1/3 – This article is the first of the series of articles created after the event The Rise of IoT & Big Data in Rail 

Smart motors® attended “The Rise of IoT & Big Data in Rail” conference that took place in Munich on the 28th and 29th May 2019 and addressed the huge scope of predictive maintenance and asset optimisation applications of big data.

The conference was aimed at helping Infrastructure Managers and Train Operating Companies to fully understand how they can benefit from implementing and using Digital Tools to harvest data by means of the Internet of Things (IoT) in all their railway operations.

The conference was very interesting as it brought together operators who are carrying out Digitalisation processes in their own companies and Digitalisation providers who put forward their different points of view.

We have written two articles which address one of the main areas covered in the conference. In today’s article we discuss Data Collection.

 

The value of data

Data is the new oil” , Herbert Edler, Chief Information Architect at OBB.

In all digitalization projects it is of the utmost importance that the operator defines how to manage data, and what security measures will be applied to ensure the data stays within the client’s organisation.  

Projects should ensure the ownership of data to prevent valuable information being used by third-parties for their own purposes.

“It’s important to separate the wheat from the chaff”, Joergen Torgesen, Head of Smart Maintenance Switches & Crossings at BANE NOR.

To achieve better data management operators must have the chance to decide what type of data to use and what processing to carry out with it. The operator must have information on these issues.

What are the sources of available data? What is the quality of the available information? What type of information represents an asset for the company? When are additional sensors needed? What level of investment do I need to make to increase data availability? 

All these questions are highly important and should be part of the Digitalisation Strategy.

Using data to improve service operation is no longer an idea from science fiction” Christian Pucher, CMO of Frauscher Sensor Technology

Although “that’s science fiction” is a statement we’ve heard many times, that isn’t the case. The tools that smart motors® has designed in the field of Digitalisation are real applications, fully supported by the technology available today and whose performance is the product of using specialist resources, both technology and rail sector expertise.

Independent and impartial partners can offer the broadest set of information“. Rolf Laager, Sales Manager of the DACH Region at Perpetuum, which has a proven track record in the sector with clients such as Virgin Rail, Network Rail, and Angel Trains in the UK, SJ, and Melbourne Trains.

Some operators are choosing to carry out Digitalisation projects internally. On the other hand, others consider that working with specialist partners provides them with cross-cutting knowledge that has been acquired through working with various operators. 

smart motors® shares this vision as the cost of such in-house work is higher because it is carried out individually. On the contrary, a specialist company will work with multiple operators creating synergies and building on the knowledge they have all gained. 

We should be aware that investment in R&D may be more costly than outsourcing and also consider that their work is generally more agile and more results-focused.

Our final quote, from ProRail, makes us think that Digitalisation is indeed the right track to follow and that we should continue with the line of work which we have been making improvements to for years now at smart motors®.

We are willing to work with third parties to be fully in control of our functional infrastructure (…) We continue thinking about more ways digital tools can be used (…) We want to continue adding solutions to prevent delays and improve availability”. Paul Kootwijk, DataLab Program Manager at ProRail

In conclusion, smart motors® agrees with the various quotes in this article. The selection and processing of data is, without a shadow of a doubt, a key element in providing an effective Digitalisation solution. 

Digital solution providers must actively identify and select data that is both “useful” and flexible in terms of the need for additional sensors, whilst making optimal use of resources and adapting them to the goals of the project.  The operator will participate in the data identification process because they best understand the organisation of the company and it is important that they set the lines of work. 

Identifying data and processing it will improve processing in later stages of the project. However, Digitalisation is not only a tool that synthesises or summarises asset status according to the data. 

Digitalisation has a much greater scope and includes processes as well as data. 

Digitalisation cannot be sold as a finished product. Rather, it must be built for each new operator and must be adaptable to the opportunities and limitations of each. 

Operators and providers must join forces and work together to make sure that the Digital Transformation has the desired effect. 

If you found this post interesting, make sure you read the following entries in this series.

If you would like more information on the work we do at smart motors® and how we can help your company in the digital transformation, please visit our website here or contact us via our form.

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