Trains transport millions of people to their desired destinations every day. They must always arrive on time, even though it’s not always possible. But Siemens is actually working on trains that will never be late anymore. Sounds unbelievable, right? Yet the company says it could be a reality in the foreseeable future, thanks to Big Data and predictive analytics.
Siemens AG is one of the biggest railway infrastructure companies in the world. It serves rail operators in more than sixty countries. Siemens says that it will soon be able to guarantee their customers almost one hundred percent reliability.
The company calls its concept ‘Internet of Trains’. It’s obviously a part of ‘Internet of Things’, which aims to connect technologies, that we use every day, together online. Not only Siemens says it will make trains much more efficient, it will also make them competitive with airlines. And since trains are mostly nature-friendly, this could benefit our planet too.
The company says it already introduced one project in Russia in 2016. Since then there have been only nine delays - that’s with 16 train trains going different places every day. Siemens says its concept works, and this means people can be sure trains are a reliable form of transport.
The same situation is registered in Spain too. In fact, passengers now use trains more, abandoning other types of transport. Rail operators increase their profits. So how does this work?
It’s possible thanks to sensors on an Internet of Trains system. They monitor every factor that can affect rail trips. The temperature of engines, vibration, doors and what’s going on outside of the trains through special cameras. Other data, like meteorological information, is also considered. This helps achieve three goals. First, it allows for maintenance to be much more effective. It actually helps conduct ‘predictive’ repairs, analyzing the best time to do so.
Then, it increases energy efficiency, monitoring individual components to identify possible sources of problems. It can also observe overall rail networks to make sure that everything functions as designed. The sensors can detect if there is something on tracks or if trains are not where they are supposed to be.
Last but not least, it also works to ensure that networks carry as many passengers and cargo as possible.
Siemens calls this system ‘a smart rail infrastructure management platform Railigent. It runs in the AWS cloud and is built on Teradata’s Aster analytics and database.The system is designed to guarantee the reliability of every element, Siemens says. The company has been monitoring components of the Deutsche Bahn trains in Germany since October. It says there hasn’t been a single component failure overlooked since then.
There is a lot of room for improvement, though. Siemens is planning to better utilize the visuals it collects from cameras. The images might help pinpoint changes that affect internal hardware of the trains. They can detect the speed of wear on brake pads, or analyze the condition of tracks and wires.
Siemens says it is looking forward to enhancing the tools the company has at its disposal. It is working to build the ‘digital twin’, which will give the ability to fully observe the infrastructure down to the state of a single component. To achieve that, Siemens needs to find a way to connect all the data it gets from different sources together.