Automated brake testing will be trialed on a freight train operated by Havelländische Eisenbahn (HVLE). The new function should be a key factor in increasing the efficiency and flexibility of rail freight transport.
Knorr-Bremse is also producing the first prototypes of a Digital Automatic Coupler (DAC) that will enable automated functions and smart digital services for rail freight transport. By 2030, Knorr-Bremse aims to become the leading supplier of DAC and train automation systems in the European market.
Both innovations are being systematically prepared for market launch as part of a package of rail freight solutions. “The key to shifting freight to rail is to digitalize and automate the rail freight sector in Europe, which still largely depends – for the time being, at least – on manual operations. With our current initiatives for developing new automation functions, as well as our DAC prototypes, we’re showing that we lead the field when it comes to producing the key innovations that will make rail freight substantially better, more efficient and more competitive over the next few years,” explained Dr. Nicolas Lange, Chairman of the Management Board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems.
Knorr-Bremse's FreightControl automation system comprises a new kind of electronics that combines centralized railcar intelligence with innovative sensor technology for the braking system. The trial should provide insights into the potential benefits of automated brake testing for rail freight in general. Currently, brake testing in freight cars is done manually by railway station staff. It is therefore an extremely time-consuming step in the setup process. Once testing can be carried out from the driver's cab, for example using a handheld tablet, freight trains could be ready for departure significantly faster.
This trial should help to further accelerate the development of the train automation system. As well as automated brake testing, this will include other functions such as train composition recognition, train integrity monitoring, and electropneumatic brake control. Together with the DAC, Knorr-Bremse will thus offer a package of solutions for digital freight trains. And thanks to Knorr-Bremse's active involvement in the European Railway Joint Undertaking (ERJU), this package will be fully compatible with the systems and fleets of all operators and can thus significantly improve process efficiency and the competitiveness of the rail industry as a whole.
Knorr-Bremse has also made significant progress in the development of the DAC (FreightLink) and has assembled the first prototypes at its main plant in Budapest, which will undergo extensive testing. The main priorities are safety, durability, and performance. The coupling system is made of special steel and can withstand the enormous torsional and longitudinal forces generated by driving, braking, or maneuvering freight trains. At the same time, Knorr-Bremse has focused on optimizing the DAC’s life cycle costs and ensuring its efficient maintenance. The Knorr-Bremse DAC is an enabler in every sense - both for train automation functions and digital services. By the end of the year, Knorr-Bremse plans to install a more advanced version of the DAC in a train set for testing under real-world conditions, as part of the ERJU project, and by 2025, the company wants to develop its products for market launch.