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Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

Rail freight transportation is a system service where a multitude of players and systems providers bear a high degree of responsibility for its attractiveness and performance. It shows high efficiency as transport mean, in terms of land use and energy consumption and low greenhouse gas emissions. However rail’s market share of freight transport and its economic efficiency continues to be limited. Aimed at overcoming such uncertainty, this project addresses one of the most important key resources for further developing rail freight transportation: the optimization of the performance of the freight wagon. The continuous pressure on environmental issues and energy efficient transport is forcing the sector to enhance its logistics services and to incorporate innovative solutions to improve wagon load capacity, helping to put it in to a more privileged position beyond alternative terrestrial transport sources by road. Thus, aimed at optimizing rail freight transportation, HERMES project has holistically addressed the aspects that may improve freight wagon performance at competitive prices: enhanced logistics operations, higher wagon load capacity, optimized loading/discharging processes and increase wagons flexibility in order to foster inter-modality and allow a diversification of carried goods.
Conclusions of the action:
HERMES project succeed in providing higher reliability, flexibility, productivity and environmentally friendly solutions by means of a new higher capacity modular wagon prototype, optimization of loading, unloading, maintenance and cleaning processes and monitorization of whole logistics chain.
Firstly, the project addressed the study and implementation of lightweight solutions in cargo wagons, including the use of Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS), composites and joining techniques. The project also addressed the study and implementation of coating solutions for wagon interior surfaces. Two coating prototypes have been formulated with reduced friction coefficient, high resistance to abrasion and corrosion, ability to be applied by airless sprayer, brush and roller duet, and capacity to transport wide range of goods. Prototype 1 obtained the food contact certification.
Smart facilities have been also designed, which include the loading and unloading facilities, and the interactive platform On-Line Logistics Monitoring and Tracking System (OLMTS). Both the loading and unloading facilities are flexible to a wide range of products, scalable to different loading capacities, flow ratios, adaptable to the new designed wagons and allow a reduction of 50% in loading times, 60% in unloading and 75% in wagon cleaning compared to current facilities. OLMTS allows to consult main relevant logistic and maintenance data of the complete logistic chain.
Numerical methods and models for designing wagon and loading/unloading facilities have been attained to determine actions on the bulk freight that improve the logistic operation: optimise the material flow, minimise wear and stress, determine the influence of the particle size distribution and build a numerical model that mimics the variations of the bulk material flow behaviour.
A wagon prototype and unloading station have been designed and manufactured. The work has been focused on: eliminating important drawbacks of bulk transport on rail by designing highly modular wagons suitable for over 90% of the European rail network, reducing tare weight of the wagon, which allows 47 % higher load capacity, and producing a high modularly scalable unloading capacity with reduced dusting during unloading.
HERMES wagon prototype has been homologated according to the European interoperable legislative framework.
Field tests of the wagon prototype, loading and unloading operations and OLMTS have been successfully conducted. Several improvements have been detected and reported. Additionally, OLMTS system has proved its added value in providing relevant logistics data.
Overview of the results and their exploitation and dissemination:
Results with potential to be exploited after the project have been identified, such as: bioscomposite manufactured by pultrusion process (CTM), new coating formulation (HEM), wagon (KIR), loading facility (IDP), unloading facility (KIR, IDP), OLMTS and Integrated Washing System (IDP), numerical models (LTU), AHSS and joining techniques application (all).
Dissemination activities have been carried out during the project including a webpage, two brochures, a workshop, publications in specialized journals and media, conferences attendance, clustering activities and project videos.
The wagon and facilities developed within this project have proved to simplify and fasten the loading/ unloading operations, allow for easy multimodality and flexibility and reduce cycle-times. In addition, the HERMES solution proposes a logistics management similar to the truck, avoiding wagons to run empty due to the high flexibility and tailor made purpose, allowing the load carriers being stored and easily transhipped, maximizing its capacity for each type of good, downsizing wagon weight, making them also attractive for goods intended for human food consumption, reducing the expensive CAPEX and also the OPEX due to the increased productivity. The project has also started to address an intelligent monitoring system that could integrate all the logistic services in one platform. All these achievements contribute to reduce the cost involved in the rail logistic chain, making the rail transport for dry bulks more competitive and attractive for key players and stakeholders.
Socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far:
HERMES contributions and expected impacts concern three main aspects which are challenging to improve in the rail transport of dry bulks: RELIABILTY, FLEXIBILITY and PRODUCTIVITY. Reliability is tackled by a new wagon design, the components choice and the development of the OLMTS system. Thanks to these, it will be possible to perform error-proofing, prevent accidents and unexpected shut downs for a better desirable scheduled stops, enable planning, load and wagon traceability, interoperability communication, predictive or preventive maintenance and bottleneck/constraint removal. Flexibility is achieved by means of the modular load carriers developed for intermodal transports of any kind of goods. The modular load carriers can be transshipped between rail wagon chassis made for different track gauges, road trucks and ships. Loaded and unloaded load carriers can also be stored on the ground, waiting to be shipped. Tailor made, modular load carriers are relatively cheap, making intermodal door transports attractive for any kind of cargo. Modular load carriers can even be exchanged within minutes. This allows users to have several load carriers for each of the relatively expensive wagon chassis or road trucks. Furthermore, the use of new materials and coatings prepared to be in contact to corrosive, dusty, abrasive, or even food goods, and the new design of the wagon, loading and unloading stations contribute to the diversification and versatility of transported goods and avoid contamination amongst them. In productivity, even though this is one of the inner strengths of railway logistics, the project HERMES tackles aspects such as: increase of loading capacity up to 50% per meter wagon, reduce dwelling times by more than 50% and reduce costs.