Innovation: Infrabel wins international award - 02/11/2017

Infrabel was chosen by Price Waterhouse Coopers and Mainnovation as the winner of an award for its proactive maintenance of its rail infrastructure. In a report by the two consultancy firms, our company stands out from the rest through its use of new technologies.

'The Smart Railway' is a huge project launched by Infrabel to digitize the whole rail infrastructure. Sensors have been installed everywhere on the network. For example, switches, tracks or catenaries have been fitted with them. Thousands of items of information are gathered by our measuring trains. All this data is managed in a centralised system, in order to provide a precise image of the network.

Infrabel: an exemplary company.

In a study entitled 'Predictive Maintenance 4.0', Price Waterhouse Coopers and Mainnovation analysed the situation of Infrabel and 280 other companies. The study revealed that Infrabel is exemplary when it comes to maintenance of the rail infrastructure. In terms of proactivity in the rail industry, our company chalked up an exemplary score for good practice and innovation. Something for the Infrabel teams working on the 4th Revolution concept launched in 2013 to be proud of! 

Summary of the initiatives taken by Infrabel

Smarter M

Smarter M aims to achieve integrated asset management, so as to achieve tailor-made use of physical and human resources.

Tablets

Our people working on the tracks and signalling have already been sent out with tablets for quite some time already. They receive their work assignments via these tablets. For example, measuring switches or checking a voltage level. All this data is entered in digital form or scanned. By managing all the information centrally and in digital form, Infrabel can monitor its maintenance faster and more effectively. It even enables the infrastructure manager to predict what maintenance will be required.

For signalling, our people started using tablets in November 2015. The system was rolled out in June 2015 and now 450 people are already working with these tablets. The initial results are positive. Productivity is rising.

Measuring trains

Infrabel uses various measuring trains to survey its rail infrastructure: ETCS measuring train, another for measuring the tracks and another to measure the catenary.

Digital measuring devices

Where we are unable to use the measuring train, part of our switches system is measured manually using a digital measuring device. Our switches must be measured at regular intervals. Switches are items of railway equipment that must be adjusted very accurately. Now this is done digitally, and all the data is updated and managed centrally. The advantage is that we can collect the data faster and more precisely, so that the various disciplines within Infrabel (e.g.: tracks, signalling and lighting, heating and driving force can all be based on the same digital source).

At present, we are using around 60 of these digital measuring devices. The project has been running since May 2016.

Railview

All digital information about our rail infrastructure is collected and projected onto a digital map. We can use this map to plan our maintenance even better. And plan the optimal route for our teams so that they can arrive on the spot as fast as possible. A sort of super satnav to give our people a clear picture of what they are going to do where and how they can get there as quickly as possible. Getting to where they need to be faster and better prepared also means that the fault, problem, incident or maintenance can be dealt with faster. Which is better for safety and punctuality.

Drones

Infrabel uses drones to inspect its rail infrastructure. At present, drones are used mainly to check our GSM-R masts. We aim to expand use of these drones. For example, for inspection of catenaries and engineering structures. In places that are not always easy to reach.

3D simulator

Our lookouts have been trained in a virtual environment as from March 2017. Lookouts warn their colleagues working on the tracks. They remain in contact with the signal box. Our people practise pre-determined risk situations. A total of about 2,600 lookouts will be trained on this 3D simulator. The training will be held every three years.