Eqiom, the French subsidiary of the Irish CRH Group, loads tons of bulk material daily at its gravel plant in Bayel. At the heart of the logistics concept for loading gravel from the conveyor belts onto wagons and transporting it by rail to customers throughout Europe are sophisticated, fully automated shunting processes. A Vollert KR 100 shunting robot moves the wagons placed in readiness through the filling station over a distance of about 500 m by use of a cable. The required travel speed is permanently monitored and adjusted. A belt scale measures the wagon weight so that the filling quantity can be precisely determined. Once the quantity of gravel required for the order has been reached, the filling process is stopped and the train moves on by one wagon. All works fully automatically, without any human intervention.
Bidirectional radio control
"During rail loading in Bayel, the material flow and shunting speed are coordinated in such a way as to ensure uniform loading of the wagons. We solved this using bidirectional radio control," says Christian Langner, project manager at Vollert. The information flows permanently between loading and the shunting machine. Target and actual are adjusted almost in real time. All loading, handling and weighing operations are automated, allowing Eqiom to significantly increase gravel handling. Up to 16 wagons with a train mass of 1,500t are pulled uniformly and precisely through the filling station. A drive power of 4 x 11 kW is available for this purpose. Power is supplied via a cable drum. The wagon compressed air system is directly connected to control the pneumatic brakes of the wagons. With the installed compressed-air tank, the brakes on the wagons can thus be opened again. All this not only ensures low-maintenance everyday operation, but has also significantly improved Eqiom's environmental balance. Because the energy-efficient electric drive technology enables extremely ecological shunting operation.
In addition to gravel, stone granulate is also transported in Bayel. "But the range of materials and goods that can be transported with our shunting solutions is almost inexhaustible," says Christian Langner. Wood chips, coal, coke, gravel, sand and other building materials, as well as liquids, gases and chemical end products are all included. The previous loading projects already cover a large spectrum.
Today, ecological aspects also play a central role in logistics. "In view of the energy revolution and the consequences of climate change, we are making a contribution to shift road transport to the rail. CO2 emissions are significantly reduced by the logistics solutions developed," explains Jürgen Schiemer, division manager for shunting systems with Vollert.