Enabling condition-based maintenance on railway fleets
Giuseppe Surace, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Eurotech, explores the evolution of data logging.
Technological innovations have brought the road and rail transportation industry to adopt smarter ways to collect and manage data collected by field devices to monitor their assets, vehicles and fleets, but to effectively achieve this, companies need to turn data collected by sensors into valuable business information.
IoT for smart data logging
The Internet of Things (IoT) has had a huge impact on data logging, as devices are now able to communicate with one another and create a network infrastructure to store and process collected data autonomously – this is smart data logging. The spreading of cloud technologies has increased operational efficiency thanks to the possibility to access and analyse increasing amounts of data in a much easier and cost-efficient way.
Even maintenance costs have been reduced: technicians and engineers do not need to be physically on-site to monitor sensors and smart meters and they can set alerts when something goes wrong.
Integrating edge and cloud computing
Despite its benefits on operations and infrastructure costs, cloud computing has its limits that can be overcome by integrating an intelligent OT infrastructure at the edge.
Cloud computing implies latency: delays due to centralised data processing have been reduced, but still occur, especially in harsh embedded environments where there are difficult temperature, vibration and other factors affecting reliability, so there is a higher risk of critical events that need an immediate response.
Connectivity issues may occur in railway and transportation applications: internet connection is not always guaranteed when travelling across rural or remote areas. Therefore, operators may experience interruptions in the dataflows between on-board devices and the cloud.
Network infrastructure maintenance
As the number of field sensors and devices increases, there is an increasing amount of data to be transferred across the network, which could result in very high bandwidth costs. The limits of cloud computing can be easily overcome by integrating cloud infrastructure for data analytics with an intelligent on-board edge infrastructure that is able to autonomously manage dataflows.
A smart data logging case study: DB Cargo
DB Cargo chose Eurotech as their strategic partner for a smart data logging application and wanted to implement an end‑to-end architecture to gain real-time status on its locomotives.
DB Cargo adopted Everyware IoT, Eurotech’s open, integrated and managed IoT infrastructure for Edge-to-Cloud data communication and device management. Thomas Pohl, Head of Condition Based Maintenance Project at DB Cargo AG, said: “Eurotech is doing an excellent job in terms of delivering high quality data and fulfilling the need of our users and data scientists. They are able to provide most of our required functionality with their standard telematic system and IoT-platform.”
For its on-board telematics units DB Cargo selected Eurotech BoltGATE 20-25 MVB Edition, a railway-certified multi-service IoT Edge Gateway designed to enable monitoring and management applications on rolling stock and seamless integration with cloud services. BoltGATE 20-25 is designed to operate in the harshest heavy-duty environments and provides safe, non-invasive signal sampling and MVB data logging, communication and management.
The BoltGATE 20-25 is enriched by Everyware Software Framework (ESF), Eurotech’s IoT Edge Framework that provides field protocol libraries for MVB data acquisition, filtering, aggregation and logging.
ESF provides a dataflow functionality for edge analytics called ESF Wires, a web-based development environment that allows the creation of data pipelines with a modular approach. In order to create and test new condition‑based maintenance (CBM) rules, Eurotech provides a test bench system, which enables DB Cargo to develop and simulate any kind of counters and alerts based on real MVB traffic.
ESF also provides cloud connectivity management towards Everyware Cloud (EC), Eurotech’s IoT Integration Platform. EC enables OTA device management through secure MQTT connectivity. EC allows integration of the MVB data collected in the field with the customer’s ground servers.
To achieve end-to-end workflow for data scientists including explorative data selection, data evaluation, rule creation and evaluation, Eurotech provides an offline simulation environment.