What Elon Musk Doesn’t Want the Rail Industry to Find Out
March 14, 2019
The Internet of Trains
From the first puff of engine smoke in 1800 industrial England, to the newest 300 mph bullet train in Japan, the railway industry has certainly come a long way. And with it, so too have our capabilities as a civilization.
A one or two-month cross country journey was shortened to just a few days. Secluded sectors of the world, both domestic and global, could enjoy worldly goods that they may have never had access to. And, although this new transportation system was physical, it brought a new level of inter-connectivity between mankind that far exceeds railways and freights.
It allowed for the integration of different cultures. It enabled people to become explorers. And it brought out the wanderlust in us all. But, while the expansion of our railways might be seen as an incredible innovation, it brought along some unexpected technical burdens. With thousands of remote and mobile assets to manage, there is a lot that goes into the orchestration of a railway.
The internet of trains, or, the interconnectivity between railway systems and their operators, is saturated with data. So much so that it can become overwhelming, and at times impossible to effectively oversee all of it.
But, what if there was a way to manage all of those assets from an easy to operate, all-in-one, application enablement platform? What if you could oversee and effectively manage everything from the track, to gearboxes, to the motor and even the wheel of the train?
What you’d have is a much more optimized network that not only saves lives, but saves money. What you’d have, is the architecture to a utopian future. One that might be closer than you think.
Operating on Smart Railways
The time has come for railway based iot projects to start taking precedence. With the growth of the rail transportation industry in both commercial and civilian use-cases, the need for a higher level of interconnectivity, safety, and processing capabilities becomes increasingly important.
The main objectives of any railway system, whether it is a smart railway, connected rail crossing, or intelligent locomotive, is to prevent failures, conduct maintenance, and communicate with operators in an efficient and precise manner.
Certainly, an iot cloud solution could be put into effect that alerted operators of fault codes. But what if that system not only alerted operators but provided real-time, actionable insights that could be utilized to make immediate and impactful decisions? In instances like a car getting stuck on a railway, the speed of this communication becomes crucial.
For maintenance work, an IoT cloud-platform just won’t cut it anymore either. Normally, operators would have to sift through endless miles of uneventful footage to inspect rail infrastructure. With connected rail operating on an edge computing platform, you can create rules that only sends significant data. Besides the time being spent on this, you could also save yourself from the extremely high costs of SIM cards and infrastructure servers.
And of course, the need to communicate with train conductors is imperative. But when trains travel in some of the most secluded parts of the country where there is little to no network connectivity, edge computing becomes the only option.
These facts on their own are powerful enough for anyone to see the benefit of having smart railways. But, how does your typical railway get to that point? How do they select a platform that will keep up with changes in data and software when those changes are unknown?
Designing for the Unknown
As Elon Musk and Tesla step up their efforts to bring self-driving electric-semi trucks into the shipping industry, rail companies must make the shift to connected rail in order to compete. And the fact that it is such a big investment, means you need to put just as much consideration into the selection of your edge platform.
In a ClearBlade environment, we look at every project as an investment with the objective of propelling mankind to the next level of discovery. We’re ready for the world we live in to become advanced, and then to be able to sustain itself and continue progressing. That’s why we’ve designed a unique edge computing platform intended to be an all-encapsulating future-proof solution.
After speaking with industry experts, we’ve learned that one of their biggest fears is software becoming obsolete and having to pay big chunks of money for certified upgrades from rolling stock OEMs. We kept this in mind while building our very own edge computing solution, ensuring across-the-board scalability with varying business protocols.
It’s our edge computing platform that we believe will help build the world of tomorrow. Whether that be in railways, smart buildings, or even smart cities. But we need you to help us get there.
If you have more questions about making your railway a smart railway, give us a call or drop us a message. Together, we’ll make tomorrow come today.