Tests with fully automated shunting locomotive completed at JadeWeserPort Wilhelmshaven


Wilhelmshaven – The RangierTerminal 4.0 research project at JadeWeserPort Wilhelmshaven, which started on 1 June 2020 and was funded to the tune of Euro 2.35 million by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport as part of the Innovative Port Technologies (IHATEC) support guideline, has been completed. After taking stock, the cooperation partners confirm that the project has the potential to increase the effectiveness of rail processes. The research project targeted the automation of railway shunting processes on the storage tracks and analyzed the effects on the process landscape at Germany’s only deep-water container port. A practical test was carried out with a shunting locomotive to focus on the technical planning and implementation of the automated shunting process as well as the adaptation of communication and information processes. Whereas previously communications between the driver and the dispatcher took place by telephone or radio, the RT40 digital dialogue system bundles the information from various sources into a shunting order, which is transmitted to the locomotive and its control unit via additional digital modules. To execute the actual shunting task, the autonomous drive and control unit (ADCU) creates a virtual map of the planned route based on the data specified. A tracking module provides information about the locomotive’s current position. Both ends of the locomotive are equipped with boxes for route monitoring and various sensors. The ADCU uses braking curves and the current speed data to calculate the locomotive’s stopping distance. The danger area is determined in combination with the clearance profile width: if an obstacle is detected the ADCU initiates a braking command.
In order to achieve long-term integration of automatic shunting activities into regular operations, it is necessary to coordinate and optimise both the rail operations and logistics transport chains with the management systems used.
At the end of the project, Marc-Oliver Hauswald, the managing director of Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven JadeWeserPort-Marketing GmbH & Co KG, said: “We are pleased that the rail-side infrastructure here at Germany’s only deep-water container port provides an ideal environment for testing what could be a pioneering shunting method. If there are opportunities for a follow-up project at JadeWeserPort to examine the system’s inclusion in real operations, we would very much welcome them.”

The project partners and their responsibilities:

Westfälische Lokomotiv-Fabrik Reuschling GmbH & Co. KG (WLH), Hattingen: Provided development, production and marketing of the modular shunting locomotive

dbh Logistics IT AG (dbh), Bremen: Development of the RT40 dialogue system

Nuremberg Georg Simon Ohm Technical University (THN):
Work on research topics in the fields of assisted, automated and autonomous operations on rail (surroundings detection, object recognition and classification, driving strategy and vehicle control for automatic operating systems).

German Aerospace Center (DLR), Bremen: Equipping the locomotive with a tracking unit.

JadeWeserPort Realizations GmbH & Co. KG: Port rail operating company.

Container Terminal Wilhelmshaven JadeWeserPort-Marketing GmbH & Co. KG:
Rail infrastructure company.