Siemens creating “Internet of Trains”

Written by Stuart Chirls, senior editor, Railway Age
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Siemens' U.S. unit has launched Digital Rail Services, a new business that will use intelligent sensors and advanced software platforms to put intelligence behind billions of data points created on the country's rail systems.

The company said this insight will help railroad operators improve their operations and create an “Internet of Trains” to bring infrastructure and vehicles into the digital era. Powered by software tools, Siemens claims the Digital Service business will help reduce unplanned downtime, improve operational efficiency, enable improved business planning and performance and generate energy and cost savings.

The new portfolio applies Siemens global digital analytics experience with its extensive rail industry knowledge via an existing rail footprint that spans manufacturing, automation technologies, power infrastructure equipment and service. and will locate its Digital Services hub in Atlanta, which will be home to the Data Analytics and Applications Center on the campus of Georgia Tech. Siemens will also support the rollout by opening a new East Coast Locomotive Service Headquarters in New Castle, Del., this summer.

Siemens Digital Rail Services is part of Siemens Mobility Division, the American division of Berlin-based Siemens AG, which works with more than 25 transit agencies in the U.S. It has transportation manufacturing hubs in Sacramento, Louisville and Marion, Ky., and Pittsburgh. The Digital Services offered for the rail industry are based on Railigent™, a cloud-based industrial data analytics platform connected to Mindsphere, Siemens’ IoT operating system. The platform features Smart Monitoring for real-time insight on vehicle state and location; Smart Data Analytics that provide root cause analysis and remote vehicle and infrastructure diagnostics, and Smart Prediction that conducts prescriptive maintenance. It will also feature advanced cyber security and guidance services.

“Today, rail vehicles send between one and four billion data points per year and rail infrastructure can send billions of messages just inside a specific system,” said Simon Davidoff, head of Siemens Mobility Digital Services in North America. “With our Digital Services business, we’re taking not only experience from our global rail footprint but also our extensive company-wide digital expertise to turn billions of data points into action, including the ability to detect malfunctions well before they can cause problems and information that helps improve arrival times and punctuality for riders.”

In Atlanta, one of two initial launch sites, the Siemens Digital Services team will collect information captured via on-board systems from the Siemens-built Atlanta Streetcar and analyze data points to make the best use of their fleet including slow vehicle movements to identify traffic bottlenecks in order to reduce delays; identifying track segments and time periods with high energy consumption to reduce power usage; length of door opening durations to improve passenger comfort, and horn usage from car or pedestrian traffic warnings to determine possible related infrastructure improvements that would increase safety.

In Charlotte, the Charlotte Area Transit System is currently working with Siemens on a pilot program for near real-time diagnostics and analysis of their light rail system data to help make prescriptive maintenance recommendations. By making preemptive adjustments to service strategies and planning, Siemens said, operators can better avoid light rail service interruptions and delays and increase the availability of their overall fleet.

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