As the Internet of Things (IoT) gets more pervasive, industrial engineers are looking at new possibilities on how the technology can be leveraged for greater business impact. The rail industry is in a position where it can exploit the potential of industrial IoT and evolve without substantially increasing its investments in infrastructure.

We look at five ways in which IoT can and has started redefining the railways bringing in increased efficiency and enhanced passenger experience:

Greater Reliability and Safety

A train that suddenly breaks down on the track can ruin the day of its passengers, lead to delays across the network, and essentially throw the entire system off-gear. However, recent developments in preventive maintenance practices prompted by IoT have helped to revive the reliability of even the oldest assets. By integrating IoT sensors crucial components like brakes, wheelsets, and engines, trains become more sensitive to their operations for more efficiency.

Maintenance of signaling assets, rail tracks also benefits from IoT. By deploying sensors across systems, operators can be on top of stress and conditions, temperatures, and other variables that have predictive values for maintenance teams. If problems with field assets can be identified proactively, the operators can take pre-emptive actions for safer operations.

Fewer Maintenance Delays

Undesirable downtime due to sudden repairs can soon be a thing of the past for the railways. Predictive and preventive maintenance is feasible and more effective in the IoT era. Smart sensors and analytics across the train Signaling assets, engine, coaches, and tracks allow rail systems to be remotely checked and repaired before a small issue magnifies into huge trouble. Asset health monitoring through IoT insights implies less of maintenance delays and helps in extending the life of rail infrastructure.

Advanced Analytics for Streamlined Operations

Know your assets health by monitoring and maintaining optimal conditions by deploying sensors, recording necessary parameters and executing planned maintenance. IoT give you an edge to know how each of your asset is performing, take incisive decision and work towards remedial measures rather than reactive measures during failures.

The operators can control their trains more efficiently by tracking them across networks and processing the data using analytics. Some companies also employ IoT to check the flow of passengers—those waiting at the stations, traveling in each train coach, and the times when the passenger flow is the highest. Analytics on such data can guide operators on optimization of travel schedules as per commuters’ needs and demands.

Weather also affects rail system in a region. It can impact the condition of rolling stock and its regular operations. The IoT savvy operators have started to incorporate predictive weather modeling in their operations to be ready for and avoid service interruptions caused by adverse weather conditions.

In a nutshell, IoT is bringing together two families of technology:

  • Enterprise IT for improved resource planning, customer relationship management, and decision support systems
  • Operations technology to monitor and manage field equipment, production, and manufacturing processes
  • Point Machine
  • Track Circuit
  • Integrated Power Supply
  • Battery Bank
  • Battery Charger
  • Location Box Anti-Theft
  • LC Gate warning System
  • OFC Fault Detection
  • PIS failure detection
  • Power Transformer
  • Distribution Transformer
  • Unmanned Power Station
  • Street Lighting
  • Pump Controller and Pump Health Monitoring
  • Escalator and Elevator Health Monitoring
  • Hot Axle Hot Wheel detector (HAHW) System
  • Acoustic Bearing Detector System
  • Hanging detection system
  • Flat wheel detection System
  • Wheel Impact Load Detector (WILD)
  • Brake block condition monitoring system

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