Just the ticket: Watson IoT helps keep SNCF French National Railway running smoothly

Delivering superior customer experiences, heightened operational excellence and enhanced rail safety.

IBM today announced that French national train operator SNCF is leveraging IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to deliver greater customer experiences and heightened operational excellence.

SNCF serves the needs of more than two billion passengers annually. Underlying the company’s success has been its ongoing commitment to delivering exceptional services to its customers, including minimizing delays, ensuring passenger safety and delivering a superior on-train experience for commuters.

SNCF are using the industrial internet with sensors on trains and tracks to reduce failures and improve the reliability of trains, signals and tracks. Source: Vincent BABILOTTE

SNCF are using the industrial internet with sensors on trains and tracks to reduce failures and improve the reliability of trains, signals and tracks. Source: Vincent Babilotte

IoT keeps things on track with superior service

SNCF turned to IBM Watson IoT to help keep things on track, deploying thousands of sensors on trains and tracks which are securely sending tens of thousands of data points in the cloud, all in real-time. By analyzing the data from these sensors, engineers and other personnel can connect to running trains in real time, allowing SNCF to anticipate when a specific item, such as a faulty signal component, is in need of repair. By predicting when maintenance is needed, SNCF can prevent trains from being taken out of service while avoiding more costly repairs. SNCF estimates that this train and track maintenance approach could reduce costs while significantly improving the reliability of its signals and trains. In addition, with this up-the-second insight, maintenance teams will also constantly be updated on the state of the rail infrastructure and when needed, can provide early warning to expert teams in charge, when there is risk of dysfunction.

Critical to this effort is SNCF’s use of IBM Cloud-based Watson IoT Platform capabilities, which connect its entire rail network made up of thousands of components, the rails and stations. With Watson IoT, the railway company is successfully minimizing delays, ensuring passenger safety and delivering a superior on-train experience for commuters.

Remote monitoring with industrial IoT

At the heart of this effort are thousands of sensors which SNCF is deploying on its trains, covering more 30,000 kilometres of track, 15,000 trains and 3,000 stations. Each of these sensors immediately and securely will send tens of thousands of data points to the IBM Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud where the data is analyzed in real-time.

Using IoT technology, engineers can connect to running trains in real time, enabling SNCF to monitor components and remotely manage work carried out on each individual potential train or rail issue. For example, SNCF can remotely monitor train doors for potential failures, air conditioning, windshield water levels and oil temperatures. By connecting to running trains, engineers and other personnel can anticipate when specific issues need to be addressed.

SNCF: increasing safety, reliability and savings with predictive maintenance

Using predictive analytics, SNCF has been able to successfully prevent trains from being taken out of service while avoiding more costly repairs. One key area of focus is the temperature of rails. Excessive heat can cause long term maintenance problems that affect the safety of trains, especially those running at high speed.

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