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Development of an Automated System for Safely Securing Cargo on Haulage Trucks Using High Tensile Multi-layer Fabric

Final Report Summary - TRUCK-SAFE (Development of an Automated System for Safely Securing Cargo on Haulage Trucks Using High Tensile Multi-layer Fabric)

Executive Summary:
The aim of the Truck-Safe project was to develop and validate a new cargo securing system that will automatically restrain the cargo to the appropriate standards achieving the required safety levels and drastically improving loading and unloading times for the customers. This was achieved by combining a state-of-the-art multi-layer fabric, integrated sensor network to analyse the cargo and an automated lashing system.
The Truck-Safe system is an automatic, remotely controlled cargo system that is secure and adaptive for different load shapes and weights.

Project Context and Objectives:
The Truck-Safe project focuses on improving cargo securing on HGVs as there are potentially 147 deaths and economic loss of €6.8 billion occurred as a result of avoidable insecure cargo securing in EU alone. The European market will have a production demand of 330,000 trailer units, Truck-Safe consortium is looking to achieve a minimum 3% market penetration which gives total predicted sales of about 9,500 units for year five post-project, resulting for SMEPs €128m additional sales and €50m additional profit.
Truck-Safe will be uniquely placed in the market of cargo securing solutions, having following set of differentiations:
-be fully automated reducing lashing times by 60 minutes and minimizing likelihood of human error
-integration of alarm functions will provide detection system and automatically adjust load stress
-incorporation of fibres into interwoven textile fabric matrix to improve resistance to environment
-integrated sensor systems within the automatic tensioning device to keep cargo under tension
-development of energy storage unit for truck-free usage of the system
-fully automated self-ratcheting system with automatic return system and automatic pulling of fabric
-on-board alarm to alert the driver in case of reduced tension on the cargo or over tension in the cargo securing straps.
In order to provide these benefits, the Truck-Safe consortium developed:
-Multi-layer fabric
-Automated tensioning system
-Integrated sensor system, and integrate, optimize and validate the prototype.

Project Results:
The Truck-Safe project focussed on developing an automatic cargo securing system prototype as well as a new tarpaulin material for cargo securing.

The prototype consists of a tarpaulin movement and tensioning system, a sensor and control system and a power supply unit. A novel electrical tarpaulin lifting system was introduced to replace state of the art rubber bungees.
The system was installed on the demonstration trailer built by NTM.
Cargo securing algorithms were defined. Cargo securing profiles and automatic tensioning function were implemented into the control system.
Continuous monitoring and automatic re-tensioning functions of the Truck-Safe system were implemented and tested.
The lifting system as well as the new tarpaulin material can be deployed independently from the full Truck-Safe system and allow therefore for further commercial opportunities. The new developed tarpaulin material can be marketed as a separate product and will enhance NWE product range.
The lifting system will be added as an additional option to the NWE product portfolio and replace the current state of the art bungee system in special applications.

Technical, innovative and developmental results:
1) Development of a multi-layer fabric sheet system that is be able to achieve optimal performance for the lashing system and which is puncture resistant, strong, flexible and with a 5 year life span The material does not elongate by more than 7 % when tested according to Tensile Test described in Section 6.3 of EN12195-2

2) An improved method of attaching the fabric sheet to the straps by sewing has been developed. The joined fabric does have a breaking strength of over 50kN and achieves a Lashing Capacity (LC) of 2500 daN for every lashing point

3) A system design has been developed that enables the fabric sheet system to be moved up to trailer roof when not in use and automatically deploy and return. The fabric sheet is fully integrated into the trailer with a fabric weight of less than 600g/m2

4) A sensor system was designed and integrated, that allows the position and forces of the fabric sheet to be determined. Sensor system measurement achieves a degree of accuracy of +/-10% for the tension measurement.

5) A self-tensioning system was developed. It allows for automatic application of optimal force application on the load. The tensioning system is be able to apply pre-tensioning force currently of up to 400daN and is designed to withstand a minimum breaking force of 50kN.

6) An energy storage and distribution technology has been designed and developed, that allows for automatic deployment of the fabric sheet/tarpaulin in the absence of the truck. Energy stored in a battery pack sustains 100% of one full tensioning cycle even under harsh conditions. Tests have been conducted where more than 10 full tensioning/un-tensioning cycles were performed.

7) An alarm system was designed and developed. The system is able to continuously monitor applied tension and will automatically re-tension if cargo is not secure enough also whilst the vehicle is in motion. The system will give an alarm when after several attempts the required tensioning force could not be reached.

Potential Impact:
The Truck-Safe project has developed a novel fully automated cargo securing system for the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) market to efficiently and cost effectively secure cargo in curtain sided and rigid trailers. The road freight industry is strategically important to the EU economy as it contributes 31% of all European transport and storage turnover worth over €322.4 billion in 2008 and 76.4 % of the 2,300 billion tonne km of EU inland freight movement achieved in 2010. 2012 EuroStat figures indicate that there are 600,000 enterprises in this sector, the majority of who are small players.
The cargo securing market is directly linked to the road freight movement market as a whole. It is estimated that there are over 34 million commercial freight vehicles in the EU. Most of the road freight movement is undertaken by HGVs.
Current cargo securing systems are either manual or semi-automated in nature which serves to slowdown the cargo securing process. Increased efficiency has been highlighted as a key component of increased competitiveness for the road freight industry. Road freight operators are therefore seeking tools that will enhance efficiency and Truck-Safe will do that by reducing the time taken to secure a load by within 45-60 minutes.
The question of cargo and transport safety is a wider European concern, with common legislation and region specific standards applying to cargo restraints and insurance. Transit companies will be able to benefit from reduced cargo loss from unsecured cargo. The EU lost approximately €27.3 billion from HGV related accidents, with unsecured cargo accounting for an estimated 25 (€6.8 billion) of accidents there is a potential for cost savings. A market penetration of 3% would on average allow for an avoidance savings potential of €204 million (eliminating 3% from €6.8 billion lost due to unsecured cargo).
A reduction in accidents will go far in reducing human cost experienced in the past, with Europe witnessing 599 casualties in HGV related accidents. Truck owners with a safer system will be able to wedge the benefits and bargain for lower health and cargo insurance premiums. The health insurance expenditure accounts for almost 9% of all health industry expenses. The road transport industry not accounting for the whole of that expenditure will through the use of Truck-Safe be able to reduce their contribution to costs related to health expenditure.
The Truck-Safe system will increase the security of loaded cargo to 90% by minimizing the likelihood of human error and applying an integrated sensor system and automated tensioning system to ensure the cargo remains under tension. The system also includes an on-board alarm mechanism to alert the driver of a truck in case of reduced tension on the cargo.
The automatic cargo securing system is a timely response to present market need as current cargo securing technology does not adequately address cargo integrity, public safety, time and cost efficiencies as well as regulatory requirements and standards.
In addition the Truck-Safe system will allow the future the operation of autonomous driving large goods vehicles with a permanently monitored cargo. The monitoring function of the Truck-Safe System will independently handle the cargo securing during the journey and would inform the autonomous driving large goods vehicle about abnormalities if needed.

The Truck-Safe consortium demonstrated the working prototypes at fairs across Europe. The working prototype was exhibited and demonstrated at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Fair in Hannover, Germany, held on 23.09–02.10.2014. Held every two years, this is the world’s leading trade fair for commercial vehicles and equipment, mobility, transportation and logistics. Two independent stands were selected to present the full-scale prototype. Strong interest in the Truck-Safe system came from consultants and advisers for third party companies who make decisions about purchasing such products. The system also found great interest in experts in the field of cargo security, such as advisers for end users and authorities, as well as trailer manufacturers.
The prototype system was demonstrated to a large trailer builder and a potential end user with very specific transportation requirements.

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Kimmo Weissenberg
tel: +358(0)622 50 114