This article first appeared in the Railway-News magazine, Issue 1 2023.
Digitalisation of the rail industry has no end station.
It’s all about the journey, and the choices made along the way can make it a successful one. What matters now is getting on the right track towards the new era of operational excellence, technological innovation and endless fleet possibilities.
The global rail industry is well on the road to recovery after the pandemic. Sustainability is taking up residency at the forefront of society’s mind. Restoring the locomotive to its former glory therefore involves winning back trust and proving how safe, sustainable and fit for the future rail operations really are. After all, mobility is a very competitive market that will require big changes.
And the digitalisation of formerly manual processes is set to play a huge role in this resurgence. If rail is to unlock its maximum potential as an agent for decarbonised and socially inclusive mobility, operators and fleet owners must adopt future-proof technologies and make best use of the data that the industry provides in abundance.
Big data has already proven immensely beneficial in many industries and rail is no exception. It is a mystery then that 80 percent of data produced worldwide is either misused or simply not understood.
Even today, most maintenance schemes and underlying processes are centred around experience, historical observations and assumptions (not to mention a lot of paper!). These approaches are, however, time- consuming and don’t allow operators to get the most out of their components’ potential service life.
Terabytes of data are being generated from sensors embedded in industrial equipment, such as bearings in train bogie systems.
By basing decisions on accurate real-time condition data, rail operators can optimise maintenance scheduling and enjoy extended maintenance intervals – reducing both maintenance and life-cycle costs. The risk of experiencing unplanned stops and unwanted downtime is also significantly reduced through remote monitoring.
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Railway-News magazine Issue 1, March 2022: SKF Railway - More Effective Maintenance of Sydney’s Railway with SKF Condition Monitoring.
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