Intelligent Rail Summit

Intelligent Rail Summit reveals a sector primed for data-driven processes and solutions

A group photo with the majority of delegates. 2022, ProMedia

The Intelligent Rail Summit 2022 wrapped up late on Thursday in Konstanz, Germany. With close to 100 stakeholders in attendance, this year’s edition focussed on the use of data in monitoring and asset management. The various presentations by the likes of SBB, ProRail, voestalpine, VR FleetCare and more, showed that the sector has matured to a great extent when it comes to incorporating and utilising data in work processes.

Andy Billington, Innovation and Digital Architecture Team Leader at Rail Baltica, kicked off the conference by stressing the need for open standards for the operational, intermodal and maintenance systems. Stefan Koller presented an overview of the developments in wayside train monitoring systems in Switzerland on behalf of SBB, and how the operator is transitioning from wayside monitoring to wayside intelligence. This will streamline train inspection.

Koller’s statements were echoed by Paul Kootwijk and Inge Kalsbeek, representing ProRail and Dutch Railways, respectively. The duo also highlighted the cooperation between the two entities when it comes to sharing and combining monitoring data. Kalsbeek said that having the relevant data is essential in getting all stakeholders on board and convincing sceptics when it comes to implementing new solutions.

This is all the more important, because as more data becomes available, organisations need to be ready to react to it and work with it. This requires companies, departments and teams to make changes to processes, and for this to succeed they need to be aware of the risks and their own targets, voestalpine Signaling’s Richard Lenthall cautioned.

Long-term costs

Two two of the conference saw many speakers deepen and broaden many of the themes touched upon during the first day of the conference, such as what company budgets mean for infrastructure quality and long-term costs, especially in the current climate of high energy prices. This is exactly what SBB’s Anna Operandi highlighted in her presentation.

Christian Blättler, Manager Strategic Asset Management, Technology & Investments at AFRY, elaborated on this point, saying that short-term renewal savings today can result in cost rises tomorrow. Data-based strategic asset management enables multi-purpose utilisation of data to support decisions at the management level. For example, modelling existing data can lead to high levels of optimisation in current processes.

The conference took a more practical turn with the presentations by Paul van der Voort and Colin Smith McGloin, who, on behalf of ProRail and Unipart Rail, talked about infrastructure monitoring from in-service trains. Van der Voort detailed ProRail’s strategy for the Netherlands, while McGloin highlighted the opportunities for low-cost and accurate hardware and processing algorithms to calculate track geometry and ride quality. Finally, VR FleetCare’s Sami Saloheimo, detailed how the company is obtaining real-time information on the condition of assets.

This year’s Intelligent Rail Summit also featured three young academics weighing in on matters related maintenance: Cyprien Hoelzl from ETH Zürich, Ursula Erhart of the Graz University of Technology and Katharina Romach, who represented the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne.

Roel Koehein from GeoNext, a specialist in the collection and processing of 3D point clouds, concluded the conference how companies can derive novel maintenance and asset management solutions using AI and Machine Learning.

With Koehein’s presentation, the conference journey from how to gather and collect data, prepare and conduct analyses to utilising data and arriving at data-driven solutions was concluded. Partners this year where voestalpine, AFRY and Himmelsbach.

Author: Nick Augusteijn

Chief Editor, RailTech.com

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