The UIC Digital Awards aim to identify potentially innovative projects that may be of interest to the rail sector and reinforce cooperation and synergies between the worldwide digital ecosystem and the global rail community.
There were four winners of UIC Digital Awards and three startups in second place in the Safety, Productivity and Services categories.
This article provides a brief overview of the winning companies and projects and the startups in second place in this edition of the UIC Digital Awards.
Congratulations to the winners and the selected startups!
Name of project: Mindsay Customer Experience Automation
Mindsay enables rail companies to provide one-to-one customer care at scale through conversational AI.
It helps customer service teams to overcome common challenges, allowing them to automate large volumes of customer requests, reduce time-consuming processes, and optimise their use of human resources.
With Mindsay, any team can build a bot. The low-code chatbot platform can be used to easily update content, connect new channels, and track KPIs with minimal technical skills.
From basic FAQs to complex transactions, Mindsay helps rail companies build their customer service automation strategy, from simple to sophisticated, allowing for maximum automation of customer interactions and a low total cost of ownership.
Name of project: Digital Railway Optimisation on Wheel/Rail Interaction - Enabling 4.0 Predictive Maintenance
IVM - Innovative Vibration Monitoring is an innovative SME focused on the development of end-to-end monitoring and diagnostics systems relating mainly to wheel/rail interaction in both static and dynamic conditions.
IVM’s goal is to increase the frequency of inspection measurements.
IVM’s systems are able to deliver reproducible results, a key prerequisite for evaluating degradations, unlocking reliable predictive and condition-based maintenance approaches.
IVM believes that developing the measurement chain as a whole is the most reliable way of implementing measurement systems with optimum performance in order achieve reliable results. Following a detailed analysis of the relevant physical phenomena, IVM develops the entire measurement chain of each monitoring solution, encompassing sensors, acquisition systems, electronics, software/firmware, production and testing and commissioning.
In addition to accurate and reliable measurement systems, IVM has also developed data analysis algorithms and is currently developing cloud infrastructure using modern big data technologies and machine learning techniques to enable 4.0 predictive maintenance.
All IVM applications are developed by highly skilled resources thanks to the investment of more than 40% of annual turnover in R&D activities.
IVM’s main challenge is unlocking the power of digitalisation applied to reliable and reproducible measurements performed in the specific field of the wheel/rail interface, in real working conditions, in order to obtain usable information rather than just data.
IVM’s main solutions are:
- POWERVE®: Correct equalisation of vertical forces on wheels is fundamental to guarantee the dynamic stability of any rolling stock. POWERVE is a portable weighing system designed to statically measure the vertical forces that each wheel of the rolling stock applies on the track in compliance with EN 15654-2:2019. Optimising vehicle balance has never been so easy, fast and accurate. POWERVE enables increased inspection frequency over the rolling stock life cycle.
- OCTOPUS®: A sophisticated unmanned technology, specifically designed to monitor the quality of the running dynamics of any railway vehicle during standard operation. OCTOPUS® delivers a safer run by remotely providing a clear and continuously updated status of wheel/rail interaction health. Continuous, direct monitoring of dynamic wheel/rail interaction by in-service vehicles increases inspection frequency, opening up new opportunities to improve running safety and infrastructure health monitoring.
- SWAN: An advanced WCM (wheel condition monitoring) system which, thanks to a particular structure and innovative data processing, is capable of detecting wheel slide defects by measuring the vibrations generated on the track as each wheel passes, automatically providing a synthetic output for each single wheel, a defined Quality Wheel Index (QWI), improving safety and maintenance processes. The system can also provide a quantitative evaluation of rail stress for each vehicle in transit and thus evaluates how much each vehicle degrades the infrastructure.
Beijing JingWei Information Technology Co., Ltd.
Name of project: Intelligent Marimo Analysis of Railway Accident Risk
The rapid development of China’s railways has brought about convenience in passenger travel, but has also put pressure on the operation and maintenance of the railway system. Based on Heinrich’s Law, this project constructs a data warehouse and handles massive on-site inspection data. The Newton Law of Cooling model is applied and a time attenuation algorithm has been designed, which considers the full impact of historical events on the situation at hand and mines the current risk level of accidents from historical data. The project introduces the Marimo data visualisation mode, using the size and colour of the marimo to represent the level of risk so that managers do not have to deal with tedious data analysis, greatly improving data interpretation efficiency and reducing staff workload.
Name of the project: “If you don’t know anything, you must believe everything”
Transparency in rail freight transport — data service for freight wagons
RailWatch is a startup founded in 2015 in Bonn, Germany. The company implements measurement stations along railway tracks to make rail freight transport more competitive for entrepreneurs and safer for people and the environment. These stations scan trains as they pass by, detect and document damage, and report results to their customers.
The two founders of RailWatch, Michael Breuer and Gerald Binz, have had extensive professional careers in the rail sector and enjoy a close friendship. Before founding RailWatch they had already spent many years working in the rail and transport industry. While still sitting on the customer side of the table, they observed that the complete lack or limited availability of data on the condition of freight wagons presented a serious problem. They explored various techniques in search of a solution. Over the years, and after several development phases with suppliers, Michael Breuer discovered that the quality and effectiveness customers were looking for was simply not available in the market. Ultimately, key hardware as well as software was developed by RailWatch in-house. “We had to pivot from being an integrator to being a developer”, says Michael Breuer, founder and managing partner of RailWatch.
The company installs measurement stations along railway tracks, which record the technical conditions of freight wagons and locomotives as they pass at full speed using highly sensitive sensor technology and artificial intelligence. The results are transmitted to a secure cloud which customers access through an Internet portal or through links to their own systems. Customers are able to see the condition of their fleet in real time. RailWatch customers include train operators, freight wagon owners and industrial facilities with railyards. With the information provided by RailWatch, customers can also determine the optimal time for servicing and maintaining their freight wagons. This means that they can repair avoidable damage to wheels and brakes at an early stage. While this was not possible previously, customers can now benefit from tools that increase safety and reduce costs thanks to artificial intelligence and big data analytics. This is a good example of how “Industry 4.0” can bring about safety and efficiency and, for the first time, has made predictive maintenance possible.
Eleven measuring stations are currently in operation along railway tracks throughout Germany. A team of 25 railway, sensor and IT specialists works together to achieve the goal of making rail freight transport safer, more competitive, and more environmentally friendly. In 2021, the company plans to set up measurement stations across Europe and further afield in order to create transparency in rail freight transport internationally.
“With our digital solutions, we not only support safety in rail freight transport, but also promote the increase in efficiency of freight wagons through predictive maintenance, thus strengthening the ecological goal of the shift from road to rail”, says Breuer.
Name of the project: KONUX Predictive Maintenance System
KONUX is a leading AI scale-up, combining machine learning and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to make the railways the mobility choice of the future by increasing capacity, reliability and cost efficiency. Since its foundation in 2014, KONUX has raised more than 50 million dollars from world-leading investors, has expanded to multiple countries in Europe and Asia, and was selected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of the world’s 30 most innovative startups and scale-ups worldwide. In December 2020, KONUX became the first startup to win a large-scale SaaS public tender with Deutsche Bahn.
About the KONUX system
The KONUX Predictive Maintenance System for Rail Switches is an end-to-end solution that uses IIoT devices and artificial intelligence to improve network capacity, reliability and cost efficiency. It continuously monitors and predicts the health of key assets, making it easier for infrastructure managers to anticipate failures before they happen and take optimal maintenance actions at the optimal time. KONUX’s reference customers include Deutsche Bahn, Trafikverket, Infrabel, Oc’Via Maintenance, Bane NOR and Indian Railways.
Name of the project: ROAV7 - Railway Inspection by UAV
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (CEO/Managing Director)
ROAV7 services in the railway sector
With new and groundbreaking methods and a constantly improving Research and Development department, ROAV7 excels in providing high-quality and cutting-edge services. Spurred by the success of its operation in 2019 with HAROPA - Port of Le Havre, which tripled its productivity for this particular service, ROAV7 offers innovative solutions for railway inspection.
One day of field operation is sufficient for ROAV7 to provide its clients with an overview of five control points: railways, ballast, gantries, crossties and vegetation. By collecting aerial data with UAVs or planes, ROAV7 reduces human risk related to manual inspection and boosts the inspection process.
Clients can manipulate the final, exhaustive results. Specifically, this method enables monitoring of:
- condition and position number of crossties
- condition of gantries
- volume, distribution, condition and nature of ballast
- gap measurement between railway seals
- height and nature of invasive vegetation
- topography and geometry of the railway system
All control points are georeferenced with centimetre accuracy and are usable in geographical information systems. The data is processed and analysed using ROAV7’s method to provide its clients with an augmented reality railway view, overlaying all of the main features of the railway. The company’s R&D department uses artificial intelligence techniques and continuously develops new algorithms to achieve fully automated railway detection.
More about ROAV7
ROAV7 offers its UAV inspection services to the oil and gas sector, the industrial sector, the energy sectors for nuclear, solar and wind power, but also for all types of industrial infrastructure. The ROAV7 team provides tailor-made services in accordance with customers’ needs and works in complex
environments. Its drones are equipped with visual and thermal sensors to collect data on its customers’ infrastructure in difficult-to-reach or confined areas. The data collected is processed to develop
cartographies and to detect corrosion points, cracks, welding defects, and weakened anchor points. ROAV7 also models its customers’ infrastructure for measurements, verticality studies, and deformations.
Railway inspection, Port of Le Havre: https://www.roav7.com/roav7-et-haropa-port-du-havre-inspectent-les-voies-ferrees-du-port-par-drone/
Railway track inspection performed by drone: https://www.roav7.com/inspection-par-drone-ferroviaire/
ROAV7 is hiring - a typical day at ROAV7: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mKmm7BjZ1o
Name of project: Implementation of IT Solutions in the Field of Safety and Labour Protection, Industrial and Environmental Safety at NC “KTZ” JSC
As part of the project, an automated integrated system for managing industrial safety processes, ISPB, has been developed and implemented, and contains all the main processes for managing industrial safety. A mobile version has also been developed.
The ISPB digital platform offers a number of benefits, including mobility, credibility and speed. Employees can use the application to record and register violations anywhere. The application also has a feature for attaching photos and videos that enables objective confirmation of violations. The possibility of registering violations using a mobile device eliminates the need to fill out paper documents and speeds up data exchange between company departments.
To date, around 111,000 railway employees - 97% of all employees - have registered in the system. The mobile application has helped to identify more than 11,000 violations; in 212 cases, the so-called “right to stop unsafe work” was applied. In addition, more than 6,000 violations were eliminated in a timely manner, and more than 6,000 safety dialogues (stop works, unsafe acts, unsafe conditions) and some 6,500 inspections were conducted.
Following investigations, all registered employees receive safety alerts and bulletins with the results of the investigation, descriptions of the root causes of the incident and instructions to direct personnel. Registration of detected violations in the unified information system enables qualitative analysis, timely preventive measures, and monitoring of elimination of violations.