Predictive technology supporting railroad maintenance.

17 April 23

As the last decade has demonstrated, US freight rail services have proven to be safer than ever before, with mainline accident and hazmat accident rates solidly decreasing during this time*. 

According to the Association of American Railroads, freight railroads account for approximately 40% of US long-distance freight volume**, when assessed in ton-miles terms, which is more than any other mode of transportation. 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation has predicted in its Beyond Traffic: 2045 Report that America’s population will expand by another 70 million people over the next 30 years***. 

As a result of this projected population increase, freight rail services will be busier than ever, accommodating greater numbers of freight traffic and expanding product transportation to cater for a swelling population. 

In consequence, there will be additional pressures around railroad maintenance, how it is sustained and improved to meet demand. Today, around 1/3 of all US exports move by rail**, a figure undoubtedly set to rise due to flourishing commercial and domestic requirements.  

These conditions create key questions for railroad organisations in terms of how they improve asset management, generate measurable efficiencies and, most importantly, enhance their ability to predict and reduce railroad malfunction incidents. 

Undoubtedly, railroad companies will be proactive in their search for pioneering vital railroad technology solutions that accelerate the installation of practical innovations to minimize railroad malfunctions and also generate exponential growth.

Enhancing analytics with IoT and Big Data.

Railroads can streamline and refine their operations with the invaluable benefits that IoT and Big Data deliver. America’s freight railroads spend an average of $20 billion per year on capital expenditures and maintenance expenses related to the entire railroad system.

So it makes sense for these organizations to maximize the potential of advanced analytics through a cloud-based system incorporating IoT and Big Data. There’s no doubt that when railroads harness the potential of these innovative technologies, asset management - even in geographically challenging regions - becomes more efficient and reliable. 

Railroads want to be operationally consistent, provide a smooth freight service and engage with a transparent and accurate asset management process. Integrated IoT can help substantially reduce the significant costs faced by railroad operators, as well as decreasing repair bills, fuel fees and increasing customer satisfaction. 

These days, when a car needs an oil change or a service, a signal is sent to the user highlighting this issue. The same can be said for railroad assets that need a service or require some support. When this occurs, it can cost time and money if there is not an immediate analysis of the issue and a plan in place to regain smooth railroad service.

This is where monitoring systems and smart software can transform the capabilities of railroad services, as these technologies enable operators to quickly pinpoint issues, enact a plan of action and restore a regular railroad service as soon as possible. 

Remote Condition Monitoring upgrades asset management.

Intelligent technology that not only supports railroad operators in creating a consistent support system for asset management but also provides a full-spectrum package to effectively reduce malfunctions is vital for prolonged security and scalability.

Remote Condition Monitoring (RCM) is specifically developed and designed for these exact purposes, taking advantage of the powerful potential of IoT to empower railroad operators in a more transparent and effective asset management process.

RCM has its foundation in an intuitive platform that focuses with clarity on smart monitoring and essential analytics. As it’s a cloud-based technology, all data is collated from a whole host of sources to ensure a complete picture of exactly what is happening with railroad assets can be produced for instant insight. 

Crucial value is constructed both operationally and analytically so that possible scenarios are forecast and limited for considerable malfunction reductions:

  • Complete rail asset data available on the cloud for railroad operators to perform clear fault identification and perform precision-led decisions around failure prevention.

  • 360° data supply for decision makers to maintain detailed insight for future planning and resource organization.

RCM promotes improved asset management and predicts malfunctions.

There’s no doubt that failure prediction is vital when determining day to day operational functionalities and securing improvements across freight rail services. 

At a time when railroad operators are recovering and reconstructing services after the pandemic, RCM promotes assurance by enabling advanced failure investigations so that engineers can quickly identify failure sources. This then cultivates a measurable decrease in delays and repair time while controlling costs. 

RCM increases operational value by:

  • Pinpointing technical faults and failures with complementary data delivering the full picture for speedy repairs.

  • Optimizing strategic capabilities across railroad services with fault and failure prediction tools. 

  • Reducing repair instances and repair time to supply targeted cost efficiencies.

  • Offering clearer strategic maintenance decisions by tracking failures that appear to be developing before they cause problems.

  • Tracking asset usage over time to allow operators to strategically plan renewal processes and optimize their assets.

  • Providing remote monitoring so maintenance staff can work off-site, reducing site visits and costs generated by physical inspections. 

What are the additional benefits of predictive rail technology?

Smart railroad technology maintains innumerable advantages for railroad operators, including:

Centrix Diagnostics Platform, a centralized data hub for remote condition monitoring that uses a combination of non-intrusive sensors and cloud-based analytics software.This unique blend of tools enables superior asset monitoring and potential failure alerts well before they take place, at the same time as ensuring trackable cost savings. 

Centrix moves beyond switch machine monitoring with fault detection and alerts, interlocking and grade crossing graphical replay, electric switch machine trace replay and also train detection systems. 

Predictive railroad technology solutions are key in enabling railroad operators to execute reliable asset management decisions and in providing dependable malfunction prediction data to secure confidence and efficiency across the whole system. 

Tracsis is the leading provider of software-based rail automation solutions, trusted by every North American Class 1 Railroad. To make your rail network more efficient, contact us.