SNCF’s scheduling, train operation and maintenance activities are being equipped with thousands of specialised industrial sensors which SNCF is currently developing. The sensors will securely send tens of thousands of data points to the IBM Watson IoT Platform on IBM Cloud in real-time.

For example, the latest generation of Paris commuter trains is equipped with 2000 sensors, which forward 70,000 data points per month. This enables SNCF engineers to monitor remotely up to 200 trains at a time for potential problems including door or air-conditioning failures, while they are in operation. This avoids having to conduct manual inspections in the depot.

By predicting when maintenance is needed, trains do not have to be taken out of service, and the need for repairs should be reduced. SNCF estimates that this train and track maintenance approach could reduce costs while significantly improving the reliability of its signals and trains. In addition, with up-to-the-second insight, maintenance teams will constantly be updated on the state of the rail infrastructure and, when needed, the system can provide early warning of faults.

“Today the IoT is entering a momentous stage in railway history,” says Mr Raphaël Viard, CTO of e.SNCF. “SNCF’s involvement with the IoT rests on three core principles. It must have a strong operational focus by digitising the business lines processes and cover the following three pillars: cybersecurity by design, platform as a service deployment model, and by leveraging Big Data for decision support. This is why Watson’s single and scalable platform is key to industrialising SNCF’s IoT strategy.”

“This collaboration is a true example of how IoT is touching everyone’s lives, in many cases without people even knowing it,” says Ms Harriet Green, general manager of IBM Watson IoT. “In this instance, consumers benefit by experiencing minimal downtime and on-time service.”