Innovative Port Technologies for the Port Railroads of the Future
Two Funding Projects. One Goal: More Safety and Efficiency.
Funding Amount of 2.5 Million Euros for RaDaR4.0 – The First Research Project of Its Kind in Europe
Ports are important hubs within logistics chains. During their development, any modes of transport must be taken into account, such as ships, trains, and trucks. Innovations in the area of Logistik 4.0 and the transport management in the ports of Niedersachsen both lead to improvements on site, and they have an effect beyond the location and the region on the hinterland. In this context, the port railroad plays a special role. This is exactly, where the funding projects RaDaR4.0 and RangierTerminal4.0 come in.
Today, Dr. Norbert Salomon, Head of Department at the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), presented a funding notice for 2.5 million Euros from the funds of the grant program Digital Test Fields in Ports (DigiTest) for the research project RaDaR4.0 to the affiliated partners Niedersachsen Ports GmbH & Co. KG (1.8 million Euros in grants) and Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven JadeWeserPort-Marketing GmbH & Co. KG (some 700,000 Euros in grants).
“We are very excited about these grants and we're looking forward to the work ahead on this project that is currently unique in Europe. By digitizing logistic processes, we are strengthening the innovative power of the port economy”, Holger Banik, Managing Director of Niedersachsen Ports GmbH & Co. KG and of JadeWeserPort Realisierungs GmbH & Co. KG, explains.
This digitization project involves the setup of a digital test field, in which the ports’ standard camera systems are linked up to and combined with the special technology of OCR/Deep Learning. Partial test fields (which – through their interaction – form a digital, port-transcending test field) are scheduled to be installed in the Ports of Brake, Cuxhaven, Emden, and at the JadeWeserPort, but also at the Rüstersieler Groden in Wilhelmshaven. The idea is to utilize existing camera technology, then the captured data will be refined with the help of this technology and made available to open interfaces.
If you want to depict the entire logistics chain, the transportation modes ship and road can also be integrated into the future course of the project. The target is to improve the handling of goods within the mode rail transport in connection with the port processes. RaDaR4.0 is scheduled to run until mid-2024. The project management agency is the TÜV Rheinland (technical inspection agency).
The state-owned port railroads at Niedersachsen’s locations of Brake, Cuxhaven, Emden, and Wilhelmshaven make up a grid with a length of some 100 kilometers of rail track. Every week, in excess of 150 trains are being processed, and every year, more than 135,000 train cars are being moved around. Aside from that, the JadeWeserPort operates a 16-track staging/shunting rail yard.
The research project RangierTerminal4.0 has been running for almost two years now, and it is also sponsored by the BMDV within the context of the Funding Program for Innovative Port Technologies (IHATEC). Here, the goal is to optimize the energy consumption by deploying an automated shunting locomotive within the port railroad at the Güterverkehrszentrum (Cargo Transport Center) JadeWeserPort.
On the one hand, the purpose of testing the fully-automated shunting operation for container trains is to optimize and fine-tune trips, driven by the demands of the container handling and the rail operation to one another. And from an environmental standpoint, this means reduction of noise, pollutants, and energy consumptions. This also means that any of the communication and information processes must be adjusted accordingly. Within the framework of the project, two items have already been completed, namely the requirement analysis and the system concept. After the first test runs had already been completed with the locomotive of project partner company Westfälische Lokomotiv-Fabrik Reuschling (WLH) at their headquarters in Hattingen, it will receive its final outfitting there, before making its journey to Wilhelmshaven, where it will complete test runs under real conditions starting in the summer of this year. After the electrification (of the port rail grid) is completed, this locomotive could take on the chores of the diesel-propelled version that is in operation now. Automation of the shunting processes can contribute to increasing the efficiency and capacity utilization of the port. Mr. Andreas Bullwinkel, Managing Director of Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven JadeWeserPort-Marketing GmbH & Co. KG, comments: “This measure is an important building block for the environmental and economic optimization of the shunting processes.” Aside from the JWP and WLH, the Technical University of Nuremberg (THN), dbh Logistics IT AG (dbh), as well as the German Aerospace Center, Institute for Transportation Systems (DLR) are also participating in this project. The project will continue to run until May of 2023.