Thursday, February 16, 2017

SNCF to digitalize its railway with IBM Watson IoT

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French Railways operator SNCF is busy connecting its entire rail system using IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) on IBM Cloud that the tech company said will allow SNCF to enhance customer experiences, operational efficiency and rail safety.

Thousands of specialized industrial sensors are being installed along SNCF's more than 18,600 miles of track, 15,000 trains and 3,000 stations in France. These sensors will securely send tens of thousands of data points to the IBM Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud all in real-time. IBM said by connecting the entire rail system and gathering insights from real-time information on data, SNCF will be able to manage its equipment and, thus, improve quality, security and availability of its trains.

"Today, the IoT is entering a momentous stage in the railway sector's history. SNCF's involvement with the IoT rests on three core principles. It must have a strong operational focus by digitalizing the business lines processes and cover the following three pillars: cyber security by design, 'platform as a service' deployment model [and] the leveraging of Big Data for decision support," said Raphaël Viard, CTO e.SNCF. "This is why Watson's platform, a single and scalable platform, is key to industrializing SNCF's IoT strategy."

"We are so excited to see a leading European railway, which every day helps 13.5 million passengers get from point A to point B, team with IBM Watson IoT," said Harriet Green, general manager IBM Watson IoT. "This collaboration is a true example of how IoT is touching everyone's lives, in many cases without people even knowing it."

By predicting when maintenance is needed, SNCF can successfully prevent trains from being taken out of service, while avoiding more costly repairs. SNCF estimates that this train and track maintenance approach could reduce costs while significantly improving the reliability of its signals and trains. In addition, with this up-the-second insight, maintenance teams will also constantly be updated on the state of the rail infrastructure and when needed, can provide early warning to expert teams in charge, when there is risk of dysfunction.

In December, SNCF proposed a €46 billion (US$49 billion) 10-year spending plan that included a focused investment on new technologies the rail operator hopes will translate into €1.2 billion (US$1.28 billion) in savings by 2026.

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