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PKP CARGO uses drones to prevent coal theft

World Coal,

PKP CARGO has launched a campaign to secure shipments in order to reduce the theft of transported solid fuels, including coal, which grow in intensity in the autumn and winter season.

A leader in rail freight carriage in Poland has decided to use the state-of-the-art technologies, using drones to monitor theft-prone areas.

“Pilferage of bulk commodities when moved by our company is a phenomenon we have been tackling for many years, and ensuing losses amount to as much as several million zlotys per year”, explained Maciej Borecki, Head of Security and Audit Office at PKP CARGO. “In order to reduce the scale of this crime, this year we have decided to step up preventive measures and use the latest technologies.”

As a part of its measures, PKP CARGO initially focuses on prevention. To this end, the carrier closely works with the Railroad Guards Service and the police. In 2014, a special Threat Prevention Task Force was established, whose main goal is to reduce losses incurred by PKP CARGO. It operates mainly in the Silesian region, where thefts are most prevalent. The Task Force works closely with PKP CARGO offices in the region to obtain information about which coal mine and according to what timetable a coal shipment leaves.

Additionally, cyclical preventive campaigns are organised in collaboration with specially trained response teams from the Railroad Guards Service. This year, PKP CARGO has started to use for this purpose drones, which make it possible to carry out aerial surveillance. These devices are equipped with different types of cameras, including infrared cameras, which make them effective, whatever the time of the day or weather conditions.

PKP CARGO is also introducing much more effective bolt-based rail car security features. Rail cars have so far been secured by the so-called wiring, where door locks are blocked using standardised wires made of hardened steel. During tests of the new security features, which involved over a hundred coal hoppers, not a single attempt to breach them has been successful.

“We can already say now that as a result of our hard work, this year we can see a gradual decrease in the number of such crimes compared to the last year. Only in the period between January and October, we managed to reduce losses related to thefts of solid fuels by over 20% in terms of the number of incidents, quantities of stolen coal and their value. I am convinced that measures we have currently launched will allow us to reduce this criminal activity even further,” Maciej Borecki added.

During the first ten months of 2014, the carrier recorded almost 900 instances of coal theft. The total value of ensuing losses has been estimated at over PLN 4 million, while the quantity of stolen coal – at over 8000 t. With the advent of winter months, a sharp rise in the number of documented incidents and the volume of cargo lost to theft can be seen.

Adapted from press release by Katie Woodward

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