The aims of the project COMBICOM are to develop and to install a Road/Rail Transport Informatics (rti) system which can be used to communicate all relevant operational information, e.g. the status of Combined Traffic(ct) units (swap bodies or containers)- at particular points of their journey, to all relevant systems participants, including shippers, highway operators, hauliers, freight forwarders, customs, and receivers of goods.
This information and communication system has to be based, as far as available, on standardised information procedures, protocols, data elements, message design rules and similar features to ensure an open interface environment, i.e. to give the possibility to interlock, in future, any additional partner that wishes to put information into the system or get information out of the system. Therefore a scalable distributed message handling architecture will be designed upon a layer of open software and hardware architecture's (unix svid).
Finally the objective is to promote the wider application of the developed system for usage through publications and seminars.
A road and rail transport informatics (RTI) system is being developed which can be used to communicate all relevant operational information, such as the status of combined traffic (CT) units (swap bodies or containers), at particular points of their journey, to all relevant systems participants, including shippers, highway operators, hauliers, freight forwarders, customs, and receivers of goods.
The information and communication system has to be based on standardized information procedures, protocols, data elements, message design rules and similar features to ensure an open interface environment. Therefore a scalable distributed message handling architecture will be designed upon a layer of open software and hardware architectures.
The analysis phase has been concluded with the following results:
production of a demonstration prototype representing all the basic functionality;
a formal specification of the system functions;
production of a data dictionary and a first release of the edifact messages;
analysis of the current work performed by the CT operators and compilation of an inventory of the changes;
establishment of an external evaluation framework especially targeted to the market position of combined road/rail traffic on the changes;
establishment of an external evaluation framework especially targeted to the market position of combined road/rail traffic on the corridor.
Thereafter implementation of the pilot was started with respect to:
an agreement on the functionality involved with wagon monitoring;
formal specification and software production of the architecture;
production of the wagon monitoring user interface and user manual;
execution of management awareness sessions for each of the pilot partners;
negotiating costs involved with the leasing of automatic identification equipment (AIE);
devising an installation plan starting with reader installation and a telecom support.
The two principal elements of rti systems for combined transport will be the tracing of ct units in Real Time by means of Automatic Identification Equipment as they travel between origins and destinations and the establishment of integrated communication systems for organisations linked to the system.
The results of the CombiCom project in the short term will be:
1. A development and demonstration of a distributed RTI system which:
enables the users to obtain, inter-actively, information about the location of an unit
provides statistical information of transport flows and possible bottle-necks
signals to the user of any "irregularities" in the transport chain.
2. The internal and external evaluation of the costs and benefits of such a system.
3. A strategy on how the benefits of ct systems can be maximised
The pilot project will be carried out on the Rotterdam-Muenchen-Verona corridor.
reduce loss of cargo units on their journey and enable fast reactions in case of irregularities.
allow a more effective planning of the capacity based on early knowledge, both in rolling stock and in terminal facilities.
reduce the costs of unnecessary resource allocations and utilisation's.
provide guide-lines for successful introduction of this kind of RTI.
deliver insights in the micro and macro economic impacts of CT.
The entire system resulting from this project is targeted to be:
make available a formally specified architectural description on this rti system.
scalable, fault tolerant and reliable, thus a state of the art architecture for CT.
suited to handle only parts of the entire transport flow in the chain to allow step by step implementation.
versatile in the means to communicate with the outside world.
allow the integration of various automatic identification equipment.
The second half of the pilot phase is:
Workpackage B2 : Pilot phase 2 : Q1 1993
- Carrying out the physical installations in Koeln and Verona
- installing the software and testing on both sites
- going operational with the wagon monitoring
- execution of the operator training
- agreeing on the uti monitoring
For Q2 1993
- formal specification and software production for the uti monitoring
- user training uti monitoring
- going operational with the wagon and load unit monitoring
- preparation of the EDI interconnection with some major clients
- analysing connectivity with the maritime container world
- installation of equipment in Rotterdam and starting operations there.
The third half year is dedicated to :
- starting operating with EDI client interfaces
- guidance with the use of the full functional system
- adaptive and corrective maintenance
- performing the evaluation on micro and meso economic scales
- writing the final reports
At present, the communications situation in combined transport is poor. Basically, the forwarder hands over a container or swap body to the intermodal carrier and hopes to get it returned in time at the other end of the pipeline. If a delay or accident occurs, he will not be informed in time; only at the pick-up point will he learn that his unit has not come in. Such a situation is detrimental to the competitiveness of intermodal transport because:
The combined transport alternative cannot be integrated in overall logistical information systems; special provision will have to be made.
The combined transport operating companies cannot achieve maximum efficiency in fleet and terminal capacity use due to incomplete information.
And, worst of all, the quality requirements of tomorrow's transport client's, e.g. of those using just-in-time production organisation, cannot be met so that intermodal transport will no longer be used.
Advanced RTI applications in intermodal freight transport are required to improve levels of operational efficiency and to provide better - and therefore more acceptable - levels of service to users. ct is expected to make a significant contribution in the transport sector over the coming years and rti delivers here reliable information about the precise location and expected delivery of goods, thus conforming to Just In Time logistic strategies.
MK43 0AL Cranfield
2600 JA Delft
6000 Frankfurt Am Main
Frankfurt Am Main
3440 AL Woerden