Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

DB Cargo to fit smart sensors to entire fleet

Steve Rogerson
March 13, 2018

DB Cargo is to equip its entire fleet of railway wagons with smart sensors, smart telematics systems and whisper brakes by 2020.
The German company is continuing to digitalise its freight wagon fleet: by 2020, every one of the roughly 70,000 wagons in Germany will be fitted with the-art sensors and telematics systems. Some 19,000 wagons will be retrofitted this year, with the remaining 50,000 to follow by 2020. A total of 1000 wagons have already been equipped with smart technology.
The management board of DB Cargo recently approved tens of millions in investment in smart wagon technology between now and 2020.
Wagons equipped with GPS and other sensor technology will benefit DB Cargo customers directly. GPS will enable direct, constant wagon tracking, which in turn will make it possible to calculate estimated time of arrival. The sensors will also provide information about whether each wagon is full or empty and about the temperature and humidity levels inside the wagon.
Such information is key to ensuring effective end-to-end supply chains for customers. If paper reels, for example, are too damp when they arrive at the printing works, they cannot be used immediately to print newspapers. The wagon sensors will also be able to detect mechanical factors, such as bumps that occur during shunting.
"In a world of ever-increasing digitalisation, today's customers expect a high level of service," said Roland Bosch, CEO of DB Cargo. “They want to know, in real time, where their freight is, when it will arrive and what condition it is in. This is why we are retrofitting our entire fleet with digital technology. We are also dedicated to sustainability, and so we are making sure that our wagons are also low noise. We want to offer a digital, low-noise wagon fleet which shows our customers how serious we are about performance, and which ultimately helps shift more traffic to rail."
By 2020, DB Cargo will be retrofitting all the freight wagons than run in Germany with whisper brakes or leasing low-noise wagons for them. Whisper brakes keep the wheel service smooth when the brakes are applied, halving the noise emissions generated by the wheels as they roll.
Some two-thirds of DB Cargo's own fleet has already been retrofitted, with nearly 11,000 more wagons scheduled for retrofitting in 2018.