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Sep 19 2016

IoT for railways: big data for big machines

Twitter: @nokianetworks

From around 2 billion objects in 2006, to over 15 billion today and a projected 200 billion by 2020, the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the world in which we live.

The market for IoT is projected to be worth a staggering $11 trillion by 2015 - about 11% of the world’s economy - and it’s not just everyday consumers who are benefitting. These innovations are having a major impact on industry, with the data provided by smart sensors already being used to track inventory, manage machines, and improve systems, all of which is helping to save costs and improve efficiency.

The railway industry is no stranger to IoT. Long before IoT was coined, railway operators and infrastructure managers were actively using machine-to-machine technology and data analysis to improve the maintenance and performance of their assets.

Yet while it may have pioneered the use of IoT, the reality is that the rail industry has barely scratched the surface of what is possible. As IoT continues to evolve, it’s bringing greater standardisation, openness, and scalability to the information provided to operators. In turn, they’ll gain increasing insight into how their assets are performing, which opens up many new possibilities to use big data in more creative and effective ways.

For example, with 35% of train delays still caused by infrastructure or rolling stock failures, this is one obvious area where IoT could offer vast improvements in performance.

Knowing the precise location of a heavy freight train, its speed and weight, and correlating this with data from vibration sensors located alongside the track, weather reports, and details of how long the power connector is disconnected from the catenary during operations, can improve maintenance decisions for critical items of railroad infrastructures. Combining this information with other meta-data such as catenary dilation factors or track temperature can further enhance the decision making process.

In addition, data from these sensors can improve driving performance. For instance, adjusting the speed of the train according to its weight and length can prolong the use of brakes, while an enhanced understanding of the temperature of the engine and the brakes, the gradient of the railway and traffic conditions, can help to cut energy consumption significantly.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg and many other areas that could offer potential cost savings have probably not even been identified yet. Indeed, massive data aggregation, correlation and analysis using highly-sophisticated algorithms have the potential to change the way we think about operations, maintenance, yield management and even passenger services in the future.

See you @InnoTrans

To find out more on how an IoT platform and big data solutions could benefit you, visit Nokia’s at InnoTrans 2016 in Berlin in Hall 4.1, stand 216 where you will be able to see live demonstrations of its IoT and Connected Railways solutions.

Visit our website to learn more about Nokia railway solutions and innovation for IOT

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Share your thoughts on this topic by replying below – or join the Twitter discussion with @nokianetworks using #railways #IoT #LTE #5G

About Thierry Sens

Thierry is head of customer marketing for Transportation, Oil, Gas and Mining market segments at Nokia. He has broad expertise in telecommunication systems & infrastructure and always enjoys thinking outside the box to explore new ideas and concepts.