The purchase, announced August 11, is primarily intended to support the expansion of Hitachi’s Lumada diagnostics and analytics platform, with a view of solving more complex customer challenges and improving the range of data available.
Hitachi says the move will enable it to improve the reliability and safety of its global fleet of passenger trains, which includes 276 trains operating in Britain.
Perpetuum, based in Southampton, specialises in the design and manufacture of self-charging wireless condition-monitoring systems for fault detection, and boasts previous clients including British operator Southeastern, rolling stock leasing company Eversholt Rail, British infrastructure manager Network Rail, and SJ, Sweden.
The sensors measure onboard vibrations and transmit real-time data about the performance of critical components including wheelsets, gearboxes, motors and bogies, and feature a proprietary vibration energy-harvesting generator, which allows for units to be completely self-powered.
This data is then combined with artificial intelligence-led analytic tools to allow for the diagnosis of potential faults in components on rolling stock in advance of use. The process enables more precise component replacement and maintenance, increasing the lifespans of parts by up to 25% and achieving a higher availability of rolling stock at any given time.
Perpetuum sensors are currently implemented in around 3000 coaches, of which the company claims none have ever suffered a critical component failure while in service.
“Perpetuum’s data-driven insights will offer further improvements to the service we provide to our customers,” says Mr Andrew Barr, group CEO at Hitachi Rail. “It also supports Hitachi’s growth in the digital technologies space, which is increasingly becoming our key offering.”
The announcement is the latest in a series of investments by Hitachi in its British rail business, and comes as Britain and Japan negotiate a free trade agreement following Brexit.
In July, Hitachi also signed an agreement with Sunderland-based battery manufacturer Hyperdrive Innovation for the development and supply of battery packs for trains planned for production at its Newton Aycliffe site. It follows an announcement in January that Hitachi would invest £8.5m in the construction of a new welding and painting facility at the facility.