The magazine "Railways", from which the following article is taken, is available at www.rail.dbschenker.de/rail-deutschland-en/start/service/customer_magazine.html

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New handling systems make it possible to load megatrailers from road onto rail without any special infrastructure on site.

It is hard to think of another industry where the production structures are as complex as in the automotive industry. Parts and components for one model are supplied by a carmaker’s own plants, as well as by numerous external manufacturers, so-called original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) – and increasingly these supplies come from abroad. This distributed system, however, must still perform as one plant. To ensure that the highly synchronised production process functions smoothly, the various production sites and OEMs supply their components in strict time slots.

The railway plays a key role in these inter-plant transport operations. DB Schenker Rail Automotive has set up a train system for European carmakers that guarantees delivery on the following day for domestic services and within two days for international routes. Component suppliers that are not integrated into the production network, on the other hand, rely heavily on road haulage. The reasons for this are a lack of works sidings and the greater flexibility offered by road transport.

“We are continually working on making rail an attractive option for all suppliers and improving their access to our train system,” says Helmut Kumm, Head of Equipment Management Components at DB Schenker Rail Automotive GmbH, adding, “Crucial to this are systems that make it possible to combine the flexibility of road haulage with the plannability of rail.”

With this in mind, DB Schenker Rail supports the development of innovative handling systems and new multimodal containers, and presents these new systems to the industry on a regular basis, alongside the companies that have developed them. Two new developments have been launched this year. Both are horizontal handling systems that allow the loading and unloading of swap bodies or megatrailers between road and rail without cranes or

other handling infrastructure on site. With the MegaSwing, developed by the Swedish company Kockums Industrier, the system’s hydraulics and operating devices are located on the rail wagon, whereas with the ContainerMover devised by Swiss company Innovatrain AG, they are positioned on the truck. Both systems are designed for handling the containers commonly used in the automotive industry: the MegaSwing for megatrailers, including those not suitable for crane handling, the ContainerMover for containers of up to 30 feet and swap bodies up to 7.82 metres in length.

More than 40 representatives from VW, DB Schenker Rail and the two manufacturers from Sweden and Switzerland, as well as collaborators and suppliers recently came to Wolfsburg for the presentation. “These systems are especially undemanding as far as the requirements on the local infrastructure are concerned. The MegaSwing merely needs a power connection on the track and the ContainerMover an adapter frame on the standard flat wagon of intermodal transport,” says Helmut Kumm, adding, “We are therefore offering our customers and suppliers new forms of access to our rail network between automotive sites in the hope that these systems will help attract more haulage operations onto the rail system.”

Contact: Helmut Kumm. Telephone: +49 (0)511 286-2521. helmut.kumm@sargmbh.com