EUROPE: Automated wagon inspection technology is to be installed across key rail freight arteries following the development of monitoring equipment that can be set up within a single day.

Devised by Bonn-based lineside monitoring equipment company RailWatch, automated wagon inspection systems have recently been installed at Allmendingen near Bern in Switzerland and near Lipnik nad Bečvou in the Czech Republic.

Two installations are also live in the Netherlands under a pilot project being undertaken with Sitech Services, a Dutch company serving the chemicals industry. The equipment scans freight wagons on both sides as they enter or leave plants on the Chemelot site in Zuid-Limburg.

Having previously installed 14 monitoring stations along the European Rail Freight Corridors in Germany, Railwatch now plans to set up similar facilities in France and Slovakia.

The monitoring stations make use of high-end cameras and sensors, an innovative lighting system and artificial intelligence to collect data about passing wagons. This includes wagon identification and markings, brakes, wheel flats and information about hazardous loads, all of which is made available to customers through a web portal.

Railwatch aims to have its equipment installed on every European Rail Freight Corridor. ‘This is a huge step for us’, said CEO and co-founder Michael Breuer. ‘We will offer our customers the highest possible data quality and always the latest conditions. We will achieve this primarily by taking a large number of measurements at as many locations as possible.’

Noting that ‘we primarily want to help our customers increase their competitiveness’, Breuer added that ‘improved maintenance reduces resource consumption and increases safety in rail freight transport. Reduced downtime, and fewer disruptions on the track, in turn make the entire rail freight sector more competitive, safer and more efficient.’