This article first appeared in the Railway-News magazine Issue 5 2021.
Digitalisation is strongly making its way to the maintenance of rolling stock and railway infrastructure. Amidst all the hype, it is worth remembering that collecting data is only one part, the essential thing is to understand how to use it.
The Finnish rolling stock maintenance company VR FleetCare has been investing in the use of data analytics for several years. The company has an in-house data analysis team and platform for processing data.
“In practice, we collect data using a variety of IoT measuring devices, analyse the data and use it for developing rolling stock-related maintenance work,” say VR FleetCare data scientists Curtis Wood and Otto Sormunen.
Data can be used to obtain operational impacts, such as the optimisation of maintenance intervals, and changes relating to the actual process. As an example, Wood cites the measuring device located at the entrance route of the Helsinki depot, which VR FleetCare began to use, among other types of data collection, for measuring the wheel profiles of the InterCity trains passing by.
“The lifecycle of a wheelset is approximately 10 years, and it is re-profiled at regular intervals. Between lathings, the wheel profile wears, which affects the safety and usability of the rolling stock, among other things. Especially if the wear is uneven.
“We collected millions of lines of data to analyse during the two year pilot. Based on the data, we developed the most suitable wheel profile for InterCity trains running on the Finnish railway network. We were also able to specify the optimum interval for the reprofiling,” says Wood, explaining the results.
The new wheel profile made it possible to concretely improve the safety and reliability of the rolling stock, which will result in significant cost-savings for rolling stock owners and operators.
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