passive element of a convoy which always needs a locomotive to be moved to an autonomous element capable to move autonomously from a point of pick-up/delivery to a near terminal railway station where the wagon will be inserted in a convoy to be composed or in a transiting convoy.

ADVANTAGES
This innovative smart wagon allows "single wagon" logistics management, reducing maneuvering costs for the composition/breakdown of trains, making it economically advantageous to operate at any station to collect and deliver individual wagons, overcoming the current need for "blocked trains".

It reduces the costs of moving goods from warehouses, allowing loading/unloading directly on the railway wagon, with autonomous positioning at the warehouse loading point, without locomotives and shunting staff. Similarly for containers handled with cranes also automatic.

By making railway intermodality of any wheeled vehicle at any railway yard quick and easy, technology makes it extremely advantageous, allowing the transition to a "green economy", eliminating a significant share of traffic from the roads, with a reduction in energy costs for the transportation of goods of approximately 70% with the use of energy from renewable sources.

Stage Of Development

Field tested/evaluated

Requested partner

The company is looking for international partners who are interested in developing market-ready solutions focused on the solution developed by the Italian company.

In relation to the first field of application (see description above), the company is looking for partners who can carry out the mechanical-structural development of "maneuvering trolley" and the relative approval as a means of work in the railway sector. The partner sought must be available to operate at a railway yard where tests will be carried out for the development of the autonomous handling system in the operating environment.

About the second area (new method for carrying out loading/unloading of containers), the partner will have to deal with the mechanical-structural construction of the "maneuvering trolley" and its approval as a service vehicle in the port area. The partner sought must have the availability to operate at a port where to carry out tests for the setting up of the automatic handling system in the operating environment.

Concerning the third application area (new method of loading/unloading any wheeled vehicle on a railway wagon), the company is looking for technological partners who deal with:
- the mechanical-structural construction of the "forklift" and the related approval as a vehicle able to work in the railway sector;
- mechanical-structural realization of the smart wagon obtained by modifying a pocket wagon and the relative approval as a means of transport in the railway sector.
A new service for the transport of wheeled vehicles will be activated with the partner sought.

The collaborations will take place under joint venture agreements and the international partner will take care of carrying out the activities described above. The company is also available to start collaborations under license agreements. In this case, the company will provide authorization to use the solution it has developed in exchange for a fee. In this case, the technological/commercial partner will be interested in developing advanced systems for logistics and that exploit the solution proposed by the Italian company.

If the international technological partner wants to implement the technology offered by the Italian company in its own project and, at the same time, needs support services for the implementation of the technology, the cooperation will take place in the context of a commercial agreement with technical assistance.

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