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Railways set the pace for Industry 4.0 transformation with FRMCS/5G


Who will deliver the communications standard for automated transportation with 5G first? Look no further down the track – it’s today’s Railways. 

Driven by ever-increasing customer demands for faster, safer and more enjoyable travel, coupled with the railway industry’s drive for greater efficiency, and operational improvements, railways are looking to build new standards to prepare for the future of transportation.

The latest rail communication standard moves from broadly adopted GSM-R to the Future Railway Mobile Communications System (FRMCS) standard, with 5G as a key foundational technology.

FRMCS sets the stage for total connections and seamless operations from end-to-end with smarter automation and the ability to leverage new IoT technologies for productivity, and reliability breakthroughs. Once FRMCS is implemented, Railways can deliver – in the near future – key enhancements that will improve operational velocity and bring a superior journey and experience for passengers and goods. 

Nokia has a long and proven commitment to Railways. As a world leader in GSM-R with networks spanning 22 countries, and as a 5G technology leader, Nokia is actively involved in the development of the new FRMCS railway standard and the initial trials and deployments. 

The perfect proof points demonstrating how railways are leveraging FRMCS to lead the Industry 4.0 drive are the recent innovation projects announced by European railway operators Deutsche Bahn (DB) and SNCF

DB, one of the largest and leading railways in the world announced they will work with Nokia railway experts on the “Digitale S-Bahn Hamburg” project where they will leverage 5G based FRMCS to introduce - as early as 2021 - highly automated trains and shunting operations on their Hamburg S-Bahn Line.  

SNCF and Nokia innovation teams are collaborating to investigate automated applications and other use cases in a joint testing lab in Paris-Saclay, France where FRMCS applications will be evaluated in the laboratory environment and the field. This testing will explore use cases and prepare the SNCF railway for a seamless transition from GSM-R to FRMCS. 

FRMCS will deliver safer journeys.

To deliver the next generation of automated railway operations, high speed, high security, and high capacity communications technology is key. FRMCS offers better operational velocity by leveraging 5G to ensure the network can handle safety-critical operational applications, even when increased digitalization, automation of other functions and business applications demand more and more bandwidth.

With FRMCS built around robust, next-generation communication technologies, safety and cybersecurity can be further enhanced.  AI-powered safety monitoring can do a better job protecting railways and passengers on multiple dimensions. For example, new safety features like video look-ahead capabilities enable real-time obstacle detection in the tracks.  Enhanced automation can ensure proper speed and safe braking parameters, make adjustments for rapidly changing weather conditions and more.

Just as the railway industry once revolutionized and became an icon of the Industrial Revolution – here we are again. DB and SNCF railways are well on their way to realizing the benefits of Industry 4.0. The adoption FRMCS and the innovative 5G-enabled railway applications to come will provide valuable insights that set Industry 4.0 in motion for the entire transportation industry – and many more of the world’s mission-critical enterprises. 

Read more about FRMCS and 5G in this white paper

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Jochen Apel

About Jochen Apel

Jochen is Global Vice President of Nokia's Transportation, Manufacturing, Energy and Resources segments, leading our endeavors for advancing the future of all things that are made, mined, or go! Jochen and his team work with our customers to leverage our private wireless communications supporting operations, intelligently automating processes, and proactively managing assets – achieving the benefits of Industrial IoT and seamless connectivity. Whether riding the 5G-optimized railways, connecting mining vehicles deep underground, traveling the highways in a driverless car that was built in a fully flexible factory and seamlessly shipped through an automated port terminal, or cruising connected at 30,000 feet, Jochen and his team of industry innovators will make the journey with you!

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