FH St. Pölten

Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research

Within the department “Railway Technology and Mobility” the Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research is responsible for research in the railway sector at the St. Pölten – University of Applied Sciences. The institute works on national and international research projects in the field of railway technology. In addition to this area, further focus lies on the topic of life cycles of technical systems and Mobility 4.0. The institute has also a large network of partners from science and practice, which is used for cooperations within the research projects.

Contribution to DACIO

The key competence in the DACIO project is scientific expertise in railway operations, simulation and shunting operations, which is brought into the project.

Description of Work Package 4

1. Objective of the work package

The aim of the Work Package (WP) is an impact analysis, which deals with the changes due to the implementation of the Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC). Therefore, in the first step a general consideration of shunting is carried out, whereby a focus will be on the processes of pushing off, sorting of wagons, delivering and collection of freight wagons or wagon groups to and from industrial sidings or loading tracks.

For this purpose, the use cases just described will be evaluated in the course of an inventory analysis. Based on this, the scenarios will be re-examined with the DAC in a certain technology Level. The Work Package is intended to show the possibilities and limiting framework conditions for the use of automated shunting. In addition, there is also a special focus on the effects of DAC on the shunting staff.

2. Approach in this Work Package

In contrast to the technical requirements in the node (WP2 – MBI), the operational processes in the shunting stations in the network area are associated with significantly more personnel usage. Therefore, shunting nodes and shunting in the area must be considered separately.

There is a holistic, yet detailed consideration of all processes that are connected with coupling operations (pushing off, fine rowing of wagons, bringing wagons to industrial sidings or collecting them from there). This consideration is carried out with a view to the gradual implementation of the automation of operational processing.

The DAC also serves as an enabler for various technologies that can drive automation. In particular, this concerns the upstream and downstream processes of the coupling activity. The contents developed in the course of this work package therefore serve as a basis for the plans and development work of WP5 and WP6.

Coupling processes at the operational and production level, both in the migration phase and in the final stage, will be investigated. Based on these findings, relevant bottlenecks in the use of the DAC will be identified.

In addition, shifting locations are considered, whereby there are overlapping areas with other Work Packages, for example the node consideration in WP2 (MBI). Therefore, a more in-depth exchange takes place here. Another consideration is the man-machine interface and the effects of the DAC on employee qualification as well as an assessment of the expected risk.

3. Impact of the DAC on single wagon load traffic

Already the introduction of a DAC in the Level 4 brings significant changes in the operational processes. The main function of automatic coupling offers advantages as staff no longer need to physically couple the wagons on the track. Coupling becomes a simplified action, with uncoupling methods varying according to DAC level. The DAC also has potential beyond coupling, enabling functions such as automatic brake testing and sensor monitoring of freight wagons.

4. Impact on staff

Changed requirements and competition in supply chains have led to the use of different technologies in freight transport. While digital systems are now used for tasks such as collecting wagon data and route planning in rail freight, the freight wagons are unchanged in their basic features. They have no power supply, no continuous data lines and have to be coupled and uncoupled manually. These physically demanding and risky tasks can be improved by the introduction of DAC. Thus, it is conceivable that the time spent in the Bern area can be prevented and generally reduced in the track area. This indirectly leads to an increase in the attractiveness of the job profiles.