Predictive not reactive strategy to save rail firm £millions

Posted on 13 Jun 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Shifting from reactive to predictive maintenance is expected to save Europe’s largest transport operator millions in reduced downtime and critical failures.

In the Digital Railway, the UK rail sector has a real opportunity to finally address the capacity issues and market barriers that have held it back for so long.
German transport company, Deutsche Bahn (DB) has agreed to let GE run the digital management systems for 250 of its locomotives.

Digital transformation is seen as being crucial for the transportation sector as companies increasingly seek to reduce costs, increase asset utilisation and achieve greater competitive advantage.

A digital solution for a train operator, for example, would include gauges in the water cooling system, thermometers in the braking system and a variety of other sensors providing real-time, remote-access information on the ‘health’ of the engine and other critical components. All this data can be collected and transmitted via the cloud to be analysed and fed back to engineers.

German transport company, Deutsche Bahn (DB) has agreed to let GE run the digital management systems for 250 of its locomotives. The five-year contract covers Germany, France, Britain and Poland and will see a team of GE engineers interpret the data being collected to predict future malfunctions.

DB tested GE’s asset performance management (APM) for three months, which reportedly led to a malfunction decrease of around a quarter. This is critical in an industry where equipment failures can often lead to expensive delays in cargo and passenger services measured in the tens-of-thousands of euros for every minute overdue.

On the side-lines of GE’s major Industrial Internet event, Minds + Machines – which takes place in Berlin this week, Sarah Pearson of GE Transportation explained to The Manufacturer: “We are predicting that Deutsche Bahn can achieve somewhere in the region of 25% failure reduction due to the APM system.

“Shifting its maintenance strategy from reactive to proactive to ultimately predictive could save DB upwards of €2m a year.”

DB is reportedly looking to invest a further €500m through to 2019 as it looks to continue its digital transformation journey, with 30 projects already under way.

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Related articles: Minds+Machines Europe 2017 – Day 1: key takeaways / Day 2: key takeaways