The High Price of Inefficiency and How Railways Fight Back

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Railways are missing opportunities to boost operational efficiency

Passenger and freight railway activity is predicted to double by 2050. But even today, many railways lack full visibility into their subsystems and awareness of how they interact because the subsystems are working in silos. This lack of integration negatively affects railways’ overall efficiency and performance.

These 3 subsystems are the prime targets for optimization

Let’s take a closer look at the three railway subsystems where improvement is often needed:

Rail electrical distribution – Electrical distribution subsystems are the backbone of railways because they ensure railways have a reliable power supply that is always available for critical and auxiliary consumers, such as traction substations and overhead lines. For example, electrical distribution subsystems prevent downtime using automated power restoration features that isolate faults and automatically restore power to unaffected areas of the system.

Tunnel management – Railway tunnel management subsystems control and manage tunnels’ ventilation and auxiliary systems, as well as other functions like telecom, draining, and signaling using an integrated solution.

Passenger station management –Railways’ passenger station subsystem, which includes power systems, building facilities, and third-party subsystems, is managed using integrated control systems. For example, railways could use a building management system to help manage ventilation in an underground metro station.

Step 1: Optimize and centralize each of these subsystems

The first step toward subsystem optimization involves remote centralization.

Railways that adopt remote centralized subsystem management now have new ways to improve operational efficiency because they can remotely manage, supervise, and control subsystems from their control center. For example, passenger stations can use remote centralized management to control the station’s HVAC, lighting, elevator and escalators to maximize operational efficiency while ensuring passenger comfort and safety.

They can also use these remote capabilities to monitor subsystems’ performance because railways are able to access real-time information about asset health. This lets operators quickly identify and address maintenance issues without even leaving the building. The result is less time spent on maintenance and eliminating unplanned downtime.

Step 2: Integrate subsystem data to see the full picture

Railways have better visibility when looking at subsystems as a whole – rather than by individual systems. Why is it important to have end-to-end operational visibility? Railways can’t improve efficiency if they don’t know how systems and data are being used.

A united operations center (UOC) aggregates and visualizes data from individual subsystems to give railways a big-picture view, like a single pane of glass. A UOC that uses a “system of systems” approach can converge both process and non-process information sources like HMI/SCADA, analytics, engineering diagrams, and GIS sources under one platform. Centralized operations also bring other efficiencies. For example, they improve integration and collaboration across functional departments by letting them share information and coordinate daily activities and processes.

ADIF boosted operational efficiency by 20% by focusing on subsystems that feed this bigger picture

The Spanish railway ADIF is focused on developing its high-speed rail network – the longest in Europe — and upgrading its rail infrastructure. The result of this growth is that ADIF must now centrally manage almost 3,300 kilometers of high-speed rail network with more than 170 electrical substations.

To do this, it uses Schneider Electric’s centralized power management application for traction substations and auxiliary systems. This technology brings a real-time, single view of the high-speed national rail network through integrated main and back-up control centers. It optimizes energy through integrated monitoring and energy management systems. The result is a reliable power supply for traction and signaling systems using 1,000 cabinets covering the whole network. It has already led to a 20 percent improvement in operational efficiency.

Learn how to improve your railway’s operational efficiency

To learn more about tools that enable data analysis to drive business productivity, explore Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure for Rail & Urban Transportation and AVEVA Unified Operation Center solution websites.


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