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SBB Cargo upgrades entire railway network with RFID

Use Cases | By PR RFID & Wireless IoT Global | 01 June 2017
Over 5,000 freight cars and 100 train control stations of the Swiss Federal Railway are being equipped with RFID. Over 5,000 freight cars and 100 train control stations of the Swiss Federal Railway are being equipped with RFID. Photo: SBB Cargo

RFID is the right technology for digitization

The Swiss Federal railways (SBB) are upgrading: Freight traffic subsidiary SBB Cargo relies on a widescale RFID solution to increase efficiency and productivity. Over 5,000 freight cars and train control stations all over Switzerland will be outfi tted with RFID transponders and readers. The goal is modernizing individual railroad car operations.

Anja-Maria Sonntag, Projektleiterin Automation, SBB Cargo, in an interview with “RFID & Wireless IoT Global”

“The project started in 2013 with a white sheet of paper,” Anja-Maria Sonntag, Project Lead of Automation at SBB Cargo, recalls. “We began by noting our requirements and then openly discussing all technologies and applications for bringing the digital transformation to railroad traffi c. At the end of our brainstorming sessions, RFID emerged as the right technology for this challenge.”

“In railway logistics, the base technologies have remained almost unchanged for decades. Rail operators now have to catch up by developing multiple projects concurrently. Swiss Federal Railways are establishing RFID as a base technology for digitization and at the same time testing further technologies such as GPS. RFID is easy to deploy, cost efficient, and above all easy to scale,” Sonntag explains. “Every company in the market is devoting their eff orts to digitization. There is a consensus about the need for action, but the challenge lies in establishing clear standards and compatible technologies for an industry-wide adoption. This is why we rely on UHF RFID according to ISO standards, as well as the GS1 standard for the labelling of cars and assets.”

Anja-Maria SonntagAnja-Maria Sonntag “Every company in the market is devoting their eff orts to digitization. There is a consensus about the need for action, but the challenge lies in establishing clear standards and compatible technologies for an industry-wide adoption. This is why we rely on UHF RFID according to ISO standards, as well as the GS1 standard for the labelling of cars and assets.”

Roll-out to 5,000 freight cars and the entire railway network

During the first phase of the project, around 1,000 freight cars were equipped with RFID transponders. In addition, RFID readers were installed at two train control stations to register the movements of tagged railway cars. After the successful conclusion of this pilot phase, the solution will now be rolled out to all 5,000 freight cars operated by SBB Cargo, as well as to the entire network of over 100 train control stations in Switzerland. In addition, the RFID tagging of all 4,500 SBB passenger cars has been underway since 2015 and will be completed this year.

RFID provides precise real-time train information

Anja-Maria Sonntag outlines the advantages of RFID tracking: “Traditional train control stations are mainly used to ensure the integrity of the infrastructure, such as detecting malfunctioning trains or

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Read the full use case published in the April 2017 issue of the leading trade journal "RFID & Wireless IoT Global". Download your personal digital copy of the magazine now and gain exclusive insight into more use cases and the potential of RFID & Wireless IoT technologies for process optimisation in different industries.

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Last modified on Thursday, 01 June 2017 09:22
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