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DE-LIGHT Transport
Developing Lightweight Modules for Transport Systems featuring Efficient Production and Life-cycle Benefits at Structural and Functional Integrity using Risk-based Design

DE-LIGHT Transport aims to develop new solutions, methods and tools for the design, production, integration and testing of complex modular lightweight structures in ships, intermodal transport containers and railway vehicles. Focus is given to the development of multi-material modules with a higher degree of pre-outfitting, as compared to the optimization of structural components which was mainly done in previous projects. Results will be used and demonstrated in large scale prototypes for six application cases.

Tags: Multimodal


The project is based on previous national and European projects which largely focused on the development of structural lightweight components. DE-LIGHT Transport will use this results, but focus more on the development of modular pre-outfitted units and the technologies and knowledge required for their design, manufacturing, assembly and operation.DE-LIGHT Transport aims to overcome the following challenges and obstacles identified in previous projects, such as the Coordination Action SAND.CORe:· Available lightweight solutions in the maritime and rail sectors mainly focus on the use of lightweight materials (e.g. fibre reinforced plastics, polymeric foam panels etc) or innovative designs better utilizing traditional materials (e.g. laser welded metallic sandwich panels).

  • Insufficient design tools and design data make optimum design for end-users difficult and time consuming. The project will complement and combine algorithms and dedicated engineering design tools developed primarily in the HYCOPROD and SANDWICH projects.
  • Lightweight applications for commercial ships are currently limited to non load-bearing components and the superstructures of large ships. In the rail sector, these applications are restricted to non- or semi-structural components.
  • Currently available lightweight components for transport systems are expensive one-off products. Their properties do sometimes not fit to the extreme operational requirements in transport systems. They are primarily designed to fulfil single purposes and do not integrate multiple functions.
  • Joining, onboard assembly and onboard outfitting are complicated and expensive, operational cost and potential benefits are not sufficiently specified. This puts the life cycle cost efficiency of available lightweight solutions at risk.
  • Potential benefits of lightweight solutions for the transport industry are not fully used, because product and production concepts do not support the application or because safety and commercial risks cannot be controlled.


The project aims to produce a number of new design solutions using risk based design methods. Furthermore a sophisticated design tool will be developed based on results of previous research projects such as Sand.Core, Sandwich and HYCOPROD.The overall objective of the DE-LIGHT Transport project is to elaborate and demonstrate innovative integrated lightweight modules (integrating load-bearing and other functionalities) as well as the design, production and testing methods and procedures. The solutions developed will feature significant operational benefits as well as reduced building cost, i.e. decreased life cycle cost. Risk management and the application of risk based design methods will allow to develop highly innovative solutions exceeding the range of existing classification rules by exploring new material combinations, innovative joining, assembly and pre-outfitting techniques. The strategic objectives can be summarized as:

  • To make better use of innovative materials and material combinations in multi-functional lightweight components (DESIGN SOLUTIONS)
  • To improve reliability, quality, cost and lead time in developing and designing lightweight solutions and to make knowledge more easily accessible (DESIGN TOOL)
  • To improve cost efficiency and quality and to reduce lead time in production and service of integrated lightweight modules (PRODUCTION, MAINTENANCE and SERVICE TECHNIQUES)
  • To elaborate and harmonize efficient and reliable testing, validation and life-cycle cost assessment methods and procedures (TEST PROCEDURES)
  • To control the safety and commercial risks related to the development and application of innovative lightweight modules and to prove fitness for purpose of the developed solutions (RISK BASED DESIGN METHODS)
  • To foster a wider and more efficient industrial application of integrated lightweight modules and structures (INDUSTRIAL APPLICATION) The scope of applications followed by DE-LIGHT reaches from passenger and RoRo ships, through cargo and short sea ships, to intermodal transport units and railway carriages
Project Work Plan - PERT-Diagram for the project DE-Light Transport
Project Work Plan - PERT-Diagram for the project DE-Light Transport

Description of work

Six industry driven application cases showing high potential benefits for lightweight modules as well as a high degree of innovation will be studied and demonstrated in DE-LIGHT Transport. Those cases will drive, apply and validate the new technology development, grouped in three generic work packages.The application cases comprise in particular:

  1. Deck house for inland waterway and sea cargo ships.
  2. Side and deck structures for RoRo vessels.
  3. Composite deck structures for marine applications.
  4. Sandwich superstructures for offshore patrol vessels.
  5. Intermodal cargo units for freight transit.
  6. Rail vehicle driver’s cab.Key technologies, methods and tools needed for the application cases will be developed in three scientific work packages focusing on design, production and testing.
Those are:

  • WP1: Development of new design algorithms against various failure modes and their integration into an innovative multi-material sandwich design tool. DE-LIGHT Transport will, compared to previous work which has often focussed on a particular type of sandwich construction, implement a more generic design approach that will allow the evaluation and optimisation of a wide range of material and structural mixes according to the requirements of a given application.
  • WP2: Strategies for joining, assembly and outfitting – the bringing together and integration of separate sandwich panels and/or sub-components to produce finished structures.
  • WP3: Testing and validation procedures – to provide accurate and reliable methods of determining fitness for purpose with advanced testing methods.The work package structure of DE-LIGHT Transport is shown in the scheme attached.


The research work performed in the generic work packages will be adapted and applied within the six application cases, including passenger ship decks, RoRo decks, cargo and short sea shipping, intermodal transport units and a railway cab. A full scale prototype will be developed in each application case. It will address characteristic and critical areas focused on safety, pre-outfitting, joining and assembling. To support this work a design tool building on previous work will be produced with a range of realistic design scenarios of use for the designer in the real world. The design tool will be based on the algorithms developed in previous research project as well as on new algorithms developed within in the scientific part of the project. As a result of delight sandwich materials are expected to be applied with confidence in real world transport applications. The overall results can be summarized as follows:

  • A multi-material sandwich design tool,
  • Strategies for joining, assembly and outfitting – summarized in a manufacturing handbook and applied in the application cases
  • Testing and validation procedures – summarized in recommendations for new testing standards and applied in the application cases
  • Direct application of the results in the transport sector and proven by full scale prototypes
Application Cases within DE-Light Transport
Application Cases within DE-Light Transport