East West Gate Terminal: a huge intermodal hubwhose digital twin runs in MaxWhere
Europe's largest intermodal logistic investment, gateway of the New Silk Road being built between Europe and China, is visualized and made remotely controllable by MaxWhere. The visualization on the MaxWhere platform enables the safe and efficient operation of the logistics terminal, the training of employees, troubleshooting and many other operations. The application of the digital twin serves cost-effectiveness and enables quick intervention and continuous data analysis.
EWG: intermodal logistic hub in Fényeslitke, Hungary
East-West Gate (EWG) is an intermodal (i.e. combining rail and road modes of transport and ensuring the connection between them) terminal in Fényeslitke (Hungary). The purpose of the investment is to relieve the burden on the logistics hubs of the Belarusian-Polish border by connecting east and west, speed up the east-west freight transport, and not least to put Hungary back on the world map of logistics. The terminal will carry out the transshipment required due to the change of railway gauge using the latest technology and will handle up to 1 million 20-foot containers (TEU) per year. This means that the EWG Terminal will be the largest such facility in Europe in terms of its theoretical capacity and area.
This 85-hectare site has been fitted with IoT (Internet of Things) sensors at all necessary points, which send data in real time to MaxWhere's information system. These sensores, as well as the means of transport (freight trains, trucks, cranes, etc.), the transshipment and security equipment, the cameras, and even the movement and status of the employees are visualized and analysed by MaxWhere.
Technology: the history of MaxWhere development
How did MaxWhere become capable of tracking 1,500+ containers, 50+ people, 850 m long railway crane tracks, lots of trucks and semi-trailers, as well as real-time imaging and remote control of an 85ha area?
MaxWhere is known by many people for its exciting 3D spaces and smartboards, but before the well-known user interface, the basic idea was born long before. The central thought was the need of a software allowing the user to manage the communication between industrial systems and the real-time data required for management. The goal of Dr. Péter Baranyi, Dr. Péter Galambos and their colleagues was to make MaxWhere a visual interface that is easy to interpret and is capable for connecting real-time intelligent cyberphysical systems.
They started to deal with this challenge around 2010, at that time purely as a research topic. It is important to mention that at that period the concept of digital twin was not yet in the public mind, but even then the plan was to organize all the data collected from a physical environment into one virtual space, and to display it, enabling easy processing, and helping users to make quick decisions.
What is digital twin?
Science has been studying digital twins since the beginning of the 2000s. A digital twin is a virtual model of a physical space (building, facility, or even a city) or an equipment that represents a physical process. Digital twin is not a simple physical model, but visualizes the operation, which makes it easier to plan the efficiency and safety of the process. The digital twin enables simulations and training, and if the physical space or device is equipped with the appropriate IoT devices, remote control intervention is also possible.
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The first resounding success
The team achieved its first big success at the Pioneers Industry 4.0 hackathon in Linz (12-14.11.2018 Linz, Austria). In the 48-hour competition the team was given the task of creating a digital twin of a logistics package sorting system. The team implemented the full visualization, including the so-called time-travel analysis function, the visualization of raw PLC data, and the display of real-time video streams, which resulted in their victory.
What is the technological uniqueness of MaxWhere?
MaxWhere is based on the natural need of the human brain, i.e. to understand spatial information is more comfortable than the comprehension of abstract 2D data. Operators working with complex information make much fewer mistakes if the data is not displayed and handled in spreadsheets. Users need spatial organization and visual associations for efficient and quick orientation.
With the help of IoT sensors, MaxWhere can display the location of objects, physical properties, process status, metadata, e.g. the current state of an entity.
Go live: the EWG project
The knowledge and technology necessary to create a digital twin were already fully available when the demand arose from the EWG management (following the digital development trends and technological needs of the time) to create a functional virtual twin of the entire terminal. The project was a particularly exciting challenge for the MaxWhere team, as the digitization work progressed in parallel with the construction.
How does MaxWhere serve EWG's operations?
Through its virtual twin platform, MaxWhere serves the operation of the EWG Terminal in three major areas:
- Facility supervision
- Training, education
- Facility efficiency control with retrospective and predictive data processing
Let's see these three areas in detail!
The performance of MaxWhere is proven by the fact that it is able to integrate completely independent systems in the virtual twin. MaxWhere acts as an operating system and simultaneously it connects different types of data from many sources:
- visualizes the location of objects (so it also fulfils a yard management role)
- communicates with an automatic character recognition system (OCR), which can read license plates and vehicle IDs
- follows the movement of cranes
- shows the movement of trains
- monitors the operation of railway safety systems
- shows the movement of the terminal's own vehicles, loading equipment, external vehicles (e.g. semi-trailer, container)
- visualizes the position of employees
- displays the images from the security camera system in virtual space and enables remote control of the cameras using pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) technology
Thanks to all this features, employing fewer and less qualified operators is sufficient. 3D visualization enables a quick and accurate,error-free overview of the area. As a result, employees can work in a less stressful work environment, which is reflected in HR costs, besides the positive financial consequences of operational efficiency.
The system’s other advantages are:
- automatic notifications based on camera images
- intrusion detection
- integration of fire and smoke alarms’ signals
- monitoring the status of the electrical system,including the backup power supply
- controlling of the lighting of the entire facility
- display of the status of gates and barriers
- visualization of the data of the railway scale system
- display of the image shown by the traffic control LED displays
All of these can be monitored in a virtual/digital twin, with time-synchronized data storage, and MaxWhere also supports the drawing of predictive and/or retrospective conclusions.
MawWhere for onboarding and training
With the complete mapping of the EWG area, realistic trainings, e. g. onboarding or safety training can be held in MaxWhere. This solution provides quick and thorough training without burdening or endangering the systems and this solution helps to avoid a good number of workplace accidents.
Data collection and analysis
MaxWhere enables the collection of data that permeate all systems, and based on it, retrospective and predictive data analysis using AI and data mining methods are possible. That is, thanks to data analysis, MaxWhere is able to show development opportunities, possible anomalies, and supports the visual representation of future trends. AI-based retrospective analyses, and prediction are tools for increasing efficiency and quality assurance. The continuous and automated data collection also enables the detailed investigation of emergency cases, which is also a serious cost optimization factor in the long term. The outcome of any legal or insurance case can be predicted using a systematic and detailed monitoring. This can save expenses of up to millions of Euros.
Importance of the project
Thanks to the visualization solutions, the efficiency of the EWG terminal will be outstanding: losses resulting from malfunctions can be prevented thanks to quick intervention, and long-term data analysis enables continuous optimization. The project has an outstanding impact on the region's labour market and technological development as well. The EWG presents high tech solutions, which significantly increases the technological development of the region. The terminal creates workplaces where employees can use world-class technologies.
In addition, MaxWhere's visualization and IoT integration solutions enable faster, more efficient work and immediate reaction, even with the help of remote control. Since MaxWhere has a video game-like UI, its use can be entrusted to less qualified employees. In addition, 3D visualization has been proven to be less mentally exhausting, which reduces the number of error possibilities. In addition, real-time visualization enables the information to reach the decision-maker quickly, for the rapid intervention. This ensures safer operation.