Efficient, environmentally friendly, connected – this is the future of mobility, on roads, in the air and naturally on rails. Smart trains offer the answer to many of the challenges presented by the ever growing demand for freight transport. Step on board this story and learn about the positive impact of A1´s know-how on 13,700 Rail Cargo Austria freight wagons.

SmartCargo is a cooperative project between A1 Austria and A1 Digital for the Rail Cargo Group, the freight traffic division of ÖBB and one of the leading railway logistic companies in Europe. The goal is to fully connect all 13,700 cargo wagons by the end of 2020 so that they can be tracked using A1s mobile network infrastructure and GPS, enabling exact positioning and data transfer to a customer-specific IoT platform.

Currently, more than half the SmartCargo devices are installed on wagons providing full location transparency, motion and shock detection.

The data available contributes directly to customer benefits e.g. wagons can now be optimally disposed reducing still stand time and increasing efficiency. Another advantage for the RCG is conditioned based maintenance optimizing maintenance processes and reducing unnecessary down times, saving costs and the planet.

 

The video shows the first assembly and gives brief insights in this project.

A passionate team for a successful project

Adrian Fulton, IoT project manager SmartCargo at A1 Austria and Vlad Ivut, project manager SmartCargo at A1 Digital are the international team Duo in charge of making the Austrian cargo wagons smart. In this interview, they share their insights.

What was/is your role in this project?

Adrian: As A1 Austria Senior Project Manager, I see myself as being responsible for fulfilling the customer contractual commitments. So to say, a business interface managing expectations between customer and A1 partner.

Vlad: I am Adrian’s digitalization counterpart within the SmartCargo Project.

 


Together we aim to excel in the delivery.


What was different in this project compared to other projects before?

Vlad: SmartCargo is what I like to call an “ice-breaker” project within the railway freight system. It’s something that wasn’t done before in Austria on such a scale and that’s why it is unique in its own way. Also, it is to my knowledge the first project that has the so-called trifecta elements in its delivery: hardware, connectivity and an IoT platform, all of it is delivered by the A1 Group.

Adrian: It is the first of many IoT projects using A1’s terrific infrastructure enabling companies to look at their business processes in a new light. Data, collected and analyzed, leads to use cases that only 2-3 years ago were not profitable, realizable not even imaginable. The technology and the project targets are easily understandable and the benefit for the customer is high.


This is a showcase project and undoubtedly high profile.


What was the biggest challenge?

Adrian: I cannot think of any one big challenge! Vlad and I, having similar backgrounds managing projects in mobile networks has helped us avoid conflict. Reacting quickly and reliably has made this project enjoyable.

Vlad: You have your normal project delivery challenges, but there was nothing we couldn’t solve or mange quickly and efficient once we put our minds together.

What do you appreciate most about your colleague?

Vlad: Adrian brings a lot of experience to the table, which is a big plus for any project. If there is something that keeps standing out for me is his diplomacy, a skillset that many tend to lose in uncharted waters but something that he is mastering undoubtfully.

Adrian: We both have strong personalities but respect each other’s logic and decisions. Vlad’s ability to listen, understand and deliver customer expectations is outstanding.

 

 

How do you perceive cross-company collaboration?

Adrian: There are always going to be constraints when two companies, especially “sisters” face such a collaboration. I am pleased to say that we defined the roles and responsibilities early and both Vlad and all the remaining project stakeholders as well as myself observed these parts.

Vlad: From my vantage point, positive. Adrian and I know what we have to do and keep focusing on that whilst trying to get the most out of it for the customer and of course our representative company.

 

Your best journey by train?

Adrian: Before I joined A1 I travelled several times on the Glacier express St. Moritz to Zermatt. I can recommend this to everyone; the views are breathtaking.

Vlad: As a student I once stepped on a Railjet from Vienna to Budapest and instantly got captivated by it.

How do you see the future of trains / transport systems?

Vlad: There are great visionaries out there. You have great technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Augmented Reality and others that in my opinion will more and more be used now that 5G is here.


I won’t be surprised if train & transport system will get more autonomous in the near future.


Adrian: Investment in the railway is twice as high as in roads. An ÖBB rail journey is 15 times more environmentally friendly than with an average car, 31 times greater than by plane and every ton of road freight generates 21 times more CO2. Do I need to say more?

 

What would you like to track next?

Adrian: The cool thing about using “Trackers” is that the use cases keep on coming. Gathering the data and optimizing business processes can be beneficial to all companies, large or small, traditional or hi-tech. I see a massive potential for airports, particularly in passenger and baggage handling.

Vlad: Tracking human behavior whilst shopping as an example is just one of the use cases to increase our knowledge base and efficiency and can go as far as saving lives in the health system.

Photocredit: David Payr