A world of progress
With six monitoring patents either issued or pending for the market from the Australian business alone, Siemens Mobility is setting the standard according to CEO (ANZ) Raphaelle Guerineau.
Digitalisation is now a primary driver in rail maintenance, with operators and maintainers focussed on utilising interconnected digital platforms to drive condition-based maintenance strategies. Traditional maintenance strategies are becoming obsolete as customers realise the value of increased safety, availability, reliability, and ultimately cost saving.
According to Siemens Mobility CEO, Raphaelle Guerineau, the digital services market has attracted a large variety of different players, from IT companies to small rail niche-players who provide monitoring services. Siemens Mobility has several highly advanced products in this area for example Point Monitoring, Crossing Monitoring, Remote Data Access, Interlocking Monitoring and Broken rail detection.
“The competitive advantage of our Siemens systems is that we have a common hook through our asset management solution Railigent,” Guerineau said.
“This allows integration into higher level systems while maintaining local storage and access to the data where that is desirable. In comparison many other vendors are not IP owners or original equipment manufacturers like Siemens Mobility so one must consider the effectiveness of these products.”
Condition monitoring products
Siemens Mobility has a strong IP footprint in Australia and dedicated products for condition monitoring are developed and manufactured in Australia, namely in their MRX business operations in Perth and in Port Melbourne. Some of their most sought-after products are the Broken Rail Detection System and the Vehicle Equipment Measurement Systems. Many Siemens Mobility products such as their trains or their rail infrastructure equipment are “condition monitoring products” as they’re self-monitoring continuously. All information from dedicated measurement devices and from rolling stock and infrastructure is transferred to and consolidated in their asset management solution “Railigent”.
Railigent allows infrastructure and rollingstock data to be combined in multiple ways. One example is the Broken Rail Detection solution. This system normally is located on the last car of a train and monitors with its patented and unique technology if there’s any breaks or other artefacts on the rail. It has been shown that this technology finds far more rail breaks than other technologies such as rail circuits. This is not only contributing to higher safety of railway operations, but also preventing derailments, with a single such incident having the potential to cost millions of dollars in damages.
Remote Data Access
Another example is Siemens Remote Data Access, a hardware device that, along with a Natural Series Database Filter, interfaces with locomotive communication and converts process data into human readable format. This data is continuously streamed and transmitted by our customer to a landside team where the data is used to optimise maintenance and operations. In their service centre in Mackay, Queensland, Siemens Mobility recently installed Siemens Remote Data Access across their customer fleet of Siemens locomotives. The team installed the system on108 locomotives in total.
Guerineau said algorithms would drive the next stage of progress.
“So far, the main target was to understand the condition of an asset and maintain the asset according to its condition,” she said.
“The next step is to move into predictive maintenance using machine learning algorithms to identify upcoming issues before they actually happen.”
According to Guerineau, if all data from different sources came together on the Railigent platform, the possibilities and ideas would be so great that no single company could implement them.
“Therefore, our philosophy is that we want to create an open ecosystem, and everybody can contribute to this spread of new ideas,” she said.
“We allow component suppliers and other vendors to feed their data into our open platform Railigent, and we are opening this platform to operators and maintainers who will be able to develop their own apps and use cases on our platform.”
Siemens Mobility maintains rolling stock, rail infrastructure and turnkey systems all around the globe. Condition monitoring is for the European tech giant an enabler to support their target of 100% availability.
“It helps us to be more efficient and it supports the safety of the systems that we’re servicing. So, in first line, condition monitoring is a great tool for our own use to optimise our services,” Guerineau said.
“However, we’re happy to share the tools that we’re developing for this purpose also with our customers, no matter if they let us service their equipment or if they do their own maintenance.”
Guerineau said while the market might seem competitive, the advantages for Siemens Mobility products spoke for themselves.
“As accessibility to great freeware, mainly in the AI space, is so easy nowadays, there’s a lot of established companies and start-ups that jump onto this train,” she said.
“However, when our customers look deeper into their requirements, they regularly realise that they need a trusted partner like Siemens Mobility to get what they want.
“There are of course big IT players in the market, but the domain knowledge that Siemens Mobility has attained over the years puts us in a unique position to turn the data into information.
“In Australia alone, we have six local patents in monitoring and monitoring technologies.”
Guerineau said the new rail energy sources would further strengthen the need for condition monitoring .
“Hydrogen as an energy source for locomotives is emerging as an reasonable and sustainable alternative to conventional fuels,” she said.
“Condition monitoring can be further utilised and integrated in this tech for example monitor fuel storage and safety systems.
“For each innovation there are new players entering the market and we will also collaborate with them in the future to get the best outcome for our customers.”