Automation of terminal processes: OCR gates

Inside the Terminal Busto Arsizio-Gallarate, the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) rail portals are in operation and provide a solution for automated train inspection, identification and inventory – an important feature that helps to handle the growing traffic volume.


Thanks to an advanced camera and a sophisticated software system, the OCR gates allow remote visual inspection of information about incoming containers and wagons, thus speeding up the train checking process.  


The two portals from Camco Technologies were installed in November 2017 at the north and south entrances of the terminal. They have been tested by the rail control operators of Busto Arsizio terminal over the last months.


Today the OCR system reads the following data:

  • position of the loading unit on the wagon
  • wagon number
  • unit number
  • ISO code
  • ADR recognition.

In a second phase, additional features will be made available, such as the detection and reading of codification tables as well as dangerous goods and IMDG (International Maritime Dangerous Goods) labels.


Furthermore, OCR gates are installed in the check-in area of Terminal Busto Arsizio-Gallarate and will go in operation in the coming months. This allows simplified procedures and a faster registration of the incoming and outgoing trucks.


An OCR rail portal project has also been launched for the HTA Hupac Terminal Antwerp and Singen. Currently it is in the analysis phase, while installation is planned for the next year. Other Hupac terminals will follow, according to the Hupac digitalization strategy.


How it works

Through a dedicated software, the operators can process every train passage. The recorded images can be used to correct possible operational or input mistakes. Once all data have been validated and confirmed, the OCR software communicates everything to the WOLF system, Hupac’s platform to manage all phases of combined transport, making it a truly integrated system that adds value by facilitating a fast, accurate and safe rail handling.


The system is provided in advance with a list of all loaded trains and containers issued by the departure terminal. This list is compared with the data read by the cameras on the portal, thus allowing to link a precise passage under the portal to a specific train number and to return the exact position of every container on an identified wagon.


All captured high-definition images of each container’s left, right and top side are available inside the Visit Retrieval application. This is a web-based application that allows to search for a specific train, load unit or wagon, and to download all relevant images. These pictures can be used as evidence material in case of damage claims made by a customer or in case of irregular procedures.