A quantum leap for rail logistics

Hard work, steel and signal boxes: The wagon manufacturer and hire company VTG operates in a sector that is lagging behind when it comes to jumping on the digitization bandwagon. In order to apply the potential of digitization to the company's business processes and to offer its customers additional services, VTG is launching several major B2B digitization initiatives. With this, it is charting the course for an entire industry. A showpiece project for Cellular as the strategy and technology partner.




Digital Services




As a manufacturer and hirer of 95,000 rail cars, VTG manages the largest private fleet in Europe. The Hamburg-based company operates in a largely analog world but nevertheless ensures the highest requirements for safety, reliability and quality. Once a wagon has been hired out, VTG is not able to access any information on the load, use, routes or condition of the wagon. Unlike a car rental company, for example, rail logistics is a long-term business: Manufacturing companies and logistics providers typically hire the wagons for years. Regular updates on the hired wagons and tracking are essential for forward-looking and efficient fleet management. It can also be difficult to establish an active client relationship once the hiring process is complete with the current business model.

Redifining core business processes in the hiring of freight wagons.

The solution

VTG is working with an IoT partner in Zurich to develop hardware that is capable of digitizing rail logistics on the basis of big data. Powered by solar energy and fitted with a range of sensors, each of the 
95,000 wagons will receive a ‘Unique ID’ via “connectors”. Motion, vibration and temperature sensors will now provide VTG with more than simply information on the load, location and condition of its fleet: They will also enable the company to create predictive maintenance scenarios based on new data and thus plan maintenance and repairs in advance.

This is where Cellular comes in. We have used currently available data to analyze all core business processes involved in the hiring of freight wagons and design new services using digital technologies and design thinking processes. The core focus of our work in this regard has been to provide the best advantages for VTG clients and a state-of-the-art design to enable us to transfer intuitive software use from the app world to the business processes of a European logistics giant.

As a result, we have produced a range of digital services that all feature on the innovative VTG booking and analysis platform Traigo, to which new services will be added over time. The platform maps the data collected using the wagon connectors. VTG can use it to not only optimize its fleet management and services, but also to offer its clients new data-based services and therefore test new business models.

Our intensive analysis and consulting phase also led to another benefit: An app to digitize the process of inspecting the wagons. As a result, VTG can considerably cut down on the time required to test and pass wagons, which was previously very time consuming and costly for both VTG and the clients. More efficiency for all involved.

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