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Bosch and SBB Cargo working on connected rail freight wagon; leveraging automotive technology

Bosch Engineering is leveraging its automotive connectivity technology and working with Swiss rail freight operator SBB Cargo to develop rail logistics into a connected transport system. The two companies have concluded a cooperation agreement that will see them jointly develop an asset intelligence system for rail freight traffic.

This system enables SBB Cargo freight wagons to transmit data relating to their position and cargo to a central control center. As a result, the company can deliver goods more speedily and provide its customers with more detailed information. The collaboration brings together two capable partners: SBB Cargo is a leader in Swiss freight traffic, and as a provider of development services Bosch Engineering is the hub for all rail-specific applications within the Bosch Mobility Solutions division.

Using Bosch automotive technology to connect trains allows us to open up new possibilities for integrating rail freight traffic into the digitalized world.

—Bernhard Bihr, president of Bosch Engineering

The freight wagons are equipped with sensors that collect data on their current position as well as the condition of wagons and their cargo, including parameters such as temperature, air humidity, and shocks sustained.

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With the new condition monitoring system, a freight train becomes a digital and intelligent mode of transportation. New functions are now possible: precisely locating the railcar, gathering information about the freight’s conditions during transport, recognizing vibrations during shunting, and recording how many kilometers a railcar travels for distance- and condition-based maintenance. Source: Bosch. Click to enlarge.

Connectivity hardware wirelessly relays this data to a server and makes it available online to the rail operator, enabling them to see where their wagons and goods are at any given time. As a result, organization of transport is faster and more efficient, logistics processes are optimized, and transportation costs are reduced.

An anticipatory condition-monitoring feature notifies users of wear on components so that upcoming repairs can be planned well in advance and according to requirement. This reduces downtime, conserves resources, and saves money. What is more, geofencing and break-in alarm features ensure that the new system also provides additional security for the transported goods.

For Bosch Engineering and SBB Cargo, this new collaboration agreement to develop a comprehensive asset intelligence system for rail freight traffic builds on their already successful collaboration. The first SBB cargo test fleet fitted with a connected condition-monitoring system has been operating on the Swiss railways since February 2015. Initial functions are being tested and refined.

Bosch Engineering has specifically tailored connectivity technology taken from large-scale automotive series production to cater to the needs of this new field of application. The plan is to continue developing the technology and to incorporate new functions, with SBB Cargo contributing its experience in testing and rail standards to the collaboration.

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