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'TelliBox' delivers better system for intermodal freight transport

The EU-funded TelliBox project has optimised available loading space in freight vehicles, promising more efficient transport of goods.

A conventional freight container © Peter Gutierrez
Conventional freight
containers are not always
filled to capacity
© Peter Gutierrez

The transport industry is continuously looking for ways to increase the useable cargo capacity of vehicles and vessels, within the bounds of standards and requirements concerning maximum dimensions and safety.

"The loading capacity of conventional trucks is not always optimised for freight handling," explains Sebastian Jursch of the Rheinisch Westfaelische Technische Hochschule in Aachen, Germany. "For example: a truck loaded with regular-sized pallets can normally only be filled up to 98% of its capacity. That means just 2% is wasted, but if you add up that 2% over thousands of trips, it can have a huge economic impact."

Optimising loading space

Funded by the European Commission, the TelliBox project, which Jursch coordinates, is working on ways to optimise available loading space in freight vehicles. "We have developed a new intermodal loading unit," says Jursch, "the 'MegaSwapBox', and an adaptable chassis so that we can use it with trucks on the road." The box offers a maximum cargo capacity of 100 cubic metres and has an internal height of three metres. It is stackable and can be loaded from three sides.

"With a strong orientation towards common standards and norms, our new intermodal loading unit (ILU) offers high interoperability and easy application in transport while using the existing handling equipment and facilities." Prototype demonstration trials carried out by the project showed that the ILU and chassis can be used successfully in commercial trimodal transport, including road and rail, and inland and short-sea waterborne transport modes.

In addition, the new ILU meets other special requirements concerning stackability, portability from the top, the placement of doors on three sides, and it has new security features to protect against pilferage.

Promising market potential

Jursch says the new TelliBox loading units can increase the load factor by as much as 25%, compared to 40-foot-high cube type freight containers. And the fact that the units can be loaded from three sides will speed up the process of loading.

"A number of vehicle manufacturers have shown great interest in the outcome of our work," says Jursch, "and we have high expectations about the potential market for our system. We have already started preliminary marketing activities and we are now considering offering the new ILU in a variety of models to suit specific purposes, given the variety of applications served by loading units and the different needs and resources of customers and users. We are also focusing on modularisation, which we believe will make this system even more competitive."