Although other forms of transportation receive the most buzz around innovation and new technology, much of the United States’ trade and commerce still relies on the freight rail system. And the 80-billion dollar industry is ripe for innovation.
Smart railroad management uses a network of IoT-enable devices and sensors to track and monitor equipment performance and enviromental conditions in trains, rails, and connected equipment to improve operating efficiency, reduce delays, and ensure the safety of trains and cargo.
Train delays, both passenger and freight, are treated like an inevitable issue, despite the cost that they incur for rail companies. In 2018, it was found that one third of Amtrak trains experience delays, costing $41.9 million per year. Even a five percent improvement would see $8.2 million in reduced costs and an additional $3.9 in increased revenue. That’s where IoT can help.
By implementing smart railroad management solutions, companies can receive greater visibility into not only the performance and location of individual trains along their routes, but they can detect rail defects, identify rail-side equipment in need of maintenance, and monitor for dangerous conditions – like rockfalls or obstructions on the tracks. By predicting maintenance needs, companies can optimize schedules to reduce downtime and prevent unexpected equipment failures, as well as receive and send notifications to conductors to warn them of potential hazards or considerations, before they become an issue.
Smart railroad management solutions work by connecting a network of sensors measuring and tracking timing, vibration, and electrical currents, across equpiment embedded in tracks and trains in order to give managers a high-level view of how both trains and rails are performing. Through these solutions, managers can drill down into the historical performance of individual pieces of equipment to determine maintenance needs and identify long-term issues, as well as track trains and ensure that all stakeholders are in the know on arrival and departure times.
By tracking the performance of both trains and rails in real-time, smart railroad solutions can alert human operators and managers to issues instantly and without human intervention, eliminating the opportunity for human error, and ensuring that conductors know exactly what to expect on the track.