Rail customers expect superior service at low costs, and rail operators cannot afford to be unprepared by equipment downtime. With the sophisticated maintenance solutions and innovative technologies in the market, rail operators can leverage third party services to deliver a better customer experience and maximize every asset’s ability to produce revenue.
Rail is a vital service to global society and the transport backbone of a sustainable economy. The rail industry has seen progressive and stable development in recent years, however, the complexity of today’s railway technology imposes high and often conflicting demands for the rail operators. The rail organizations, who own and manage the rail infrastructure assets, are constantly striving to obtain greatest lifetime value. The need to maintain assets, comprehend risks and expenditures over the product lifecycle, meet the challenges of maintaining safety and reliability at any speed, and earn a high return on investments, the rail industry has been moving toward a systematic approach to introducing and implementing innovative Operation and Maintenance (O&M) services for different assets such as Locomotives, Tracks, Rolling Stocks, and Signals.
To meet the numerous challenges such as urbanization, demographic development, climate change, security, accessibility, seamless operation, and connectivity, the global rail sector heavily depends on its innovative potential to deliver smart solutions. The greatest challenge, however, is to meet all the above goals while remaining economically affordable for everyone. The growth in rail infrastructure projects such as the development of long distance rail journeys, intercity travels as well as smart cities initiative, will call for sophisticated, resilient, and safe rail systems. This trend will boost the demand for the rail service industry. As a part service industry, the rail operators should focus not only on the O&M but also on the modernization and upgradation of railways to enrich the travelers’ experience.
The rail services are facilitated by the integration of Information Technologies (IT) and Operational Technologies (OT). It acts as a key contributor to meeting the financial and operational goals of the organization. The other benefits of IT-OT integration in relation to O&M are improved safety, increased reliability, better use of capital, more efficient operations and maintenance, increased staff productivity, better visibility across the organization and improved long-term planning. In addition to the safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable approach to managing advanced technologies, the concerns about environmental quality, social equity, sustainability, and economic vitality have led to the growth of rail service industry.
The core services offered by rail suppliers are corrective, preventive, and predictive maintenance solutions, train overhauls and infrastructure renewals, wheels and axle management, maintenance performance analysis, asset management and continuous improvement methodologies. These services also assist in monitoring obsolescence technology, generating alerts and solutions, preparing for the train and depot upgrades. These services not only help rail operators or infrastructure owners to meet their targets of flexibility, reliability, availability, expertise, cost control but also address the growing demand for the rail industry.
The world is witnessing the exponential growth of data due to the constant generation of new information that is collected, stored, and processed. Transforming these large amounts of data into actionable knowledge in a feasible time frame is a key task to map large investments in database storage into an actual advantage for final users. However, complex rail systems run the risk of leaving very little data to build any consistent model. It is important to highlight those critical events that leave enough digital footprints required to build a consistent predictive model.
With the emergence of IIoT, cloud, analytics, mobile, and cybersecurity, sensors and wireless communication devices are generating a large quantity of data, which can be leveraged for operations, maintenance and replacement planning. By connecting different systems and machines, organizations can become more efficient and effective at maintaining their machines, which will result in greater reliability for the end users. In addition, the modern analytics software solutions assist in identifying patterns or abnormal events that can help in predicting the future performance of these machines.
These services will assist rail operators with effective decision-making, ensure better visibility of the assets, enable an organization to continuously improve the current maintenance strategies, intervention limits and maintenance processes, and earn the higher return on investments.