Hitachi Rail to Acquire Digital Sensor Company Perpetuum

Hitachi Rail has announced its intention to take over Perpetuum in order to speed up its digitalisation strategy in the United Kingdom.

Perpetuum, which is based in Southampton and has 73 members of staff, will be integrated into Hitachi’s railway business to help digitalise its global train maintenance programme. Hitachi’s rail operations count in excess of 12,000 employees in 38 countries.

Hitachi believes digital solutions will improve the reliability of passenger trains and specifically the 276 Hitachi trains operating on the UK rail network.

Perpetuum uses wireless condition monitoring to detect faults so that they can be addressed before they cause unscheduled downtime. So far, 3,000 carriages feature Perpetuum sensors and none of them have ever had critical components fail in service.

The self-powering digital sensors detect on-board vibrations and transmit real-time data about the performance of critical train components. These include things like wheelsets, gearboxes, motors and bogies. Hitachi believes that Perpetuum’s solution does this more quickly and accurately compared to traditional condition-monitoring solutions.

There are a number of advantages when this data is combined with analytics tools that use AI. The predictive maintenance approach (meaning a needs-based approach centred around asset condition) means faults can be spotted and repaired before they impact services. By increasing critical parts based on their actual condition, rather than at set intervals (as with preventive maintenance), their lifespans can be increased significantly. This leads to a reduction in material costs. Further, because the overall maintenance a train needs can be reduced, a train’s availability is increased.

Perpetuum already counts a number of UK train operating companies among its customers. Perpetuum’s solution could go beyond wheelsets and bogies and provide usable data elsewhere on the train. Hitachi wishes to explore how digital and data-driven solutions could solve complex customer challenges.

By making Perpetuum part of Hitachi, there will be new opportunities to fit the sensors to trains that Hitachi services.

Andrew Barr, Group CEO, Hitachi Rail, said:

“The inclusion of one of the most exciting, pioneering companies in digital asset management is an exciting development for our global mobility business.

“Perpetuum’s data-driven insights will offer further improvements to the service we provide to our customers – leading to better journeys for passengers. It also supports Hitachi’s growth in the digital technologies space, which is becoming increasingly key to our offering – adding value to support our global customer base.”

The transaction will be subject to anti-trust clearance. Hitachi expects the transaction to close in autumn 2020.

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