Siemens “Internet of Trains” comes to Delaware

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
Siemens DigitalRail Infographic

Siemens on Aug. 9 inaugurated its new Locomotive Service facility in New Castle, Del., that will operate as the company’s digital service, supply chain and technical field training hub in the region.

Siemens executives hosted Delaware’s two U.S. Senators, Tom Carper (a former Amtrak board member) and Chris Coons. Both use Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor services to commute between their Washington D.C. offices and their Delaware homes, as did former Vice President Joe Biden, when he was a U.S. Senator.

Siemens DigitalRail InfographicThe 44,000 square-foot New Castle facility “will combine Siemens’ global digital analytics know-how with its extensive industry knowledge to move rail further into the digital age,” Siemens said. “Using the latest in digital and predictive technology, the New Castle team will train service technicians and remotely maintain Siemens locomotives for customers across the U.S.,” including Amtrak, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, Brightline, and the Illinois Department of Transportation, among others. These operators employ the Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotive or the Cummins-powered Siemens Charger diesel-electric locomotive.

Siemens’ Digital Rail Services staff located in New Castle will remotely collect and analyze more than 800 data points from each locomotive daily. The data includes information on equipment health, operational metrics and environmental data made available by automatic, continuous streaming from the locomotive. The data, pulled in real-time, “can help diagnose fleet issues and develop predictive maintenance capabilities so issues can be identified before they become a problem,” Siemens said.

. Siemens said it “is already putting its data capabilities to use” by working with Amtrak to monitor and analyze data from 70 ACS-64s operating on the Northeast Corridor. On-board information is sent automatically to Siemens “Smart Cockpit” software that helps analyze and flag any items that require closer attention. The Siemens team reviews flagged items and recommends actions that are relayed directly to local technical advisors and Amtrak maintenance staff at the depots along the NEC.

Siemens noted that data collected since the ACS-64 was placed in service has led it and Amtrak to design and implement software updates that improved locomotive fleet performance, helping Amtrak achieve about 33% fewer delays in 2016 compared to 2015.

In addition to remote data services, the new facility will include a supply chain distribution center to rapidly deliver locomotive parts to customers. The hub will rely on Siemens supply chain from partners across the U.S as well as 16 full-time positions based in New Castle to work with the company’s nearly 70 existing service employees at customer sites.

Siemens employees will also use virtual reality technology for maintenance training on locomotive equipment running worldwide. Using virtual reality goggles and handheld controls, a service technician can virtually stand inside a locomotive and work on switches, components and panels. This training “will prepare them both mentally and physically for work on actual locomotives at customer locations across the U.S.,” Siemens said.

The New Castle facility “builds on Siemens efforts to digitalize the rail industry, including the recent announcement of our Digital Rail Services portfolio and hub in Atlanta, Ga.,” the company said. The facility will also expand on existing service work with customers across the region including a 15-year technical support and spare parts supply agreement with Amtrak and the 70 ACS-64s, and Brightline where Siemens was chosen not only as the trainset manufacturer but as the sole service provider.

“It’s important to realize that keeping a locomotive running smoothly relies on more than the vehicle and rail infrastructure,” said Chris Maynard, Vice President of Siemens Mobility Customer Services. “It’s how you maintain these trains that will keep them running reliably for our customers. We are bringing the rail industry into the digital era and creating an ‘Internet of Trains’ to ensure locomotives operating across the East Coast and beyond are running as efficiently as possible.”

“This is a key investment for Siemens in our largest market in the world,” Siemens USA CEO Judy Marks said. “Trains were the preeminent invention of the first industrial revolution, but today they exemplify a fourth in which software is converging with advanced manufacturing. Siemens’ locomotives now come out of our U.S. manufacturing plants born digital; they’re computers on steel wheels that constantly collect data. Now, in New Castle, our technicians and engineers will make this data actionable for our customers. That’s major value added for railroads striving for even higher levels of safety and reliability.”

“When Americans have access to reliable train travel, they tend to take advantage of it,” said Sen. Carper. “Siemens’ new center, right here in New Castle, will help make rail service more reliable by using cutting edge technology to service and build new locomotives at a faster pace and higher volume. Our nation’s railways are critical elements to our country’s infrastructure system, which helps us to compete and win in the global economy.”











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