Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


HERMES Report Summary

Project ID: 636520
Funded under: H2020-EU.3.4.


Reporting period: 2015-05-01 to 2016-10-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Rail freight transportation is a system service where a multitude of players, participants 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 rail 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, the main objective of HERMES is to holistically address the aspects that may improve freight wagon performance at competitive prices: enhanced logistics operations, higher wagon load capacity, optimised loading/discharging processes and increase wagons flexibility in order to foster intermodality and allow a diversification of carried goods.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

During this first reporting period, the project has been devoted to the study and implementation of lightweight solutions in cargo wagons. It was concluded that the key to using an AHSS to reduce weight because the thickness is thinner, is that the joints should have a higher FAT class than that specified by the corresponding Eurocode. A high frequency mechanical impact (HFMI) treatment was carried out, in order to help increasing the fatigue resistance of AHSS joints. The project has also addressed the study and implementation of coating solutions for wagon interior surfaces. Two coating prototypes have been formulated in the project, and they have shown reduced the 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 was sent to an external laboratory to obtain the food contact certification according to COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 10/2011.
HERMES has also designed the smart facilities, which include the loading and unloading facilities, and has start working on implementing the proposed ICT solution for On-Line Logistics Monitoring and Tracking System (OLMTS), of which a draft prototype has been proposed. Both the loading and unloading facilities are flexible to a wide range of products (corrosive, abrasive, dusty, even food), scalable to different loading capacities, flow ratios, CAPEX, etc., adaptable and fit the new designed wagons, they allow to reduce the dwelling times up to a 50% and 80% respectively, and they allow the integration of multimodal operations. During the reporting period, the work has also focused to determine the potential actions on the bulk freight that improve the logistic operation: optimise the material flow at discharging, minimise wear and stress, determine the wear distribution in the wagon (using Archard’s law) by calculation of load intensity for different loadings, determine the influence of the particle size distribution on the unloading flow and build a numerical model that mimics the variations of the bulk material flow behaviour.
Finally, during this reporting period the wagon and unloading station have been designed and prepared for manufacturing. The work has been focused on: (i) eliminating some important drawbacks of bulk transport on rail for Europe compared to truck transport by (ii) designing highly modular wagons that can be adapted to different goods in minutes and (iii) are suitable for over 90% of the European rail network, (iv) the wagon has ultra-low tare weight, (v) which allows 50 % higher load capacity, (vi) the system allows modularly scalable unloading capacity (vii) and will reduce dusting during unloading. The unloading station that has been designed is very simple and robust; it gives an improvement of the unloading times of 80% and has also a very low CAPEX due to its simplicity.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The multifunctional smart wagon and facilities developed within this project have proved to simplify and fasten the loading and 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 finally 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.
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 in the project by a new wagon design, the components choice and the development of the OLMTS system. Thanks to these, it will be possible to prevent accidents, perform error-proofing and prevent unexpected shut downs for a better desirable scheduled stops, enable planning, load traceability, wagon traceability, interoperability communication, predictive or preventive maintenance and bottleneck/constraint removal. Flexibility is tackled in the project 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. And, in turn, allows for easy adaption of the fleet depending on the transport demand of the day or season. Furthermore, the use of new materials and coatings prepared to be in contact to corrosive, dusty, abrasive, or even food goods, and the new engineering design of the wagon and 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.

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