IT platform improves cooperation between Italian state railways and logistics operators

A new information technology platform has been set up to improve cooperation between Italian state railways and other operators and systems in the logistical supply chain. Its development was supported by EU funding.

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PIL 2.0 telematics system at Bari container terminal © PIL 2.0 telematics system at Bari container terminal ©

" This project contributes to the upgrading and regeneration of railway container terminals, offering innovative services and helping to increase the efficiency of the entire logistics chain. "

Maurizio Levi, Director of the Information and Communication Technology Directorate, Rete Ferroviaria Italiana

The Integrated Logistics Platform 2.0 (PIL 2.0) created under the project is designed to support logistics related to freight transport, with a focus on railway operations at container terminals.

PIL 2.0 establishes interfaces between Italian state railways’ computer systems and those of other logistics actors, including road haulage and shipping companies, freight brokers, and customs and port authorities. As a result, cooperation at key points within the chain runs more smoothly.

Faster operations at container terminals

One of the main components of the platform is a telematics system which supports performance of all necessary checks on freight transport, including those required by customs. It deploys technological applications based on mobile or fixed devices, including electronic gates, optical character recognition (OCR) technology, bar codes, tablets and radio frequency identification readers. In addition, intelligent transport systems ensure safe transfer of containers between transport modes.

Consequently, the system increases the efficiency of terminal operations. Inbound and outbound road haulage vehicles can transit quickly and easily, without having to submit paperwork thanks to use of OCR for checking vehicles and crates, electronic signatures and bar code readers at entry and exit. Vehicles arriving within their allocated time slot for loading of goods onto departing trains are routed via fast lanes, further reducing transit times and promoting good planning by logistics firms.

Initially, the system was put into operation at the Bari Ferruccio container terminal in southern Italy’s Apulia region. Between 2014 and 2015, average time spent on handling operations at the Bari Ferruccio terminal was reduced by 23 %. The technology was then extended to other container terminals within the Italian railway network. A total of 8 000 man-days were spent on implementing the project.

Improving other aspects of terminal work

By introducing new methods of automation, PIL 2.0 has also helped to streamline internal processes at terminals and increase the speed at which staff handle administrative procedures. This streamlining has led to the reorganisation of workloads, with further positive effects on operations.

PIL 2.0 builds on architecture developed under the PIL 1.0 project, which focused on improving information exchange between state railway operators involved in processes linking rail and road transport. Modifications made between development of PIL 1.0 and PIL 2.0 fed into the subsequent creation of PIL 3.0, which deals with information flows between container terminals, railways and marshalling yards.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Integrated Logistics Platform - 2.0” is EUR 4 105 561, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 3 079 170 through the “Networks and Mobility” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.

Draft date

26/01/2018