Since IoT is the acquisition, transfer, analysis and monetization of data via connected devices, it is clearly ripe for the UK rail sector (along with manufacturing, energy/utilities, aerospace & defence and the wider transport industries).

Even before Covid-19 wreaked havoc across the rail industry, there was no denying that the sector’s future depended largely upon successfully creating innovative and new ways of operating – both from customer experience and general operations perspectives. Since March 2020, innovation and adaptability have become front and centre of survival within the transport sector, and a huge part in getting the UK’s society moving again, and back to work.

The pandemic is forcing organisations across all industries to pivot and innovate in ways they simply hadn’t imagined before, and we’ll undoubtedly see a mass increase in cross-sector IoT predictive maintenance case studies – with both incredible successes and horror stories aplenty before long! Indeed, Gartner predicts that by 2022, global spending on IoT-enabled predictive maintenance will increase to $12.9 billion (up from $3.4 billion in 2018).

Traditionally, rail organisations addressed issues once things had begun to fail or broken altogether, causing operations to (at best) slow or stop completely until fixed. Predictive Maintenance in rail transport is a huge part of the Intelligent Infrastructure conversation, and allows rail infrastructure providers and operators using the infrastructure to predict and often prevent issues before they even arise thanks to multiple interfacing sets of data.

Using IoT-enabled predictive maintenance, which combines physical sensors (monitoring vibration, temperature, pressure etc.), gateways and base stations, rail organisations can use real-time data together with service and repair history to intelligently predict when a piece of infrastructure, machinery or electrical component may fall below peak condition or efficiency.

This means a service or part replacement can be planned ahead of failure, and maintenance can be carried out when it has the least possible impact on service operations. Quite simply, train operators and infrastructure providers suffer losses when track, signalling and trains are affected by poor, untimely maintenance. These include losses in fare revenue, increased downtime and damage to customer advocacy and brand. They therefore must constantly and accurately monitor, understand, and diagnose their infrastructure – and this is precisely why predictive maintenance is an industry game-changer.

In transport predictive maintenance, which focuses on safety perhaps more than any other industry, organisations must have the right expertise during implementation, gather relevant data from equipment or infrastructure, and use advanced data analytics to precisely pinpoint where issues lie, enabling timely decision making. 

By automatically notifying infrastructure estate irregularities, IoT-enabled predictive maintenance allows them to have a better-informed view of the risk of failure and to prioritise maintenance work to reduce impact of disruption. Spotting emerging faults before they become problems or even dangerous is the key benefit, with IoT predictive maintenance also enabling organisations to identify trends, become educated on root causes and undertake next steps more quickly and with genuine confidence.

For the customer, experiencing fewer delays and cancellations means less time commuting, getting to and from work on time, and affords them more time with their families and enjoying hobbies – resulting in hugely positive impacts on customer experience and advocacy.

At Capita, both technology and transport are steeped in our fabric. We’ve been delivering solutions and change programmes within transport for decades, and our technological core means we’ve been working with and developing IoT solutions longer than many competitors have even existed. We deliver end-to-end IoT solutions, from the network side (sensors and gateways), right through to applications and services.

Many of Capita’s customers across various sectors are already using sensor-based technology for monitoring environmental conditions, and these are all hugely valuable as standalone technologies.

However, where they are really seeing the power of IoT is when they start to interface their devices and technologies, integrating them into their portfolio of digital solutions and services. This is when they are really transforming their customer engagement experiences and reaping the benefits from reductions in waiting times, lower internal costs, and delivering unprecedented levels of customer safety.

Capita’s end-to-end capabilities mean we can plan, deliver and support IoT-enabled predictive maintenance solutions across the rail and wider transport industries. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to have an initial conversation with one of our expert team.

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