Tag: predictive maintenance

Italy’s train operator invests big in IoT

TrenItalia has invested €50m in an Internet of Things project which it expects to cut maintenance costs by up to €130m anually, to increase train availability, and improve customer satisfaction ratings.

There is a lot of hype around the Internet of Things (IoT) these days, so it is refreshing to see an IoT story with some real traction (terrible pun, sorry!).

TrenItalia, the primary train operator in Italy, and SAP had a big launch event recently to announce a partnership whereby TrenItalia are using SAP’s IoT technology to help manage the maintenance of the TrenItalia fleet.

TrenItalia operates around 8,000 trains per day, which is in itself, no mean feat. However, it wanted to make its service even more efficient so it looked to the Internet of Things to help.

Historically maintenance on trains was scheduled based on how long the train was in service, how many kilometers it had travelled, or if a failure ocurred, and as a consequence many times the maintenance happened before it was needed.

Trains have had sensors installed for some time now, however typically they wrote their data to log files which were examined at the journey’s end. With the new Dynamic Maintenance Management solution (DMMS), TrenItalia is deploying sensors on all its trains to report back detailed data on the trains’ performance in realtime. The data is used to track where the trains are, to schedule maintenance when it is actually needed, and to increase the safety, and reliability of the entire locomotive fleet.

The trains have between 500-1,000 sensors capable of generating up to 5,000 data points per second measuring variables like motor temperature, line voltage, and braking effort. This data is transferred to TrenItalia’s 6 terabyte in-memory database, and can be stored ultimately in their 1 petabyte cloud storage facility.

The cost of the project to TrenItalia is €50m, which may sound like a lot, but according to TrenItalia CIO Danilo Gismondi, they expect the solution to save them between €104m – €130m per annum (8 – 10% savings in the annual maintenance budget of €1.3bn). There are also savings of an estimated €10-€20m from not having to pay fines and penalties to customers and regulators associated with train failures and delays.

Apart from the financial savings, other benefits of the solution include:

  • a reduction in the unplanned unavailability of trains (leading to a 5-8% increase in train availability)
  • a reduced stock of spare parts
  • a reduction in the amount of time locomotives spend in maintenance and
  • a realtime look into the status of the entire TrenItalia fleet with the ability to be alerted to issues on any one individual locomotive before problems arrive

At €50m, this is a significant outlay for TrenItalia, but they are now battling against competitors on many fronts (air travel, buses, and even ride-share schemes like Uber). Knowing this, a big motivator for TrenItalia’s undertaking the project was to increase customer satisfation ratings. As TrenItalia CEO Barbara Morgante put it

Customers have to choose us because we’re better than others

The transformative nature of the Internet of Things should not be underestimated. With this one solution TrenItalia is saving over €100m a year, it is increasing the safety and reliability of its trains, and it is providing a better service for its customers.