Mileage-based freight wagon maintenance introduced in 2022

Rail logistics company VTG will introduce an innovative freight wagon maintenance concept next year. The company will transition from time-based to mileage-based wagon maintenance. Using its VTG Connect service, it will perform maintenance on wagons only when needed and based on their usage.

The new concept will provide more flexibility and improve wagon availability. Using real-time data gathered through VTG Connect, the company will analyse the status of wagons and proceed to possible changes only if their state demands it. Consequently, freight wagons will be used as much as possible without getting off tracks for precautionary reasons.

The VTG Connect service that will lead the new maintenance concept is a digital tool created by VTG. It collects data from digital freight cars and provides track and trace services, shock monitoring and environmental temperature measurement. Additionally, it can have extra functions such as weight measuring or locking monitoring, allowing customers to be continuously in charge of their wagons and cargo.

Compatible with safety regulations

The mileage-based maintenance concept will be implemented for the first time by a European wagon owner. The law window allowing this move derives from amendments to Germany’s Railway Construction and Operation regulations (EBO). Nevertheless, the new procedure will still be compatible with all safety instructions related to the VPI-European Maintenace Guide.

“We will keep to the proven technical rulebook, but at the same time, the underlying change of mindset will lead to a new maintenance culture. We are not altering the maintenance guidelines: We are simply applying real-time information to systems that already work,” commented Frank Sadowski, Head of Technical Support & Safety at VTG Rail Europe.

Fleetwide deployment

Digitalising VTG’s fleet on a European level is the number one prerequisite for the maintenance concept to work. Currently, the company examines whether all of its wagons are suitable for mileage-based maintenance. So far, two-thirds of the fleet has been found capable of transitioning to the new era. However, some wagons could prove unable of complying with the new system.

In any case, safety comes first for the company. It would be interesting to see what would happen if mileage-based maintenance does not fit all wagons. Would they get upgraded and modernised, or would the whole project be at a standstill?

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

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