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Nexxiot and Knorr-Bremse combine technology to build better railway brakes

Switzerland-based rail technology company Nexxiot and global braking systems provider Knorr-Bremse has struck a deal that Nexxiot CEO Stefan Kalmond says could dramatically impact how freight and passenger rail companies track the performance and location of their rail cars.

Knorr-Bremse will integrate Nexxiot hardware and software into its products for the company and for North American subsidiaries New York Air Brake and Knorr Brake Co., Ltd. Knorr-Bremse, a customer and investor in Nexxiot, will integrate the Nexxiot software into rail brakes, doors, HVAC, plumbing and other systems developed and manufactured by Knorr-Bremse.

“We’re bringing together two types of very smart and different technologies and systems for the benefit of customers. I think it’s going to be a game changer in the industry,” Callmond told FreightWaves.

(Photo: Nexxiot)

Incorporating technology into railroad components is important because it can help rail and rail car owners monitor the health of railroad components, including whether components need maintenance, according to Calmond. The company also says that data insight may also improve life-cycle costs and enhance operational efficiencies, which in turn could lead to a more proactive approach to maintenance.

“Brakes are not historically numbered at all. You buy brakes and that’s it. But if you want to improve the whole network — if you want to improve maintenance, if you want to introduce new services — it’s important that you also collect extensive data,” Callmond said.

Nexxiot estimates that there are 5 million railcars globally but only 8% have been digitized, so the passenger and freight rail industries are a mature audience for this type of technology integration, according to Calmond.

“By integrating our systems technology with Nexxiot’s digital ecosystem, we are creating a win-win scenario that will enhance vehicle availability and lower the total cost of fleet ownership by leveraging a new generation of data-driven services,” said Jürgen Wilder, a member of The Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse AG, in a statement issued Tuesday. Wilder is in charge of the Knorr Brems Railway Vehicle Systems Division.

Nexxiot’s arrangement with Knorr-Bremse follows an announcement on April 26 in which Nexxiot said the ocean-going carrier Hapag-Lloyd would supply a significant share of the company’s 3 million twenty-foot equivalent fleet with Nexxiot technology.

How does the Nexxiot technology work?

Nexxiot has developed devices that can be placed on railroad cars, containers, or railroad equipment such as braking or HVAC systems. The company also developed hardware technology.

(Photo: Nexiot)

The device, which is powered by solar panels, is placed outside or inside a railcar and can handle challenging environments and extreme temperatures. It collects a myriad of real-time data through its sensors to help track shipments, according to Calmond. For multimedia containers, the device can send real-time data every five minutes to the cloud, or it can send data four times a day, such as key moments such as the first mile or the last mile. The railway equipment system device can track the performance of this system.

Sensors can determine if the vehicle is empty or full as well as determine how full that carriage is. This data can also help railroads with their sustainability programs if one of the railroad’s goals is to reduce empty rail cars.

Calmond said railroads want to be visible on their fleet, explaining that the device and technology can help railroads reduce their assets by knowing asset efficiency, and can reduce maintenance costs by tracking brake health.

“The industry can start measuring things they’ve always wanted to measure and never been able to do,” Callmond said.

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