Proven in practice: The Unimog as a road-rail vehicle.
The Unimog is an indispensable helper.
At HaBeMa's Heidenau site, immense quantities of grain are handled on a daily basis. General Manager Jes-Christian Hansen on the advantages the road-rail Unimog offers to his business.
The Heidenau AGRO Terminal is a major node for the transshipment of grain and feed. What tasks is your Unimog used for?
Hansen: Every day in Heidenau we unload a whole train of soy meal. Then we fill up as many as 36 carriages with grain. We use the road-rail Unimog to pull each of the 12-carriage sections of the train to the filling and unloading stations.
At HaBeMa, you already have experience with the road-rail Unimog as a shunting vehicle, for example with their U 400 at the Hamburg site. When purchasing the Unimog U 423, what was particularly important to you?
Our Unimog has to constantly shift loads of up to 1000 t, and what's more we have the added requirement that it needs to travel through an S-curve which tests its pulling power yet further. That's why we opted for the latest Unimog with a higher gross vehicle weight.
What railway-specific technology is particularly important in your field of work?
The radio remote control is absolutely essential for our shunting operations, as is the scroll compressor which produces compressed air for releasing the brakes on the carriages. Another thing which has proven to be useful is the acceleration skid control system, which prevents wheelspinning.
What advantages does the Unimog have over a regular shunting vehicle?
It wouldn't be possible to fulfil the requirements for noise pollution with a diesel locomotive, particularly in the time between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. What's more, the Unimog is miles ahead of the game when you compare its running costs and spare parts availability with those of a regular shunting vehicle.
A customer for many years.
The world's largest BASF production facility in Ludwigshafen regularly puts their 13 Unimog U 400 road-rail vehicles through their paces and has tested a U 423 BlueTec 6 at their site. Interview with Mathias Schuler, Head of Locomotive Maintenance, und Michael Edinger, Head of Rail Services.
BASF has been a customer of the road-rail Unimog for shunting operations for many years. How many Unimog do you have in your fleet?
Edinger: The first Unimog U 400 with Zagro shunting equipment came into operation in 2006. Because of the positive experience we had, we progressively replaced our fleet of shunting vehicles. BASF now has 13 Unimog U 400 vehicles in operation.
What are your logistic requirements and how does the Unimog help you to deal with them?
Edinger: We need to ensure that all of our wagons are ready at the right place and at the right time in more than 120 production areas within the plant. Each day we shunt around 900 wagons and serve up to 254 loading points on a rail network which is 230 km in length.
Schuler: The Unimogs are an indispensable part of our fleet. We put them under immense strain - with towing loads predominantly in a range between 300 to 600 t and up to 2,500 operating hours each year.
Which technical features predestine the road-rail Unimog for use at BASF?
Edinger: Many of our shunting operations would not be feasible with a locomotive. The ability to switch rapidly from the rails to the road is a massive advantage. And as far as the tractive power is concerned, the Unimog equipped for road-rail operations is a top-performing shunter which perfectly fits our requirements.
Schuler: Our Unimog are converted to road-rail vehicles by Zagro. Besides the rail gear and the railway wagon brake system, the radio remote control is also of crucial importance as it allows for efficient single-crewed operation.
Apart from the technical specifications, what other criteria are decisive for you?
Edinger: Costs are naturally a decisive factor for us. The average fuel consumption of 5-6 l of diesel per operating hour helps achieve outstanding overall economy.
Schuler: In terms of servicing and maintenance, the Unimog also performs impressively, as does the co-operation with our Unimog Service Partner. One of our U 400 vehicles has already clocked up 20,000 operating hours and is still in great condition.
Keeping public transport running to plan.
Over 900 million passengers use Vienna's local public rail transport every year – a task that demands smooth and efficient operation. To enable it to maintain the around 300 km track network even more reliably, the municipal operator has been provided with an extra Unimog road-railer emergency vehicle.
A versatile legend.
The successor to a Unimog U 416 that had been in service for over 30 years, the professional U 423 implement carrier is responsible for shunting movements and repair services.
Also a rescuer.
The new Unimog road-railer is fitted with a special Zagro box body that was specially adapted to the needs of Vienna's tram operator. For instance, it comes with all the technical tools and resources with which to recover a stranded rail-bound vehicle in an emergency.
Quickly on the rails.
The front power take-off shaft on the Unimog operates a Lukas rerailing system that supplements hydraulic recovery equipment to allow rail-bound vehicles to be raised and rerailed. The box body also contains a generator driven by the power take-off from the engine to guarantee an emergency power supply.
As the Unimog is also used in the tunnel system of Vienna's tram company, the vehicle had to meet some important criteria. Firstly, it had to have its own fire extinguishing system to be able to put out a fire in a tunnel if necessary.
Fire protection under ground.
In addition, the place of use calls for state-of-the-art emissions technology, which comes as standard ex factory with the 170 kW (231 hp) Euro VI engine in the Unimog U 423.
VR Track in Finland.
VR Track employs 1800 people, managing 6000 kilometres of rail network. The company operates in Finland and Sweden, providing consulting engineering, construction and maintenance services and specialising in infrastructure projects. Customers are government agencies and local authorities, ports and industrial companies. VR Track is managing projects especially with a view to improving productivity and quality – and that's just where the Unimog comes into play.
The reasonable solution.
Following a recent review, VR Track decided that its current fleet of bimodal vehicles was no longer meeting its self-imposed demands in terms of meeting state-of-the-art and environmentally sustainable standards. It concluded that there was only one reasonable solution: replacing its old fleet with new, light, value-for-money, low-emission vehicles.
Unimog has major potential.
The top priority was multifunctionality. So the management obviously turned to the Unimog and they acquired their first one as a pilot project. The plan was to test the Unimog intensively in the Spring and Winter on construction and maintenance jobs. The aim was to test the Unimog's suitability for work across the seasons, with their widely varying demands and challenges.
Focus on multifunctionality.
Multifunctionality was an integral element of the project right from the beginning. In the Winter, VR Track deploys the Unimog as a snow clearer on tracks and other infrastructure. So the add-on equipment includes a snow plough, a snow cutter, a snow sweeper, a bimodal switching unit, and a Hiab crane with a crew cage, enabling personnel to carry out care and maintenance work. The snow sweeper and cutter had to be suitable for clearing and maintaining roads and sites.
VR Track’s Unimog can also be used as a tractor rig to tow various types of trailers. The drivers like the good all-round visibility from the spacious cab, as well as the user-friendly controls.
Another special feature is the rail guidance system. It can be switched from the Finnish wide gauge (1524 mm) to standard gauge (1435 mm) as is used in Sweden.
Results are encouraging.
To analyse the project, VR Track set up a reporting system. The results were clear: The Unimog is a light truck that can very quickly reach its operating locations by road at speeds of up to 89 km/h. It can quickly and easily switch to rail running. It proved ideal as an equipment carrier. The highly versatile and variable vehicle dealt optimally with all the wide-ranging tasks and challenging weather conditions it faced.
Professional advice and training on the vehicle.
The success of the project was further guaranteed, not least, by the advice and support received from Veho Oy, a Mercedes-Benz general distributor in Finland, and its sales manager Risto Eränen, who coordinated the set-up and oversaw the crew training. The operators underwent an intensive theoretical training course, followed by practical tuition on the vehicle, including the crane.
Unimog managed its tasks with high assurance.
Cutting through drifts in the snowy north of Finland, snow clearing and sweeping in eastern Finland, as well as special tasks which VR Track assigned it. The Unimog demonstrated its capabilities and handled the maintenance and repair of the overhead cables efficiently. “We needed the experience of winter conditions to be able to decide machine’s suitability to our business especially in maintenance”, says Timo Riihimäki, VP of Machinery and Materials at VR Track.
Hungarian Railways puts a fleet of Unimog vehicles to work on its rail network.
A smooth-running rail network is top priority for the Hungarian state rail operators MÁV. It’s a demanding job, with a total of 7664 kilometres of track to look after. To help maintain and service the network, MÁV has now opted for a complete Unimog fleet. Nine Unimog U 423 trucks in all with a diverse range of attachments and bodies have been ordered from the Pappas Auto Unimog Partner in Hungary.
Efficient railway workers.
The Hungarian railways operator has to ensure that passenger and goods trains run on time across the entire network, day in, day out. This requires a fleet of vehicles which can be used flexibly for maintenance and repair work on the track. MÁV has opted for the Unimog and, in partnership with bodybuilders ZAGRO, has equipped nine Unimog U 423 vehicles for use on and alongside the railway lines.
Wide range of railway maintenance tasks on rail and road.
Thanks to a special road/rail equipment the Unimog is able to operate both on rails and on normal roads. A hydraulically lowered rail guidance system enables the Unimog to make the switch from the road to the rails. What’s more, the Unimog trucks are more economical than diesel locomotives. The trucks are equipped with an environmentally-friendly Euro VI engine with an output of 170 kW (231 hp). On the road they can reach their destination quickly and efficiently at speeds up to 89 km/h.
Designed specifically for multifunctional use.
The Unimog U 423 is equipped ex factory with the EasyDrive hydrostatic traction drive system which allows precise control of working speeds during rail grinding or mowing operations. What’s more, these all-rounders aren’t just fitted with a mechanical front power take-off shaft for driving the snow cutter, they also feature powerful dual-circuit working hydraulics and a wide range of mechanical and electronic interfaces. Even the wheels and tyres required for driving on the Hungarian rail network’s 1435 mm standard-gauge tracks are available ex works.
Suitable attachments and bodies for railway maintenance.
The extremely complex road/rail vehicles are real multi-talents: they feature a practical conversion system enabling all attachments needed for railway maintenance work to be swapped as required. All attachments and body solutions are compatible with all Unimog vehicles. This makes it easier to plan vehicle deployment and allows servicing to be scheduled consistently.
Complete all tasks on and off the rails the whole year through.
The Unimog trucks have been built in collaboration with renowned manufacturers of special-purpose bodies. As well as the road/rail mechanism, they also have a tipper platform, elevating work-platform, crane, rail grinder, pantograph measuring device, track sprayer, mowing boom and even a snow cutter. What more could you wish for? With its versatile conversion possibilities, the Hungarian railway operator’s Unimog fleet can efficiently handle all of the required tasks on and along the track over the course of the whole year.
Road-rail Unimog as a flexible shunting vehicle at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen.
Mercedes-Benz leaves nothing to chance when delivering its coveted passenger cars and uses reliable top powerhouses sporting the Mercedes star: five Unimog specially designed for use on rail and road perform shunting operations at the Bremen car plant – and offer a flexible and economic alternative to shunting locomotives.
Unimog brings new cars to the rails.
The Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen is one of the biggest car production plants in Germany. Rail is an important means of transport here that is used in particular for overseas exports. The scrap metal produced at the factory when body parts are pressed is also taken away by railway wagons. For the shunting with the heavy wagons needed on the factory premises, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen uses five road/rail Unimog vehicles. Thanks to hydraulically lowerable rail gear they can be used on both rails and roads.
Good for the budget – and the environment.
The Unimog can drive around the tight radii of bends on the site with ease. This saves expensive investments in new rail systems which would be necessary with the operation of conventional shunting locomotives. Two of the Unimog used at the Bremen car plant belong to the latest generation of the well-proven commercial vehicle, model U 423. They use much less fuel in operation than comparable shunting locomotives. And thanks to the latest Euro VI drive technology they make an important contribution to reducing emissions on the factory site.
High pulling power even in wet weather.
The Unimog U 423 with their 170 kW (231 hp) 4-cylinder engines have to pull towed weights of up to 600 t in daily shunting operations. The Unimog's torque converter clutch, which is available ex works, ensures wear-free moving off and increased starting torque. And this also works reliably in bad weather and on wet rails. Because thanks to all-wheel drive and differential locks as well as the higher permissible gross vehicle weight of the new Unimog generation, traction is maintained even on slippery tracks – an important safety factor, especially when braking.
Perfectly equipped for shunting.
The equipment of the two Unimog U 423 includes sophisticated railway technology from the specialised body manufacturers Zagro and Zwiehoff. For example, the two powerful shunting experts have a wagon braking system for 800 t and coupling bars at the front and rear. Practical radio remote control enables precise shunting manoeuvres, while the driver can keep an eye on the wagons outside the vehicle.
Flexible alternative to shunting locomotives.
For in-plant use, the Unimog is approved according to BOA (construction and operating regulations for connecting railways). The road-rail Unimog vehicles are a familiar sight at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen. Advantages include the quick switch from rail to road, the economical operation and the simple integration into the existing infrastructure. The Daimler-produced commercial vehicle assistance is therefore a real boon and ensures that many more new cars will leave Bremen destined for Mercedes-Benz customers all over the world.
Unimog brings the shine back to Deutsche Bahn trains.
The latest generation of Unimog tends to the trains at the Pferdeturm shunt yard in Hanover, Germany. The versatile road-rail Unimog, specially equipped for rail traffic, tows the group of wagons into the washing facility. The best part of it is that the Unimog U 423 can tow the train through the washing facility at just the right speed to make the exterior as clean as if it came fresh out of the depot.
Smooth going through the washing facility.
In principle, exterior cleaning of the trains is similar to that of cleaning in a large car washing facility: the train passes by high-pressure nozzles and washing brushes while being towed slowly through the facility. "The key is to maintain an even speed in order to guarantee good, uniform cleaning results," explains Marian Meyer, head of DB shunting operations and train preparation in Hanover.
It's an easy task for the Unimog: thanks to the factory-fitted torque converter clutch, the Unimog shunts the trains smoothly with no wear even when handling high towing capacities.
Optimum cleaning results.
Marian Meyer received the symbolic key to the new Unimog U 423 at the InnoTrans fair. He is now absolutely convinced of the performance of the remote controlled shunting vehicle: "We are able to achieve speeds of one to two km/h using the Unimog as a towing vehicle, thus achieving optimum results when cleaning our ICs and ICEs.“
A clear view at all times while shunting.
The bodybuilder Zagro helped to equip the Unimog U 423 for the DB Fernverkehr AG Long Distance unit. The Unimog complies with EBO (railway construction and operating) regulations and is approved for use in the Deutsche Bahn network. A practical radio remote control, a powerful rail car brake system for handling 800 tonnes and front and rear drawbars complete the package. At the shunt yard the Unimog is replacing a shunting locomotive that is showing its age.
Less expensive and better for the environment than a locomotive.
The low operating costs in particular were the determining factor which persuaded Deutsche Bahn to switch over to the road-railer. For example, this versatile shunter uses less fuel than comparable locomotives, and maintenance at the nearby Unimog general distributor has also proven to be considerably less expensive.
Another important advantage is that the Unimog shows good results with regard to both environmental and climate protection. This versatile vehicle from Mercedes-Benz uses current Euro VI engines, which reduce harmful gases while also consuming less diesel.
For a positive working atmosphere. And satisfied rail customers.
DB operators also appreciate the reliability and operational power of the Unimog. Careful attention has also been given to driving comfort on the job, which is particularly apparent when temperatures are high. Under these conditions the standard air conditioning system in the Unimog U 423 makes the cab a comfortable place to work.
The Unimog is also a reliable partner during continuous operation, ensuring uniform cleaning of wagons and shunting individual wagons to the workshop for repair. The result is a welcoming first impression for all long-distance passengers.