by Josephine Cordero Sapién
01 Apr 2021
Hitachi Rail has completed its acquisition of digital technology company Perpetuum, which will give Hitachi a broader portfolio of maintenance services.
As a result of this acquisition, Hitachi Rail has expanded its digital train maintenance portfolio, allowing the company to use data analytics to improve the safety, availability and reliability of rolling stock fleets. Perpetuum’s product increases the safe lifespan of parts, which is beneficial both from a cost perspective and an environmental one.
The condition-monitoring solution uses wireless sensors that are powered by harvested vibration energy. It can monitor bogies – the area Perpetuum has focused on to date – but Hitachi believes it also has the potential to be deployed much more widely across both trains and rail infrastructure. Example assets it could monitor include signalling equipment, tracks and railway structures as well as other critical rolling stock components. The sensors detect faults remotely and operate continuously while the trains are moving. The data gathered in real time delivers a health status of the monitored components, allowing issues to be spotted before they have caused a delay. Hitachi says the solution can give performance insights “faster and more accurately than traditional condition-monitoring approaches”. There are in excess of 3,000 carriages already fitted with the technology and none of these have had critical components fail in service.
Hitachi Rail chose to acquire Perpetuum based on a company strategy to expand its digital offering. The company also believes the acquisition will help it expand its customer base across geographies and asset categories.
“Hitachi is focused on expanding its digital innovation and sustainability offers, and the acquisition of Perpetuum achieves both goals.
“We’ll be able to improve the service to our customers using Perpetuum’s data-driven insights – leading to better journeys for passengers. We’re delighted to be expanding our portfolio with this exciting digital asset management solution across our global mobility business.”
By marrying the data gathered with AI tools, railway performance will go up, but so too will its sustainability, for a number of reasons: critical parts are replaced exactly when necessary, boosting their lifespan by more than 25 percent; unlike other solutions, these sensors do not require batteries for power, such that a single fleet of trains will avoid creating eleven tons of battery waste over its lifespan; and maintenance can be reduced, making fleets more available.
Traditional bogie maintenance involves periodic visual inspections. To ensure they are safe, parts are regularly replaced, even if they display little damage during such a visual inspection. Damage to the surface of train wheels occurs at an unpredictable rate. Using remote condition monitoring to identify the onset of damage, even before it is visible during a visual inspection, means increasing the life of the wheel overall and widening maintenance intervals.
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