EUROPE: Leasing company VTG is equipping its entire European wagon fleet with Nexiot zero-maintenance smart sensors which can send data to a control centre every 5 min to provide operators and shippers with better visibility of their assets.

According to VTG Chief Executive Dr Heiko Fischer, this will produce a pan-European telematics system which will help to ‘create the transparency that rail freight transport so desperately needs’, and thus ‘strengthen rail freight's position as the backbone of smart and sustainable logistics’.

Daniel MacGregor, Director of Marketing & Sales at ETH Zürich spin-off company Nexiot, said the need to compete with road transport was driving demand for onboard monitoring technology, with customers demanding better visibility throughout the supply chain.

Nexiot’s smart sensors are designed to be fitted to a wagon in less than 5 min. They harvest energy from their environment to make them self-sustaining, overcoming the limitations of using batteries on mobile assets that have no onboard power source.

The sensors provide data including their location and any shock or impact events, with geographical and historical information combined with raw sensor data so that users can see the wider context, including estimated times of arrival, cargo loading or changes of transport mode.

The data is processed in the Nexiot Cloud Engine so that VTG and other customers can make more informed decisions. For example, the provision of accurate mileage data for each wagon should enable significant cost savings to made through better use of condition-based maintenance.

Customised geofencing enables customers to be alerted when wagons enter or leave a defined area such as a freight terminal, port or international border. Users can set up custom notifications so that they are informed only when something significant takes place, which Nexiot says is important when managing a large fleet.