Knorr-Bremse develops automation solutions for rail freight sector
Knorr-Bremse, the German engineering company, intends to implement two automation systems for freight trains. Both solutions, one for braking and another for coupling, will make rail freight transport more efficient and flexible. At the same time, the development of the innovations will allow Knorr-Bremse to become a leading supplier of train automation systems in the European railway market.
“The key to shifting freight to rail is to digitalise and automate the rail freight sector in Europe, which still largely depends – for the time being, at least – on manual operations,” said Nicolas Lange, chairman of the management board of Knorr-Bremse Rail Vehicle Systems. In 2023, his company will install an automated brake system (FreightControl) on a freight train of Havelländische Eisenbahn (HVLE), the German private railway undertaking. A year later, in 2024, the solution will be put into operation. Currently, the brakes on almost 500,000 wagons running in the European Union are still manually tested by rail yard personnel making the process extremely time-consuming.
Digital automatic coupling
Another Knorr-Bremse automation solution (FreightLink) is related to coupling. The German company has already assembled the first prototypes of the DAC systems (digital automation coupling) at its main plant in Budapest. It is working on verifying and improving this system. By 2025, the German engineering company is planning to complete the development of the DAC prototype and make the product market-ready. Due to its active involvement in Europe’s Joint Rail Undertaking (ERJU), both innovations be interoperable, meaning fully compatible with all operators’ systems and fleets. Consequently, it will help dramatically improve the process efficiency and competitiveness of the rail industry as a whole.