The starting point of the present research has been the confidence that Horizontal Transhipment Technique - HTT - which allows reduction of costs coupled with a lower investment break-even point, can attract significant market shares of both the existing conventional and the expanding non conventional intermodal transport. The research goal of investigating the technical and economic sustainability of the Horizontal Transhipment Technique fully compatible with the standard vertical systems have been proved successful:
- The research studies confirm as technically feasible the concept of fixing standard and non standard load units on a specific tray in order to make the system horizontal (therefore independent) but at the same time compatible with the vertical systems currently adopted in the terminals.
- The economic analysis which compared the investment and operational costs of the horizontal solution proved the benefits that can be obtained, compared to the conventional systems.
- Moreover, the proposed horizontal system is still competitive even including the costs of modifications to the rail wagons and the adoption of the tray. Modifications needed to make the horizontal system compatible with the vertical, but not mandatory if adopted in a self sustaining environment (road/rail/road bypassing the conventional terminals and factory handled loading/unloading operations). - The horizontal system can be therefore technically feasible and economically self-sustainable when adopted by an intermodal operator. In fact minor modifications to the rail wagons and the adoption of the tray make the horizontal system effective but still operational on the vertical system, allowing the operators to approach different (and presently competing) markets.
- Due to its specificity (automation and low costs) the horizontal system can provide benefits also on short distances (below 200 Km.) becoming attractive to "door to door" distributors and to operators presently adopting only the road modality.
- The proposed system can therefore be a positive solution for the interurban distribution of goods, representing a viable and cost effective alternative to the road modality.
Objectives and content
The research activities performed within the Euret Simet project, concerning dedicated techniques for combined transport using containers, swap-bodies and semi trailers, have pointed out critical elements of these techniques with relation to the perspective of maintaining a high growth degree in the field of combined transport. This factor is related to the necessity to integrate more and more the road with other modalities, mainly with the rail.
New interesting opportunities for a parallel and integrated plan of research dedicated to Horizontal transshipment techniques which may offer additional innovation opportunities in terms of loads units, road and rail rolling stock, ground equipments.
There are the conditions for a wide and articulated research programme concerning "Flexible intermodal transshipment techniques" which seems to be particularly favourable in terms of:
- Low energetic costs linked to the horizontal transshipment of load units; - High safety parameters;
- Low level of infrastructural investment costs due to the small areas required;
- Low technological investment costs linked to the simplicity of horizontal transshipment cycle,
- Saving on management costs thanks to highly automatised operations between different modes involved.
- Global energetic saving thanks to the above points.
- To investigate various alternatives and to confirm the validity of the horizontal transshipment techniques for combined intermodal freight traffic; - To introduce innovations for the load units improving transport cycle automation;
- To study the characteristics of exchange points in terms of the best lay-out mainly for two applications: a) inside the existing terminals / hubs it will be possible to provide specialised areas; b) in the existing goods yards area, it will be possible to convert, partially or totally, the use of the area in terms of combined transport.
- To reduce cost break-even for the combined techniques below 200 Km. (today 400-500 Km.)
- To give more opportunities to the market in terms of flexible and low cost techniques with the aim to transfer major goods traffic volumes towards the use of combined techniques.
The project will provide: economic studies on the convenience of FLIHTT technologies; demonstrators and prototypes of transshipment equipments, units and rolling stocks .
Results diffusion will be facilitated by the structure of the consortium itself including important logistic operators, user and main industrial specialists of the involved intermodal techniques.
Further elements to be highlighted are:
- An innovative pre-industrial programme already in course using Italian resources utilized to reduce the support requested by the E.U.; - Availability of structural funds (objective 2) already approved by UE Authorities in favour of E.N.E.A., Italian research institute, dedicated to related technological researches.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
00044 Frascati Roma
91192 Gif Sur Yvette