German industrial conglomerate Bosch has built up a compelling story around the Internet of things, so it’s no surprise that Swiss freight company SBB Cargo has decided to turn to the company to connect its almost 7,000 rail cars to the Internet. SBB Cargo, which is the No. 1 freight operator in Switzerland and accounts for almost a quarter of all freight traffic in the country, is connecting its cars using Bosch automotive technology.
The two firms are building a rail system that will let operators see where freight is on the rail lines from a central control unit and assess the conditions of that cargo. The cars will have sensors on them that measure humidity, temperature, shocks from the rail travel and position. All of that is reported back to the central command center. Bosch is also using some kind of data analytics capability in conjunction with the sensors to help determine when maintenance will be needed on the cars, as well as providing security on the cars. If a car goes out of range the command center gets an alert, and if someone breaks into the freight cars an alert is also sent and an alarm sounds.
The two company have been testing this system out since February of this year and the deal turns what was a test into a wide-scale deal. Bosch is retrofitting some of its automotive technologies for the rail industry but it will also develop other software and services specific for the logistics market. As far as companies that are connecting their products to the Internet of things, so far logistics companies have been eagerly looking at ways to connect their high-value cargo. Last week, AT&T announced a deal with shipping company Maersk to connect almost 300,000 refrigerated containers.
Of course, for a truly seamless logistics operation, the efforts of Bosch and AT&T will have to somehow find a way to interconnect so any Maersk containers shoved on a SBB railcar can share data across each system. Until then we’re not really building the Internet of things, but more like the walled gardens of connected things.
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